Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh the horrible things we do

I heard a quote once that went something like this, "It's the responsibility of authors to create interesting, likable characters and then do horrible things to them."

I am reminded of this quate almost every time I sit down with my laptop and punch a few letters that will undoubtedly having my poor characters begging for mercy. Writing had to go on hiatus during Christmas, not due to family activities or even the need to spend time shopping or wrapping. No, actually it was because I needed to do something horrible to a character that I absolutely adore, that would cause him no end to pain. I know I've said in the past that when you're stuck on a scene, violence is always the answer. Write something violent and you're sure to stir things up and make them interesting. In this case, however, the impending violence tore at my heartstrings and I agonized for days on a way to fix it, change it, or simply write around it to spare my poor character from having to go through it. I even imagined in my head what I would say to him if he ever confronted me about my bloody pen (or keyboard, as it were). Honestly, I have to say that I have a great answer for him having something to do with the fact that things were already heading in that direction when the story started and for crying out loud, I'm trying my best to write him out of it.

There are always going to be things we can't prevent. Do we ignore these situations and hope they go away? Do we try to fix it knowing that the end will be the same anyway or maybe scoot around it trying to find a different solution? Well, every situation is different and any one of those solutions could possibly work.

However, in this particular case there was no way around it. I had to do that horrible thing to that wonderful character and you know what? He's handling it fine. Coming right around despite what I put him through. You can often find a rainbow on the other side of the storm.

Monday, December 21, 2009


As milestones go 50K words when you're writing a novel is a pretty good one as the average novel size is between 70K words and 100K words. Why am I spouting off about word counts again? Okay, okay, I'm sure you already guessed it. Yes, I hit and passed 50K words yesterday.

Thank you! Thank you very much!

I actually am not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand I'm ecstatic that I've written as much as that and gotten as far as I have in the story. On the other hand, I have been writing in a thousand different directions putting in so many deliberate inconsistencies simply to get the story down.

I say deliberate and I mean it, although I am not happy about it. The thing is, I have a general idea of where the story is going. Characters will go to location A and then leave for location B before dropping character X over into a ravine before moving onto location C. So far I have done just that, moved my characters to the locations I want them to be. The trouble is, I'm not at all clear about their end games or their motivations. Only the conclusion of the novel can clear that up for me but as that is yet unwritten I have locations A, B, and C accounted for but the reason character X was thrown into the ravine only makes sense in chapters 7 and 9 but not chapters 8, 12 and 13.

This happens to grieve me deeply and causes no end to problems with writers block and irritation with my characters because I'm not entirely sure what they want. I suppose if this were my first novel, I might be able to live with it simply because Stephan King said so in his novel on Writing (a new writer's bible on the craft). However, this is my second novel I am operating on an entirely different way of writing than I'm used to. R.A.G.E. was edited to the T throughout every step of writing. I always felt really good about whatever was written previously before I went onto the next section.

Both ways have their pros and cons, although I find myself increasingly more frustrated with Risk, and not at all certain it will ever come fully together. For now I'll continue along the path I sprinting down, (I say sprinting because sometimes I feel like I'm running so fast, I'm stubbing my toes and tripping over rocks whereas with R.A.G.E. I was tiptoeing ever so carefully for the 8 months it took me to write it).

The editing phase sometime in January or February (if I can continue at this pace) will probably be just as much work as the writing phase. However at least by that time I'll have the ending and hopefully know all the characters motivations. I might even be able to save character X from that ravine.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What to do, what to do

What if you're not totally jazzed about a chapter you need to write? Does that mean there is a problem with it?

First off, let me just brag for a moment. Dimensional Risk (the sequel to R.A.G.E.) hit 20,000 words this week. For all of those who don't obsess over word count, that equals about 80 double spaced pages or in Risk's case, 7 chapters.

I've been feeling pretty good about myself, you know, taking Stephan King's advice from his book On Writing and just plowing ahead, taking little time for editing or stressing over where the story is going. I have to say it's quite liberating to be able to write and write and write, knowing I'm probably doing the best thing for the book but on the other hand I have to keep up a mantra in my head reminding myself that it doesn't have to be perfect, gosh darn it, we live in a modern age where changing a word, sentence, paragraph or even a chapter is as easy as *highlight*delete*move cursor*type new section*.

