Tag Archives: Queensryche fan forever

Because they are the best heavy metal/progressive band on the planet. Parts of my books have been inspired by their music.

Plotbunnies, Inc.

My writing partner and I were brainstorming a new book idea, and I thought I would talk about my brainstorming process in the hopes that maybe someone out there would find it useful in some manner.

There are a few things I regularly use for plot ideas:

1) Conversations.  Any and all.  Often, it will be a nondescript, non-writerly type of convo, but something said will spark an idea.  For instance, recently a friend of the beloved’s parents was talking about live TB germs still hanging around someplace.  Scary huh?  So then I wondered what would happen if someone came into contact with them, and then others came in contact with him, and so on.   It’s still fermenting, but the wick has been lit.  😀 

2) News.  Not usually the local news, either, although occasionally I’ll find something intriguing.  Nope, I’m talking about world news and the Peculiar Postings on MSN.  A plot element from What Lies Beneath came from a story about a boy who’d drowned.  Sometimes health or science news also gets the gears going, too.

3) Science.  On Thursday I discovered Discover Magazine.  Found some very interesting information on the sleep cycle (which is always interesting, after having almost been diagnosed with narcolepsy), minimally-conscious states (not a vegatative and not a coma –a cross between the two), and some intriguing news on memories (another passion of mine — memory in some way or another always creeps into my books).  Just from persuing the headlines and reading articles that looked interesting.  I should have been a scientist, I swear.

4) Dreams.  I have very vivid, very unusual dreams that I can usually remember in graphic detail.  It could be that I’ve trained myself to ponder things unconsciously, or maybe it’s my meds (a certain medication is known for inducing vivid dreams and nightmares).  I have at least 3 plotbunnies connected to dreams, and other plot elements that came from a dream.  If you find you can’t remember your dreams, tell yourself as you’re drifting off that you will remember.  Be prepared to jot down anything upon wakening.  Dreams tend to dissolve the more awake you become.  I try to latch on to something and more or less “memorize” it before it vanishes.  Those few minutes upon waking are the most critical.

Another thing I do is ponder any issues I’m having with a novel as I’m drifting off, which insures that I will dream about it.  Recently, a tiny part of a dream spawned the sequel idea for Pirouette.

5) Juxaposing two or more very different ideas.  I purposely look for strange or contradictory ideas to combine for novels.  I take what I mine from other sources and work it out in my mind, asking myself “what if?” questions.  The entire concept of Requiem in Blue was built this way: combining cyborgs, underwater, and mind control.  Same with What Lies Beneath — empathy, insanity, and dolphins.

6) Other books.  Books inspire me.  I don’t ever copy; rather, I twist and bend the core idea (sometimes juxaposing stuff as above) to come up with my own spin on it.  This I disocvered from Holly Lisle’s workshop: How to Steal Ideas Ethically (or some such.  Can’t remember the exact title).  Requiem in Blue was originally one of these.  I read Starfish by Peter Watts and fell in love.  What I liked the best was the underwater millieu and how the people were modified to live in deep sea.  I took that, and ran with it.  If you hadn’t known this ahead of time, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell: the plot, combined with the mind control, is completely and entirely different, as are the circumstances as to why these people are living deep in the sea.  The only resemblance to Starfish now is the core idea that sparked it. 

Same thing with Holly Lisle’s Talyn.  If you haven’t read it, go read it NOW.  It is awesome, thrilling, terrifying, and beautiful all at once.  Well, the idea of enemies joining together (and a few other things too — don’t want to spoil it) intrigued me.   What Lies Beneath has elements similar to that, in the romance end of it.  But the similarity ends right there.

7) Song lyrics.  Now, I have what I call “movie images” appear in my head as I’m listening to music, pretty much without any conscious control.  I’ve always done this, even as a kid, and it helps me brainstorm and get new ideas.  But some lyrics will actually inspire plots as well as the imagery.  Queensryche’s “Suite Sister Mary” became the template upon which I plotted (ok, semi-plotted) Requiem in Blue.  “Silent Lucidity,” also by Queensryche,  inspired a VR plotbunny very recently.  A song by the band Creed inspired an alternate reality romance plotbunny I’ve had for gosh, years.  Queensyche’s “The Hands” inspired parts of Requiem in Blue (it’s also the protagonist’s theme song).  It’s really amazing what cool things happen with music.

I also use music to help me write.  Oftentimes if I’m stuck, I’ll just close my eyes and let it do its work.  Usually, it’s enough to get me moving again, and that’s what counts.

