Werewolves, New Artwork, & War, Oh My!

For those of you who follow my blog for my writing alone, consider this Part 6 of “Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf”. I actually tried writing an isolated version of that blog post yesterday, but honestly? So much had gone on over the last week that I just had too much on my mind that I wanted to talk about for it to work. So, here we are today.

I suppose then that the first thing I should address is The Wolf, and whether or not I jinxed myself by crowing about my progress last week. Short answer? I actually didn’t. My pace has fairly consistently leveled out to almost 2,000 words a day when I sit down and commit to the keyboard. Which hasn’t been every day, mind you. Truth be told, it hasn’t even been most days. One of my uncles passed away last week and those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that it knocked me off my game in a very bad way. I was depressed, I was viciously angry, and the last thing I wanted to do was write a happily-ever-after story about reunions with a long lost love. In fact, I almost went back to working on The Demon just so I could have a proper outlet for all the rage I was feeling.

But I didn’t. I stuck with The Wolf and just hunkered down for a few days to ride out the storm. And when the worst of the storm had passed, I wrote all the things. In just two writing sessions, I cranked out nearly 7,000 words, with probably close to another 1,000 added today. At least if we count the complete re-write of Chapter 6’s ending. And with the completion of Chapter 6, as well as the commencement of Chapter 7, I feel quite confident in saying that we are officially passed the halfway point of this story. There are only two more major events left in the plot before the climax begins, and if all goes well, I might actually be able to complete this draft before TwitchCon!

Speaking of TwichCon and other streaming related things, you all may have noticed that this whole website looks a little bit different. That is thanks in large part to the talents of an artist friend of mine known to the internet as CCSpectre. I’ve actually been unhappy with the look of this place for a while, and with the conclusion of The Wolf now in sight, I’ve started thinking about what I’m going to have to do going forward with regard to publishing and marketing it. And the first thing that came to mind was that if I was going to be serious about being a hybrid author/Twitch streamer, I needed a website for the author half of that equation that was a bit more professional that neon designs on black backgrounds. Since my website is called “Quills & Controllers”, I hit upon the “Ink & Parchment” theme pretty quickly, and CC was kind enough to apply that theme to the existing artwork she’d already done for me. The result has been a universal branding update that I feel ties my writing and streaming together beautifully, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

One thing that I could be happier with however, is my streaming. Specifically how and what games I stream. I’ve made no secret of my love for the Destiny franchise, but taking these last two weeks off of streaming has really highlighted for me just how ridiculously fast I blew through the opening content of Destiny 2, and how little enjoyment I was then getting out of it as a result. I was in such a rush to get ready for the new raid that I completely forgot about the things that actually make games like Destiny 2 so much fun for me; exploring new worlds, experiencing new stories, and in general just immersing myself in a different reality for a few hours. By the time I realized I’d done this, I was already so disheartened and disappointed in myself that I didn’t even want to go back through it all on a new character.

Now that’s not to say I don’t want to play Destiny 2 at all anymore. Far from it, in fact. I’m still hugely excited for the PC version’s release, and honestly can’t wait for the chance to have a fresh start with a new character on it. Because this time, I won’t be in a rush to complete the story. I won’t be in a rush to get ready for a raid I won’t actually have enough friends to complete. This time I will stop to smell the roses for a while and poke my curious nose into all the little nooks and crannies of the world, and quite frankly, that’s the part I’m most excited for with the PC release.

That said, there’s still almost a month between now and when Destiny 2 launches for PC. That’d be a painfully long time to go without streaming, but fortunately, there’s another game on the horizon that I’m almost just as excited for.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

That game is the sequel to my personal Game of the Year for 2014; Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Set between the events of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, these games tell the story of Talion, a Gondorian Ranger, who is murdered by the agents of Sauron and resurrected by the spirit of Celebrimbor; the elf-smith who Sauron tricked into forging the Rings of Power, and who Sauron later tortured to death in an effort to learn the secrets of the three Elvish rings that Celebrimbor forged by himself. Shadow of Mordor is a great game built upon a thrilling narrative idea, and while it may have stumbled in the delivery of that narrative sometimes, the core gameplay was fantastic. And in every way that matters, Shadow of War looks to expand upon that core gameplay in every conceivable way. Even better, based on recent articles that I’ve read, Shadow of War also looks to be stepping up it’s narrative experience in equal measure.

If you can’t tell, I’m just a wee bit excited for this game.