Okay, back to my original question. I hit 23,284 words today (again about 87 pages double spaced) and found myself at a road block. Now unlike the other writer's blocks I hit with frequency, this has less to do with not knowing what to write next but rather, I just don't wanna write it. The content of the next chapter seems almost dull to me. I suppose it will have a lot of action, shooting, screaming, lighting and other crap that I so much enjoy putting in my work, but I think my sense of boredom comes from my main character having cut herself off from everyone. More than just about anything (writing related) I enjoy writing dialogue. Now having a main character distant from the other main characters makes for a lot of lackluster if not downright non-existent dialogue *sob*.

So what's my fix? Do I just plow through and write it so I can get to the much more character-centric, interesting and easy to write chapter 9, or do I find a way to change chapter 8 so it appeals to me more? What would you do?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Power-less powercords

So, blogging from an iPod may be the most rediculous idea you've ever heard. I say, true. Expect lots of typos. So the power cord to my laptop died utterly and completely, leaving me *sniffle* without any means to feed my obsession *sob*. So here I am sitting on the floor of the bathroom going on hour two of "child-on-toilet-until-he-pees", blogging from my iPod touch. I have to say, a computer-less me is incredibly productive in other ways, hence the removal of wallpaper and subsequent painting of aforementioned bathroom on whose floor I am residing while I type this. Potty-training and painting--can you imagine a greater hell?

Now lest you think this writing hiatus will make my writing suffer(don't forget I'm writing this from an iPod--me the non-texter of the world) no, I don't think my writing is suffering. It has given me a great deal of time to think about character and plot. Now I know my poor characters are screaming into the silent void of their non-working computer home asking, "what about us?! You left us in a really bad place!!" I should feel bad but considering all the horrid things I am planning to do to them, they should appreciate the reprieve. I will cut this short now because my pointer finger is starting to cramp from one-fingered typing. Let's just say that forced breaks in writing are not always bad. It can give you insight into a scene you are writing not previously considered. I probably shouldn't be too productive in the home, though, or my husband might just procestinate replacing my powercord.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Bright Light Amidst the Poo-pile

Two contrasting experiences today. First of all, being a mommy royally sucks sometimes but fortunately it's all piled on at once. Today is one of those piles.

However, amidst the pile (let's call it a poo-pile day, just to show this figurative contrast) there is always something that can lift your spirits, even if it exists in a completely separate realm. I got a partial manuscript request about a week ago from a wonderfully reputable agent. In doing my research on this agency, I was pleased to note that out of the 239 queries recorded (courtesy of mine was one of 6 they requested more material on. Not only was I bouncing off the walls in joy at having someone interested in RAGE (yipee!!) but it told me that my query letter (long revised, rewritten and generally stressed over) really can't be that bad. I mean, hey, if one agency liked it, why not others?

So today amidst aforementioned poo-pile, I was able to take an interesting side tour on my way to grocery shopping (4 children + 2 dogs = the frequent poo-pile day) to the post office to mail in my submission. Now I know they are not going to look at it the second it gets there in 3 to 4 days. In fact they told me they wouldn't get to it for 90+ day but it was still exhilarating sending my baby into the hard publishing world with all her perty, brand-spankin' new edits and find out if she pasts muster. Will they like her? Will she be exactly what they're looking for? Will they be able to see and understand her potential and all the money she will make them if they will just accept her for who she is?

So let's just summarize for a moment, shall we? Poo-pile days suck big time. Sometimes you don't even need 4 children and 2 dogs to have one. Sometimes it's the publishing industry that you're piled under. Maybe it's the endless writing, editing and query letters that are killing you at the moment. Then just remember that even while under the stress and stench of one such day there can often be that small glowing ember of happiness that says, "I can survive this! Someone wants to look at my precious manuscript!" and just watch yourself dig out of the pile holding out that shining submission to the postmaster, who takes it between two fingers while holding his nose.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just for fun

True story

On any given hour of any given day, the untamed tones of wild children resonate throughout the jungle of domesticity. What could be more fascinating, yet at the same time frightening, then to listen to the discordant tones while attempting to ascertain the nature of each conflict?

On this particular date, the feral yowls of J.J. resounded from the lair of his most potent enemy--a porcelain demonite by the name of Latrine. J.J. had been betrayed. The matron of his flesh had joined forces with Latrine in order to alter his future--a future he was loath to part with.