8) Real-life events.  There are a few novels that started out purely as semi-autobiographical, as a way to make sense of something that had happened to me.  Usually, they grow beyond that, and take another form, but that’s how some of them start.  One such novel, “Transparent Eyes,” started out as a way to get back at someone (fictionally)  who’d hurt me.  TE grew beyond that, and is now Footsteps of Ghosts.  The original elements are completely gone, and it’s a story in its own right.

Take caution when plucking things from your own life — there’s always the chance of lawsuits.  Granted, the law can be a bit ambigious, but it’s always good to hide any real-life stuff behind a good fictional situation. 

Another old plotbunny is a multi-generational family story that I’ve been meaning to write, to help cope with some of my own personal issues.  It’ll be fantasy or sci-fi, most likely.

And, Dagmar, another plotbunny, came from my grandparents’ love story.  War romance, Irish heritage.  The rest is completely different, but that was the inspiration.

Once I get the kernel of the idea, I let it perculate.  I have a good memory so that’s not hard, even with multiple ideas (although I have been writing them down as of late).  I always ask myself “what if?” questions, and try to tighten the screws on the poor characters.  Torture, that’s the name of the game.  I’m evil, LOL.

Sometimes I use Tarot cards, using them to answer those “what if?” questions.  I’ve come up with some awesome ideas that way.

So now you know my process.  It works very well for me.  And it’s basically just being aware of things, and always looking at different perspectives.  The belief that anything can result in a story idea helps.  😉  And perhaps that’s why I have so many…..because I see them everywhere.  I don’t think I will ever run out of ideas.

Hopefully this helped you in some way!

The Killing Rewrite

A true dialogue between Alisia and myself: and yes, the allusion to Queensryche’s song “The Killing Words” is totally intentional.

 EK: *whines* I’m having such a hard time with this damn rewrite.  It just seems to be going slow.  And slower.  You know, I just broke 5k a few days ago.

Alisia: *contemplative* And you can’t work faster because…..?

EK: *rolling my eyes* Because then it’ll turn to crap!  You know, like draft 1– *realizing what she just said and insinuated* –I mean, it’s not crap–

Alisia: You bet it isn’t!  It’s utter brilliance!  *she looks so feral, especially her eyes, and for a moment the Weaver is scared*

EK: That utter brilliance fell just shy of 400k.  Four. Hundred. K.

Alisia: So?  That’s how long it took to tell the story.  That’s ok, right?

EK: *shakes her head, wishes she had some Bailey’s to down* It’s not okay, Alisia.  It’s murder.  It’s….terrible!  I can’t write short.  It’s impossible.  *sighs, putting head down on table that suddenly appears*

Alisia: *patting the Weaver’s shoulder consolingly* Shhh.  It’s ok.  Whatever you need to do, do it.  I have faith in you.

EK: *looking up at Alisia* Uh….you do?

Alisia: Of course!   *she smiles, baring teeth that could almost pass for fangs* That’s why I picked you to tell my story.

EK: *narrows eyes*  So how come it changed after draft 1?  Why are you now Fae?

Alisia: *shrugs* Hell if I know.  Things get obscured sometimes.

EK: Great.  Now you sound like a prophetess.

Alisia: I am— *she stops, covering her mouth with one pale hand* I’m not supposed to say that, am I?

EK: Nopers.  Nice save.  *stretches like a cat*  So.  I am frustrated with this rewrite.  I keep wanting to edit the damn thing.  The Weaver never edits anything while in draft form.  It’s just…not done. *starts picking at one semi-long fingernail, then remembers her oath to herself not to do that, and fists her hand instead*

Alisia: Well, apparently the Weaver needs to learn some new tricks.

EK: But what good is editing doing me?  I backtrack!  I do the very thing S.L. Viehl says not to!  And I love her writing.  She rocks.  So why can’t I rock like that?

Alisia: *rolling her eyes* You do rock, just in a different way.  Okay.  *sits down on a chair that magically appears*  Here’s the thing.  Maybe editing isn’t so bad.  Maybe it is helping, even though it doesn’t feel that way right now.

EK: *nods, looking slightly confuzzled*  That could be.  But it just goes against the grain of everything.

Alisia: But remember, Weaver, remember.  This is your first real rewrite.  It’s bound to be a little weird.  You’re a speed demon on wordcounts.  I mean, 15 minutes and 500+ is damn good.  So, you just gotta roll with it.  You dig?

EK: *arches a brow* But you know, Eternal Dance was, technically, my first rewrite.