Because of that excitement, and because of my badly self-inflicted burnout on Destiny 2, I’m switching things up with the stream for the next few weeks. Things will start with a nostalgic stroll back through Shadow of Mordor next week, and then when Shadow of War comes out the week after that, I’m going to apply the lessons learned from Destiny 2 and take my time to savor the smell of ash and sulfur as we rip control over the Land of Shadow right out from under Sauron’s gaze. Fun times will be had by all in attendance (except for the Orcs and Nazgul), so feel free to tune in via Twitch itself or the embedded player here on Quills & Controllers under the “Twitch” tab in the menu bar. The shenanigans begin next Tuesday at 1:00 PM, Pacific Time.

Now, about that Wolf that still needs taming… 😉

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A Hard Reset

So… I had a bit of an adventure on Tuesday.

Monday night, I started hearing a really loud, rhythmic clicking sound coming out of my computer, and at about the same time, I noticed that my computer’s performance was plummeting. The broadcast of another streamer I was watching on Twitch kept freezing, other programs were taking far longer to respond to instructions than they should, and that damn clicking noise would not go away. So, I opened up the side panel of my PC’s case to try and figure out where the clicking was coming from, and almost immediately found that it was coming from my system drive. For the non-tech heads out there, the long and the short of it is that the hard drive that helped run my entire system was dying and if I wanted to keep using my PC, I needed to replace it ASAP.

Which I did. Even threw in a little upgrade that’s made my computer boot up in seconds instead of minutes. Solid State Drives FTW!

Unfortunately, this upgrade came at a cost. Because I got caught so flat-footed by the drive failure, and hadn’t been as diligent as I should’ve been in backing up my files, I lost everything on that drive. My music, my movies, my pictures, and perhaps worst of all, my writing. Not all of it, mind you. About 80% of everything I’ve written over the last five years has been saved not only on a flash drive, but copied over onto my laptop as well. However, with literally only one exception, all of my most recent, relevant documents went down with the hard drive.

And believe it or not, I’m actually not mad about this.

A little annoyed, sure, but here’s the thing: I’d actually been wondering about making a completely fresh start for quite a while now. Because the thing about having so many different writing files from so many different drafts from so many projects from so many different years is that it tends to get a bit cluttered and confusing, and after a while it becomes just a bit… much… to keep it all straight. So even before my drive crashed, I’d been thinking on and off about just wiping everything out, and starting completely over with a perfectly clean slate. Because as immensely valuable as notes are, the ideas those notes contain are still stored relatively safe and sound inside my brain and on more than one occasion, a hard reset on some of my writing projects has actually enabled me to craft a better story than the previous one.

This reset just proved to be a bit harder than the one I’d had in mind.

So what’s all this mean going forward? Well, for one thing, it means I’m going to get off my ass and get blogging here again. For another, it means that I am truly starting over from square one. Whatever plans I’d had before the drive failure, scrapped. The exorcism of The Demon? On hold for the moment. My life is in a much different place than it was when I’d first started that process, and now unlike then, I actually have the freedom to take my time with all the stories I’ve wanted to tell and write them out proper. I say this because over the last week or so, I realized something critical:

What I’m doing as TheGamingAuthor? Trying to build an audience as a Twitch streamer while simultaneously trying to build a career as an author? It’s insane. More importantly than that though, is that it isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And I’ve been trying to sprint this marathon since February.

I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself to succeed like that. It’s not going to happen that way and I’m finally going to stop trying to force it to.

So here’s the plan going forward. I’ve got four stories in my head that are already (or at least mostly) fully formed: The Wolf, The Demon, The Vampire, and The Coven. Working titles of course, but the point is that these four stories are the ones I have that are the most ready for prime time, and so they’ll be the ones I work on first. The Wolf, The Vampire, and The Coven are all novellas, while The Demon as many of you know, is a full-length novel. And the order I’ve put them in earlier is roughly the order that I’ll be writing them in.

With one possible exception.

The Demon is a huge project, and the more I’ve worked on it the last few months, the more I’ve come to realize just how many moving parts it truly has. And given that The Vampire and The Coven are much simpler, shorter stories, I’ll actually be breaking The Demon up into smaller chunks that I’ll be working on before, in-between, and after my three novellas. By working this way, I’ll be able to avoid burn-out on any single project, and the bouncing back and forth will help me work with my ADHD rather than against it.

And yes, adults can have ADHD too.

So that’s where things stand as far as my writing life is concerned. It’s gonna be a crazy ride over the next few months and years, but I’m looking forward to it. This is exactly the path I’ve been trying to get my life on for the better part of a year now, so finally getting to even this point has been a dream come true.