J.J. had fought this battle over the course of the last six moons but felt his stamina wavering. Each fight had ended with J.J. trapped in the clutches of Latrine and very seldom had he been able to secure even the smallest victory. He was sure his mother no longer loved him as, with a snarl, she lit a candle in order to vacate the scented spirits from the lair. The slamming of the gates behind her signified a moment for him to plan a defense even while Latrine held him in her cold clutches.

A brilliant idea astounded him for a moment and he took a shuddering breath as the magnitude of possible victory climbed into his chest. His mother may have left him to his nemesis but in her haste to dispel the spirits she had overlooked a powerful weapon.

Latrine did not notice or care as he reached a small rebellious hand toward the sacred scroll belonging to the demonite. The softness of the scroll slid seductively across his palm, his small face scrunching in concentration. If only he could eliminate one enemy with the unwitting weapon his mother had left. Perhaps with the loss of the sacred scroll his adversaries would be demoralized enough to abandon their foolish quest.

With a rapid flick of his wrist, J.J. captured the scroll and without another thought, set it above the flaming candle. With a roar, the scroll ignited, instantly turning into a brilliant inferno. Not expecting quite so much commotion from the typically docile aid to the demonite, J.J. dropped the scroll with a squeal.

Apparently the scroll was not the unassuming facilitator he had always considered it to be. It landed at his feet with a shower of sparks and ash, before rolling toward the basin of hallowed water. The lapping flames devoured the base of the pedestal, licking upward with great billowing clouds of smoke. J.J.’s scent spirits abandoned him with fervor, but he saw his chance.

Leaping away from Latrine, he bellowed a cry of triumph but also terror as Latrine’s lair was consumed. A cough burst from his throat as he raced toward the gates, a shrill alarm sounding from without the walls.

The shackles made from his clothing, hampered his escape but as he saw the closed gates, he realized he might have overstepped his zeal for conquest. Surely this would be the battle to end all battles—surely, even after securing the smallest win, he would not be able to complete his escape.

A rush of cool air brushed his face, as his mother swung the gates wide. Regret and terror flushed her face and she dragged him from the lair before rushing into the inferno to aid her new master. Sobs racked her throat and J.J. could not look away as she acquired a sturdy colorful vessel, a boat of great importance to him and scooped the very lifeblood from Latrine’s body in order to calm the fire.

The blaze quieted and J.J. stood in astonishment surveying the shattered sanctuary of his foe. His mother coughed into her hands, hunched over Latrine. J.J. felt only remorse at her grief. He had not known how much the demonite meant to her. For the first time since the beginning of the war, J.J. entered Latrine’s lair willingly, placing a small hand on his mothers shoulder, whispering sincere apologies. She flung her arms around him, sending happy waves of gratitude crashing around him in her pleasure of his safety. Perhaps it was time to find a common ground and cease the violence.

The consensus had always been that toilet training was an absolute pain. Expect messy floors. Expect messy clothes. No one had ever mentioned smoke inhalation or conflagration.

As one who had witnessed the flames, I only felt relief as I surveyed the minimal damage. A patch of bubbled linoleum and a slightly scorched cabinet—it could have been a lot worse. However for someone not knowing anything had happened, a delicate touch was needed.

The sound of an engine accompanied a crunch of tires turning into the driveway. I leaned casually against the doorframe as my husband exited his car. J.J. watched me quietly from his tricycle in the living room. He seemed frozen in place, his wide blue eyes staring at me as though he had never seen me before. I turned my attention to his father as he strode up the front steps.

“J.J. lit the bathroom on fire today,” I said, “and it’s really bad…”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Training wheels until chapter 12

On the writing front things have been slow. They've been even slower on the muralist front, though, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm stuck--as in writers block up the ying-yang. Of course my characters won't stop shouting me down from chapter 12 and all I can do is shout back that I'm not quite there yet...nor will I ever be if they don't be quiet for a few minutes (or months) and let me catch up.

What can I say, my characters have a tendency to take over. It's like the overly ambitious child you've just taught to ride a bike. You point them in the right direction and they take off without regard to all the obstacles in their way, leaving you in the dust knowing full well they will crash and the result will be rewriting 50,000 extra words just to make up for where they've left you. I don't know how many times I've been typing along a premeditated plot line and one of my characters out of the blue will do something quite shocking and in no wise planned. Not only do my eyebrows take the elevator all the way up to my hairline, but these !@#$ characters leave me with an all new plot twist that I have to make work throughout the rest of the book. Hey even authors can be surprised by their work

So the writers block, though being a much slower-paced way of life, has at least allowed me plenty of time to think about the shouted chapter 12. If I had started writing it out of order (as I am known to do) I would most assuredly have to cast it out at a later date to make way for all the new (self-propelled as opposed to character-propelled) things crowding my brain right now in regards to major plot lines. I am already seeing big changes that need to take place in my first three precious chapters, but hallelujah, every day the plot picture is becoming clearer.