Alisia: That never made it past the first few chapters, as I recall.  *she buffs her fingernails against her top* And then before that, it was The Sacrifice. When you got annoyed with that, Radio Waves was born.  What ever happened to that one, anyhow?

EK: Uh….boredom?  Actually, I just got stalled.  Something else hooked me.  Damned if I remember what it was. 

Alisia: *giggling*  I don’t know how you keep everything straight.

EK: *taps her left temple* It’s called memory and compartmentalization.

Alisia: *makes a sign of warding* Oh, no.  Let’ not get all anal and high and mighty here.  I have a good memory, too.  I’m immortal, remember?

EK: Yes, I do.  *smiles*  But, that’s going to change.

Alisia: *pales visibly* I don’t wanna talk about it.

EK: Fine.  Back on topic.  I need to find a way to allow myself to write and edit and not feel so ….out of sorts with myself.  Any suggestions?

Alisia: You’re asking me?  I’m not a writer.  You are.

EK: But you are a Weaver.  Just a different kind.  So we’re like, cousins, or something.

Alisia: *looks down her nose, looking alot like…royalty* I don’t recall you having royal blood…..

EK: I might, Alisia.  Family legend speaks of it.  *winks*  Anyhow, we are very similar, and I thought you might have some–

Alisia: What about just…I dunno….writing the damn thing instead of worrying?

EK: That’s an idea.  Problem is, it’s that type of attitude that has me 8k behind.  As of tonight.

Alisia: And the race is….? 

EK: *shrugs* Oh, nothing.  Just a wee little dream of quitting my day job to be a fulltime writer.  Tiny thing.  Insignificant really.

Alisia: Awwww.  I’ve offended you.

EK: Who me, offended?  Nah.

Alisia: That’s right!  You don’t offend easily.  But…this hurts you doesn’t it?  You want this.  I can tell.

EK: *hangs head* Since I was really young.  I can’t bear to let that go.  And I have a chance.  But if I fuck it up, it’ll be gone. 

Alisia: *touches her Weaver’s wrist* Don’t worry.  You won’t fuck up.  You have me to pester, bother, and annoy you.  It will happen.  You’ll see.  You’ll be on the shelves, and so will I.

*Lucien walks up to them, looking sullen*

Alisia: Nashan, I was just telling our Weaver here that she’s going to make it. 

Lucien: *stares the Weaver down as if looking right into her soul* Make what?

EK: A chocolate, blood-filled cake.

Lucien: Oh.  That sounds….interesting. 

EK: *pretends to swat him upside the head* Hel-lo, prince of all vamps, come back to Earth.  Come back, Lucien.  *glances at Alisia*  What’s wrong with him?

*Alisia and Lucien exchange A Look*

Alisia: He’s upset that he hasn’t made an appearance yet in the rewrite.

EK: See what I mean! *throws up her hands in disgust* I haven’t fucking gotten there yet!

Lucien: It’s alright.  I’m sure it will be brilliant.

EK: Great, just what I need.  Pressure….

Alisia: Well, it could always be worse.  You could be dead.

Alisia’s voice can be heard in the background…. Stop editing this fucking post, will you!

I dream in infrared.

Well, not really, but I had a really bizarre, yet insightful dream about the Pirouette Rewrite.  Apparently my muse has been working overtime, while I wasn’t paying attention, because she handed me something really important for the ending.  Something that will be really good.

But first, the dream.  I was in this restaurant-like place and I fell asleep, and was dreaming (dream within a dream, how trippy!) that I was working on the Rewrite of Doom, and I thought of the ending, and was writing it.  Not gonna get into it here, b/c it’s a spoiler, but it’s a really good thing.  It ties in perfectly with not only the whole thing, but the basis of it — Alisia’s need to dance, and her ultimate undoing.  It also ties in an element from Pirouette 1.0 that I got rid of due to well….not fitting.  True, it didn’t fit the exact place, but it fits in the Rewrite as part of the end.  The freaky part is, I not only remembered this upon waking, but I see it as utter brilliance.  So, thank you, muse.

Two of my exes and my current beloved were also in attendence, but I don’t recall what they did or why they were there.  Weird.

S.L. Viehl had an idea for figuring out your story.  It involves asking your main character three questions:

1) Who are you?
2) What do you want?
3) What’s the worst thing I can do to you?

For Pirouette (Rewrite), the answers would be:

1) Who are you?  I’m Alisia, and I’m heir to the Faerie throne.  I am also a necromancer, having a rare power to control the dead and vampires (since they aren’t dead in my books).