Returning to Writing Form

So, if you’ve been following me on Twitter, what I’m about to say is probably something you’ve already guessed at. If you’re not following me on Twitter, I doubt this will surprise you either, given how quiet this blog as been over the last two weeks. And if you’re not following me on Twitter, and this is the first you’ve ever seen of my blog, well… hi, nice to meet you. 🙂

Now, on to the meat of this post.

I’ve barely written anything since coming back from GuardianCon.

I won’t say I haven’t written a word since I came back, but over the last two weeks I’ve written maybe 400 words, and almost all of that has consisted of basic level world building for a handful of new story ideas. Almost none of it has gone towards progress on The Demon (a paranormal YA novel that is my primary writing project), and even that progress has shifted away from writing the novel itself and towards a new synopsis from the perspective of my female-lead. Which has actually been a fantastically positive experience, but now I’m getting side-tracked.

The point is this: My writing life has gotten thrown into such complete disarray that for the last week or so, I haven’t been able to tell up from down or right from left. Because of that, I’ve kinda just let it sit and flounder in favor of my Twitch streaming. That and the brand new Oculus Rift VR setup that I got on sale thanks to Amazon, but again I digress.

Here’s the thing though. Writing and being a writer is so much a part of who I am that if I don’t do it, I start to not feel right. I’ll start to feel a little hollow, a little less like myself, and a little more like a stranger sleepwalking in someone else’s body. That’s how I know I’ve gone too long without writing, and I’ll give ya two guesses as to how I felt when I woke up this morning.

However, this time my lack of writing wasn’t due to any lack of desire or time, as has been the case in the past. Rather, this time my lack of writing was due to the fact that I didn’t even know what to write. Between story ideas I’ve already plotted out and new ones that’ve only just started popping into my head, I’ve got more than a dozen books rattling around in my head and different parts of me want to work on different ones at different times. Between all that confusion and the Twitch/GuardianCon hype and excitement, I just haven’t been able to get my brain back into proper writing gear.

Fortunately, I was finally able to change all that this morning.

There were a couple of factors that contributed to this. Perhaps the most important of them was the fact that I’m no longer under any kind of external time-crunch. When I was working at my local grocery store (hereafter known as The Store), I barely had any time during the day to write. As such, I focused all my writing efforts on The Demon; the novel I thought was most likely to get picked up by an agent/publisher and therefore offer me the quickest way out of my living situation at the time. This pushed all my other writing plans and ideas onto an uncomfortably crowded back-burner. However, now that I’ve quit my job at The Store (long story), that pressure to crank The Demon out the door is no longer there, and my life now actually has room for all these other stories I want to tell.

Another big factor in this is something that I learned about myself through working at The Store: I can be shockingly productive so long as I have an actual list of the things that I need to do. Now, I know to the outside observer this may seem like a “Well duh” kind of thing, but as someone who’s struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder my entire life, this was a revelation for me. Because with the way my brain works, sticking with any one thing for extended periods of time is not only difficult, but actually makes me *less* productive overall the longer I try to stick with it. But if I have multiple tasks that I can bounce back and forth between, then I can remain consistently productive on all of them, and therefore become even more productive in the long run.

So here’s the plan going forward: I’m not going to forcibly restrict myself to working on The Demon until it’s completely done. Rather, I’m going to break that project up into smaller chunks so that I can complete my other, shorter stories in between them. Counter-intuitive though it may sound, this’ll actually allow me to get far more writing work done in far shorter a time frame, and that’s something that I truly couldn’t be happier about.

And naturally, I’ll have much more to say about all these various story projects once I actually start working on them.

Take care, everyone. 🙂

 

Exorcising the Demon: Week 3

Well, this week went poorly.

Objectively speaking, that’s probably a bit too harsh of a statement. With how things went in my personal life however, especially with regard to how they affected my writing, it actually feels like an understatement. I went from finalizing multiple BSCs (backstory chapters) a day, to not even one this entire week.

Not exactly the kind of progress report I wanted to be making today.

That’s not to say this last week was entirely progress free, because it wasn’t. As I said before, objectively speaking, I did manage to make some significant progress on finalizing The Demon’s backstory. Particularly with regard to my main characters: “Fire” and “Ice”. As I’ve said before, The Demon is their story. It’s not just Fire’s, and it’s not just Ice’s. It’s theirs together and because of that, the story of how and why they first came into each other’s lives is perhaps the single most important chapter in the entirety of The Demon’s backstory.

