As many of you know, I have been working on revisions to Surrender to Ruin. The good news is that I’m finally feeling like the story is where I want it to be. I’m in a paper read through stage with the book. When that’s done, I’ll be sending it back to my editor for another look. The sum up is this: the story is complete and it’s really truly very close to a version I can send to copy-editing. But not yet.
Posts Tagged ‘Writing’
I guess first I’ll mention that Emily and Devon’s story is going well. Last year’s decision to rent offsite office space has made a huge difference in my ability to get words written. There is nothing I can do about the situation that made this necessary, but now I’m able to meet word count and stay on track.
Another bit of news is that despite my poor production in 2015 (see paragraph above) my writing income was up significantly. This was about 50% due to the anthologies I was in. They did very well.
At the end of last year and through now, I was concentrating on covers for the individual novellas from the anthologies, the covers for My Demon Warlord, covers for three special projects, managing the coding work for a data-management project, and getting ready to outsource all my formatting.
Yes, I can do the formatting myself. I absolutely have the technical skills, but I need to concentrate of maximizing my writing time, and that was one of the things that I decided needed to be outsourced. I’m in the process of sending all my books to be reformatted so they’re all the same visually. Several are done and ready to upload.
Why yes, I DID say there are three special projects that needed covers. I guess stay tuned!
I’ve been really low profile these days, but here’s some book updates and news. I ended up working on multiple projects at the same time, which isn’t always the best thing for me. I can’t really lay things out linearly because they didn’t happen in a straight line. I have personal issues that are taking up more of my writing time, but I have managed to figure out how to adjust to that. The adjustment involves the word “ruthless.” Woo-hoo?
I have a historical novella A Seduction in Winter for the upcoming Christmas anthology Christmas in Duke Street. It was rough going. My initial idea seemed great. I really liked it. But when I sat down to write, a different story showed up and it wasn’t the story I had prepared for. Long story short (Hah! That’s a writer joke!) It took a lot longer to write and then rewrite than I anticipated. Involved at least one night of staying up until 2 AM and getting up at 6 AM to get in the final edits. However, I really like the story. It came out great.
Now I’m back to working on My Demon Warlord which is on track and going well. I am targeting a December release date, which is well beyond what I’d originally hoped.
After that, I’ll start on Sinclair Sisters Book 3, Emily and Bracebridge.
Once all my fast writing was done for A Seduction in Winter, my hands were sore and achy so I’ve started dictating as much as I can. It speeds things up considerably.
And now, back to the writing cave.
I’ve hit critical mass for My Immortals Books 7. I’m over 50,000 words now which means mostly the story is there and now I just need to write it better. I’m mostly pretty sure that the title will be My Demon Warlord. Final word count will be around 95,000.
I’m doing my first paper read through and I have already completely re-written chapter 1 three times. This is good news, actually, as dire as that sounds. I am revising using a fountain pen with copper ink. This is fun.
The chapter I thought might be chapter 1 is currently chapter 22.
I love doing the first paper read through. It’s when magic happens. I see themes I didn’t know where there, and that will be interesting to follow through with, and I get to see where things really work and where they don’t, and knowing that matters a lot.
And now, back to it.
I read the book American Sniper shortly after it came out. I have also read several other memoirs of Navy SEALS. Chris Kyle, the author of American Sniper, as you probably know, retired from active service and was later killed by a mentally disturbed man at a shooting range Kyle owned. Now there’s a movie about the book.
FYI: I have now added a paragraph at the bottom to address yet another controversy about this movie.
The controversy I’ve heard around the movie goes like this: Kyle killed people and talked about it. He was callous and unfeeling, and possibly not a very nice person. I have seen comparisons between success of the movie with things that are unrelated that imply that Americans of the sort who would see American Sniper are terrible people. Example, juxtaposing the movie’s successful opening with people who gave Bill Cosby a standing ovation.
Today, after writing a draft of this post, I went to see the movie because, one, I wanted to see it anyway, and two, since I was so bothered by some of the conversation, not seeing the movie would leave my opinions and thoughts less informed than they should be.
The Review Portion
Clint Eastwood is a very good director. There’s no doubt about it. Great material to work with, and yet I often felt that if I’d not read the book, I couldn’t have followed the movie as well. In fact, several times, I thought, oh, right, that’s [some character] from the book, because those roles were not clear to me. Alas, and probably no surprise, Kyle’s wife was sadly one-dimensional. I don’t mean the actress, I mean the screenplay and the directorial decisions. More than once I whispered “eff you.” Because of course the woman is shown as unable to understand the man she married. So, you know, the eff.
More important, I did not see this movie as a glorification of killing or an endorsement of the war in Iraq; at times quite the opposite. One of the strengths of the movie was showing moments of internal conflict and Kyle’s (as he was shown to us on the screen) refusal to acknowledge that even his brothers-in-arms had times of profound doubt.
Frankly, though I enjoyed the movie, and though it made me as sad as ever about war in general, and Iraq in particular, it’s not Eastwood’s best work. It’s a bit uneven and might have been better served by spending slightly less time on shooting and explosions and more on demonstrating the brotherhood of the soldiers. Thus ends the review portion of this post.
On War And the Warrior Trope
Here’s a fact, there are branches of the military, the SEALs being one, that have achieved a mystical standing. By definition, these men are extraordinary. They embody everything we glorify about warriors. I find it odd not to acknowledge the power of that trope and the reality behind it. Spartans. Athenians. Amazons. Roman Gladiators. Alexander The Great. Picts. Scots. The history of humans includes the history of war and warfare. Setting aside issues of the elision of women and minorities from history and warfare, this is us. As humans. We can recognize and admit the power of the warrior trope without also elevating war to heroic status.