2) What do you want?  To live in peace and safety outside of Faerie, and also to be able to dance, silence the ghosts.

3) What’s the worst thing I can do to you? Force me back to Faerie, back to possible danger and death; also, take away my ability to dance.  Permanently.

She loses her ability to dance early on, but later, this element will be revisited.

Also, let me just say that sometimes computers suck.  I spent my entire afternoon troubleshooting what I thought was a video card/motherboard/possible virus issue that made my puter unusable, only to find out that somehow, gremlins were pulling my leg. 

I was not amused.

We now return to your regularly scheduled life.

Re-arrange me….let the world try.

This title *points up* describes my thought process at the moment.  Been doing alot of thinking about virtually everything.  The one thing I have never compromised on is on who I am.  In the core, I mean — not the usual dipshit stuff like annoying habits, etc.  — the Real Deal.  My soul.  I have never apologized for who and what I am.  My attitude since high school (after being repeatedly teased and traumatized by my classmates) has been if you don’t like me, too damn bad.  I am who I am, and that’s it.  In junior high I was too wrapped up in trying to fit in that it hadn’t quite touched down yet.  But, in high school, something clicked.  While it still hurt, alot, I started to not care.  I started to revel in the person that  I was becoming, instead of mourning the person that everyone teased.

It was a huge revelation at age 16.

And it is still with me to this day.  Even more so, because now I try to be different.  I purposely don’t follow the pack.  I am who I am.  If you don’t like me, then deal.

It also taught me a very important thing: the value of strength.  I come from a family of true warriors, so this isn’t all that surprising, but discovering it was.  When I was 15, I had major jaw surgery to correct severe TMJ.  The joints were literally worn away, and I was told, quite bluntly, that I’d lose all my teeth by the age of 20 (not to mention the pain of headaches and such that my dad goes through on almost a daily basis).  So I had the surgery.  Was wired shut for 2 months.  Had to be on a liquid diet.  Had to watch everyone around me enjoy food.  That part sucked.  But the pain wasn’t too bad….until they had to re-open my jaws (they were stuck in the same position for 2 mos.) and break adhesions.  Yes, I say break.  I came very close to breaking my mom’s fingers that day.  And folks, I have a high tolerance for pain.  But that–that was unreal.

At age 26, I got my first jaw infection, and had to have 4 pieces of hardware removed from my lower jaw on the left side.  More pain.  A wire had moved and was constantly poking me.  Every time I talked, ate, or just moved my mouth.  Scary stuff.  The second time was in 2004, over Christmas.  Upper left jaw, this time….a few more pieces.  Total: about half is gone.  I started with 28.

So I’m no stranger to pain, physical or otherwise.  As of yesterday, I’ve been divorced for a whole year.  I left my ex because he was unfaithful.  Actually, there’s more to it but suffice to say that it was the best possible thing for both of us.  It nearly killed me, and it was tough, and those sleepless nights sometimes still haunt me, but I made it to the other side.  I’m where I couldn’t picture myself being a year ago.  I couldn’t imagine ever being happy again.  But, life sure knows how to throw you curveballs because, wouldn’t you know it, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.  My health is better.  I feel emotionally strong again.  I’m not severely depressed.  I’m happy.  Imagine that.

But look what I had to go through to get there.  If I were to add up all the bad experiences of my 31 years, it would be a big number.  My life has never been easy.  I’ve always had to fight, to struggle, to make things happen.  I’m also driven to the point of obcession (OCD anyone?  I’m not, but I could be).  Why?  Well….I believe fervently (and this will sound really fucked up) that having fibromyalgia (an autoimmune disorder causing a myriad of symptoms including but not limited to dizziness, chronic fatique, severe pain, migraines, stomach problems…. etc) has caused me to work harder than most people.  I think that without it, I might have fallen prey to complacency, and would not be as accomplished as I am today.  It also made me take stock of my life, and focus on the things that count, toss away the garbage.  In that respect, it’s a true gift.  And I thank God every day for it.

So, we’re warriors.  My dad had his consultation with his surgeon today.  His surgery has been postponed because it’s not quite time yet (to preserve his privacy, I’m purposely omitting details, so it prolly sounds hokey, but it’s really okay) and in 4 months, his body will have had enough time to do what it has to to prepare.  It really is the best course of action.  He had to have a shot, and the doc suggested Monday.  My dad said, “Monday?  What about right now?”  The doc was floored.  That’s my dad.  Bring it on!  He wants this over.  He knows he’s in for alot of pain and discomfort and being laid up for awhile (which to him is not cool), but he’s doing everything he can to stay alive.  He’s making the choice to live.  To beat this thing and come out the other side, victorious.