That chapter is the one that I’ve been working on this week, and because it’s one of such significance, I’ve been taking an extraordinary amount of care in finalizing it. The events of Fire & Ice’s first meeting are what lay the foundation for who and what they become over the course of The Demon’s story, and in many ways, every BSC I’ve finalized up to this point has ultimately just been the build-up to this one. And making all of that build-up actually pay off has been a monumental challenge. It’s been such a challenge because both Ice and Fire are feeling intensely charged emotions when they first meet, and those emotions (as well as the reactions that occur in the wake of their expression) are not easily translated into simple words. On top of that, I also have to thread the needle of their reactions between simultaneously being believable, being true to their respective characters, and still somehow getting the story to where it ultimately needs to go.

And yet somehow, I still managed to accomplish some of that.

I still managed to get Ice and Fire into the same room at the same time, and perform their first introduction in such a way that leaves Ice exactly where the plot requires them to be, both physically and emotionally.

All that’s left now is to figure out how Fire responds.

And that’ll be my task for this next week. My personal life is still kind of on shaky ground at the moment owing to some job challenges, so I’m not going to try and hammer through this as fast and as hard as possible. Especially with this BSC, it’ll be far better to get it done right rather than fast.

Catch you all next week. 🙂

Exorcising The Demon: Week 2

I was almost certain this week was going to be a bad one.

I was almost certain I was going to get nothing done with regard to The Demon’s exorcism, because for the first few days of the week, I didn’t!

I chalk it up largely to the fact that I had to shift character perspectives, essentially. While The Demon takes it’s name from one of the main characters, the story itself is actually about both of my main characters, and the struggles they go through as partners. So when I finished one of their individual backstories last week, I couldn’t think of any more efficient way to proceed than to finalize the other’s individual backstory.

And that was a lot more challenging than it sounds.

The reason for that challenge was because these two characters are fire and ice, yin and yang, darkness and light. They come from two radically different backgrounds, and so have radically different views of the world and ways of thinking, so stepping out of one of their lives and into the other required me to spend a few days altering my own head-space accordingly. Not a particularly easy task when you’re still juggling some of last week’s leftover stress.

But! That is where the good news finally begins, because once I did get my head-space readjusted, just about everything started falling and clicking into place. I finalized five backstory chapters in three days, and that was with making some very significant changes to two of them. I even almost made it to six backstory chapters finalized, but quite frankly just ran out of time before I could get there. Either way, the individual backstory for Main Character #2 is now complete as well, and I caught myself the other day almost wanting to skip over the rest of the backstory and get a head start on writing The Demon in full.

I know better than that however, and with the individual backstories now wrapped up, the time has come to begin finalizing Fire & Ice’s history as a team. What brought them together, what kept them together, and what damn near tore them apart before The Demon even began. That is going to be some tremendously juicy stuff to write, and barring a sudden hurricane of free time and inspiration, it’ll probably take the next two weeks to properly finalize it all. Either way, it’s sure to be one hell of a literary ride, and I’m sure my Twitter postings over the next seven days will reflect just that.

Catch ya next week. 😉

Side note: I’m almost certainly going to start refering to my main characters as “Fire” and “Ice” from here on out in these posts because as soon as I wrote it the first time, I realized that not only are those words the perfect encapsulations of who they are, but it’s also just a lot more fun than my previous plan of designating them MC#1 and MC#2.

Quills: Exorcising The Demon – Week 1

So. Here we are. The end of the first official week of this literary demonic exorcism. All things considered, it’s gone both better than I’d feared and worse than I’d hoped. And because I don’t like ending things on low notes, let’s start this progress report with the snags, hiccups, and high-speed collisions that decided to pay me a visit this last week.

First and foremost I suppose is the fact that it is just damn challenging to write a book and work a job at the same time. I’d made some great progress on Monday and Tuesday (my weekend, essentially), but then when the time game to return to work on Wednesday, the mental and emotional gears in my head ground to such a sudden halt that the whole damn machine nearly came apart. That was a very hard thing to deal with, and quite frankly I’m still trying to get that machinery back into 100% working condition. As a result of all this, pretty much zero additional progress was made after Friday.

