What to say about the SCP Foundation that hasn’t been said before, usually better, sometimes with animation? A whole hell of a lot because it’s a treasure trove of literally hundreds of documents that translate into hundreds of extended and interconnected stories of a universe that Lovecraft would have recognized. Unfortunately for us all, I’ve got a migraine so I’ll let someone who speaks about the Foundation for a living do all the talking because I can’t make sense.
Hello Readers! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Especially since I disappeared with what I told you was pretty much a finished draft of “Tasting Ash,” I know it’s been hard on you. Well, it’s finally time for me to be real with you guys and tell you what is going on.
The last two years have been hard on a lot of artists. Quite a few have found themselves unable to commit to creative projects or dropping projects half finished. Some have found themselves entirely frozen by fear. While others have dedicated their time and talents to trying to bring focus to topical issues and make a difference, no matter how seemingly small.
It’s time to admit that I am one of those artists.
In the last two years I’ve dropped all my projects and done absolutely everything I could (without endangering my desperately needed day job) to make sure that my friends and loved ones are better informed than they were at around this time last year. I know I have been successful in starting several conversations and I know I’ve encouraged people to get involved in their districts. I even helped a friend edit their statements in their bid for public office. You probably didn’t notice and that is by design as I do not currently live in a place that responds well to liberal viewpoints, so I’ve worked behind the scenes as much as possible.
It hasn’t been an easy few years and there hasn’t been a lot of writing going on during it. I have to admit there’s a bit of fear in me that I’m still not doing enough or that I’ve done too much and might make myself a ready target. Either way I’ve done what I could and now it’s up to all of us to vote and hope things go a saner way.
I’ve decided that I want to move forward as if good things are actually coming, and stability will return. It just so happens that November is Nanowrimo and that competition has always been a great excuse for me to block out distractions and bang out some work. The novel I’m working on is unlikely to be a part of either of my current series. It is, by necessity, something totally new. Hopefully some of you will enjoy it anyway. I’ll be keeping you posted on word counts and maybe excerpts as the month continues on.
And please, whatever else you do next week, VOTE.
So it’s been forever and there’s a good reason for that, I recently returned to the world of day jobs and self loathing – and it almost killed me.
That’s not sarcasm either, I had no less than three incidents of illness where I was afraid for my life in the last ten months or so. All of which probably could have been prevented or drastically alleviated if I had been able to go to a doctor. Of course, I can’t afford healthcare even with the new job and paying out of pocket would have negated my entire savings. Savings I was desperate enough to earn that I kept going back, risking my health, for an entire year.
The good news is, I survived! I survived and I have manged to keep most of my savings! Money I’ve been using for some much needed replacing of various electronic bits that make this whole self publishing thing a reality as well as more professional edits.
I am exhausted.
So expect updates full of goodies to come but for right now I really need a nap!
So where have I been and where’s that book I promised you – a year ago?
Truth of the matter is, my dear dedicated reader, that it’s been a long nasty road that I’m not done traveling yet and I can confirm has been seeded liberally with landmines. The gist of it? I picked up a part time job because editing is expensive. Various important appliances (computers, cars, you know the things I need to live) have broken down and been jury rigged into a state of “please don’t die just yet.” My grandmother has had a stroke, recovered and gone home, had another and resigned herself to hospice care for what will very possibly be the rest of her life. Mom made great strides in her own health that all came crashing down like a castle of cards as soon as her mother got sick and I didn’t help matters much by immediately catching a flu so bad it reminded us both that people can still die from the common cold.
It’s been bad, dear dedicated, and it’s likely nowhere near done being bad just yet. While I’ve been occupied with all of that I’ve gone and let this vital lifeline grow dangerously thin and that’s not helped matters one bit. A writer that isn’t writing is a very unstable and hazardous person indeed. So in the interest of getting healthier (while still recovering from that monster flu) I’m preping “Toxic Ash” for paperback release and working on the rewrites of “Tasting Ash.” It’s slow going, a little like an athlete that’s been out of competition for a long while, gained a bit of a gut and a lot of self hate, before finally starting to train again more for their sanity than for any love of the game itself.
I don’t love editing. Editing is a very special kind of hell that’s only true competition is the dreaded formatting for paperback publication that will come next. But there’s a very special kind of healing magic to be found in reading your old work over again. A kind of wonder and ego boosting pride to read a few pages that aren’t half bad and realize that maybe you don’t suck half as bad as the mangled manuscript you’ve been wrestling with off and on for a year has led you to believe. That maybe, just maybe, you can polish this old turd into a diamond after all. You’re not entirely sure of the exact alchemy you’ll have to perform, to transform turds to diamonds, but there before you is the proof that you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again and again and again.