I wrote a poem, many moons ago, about a failed engagement.  This poem became a song that my ex, my dad, and I used to perform.  It was sorta “our song.”  Anyways, it’s about fighting and being victorious.  It’s hard to sum up because it’s an experimental, very different kind of poem.  Here’s a snippet:

on the other end of the line

it was a mistake
but you pushed
so now you have it.

you’ve reached
I am victorious.

It was actually me talking to the woman who used to be my best friend.  I can remember when I wrote it.  I was working the afternoon shift at the office of the job I had then, typing away, mostly freewriting, when my muse handed this to me on a silver platter.  I don’t think I even edited it much. 

Ah, the memories.

So, anyways, just wanted to share that.  I know, with everything in me that Dad will be okay.  That he’s strong, stronger than most, that he has history on his side (my grandfather fought in WWII and lived to tell about it –he’s still alive; my grandmother fought cancer and fibromyalgia) and he has us.  We love him and want him here with us.  But more so than that, we want him happy.  I want him to be out in the garage, working on his cars, cruising Gratiot and Woodward and going to his car club on  Thursdays.  I want him to walk me down the aisle if I ever get married again.  I want him to hold my first book in his hands and cry with me when I get The Call.  I want him to grow to a ripe old age of 100, and live the fullest life he can possibly live, because I love him, and dammit, he deserves that.  He deserves to be able to live his life, to enjoy the little things, to spend time tinkering with his cars.  He’s not ready to go yet, you know.  I don’t think that day will come for long time, if I know my Dad. 

He taught me how to fight.  I think if I had to pick one thing that he taught me, that profoundly changed the course of my life, I’d have to say that it’s fighting for what you believe in.  And I don’t just mean picket lines and unfair labor practices.  I’m talking about everything.  I fought to have a full life despite fibro; I fight to write every single day; I fight depression.  Different people fight for different things.  But it’s that spark — that fire that won’t extinguish; that thing deep inside that refuses to give up.  My dad won’t give up —he won’t let cancer take him.  I know this.  Just as I will fight, possibly forever, to be the writer I want to be.  Note that I didn’t say published.  I do want that, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately, it’s the words.  That’s what’s most important.  I want to be published but failing that I just want to write.  And sometimes, it’s not as easy as hitting little buttons.  Sometimes it feels like I’m tearing some deep part of me loose.  Sometimes it’s facing off with my muse.  Either way, I won’t be happy without it someplace in my life.  It’s a fact.

But anyhoo, my point is that you gotta fight for what you believe in, for that thing that won’t leave you alone, because you need to.  You need to be the person you want to be.  And if the world doesn’t like it, well, fuck ’em.

Queensryche really said it best here.  Really, truly, deeply.

ugh, the muse loses.

My muse has been very active today, giving me ideas about what scene to start the Pirouette rewrite with.  It’s a cool scene, giving the reader a taste of the world, of who the male lead is, and who the main players are.  It has a hook, too.  I visualized this most of the day, and when I sat down to write it, it came out totally wrong.  Not even a little rough, which I could live with.  I mean, holy crap I wrote that? rough.  I cannot even begin to express my frustration.

So, I deleted the entire thing.  It was around 300 words, not much, but there isn’t anything I remotely wanted to keep.  I guess I’m not quite there yet for starting it, even though it’s ahead of schedule, and I’m inspired now.  Oh well.  There will be time. 

Was thinking of trying to write a scene for Survivor or for Requiem.  I’m anxious to do some writing today, any writing, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.  I did have a frazzled kind of day, worthy of tranquilizers in fact.  My mind has been running a thousand miles an hour.  I think that’s a good thing, but dammit, I want to write.

I did write 10 haiku, but I don’t count that because they, too, suck.  Except one.  It’s from an excercise for my Tarot group where I challenge them to make up a haiku based on three Tarot cards.

I walk into light
on gossamer wings, I fly.
Boundless, my soul soars.

 Strangely enough, it sort of reminds me of that scene I just tried.  I’m not even sure what the Prophetess is going to tell Lucien, exactly.  I figure that it will come to me.  Or, I might need to drag it kicking and screaming from my muse. 

I’m listening to Queensyche’s “Rage for Order.”  What an awesome album.  Totally.  Inspiring.  I know my muse likes it. 

Just need the blasted words, dammit.