Story vs. Truth
The movie represents Kyle at three removes. Kyle, the person, is gone and unable to speak for himself. His memoir is a writing and all writing is a remove from the person who is the writer. More, when there is a co-writer, there is yet another remove. What’s on the page are the words that convey words spoken, not the actual experience.
Writers are tricky people. They understand how and when to manipulate with words. It behooves us all, when we are reading a text, to remember that fact. It’s even more important when the writer of a memoir isn’t the subject of the memoir. And even so we cannot represent or assume the words on the page are equivalent to Kyle. They are a representation of him. And now we have a movie of the book; a representation of a representation.
The Thing that Bothers Me
It bothers me that there seems to be a conflation of Kyle, the movie, and its viewers that suggests that because Kyle killed people for a living that all the viewers of the movie are ascribed bloodthirsty motivations for seeing the movie. Further, suggesting there is some relation between a SEAL sniper doing his job and the alleged actions of Bill Cosby is offensive. How is a soldier doing what his country pays him to do anything like Cosby?
Whatever you may feel about the role the US is playing in the world, we should not be denigrating the men and women who serve in our military nor should we be making sly or not so sly insinuations about the moral worth of members of the military because we might disagree with US politics or decisions to send our military into war. Kyle, personally, did not set US policy. He did not commit crimes.
It is entirely possible for someone to read and see American Sniper while maintaining an ability to separate the actions and culpability of a White House Administration that put our country at war in Iraq under less than truthful circumstances with the actions of the soldiers who were sent to fight.
Bill Cosby is alleged to have committed several crimes. Assaults against women whom he allegedly drugged so that they could not object or consent. It is offensive to me that anyone would conflate the part-of-the-job actions of a member of the US military with actions that are a crime and suggest that viewers of the movie must also support Cosby.
Further, I have read American Sniper and seen the movie. I have not become a bloodthirsty, jackbooted conservative. Nor would I have given Bill Cosby a standing ovation. But then, I would also never have gone to see Cosby, knowing the allegations against him. I can deplore that the US went to war in Iraq at the same time that I support the women and men who are sent to fight on our behalves.
Idiots are Not an Excuse
Just now I saw tweets about the movie in which someone screen-capped several tweets in which people who saw the movie said they now hated Iraqis and want to kill “them” where “them” was a racial epithet. That tweet said with full ironic sarcasm: “It’s just a movie.”
Kyle was killed by an American, after his service was over. Not an Iraqi. Should the movie not have been made because there are idiots out there incapable of seeing the tragic irony of that? What should we do, give a test before the movie and refuse to admit people who we feel lack critical thinking abilities?
It is equally possible to see this movie and think, as I did, no wonder they hate us. Yes. That’s right. It’s not just a movie. The problem isn’t the movie. The problem lies in the hearts of minds of the people who see the movie.
I thought I’d update everyone about the writing! Concept!
1. A Notorious Ruin, Book 2 of the Sinclair Sisters series, is out for first round editing.
2. I am writing a novella in the My Immortals series, currently titled Dead Drop. It’s slated to appear first in June 2014 anthology (yet to be titled) then later singly.
3. My next project is Book 6 in the My Immortals series. (Kynan’s story)
4. I will also be writing a historical novella, to be included in a 2014 Christmas Anthology with authors Grace Burrows, Shana Galen, and Miranda Neville.
5. I have two German translations to get out — covers in process
In between all that I’ll be busy pushing the various books into revisions, editing, copy-editing, proofreading, formatting, and proofreading.
In general my future writing schedule looks like this, only sort of in this order:
1. My Immortals Book 6
2. Christmas historical anthology
3. Dark Elf — set in the world of The King’s Dragon
4. Hester and Camber Novella
5. Sinclair sisters book 3
6. My Immortals Book 7
I have the edits for Not Proper Enough so I have my head down working on them. They’re actually very light, but this is my best chance to make sure I said what I meant and to make sure there’s emotional punch. This means I’m behind on Dauntless, my story for the Midnight Scandals anthology, but I’m sort of OK with that because I’d reached what I believe is critical mass with that story in that all the elements were gelling and I can now dig in and do yeoman’s work on story.
I also discovered that I have the UK rights to Not Wicked Enough and Not Proper Enough and that means I am currently commissioning new covers for both those books so I can release them in the UK. Not Wicked Enough will be out as soon as I’m ready. Not Proper Enough will, of course, will be a later release.
I’m getting antsy about starting Harsh Marit’s story for the next My Immortals book.
Back to work!
Golly. Just call me flexible, I guess.
This is from a not quite done and needs-more-editing paranormal short
BUT! A promotional letter for my upcoming paranormal got this:
Text from my historical Scandal got this:
I get so frosted by writers who don’t think about copyright and free speech. I’m a bit tired of hearing authors get all hot under the collar about the Chilling Effects site and the fact the many sites refer to the site in their DCMA takedown information.
Authors should be the first to speak up when Fair Use and copyright gets abused. If the current corporate mind set of companies gets carried out to the conclusion they seem to want (no Fair Use, no Fan Fiction, no speech they don’t like) how long do you think it will be before they come after novelists? How long before an author’s ability to write gets compromised.
Read the whole article by Dan Gilmore.
Some comments here suggest it’s time for a remedial column or two on copyright. Whether copyright holders like it or not, they don’t have the absolute right to decide how their published work may be used, and by whom, through eternity. And those who believe we should ban tools that can be used for illicit purposes, not just beneficial ones, should ask themselves what would happen if we applied that standard widely.