So long as you can just keep with it long enough.
Posts have been few and far between for a while now, culminating in a long period of seeming silence. I haven’t updated anyone on what’s going on with the books or posted anything of use on the blog, facebook, twitter or tumblr. A few particularly astute readers have taken the time to track me down and demand answers but I’ve been cagey even then.
The truth of the matter is, many nasty things have happened in the last six months or so added up with recurring bouts of problems with my hands and fingers that have really put a hurt on my writing work. Not all of what’s happen only concerns me and my affairs so I’m not even at the liberty to divulge them all (except for the knowledge that my Grandmother had a stroke earlier this month – and we’re lucky that she’s recovering nicely) that have left me psychically and mentally fatigued.
I keep trying to put off saying that I’m exhausted, depressed and looking at a complete rewrite for “Tasting Ash.” Shortening the projected story line has ruined the flow and it needs serious work before I can release it to anyone. Meanwhile I’ve lost one of my first readers to mysterious (and worrisome) circumstances. I’ve also been casting about for a new editor to go over the second books in both the Eldritch Elysium series and The Four Horsemen series, in preparation to committing them both to paperback.
All in all I’m a bit overwhelmed and tired, I had some awesome plans for the new year (setting up a proper newsletter, taking the site to it’s own page, offering up a few ecourses on self publishing) but now I’m cutting my project list waaay back and just trying to keep my head above water for the nonce. Books will be published, stories will be written – it’s just going to take a lot more time and right now I feel like I’m at the bottom of the hill looking up with a giant boulder in front of me that needs pushing.
I’ve been having a few nagging pains in my three of the fingers on each hand. When that pain progressed to my thumb and wrist I started to worry and when I woke up one morning and realized the fingers on my wright hand were swollen like sausages – I realized it was time to take an extended break from writing anything.
Since then I’ve iced, braced and rested till the swelling and pain has pretty much gone back into a more manageable box. Of course now that I’ve got my normal dexterity back I’m not taking it for granted! Right up till the point where I had to put everything I love on hold so I could heal and perhaps manage to keep on doing it a little bit longer, I didn’t really hold much truck with the idea that even writers get occupational injuries.
In my mind, carpal tunnel was something other people got. Something other people had to worry about because they worked their body to the limit, twisting it all out of reasonable shape. But of course, I was different.
I pay attention to my body. I don’t push it too far. I hydrate like a fiend. I rest and stretch and do yoga; even when i felt the first twinges in my wrists while moving through upward and downward dog I just wrote it off as a mistake in my technique. Serious repetitive motion issues were for other people – not me.
Funny thing is I’ve worked my hands into a pretty bad state before – and I probably will again. And again. Until one day I can’t recover with a few days of book rest and lots of bracing. Not because I’m unaware of the risks and not because I’m not trying to be careful but because it’s a hazard of the occupation. Thankfully I know enough to stop as soon as things get bad and wait till I’ve healed but I’ve seen lots of writers and artists who push themselves past that point until they need surgery to be honest I might have been one of them if I thought for a second I could afford to let my body get that far gone. Right now the cost of stopping to recover is a lot more reasonable than the risk of pushing through till I don’t have that option.
Ah well, lots of rambling to explain where I’ve been and why I’m slow with updates on “Tasting Ash.” Funny how at one point this month I honestly thought I’d be done with the novel by the 30th. Now I know I’m only about halfway done with the manuscript. Thousands of words to go before I sleep.
I’m busily cranking out words for “Tasting Ash” but there have been a few moments during the writing of the new book that have left me feeling a bit adrift because this novel is going to be a very different animal from everything that’s come before.
Up till now Ash has been, a protected Company employee with an unlimited budget, years of experience and training; set in her own element, a world very similar to our own but one where shadow organizations tend to take things a step closer to madness. Still for the most part she’s been living in the real world and doing relatively realistic things.
And then the Corporation got a hold of her. Now that’s she’s in Corporate control – well Toto, let’s just say it ain’t Kansas.
Then I realized that the difference in tone is all about the two shadow organizations and their completely different core values.
The Corporation: founded by Helen Raymond (with unspecified assistance from Buddy Jenkins) some two hundred years ago, is a family oriented company that specializes in concealment and secrecy (having a bevy of both Cleaners and Killers in their employ). Despite her mischievous nature it’s obvious that Helen goes out of her way to preserve the illusion of normalcy in the world, simply by how close to normal Ash’s life has been up to this point.