Someone once said that writers block is your friend. It allows you to reassess your plot and characters to determine why you don't care enough about them to get past the block. Well all I have to say about that is, poo-poo. My trouble right now is that I care too much to make a mistake. I have written a higher word count of mistakes into first drafts than I have of words I've kept. Mistakes allow you to see what your book could have been had you not edited, rewritten, edited, rewritten again, worried, cared, and thrashed in your sleep until your husband kicks you out to go finish that !@#$ chapter so everyone can finally sleep in peace.

Well hopefully my most darling and scathing writers group can help me past this stupid block. Sometimes these meetings leave me at the point of running to my characters for sympathy (something that almost never ends well as the Commander usually ends up shooting Rose out of the blue or Justet plots a kidnapping, thereby causing me stress and extra writing, rather than the relief I'd hoped by running into their arms). However, group meetings never fail to get my fingers back on the keyboard to start pounding away on that skeletal and usually drivel-like first draft again.

Progress. Forward. Moving on. Hopefully it won't be on the wobbly character-ridden bike. I think I'll put the training wheels back on until I get to chapter 12.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alligators, Writing and Hope

"Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators."
-Olin Miller

And on that note what more can I say? A lot, actually. I figure I have a tough job. Raising four children (most of whom can out debate me on any given Sunday) would challenge the strongest, most intelligent person in the world. Well I am neither, though I feel I can hold my own against my nine-year-old--pulling out the old "because I said so" if I need to.

So why is it that I decided it might be fun to take on another challenging job? The answer lies in hope. I feel I have written an interesting, entertaining story--a story that has taken some of the best and worst from me. I have a great deal of hope that there will come a time when people can pick R.A.G.E. up at their local library and enjoy my characters. I hope that some day people will learn something from my work. I hope that I can publish R.A.G.E. and therefore have hope that future works will be published, and maybe those will entertain or touch someone.

Now granted, what budding author hasn't thought about that six figure advance, the book signings, or seeing their characters come to life of the big screen? I think about these all the time--sort of my own personal well of of hopes and dreams. However when I think deeply about what I want for my books, I have to admit to myself that I want people to meet my characters and like them, not unlike how I want my children to be well liked and admired.

Difficult, you say? Not if I've done my job correctly. Now if I could just leap the most agonizing hurdle into the publishing industry all this hard work could pay off in making my characters accessible to the world--and in so doing, launch me into the alligator pit of living by my pen (er...laptop, as it were.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Querying and the Dream-crushers

Querying is one of the most exciting milestones an author can get to. Here you have this manuscript you've been working on for____ (fill in blank, 6 months, 18 months, 20 years, etc.) streamlined to perfection and now is the time to bestow it on that select lucky agent who will sell it for a six figure advance as well as contact Tom Welling for the lead in the movie. I'm getting breathless just thinking about it.

Then comes that first rejection. I mean it was bound to happen and just because it was a form letter shouldn't bode ill for your baby, right? Wrong! And wrong again and again and again! *Sniffle* Now my breathlessness has turned to tension and tears as I remember the little dream crushers slamming me from my mailbox as well as my inbox. It finally gets to the point where a new email comes in and my finger hovers over the mouse button for a good 20-30 seconds until I get up the gumption to feel that pit in my stomach again.

So after having been crushed repeatedly, I let my querying peter out until I was only getting a lagging rejection perhaps once a month instead of once an hour. Revisions of the manuscript screamed obscenities at me, divulging perhaps the reasons for the rejections--the manuscript wasn't ready yet. An unready manuscript also equals an unready query letter. Curse them!

I haven't received a rejection in months and so the other day I decided to revise/rewrite my query letter again and send out another round of queries--more slowly this time. Last night I queried an agency exclusively and hope to get that rejection in the mail within a week or wait, positive thinking is the key...get that offer of representation in the mail within a week or so.

Querying--what can I say? The anticipation is killing me. I'll post my most recent query letter here and if you would reject my precious RAGE on it, I'd love to know.

August 1, 2009

Dear Ms. XXXXX,

As my first choice agent, I am querying you exclusively given you interest in finding a great new voice in science fiction. Please consider my science fiction thriller 12th Dimension R.A.G.E.