However, prior to Friday, I’d actually made some very significant progress. I did in fact solve that painfully stubborn “magic” issue I mentioned last week, and it turned out to be less of a magic issue and more of a character and logic issue. Once I realized that, the solution to it all was almost stunningly obvious. I got nowhere close to finishing all the backstories for all my characters, but honestly, my setting that goal in the first place was an almost comical underestimation of how much work I really had to do in that regard. What I did accomplish was arguably more important, in a way.

One of the most important relationships in The Demon is the relationship between one of my two main characters and his mother. For all the years I’ve been working on this story, that relationship has always existed as a kind of amorphous necessity of the plot, rather than the actual interpersonal dynamic between two fully-realized characters with their own distinct motivations and personalities. In going back through this section of the backstory, I was able to finally and properly explain not only who this MC’s mother really is as a person, but the how and why of their relationship as it exists in The Demon. This is a doubly huge step, as it also allowed me to at last formulate a proper conclusion to one of the most important plot-threads in the entire novel.

To say nothing of what that conclusion does for both of their character arcs.

With that success under my belt, I intended to switch over to the backstory of my second main character and finalize the first few chapters of that story as well, but that’s when Friday happened and the whole damn train nearly came off the tracks. I did manage to make a dent in it though, and while it resulted in one of my supporting characters having to do something that I strongly disapprove of, that action made so much logical sense for the story that I simply couldn’t write it any other way. And I’m fortunate enough with what the story of The Demon is that I can actually voice this disapproval to this supporting character through one of my main characters, so I suppose it all balances out in the end.

In any case, that’s the wrap-up of what all went down last week. The first goal for this next week is to finish up MC #2’s origin story and if I accomplish that, to at least start on the origin story for MC #1 & 2’s partnership, which is where the real meat of The Demon’s story (both backstory and the novel itself) lies.

See you all next week.

Quills: Exorcising The Demon – Week 0

I stand on the precipice of Hell, with only my darkness and my Demon to guide me through. With closed eyes and a final breath, I take that final step and fall willingly into the abyss.

I hope you’ll forgive my brief indulgence in theatricality. Sometimes, particularly with matters that lie as close to my heart as The Demon does, I just can’t help myself. I’d like to think that’s at least one of the things that makes me a good writer, but now we’re really veering off the point of this whole blog post.

And that point is this: for the next… however long it takes, I thought it would be a good idea to post weekly “status updates” about this whole authorly exorcism process. Because as you may have guessed, The Demon is in fact a story about demons and demonic powers, and I’m just not the type of person to let a good theme languish from disuse. And since the whole goal of me finally writing this book is to get it (and the attending personal demons) out of my system, what better thing to call it than an exorcism?

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I may or may not have a slightly twisted sense of humor.

In any case, I was actually inspired to start this weekly progress report-type series by fellow writer and blogger, Nicole Evans over at Thoughts Stained With Ink, who’s doing something quite similar with her “Quest for Happiness” series of posts. For me though, “Exorcising The Demon” is going to be more exclusively writing focused, as I thought that not only would it be fun to give you all a series of small peeks behind this writer’s curtain, but that it would also be a nifty trick for keeping me honest and consistent with my progress. Not to mention for keeping my head above water when all the history baked into this novel threatens to overwhelm me.

So. With all that now out of the way, where do we stand as far as progress currently goes?

Well, the good news is that because I’ve been working on The Demon for about twelve years now, 90% of all the world-building and character building is already complete. The only thing I have left to do in that regard, as I’ve previously mentioned on Twitter, is go through all of it and make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. This is actually a vitally important step in my mind, because The Demon has a ton of different moving parts to it, and a lot of those tie directly into the other books and stories I have planned for these characters.

Because The Demon isn’t just a one-off novel. It’s the first in what I’ve been planning and weaving into a series. In fact, The Demon was originally conceptualized as the second book in the series, but that’s another story for another time.

So, the goals for this next week (and likely the next several) are to finalize and write out all the backstories for all of my characters to make sure that everything lines up and ties together properly, and then to solve a painfully stubborn issue I’ve been having with this world’s “magic” system and how it affects normal people. I say painful because this magic issue plays a critical role in how and why another book in this series plays out the way it does, so until I solve it, I can’t properly plot out this other book. And the reason that’s an issue is because The Demon and this other book (we’ll call it The Assassin) take place simultaneously, and actually intersect in a couple of places!

Like I said, a ton of moving parts.

In any case, that’s where the exorcism currently stands, and hopefully by this time next week we’ll have crossed at least one of those goals off the list. Before we can do that however, there is a beautifully clear sky outside my window right now, and I’m gonna get out and enjoy some of that!

See you all next week.