The Corporation: founded by a bunch of people we don’t know yet, a few hundred years before the Company, is far more interested in pushing the boundaries of reality and looting everything of value they can find in the borderlands and beyond (they use that loot to create war machines and finance even more looting). Their orientation is a little like the way some people teach children to swim – toss them in the deep end and see who floats or doesn’t.
And boy did they throw Ash in the deep end.
There are other shadow organizations in Eldritch Elysium that haven’t appeared yet (though the old families of various cities have been mentioned in passing) and hopefully none of the others will be kidnapping Ash as an introduction so their core philosophies will likely be a lot more subtle. There’s also a few free agents running around with enough power to warp reality but mostly no inclination to do so that will probably be making appearances in later novels.
Up to this point the Corporation and the Company have been mostly ignoring each others activities. The Corporation is the older of the two and found the Company’s specialties highly useful for delicate work that they couldn’t be bothered with while the Company was content to have Corporation among it’s client list but didn’t appear to have the kind of firepower necessary to go up against it in open war. That balance has sifted rather drastically.
Here I am, deep into book three of the Eldritch Elysium series, “Tasting Ash,” and I’m already coming up against the great thorny caltrop I laid down to wreck myself in “Toxic Ash.” I knew damn well that in a story dotted with shape shifting boyfriends and their poisonously beautiful sister and an old lover suffering under a debilitating curse that sooner or later I’d want to just toss in a little of the old razzle dazzle and let it explain away all my ills.
So I made sure to state it clearly once and for all so i couldn’t go back and add in a big ol sorting hat later on. Now that Ash is stuck deep behind enemy lines and is learning far more than she ever wanted to know about Caine, Caliban, Jeb, Klyde and Ophelia’s very messed up heritage I really really wish I could just wave a magic wand over the whole thing and call it done rather than wading through science journals and websites looking up the minutia of science that explains only half of anything and only half of the Corporation for that matter.
Because while there might be no such thing as magic, there certainly is something going on that’s beyond the realm of science. It’s in the gap between the first Helen’s brain surgery and impregnation, it’s in the extra bit of DNA that makes Ophelia kin to Blanche and it’s running lose and unfettered in the halls of the Corporation where scientists work in their pristine labs to distill something monstrous useful mundanity.
I feel a little like the parent, diligently informing their child that there’s no monster in their closet or under the bed–while checking the bars over the windows and doors as well as the handgun under their pillow. A monster by any other name is still gonna kill your ass.
Now go to bed.
I know, I’ve been dang nigh nonexistent in the blog for–a very, very, long time. I decided to put my all into finishing the outline for the new book, “Tasting Ash,” which is finally done. I’m neck deep in writing the novel now and already turning my eyes to the outline of the next book and thinking about releases and covers and all kinds of backend bullshit no one wants to hear about really.
As things keep moving right along I’ll try to finish up my series on using Scivener to write work with serial novels instead of single edition works. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on those so I’ll definitely keep putting them up till I feel like I’ve covered all the basis.
But for right now, since it’s been so long in coming and so difficult to get back to, I really just want to concentrate on writing the books themselves and getting them out the door in as timely a manor as possible.
So my monitor died some time ago and I didn’t realize how much of a ginormous hit that was to my productivity until I got it replaced and immediately felt like a weight was lifted from my writing that I’d never even dared contemplate was there before. Which should mean that I’m cranking out chapters like no one’s business – but. There’s always a but isn’t there? Just as I got close to replacing my monitor I lost large chunks of my Scivener project for the Eldritch Elysium series.
As in giant chunks of my manuscript for “Tasting Ash” were gone. Poof. Vanished into the aether.
This is the second time I’ve lost work thanks to using Dropbox coupled with Scrivener. Every now and again giant chunks of text just seem to vanish no matter what I do. Yes I was working on a different computer but I wasn’t opening the project on them both at the same time – at all – plus I lost bits of my notes from much older sections of the project (book 2 level old) which was both frustrating and utterly unacceptable.
Thankfully I have backups of my backups and now that I’m able to use the desktop again it wasn’t too hard for me to dig them out and get everything recovered. Unfortunately so frelling much was lost (that I really need) that instead of writing all kinds of awesome new stuff, I’m sitting around reentering old stuff.
Good news though, going through so many vital character notes has really helped clear away lots of my previous confusion with the manuscript for “Tasting Ash” bad new is I have parts of that to recover too and I’ve not gotten there yet.