A reverse-aged criminal from another dimension must remember her violent past if she is to save the future of Earth.

When young U.S. Army Specialist Kris Rose uncovers a plot to capture “Aliens” in the Sonoran desert, she unwittingly discovers the depth of her involvement going back to before she started her life on Earth. Having no recollection of her past life—a mass murderer from an alternate dimension of Earth—Rose must depend on her wits as well as her aggressive tendencies if she is to survive. With her good friend Corporal Devon Thurmond in tow, trying to save her from herself, Rose finds herself involved in one brutalizing mission after another in the noble pursuit of Earth’s continued existence.

Set in our modern world, 12th Dimension R.A.G.E. takes one step outside of reality, forcing Rose to explore her naturally dark nature in opposition to the moral person she would like to be. Her pleasantly cavalier voice and noncompliant attitude makes her strangely endearing. The unpredictability of the plot as well as deeply woven twists, create a distinctively commercial read.

My writing credits include nothing more than a nearly debilitating passion for writing. However, my experience as a Military Police officer as well as a Special Forces Counter-Intelligence Agent in the U.S. Army has provided me with the background necessary to bring authenticity to the military side of this work.

12th Dimension R.A.G.E. is complete at 78,500 words. I would be delighted to share the entire manuscript with you at your request.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Christauna Asay

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When hobbies collide

My dad is a very accomplished self-published author. He's in dire need of doing his fourth printing now (at least I think it's four) but had just finished writing his third book and wants to print that at the same time.

Now watch how my two favorite hobbies come crashing into each other. That's right. I'm working on an edit for him as well as being tasked to paint the cover. The first two covers (see above) were nothing short of inspired. Usually I can spend months working on and oil painting (not to mention the half finished ones in my basement) but these two paintings came together so well it was like someone was dipping my brushes and moving my hands for me.

I don't know if my dad can say the same for the manuscripts, but I feel they are also divinely inspired. The principles taught in these works have probably helped more people than there are copies out there.

Look at me, I'm practically purring. So while I read and edit, I'll also be up to my elbows in oil paints. How did I get to be so lucky as to have my two favorite hobbies colliding in such a fantastic way? Gotta know the author.

P.S. the books are called The Cedar Post, Tears of Joy and the forthcoming Flypaper. You can purchase them at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Publishing, potty-training and violence

12th Dimension R.A.G.E. is the title of the book I am currently trying to get published. I say "trying to" because if you've done even a modicum of research into the publishing industry, you'll discover that getting published is about as easy as getting my three-year-old to use the toilette. Some days I truly believe I will be published and walking down the red carpet to the premier of RAGE the movie before the lad will be potty trained.

So I'm focusing on realistic goals--like getting 12th Dimension R.A.G.E. published. Now lest you think the mother of four children can only write prissy, feel-good books, a word of caution. RAGE is not for the faint of heart. A fantastic mixture of science fiction and pulse pounding thrills, this novel has taken all the aggression I don't unleash on my children (except for the seriously rough times--see above notation about potty-training) and enveloped it into a rich plot with more than a little violence.

I've been told on more than one occasion that I'm too nice. I chuckle under my breath and make myself feel better by writing a few paragraphs that involves some shooting and a whole lot of electricity. Of course laying it all out like this might make you believe me to be some sort of closet sadist. I have to say I haven't just written a book of gratuitous violence. Nope. RAGE has a great deal of teaching principles and a main character who abhors the violence I so rudely lay at her feet.

Summation: Publishing + pottytraining = unattainable wait...RAGE embodies my violent tendencies....hold on....

Okay...violence will not get you anywhere outside of a novel. At some point you have to dig down and find the depth of your character that will help you to accomplish those impossible potty-training and publishing.

Blogging for the sake of blogging

So here's my first blog post on my most fantabulous new blog. Why do I want to blog? Well, 1. because I don't spend nearly enough time on my computer 2. I don't write enough and 3. I have tons of time to flush down the toilet. Okay seriously folks, as the mother of four children, 1 dog and a hefty amount of freeloading house flies, I shouldn't have time to scratch my nose much less find time to obsess about writing and the occasional art project.

As with all obsessions, they should be nourished and fed with great consistency. This blog will not be about my children's milestones (there's another blog for that), no this will be about feeding my writing obsession to it's greatest potential. But first....procrastination....