Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lucid (Chapter 59)

Lucid is way tooooooooooo long.  
I still have a few more chapters of Grammarly doctoring to go.
I think it's putting lipstick on a pig, but then, I hit a passage where Lucy's voice isn't dragged to a standstill by my inept fingers and I remember why I liked it.  Why I wrote it when there were so many other ideas I could've hitched onto.  

“Reminds me of fishing.  I used to go fishing when I was a boy a million years ago.  Friend of my father’s…His wife would come.  Oh, she brought sandwiches.  The best sandwiches, I swear.  Egg salads, I want to say.” 
He pointed at my head and said, “That’s the kind of hat she wore if I remember right.  The exact same.”
He held my eyes.  I thought of Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen.  Jimmy weathered like an apple left unpicked or fallen off the branch, wrinkling and browning beneath the sun.  A face you might see in a bad dream.  But I still looked him in the eye.  It was polite. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Ill-Serving Author, The Ill-Served Text

With Monty stuck in the phantom zone, I'm plugging Lucid into Grammarly.  
So many grammatical atrocities were committed...Looking at the text, it reminds me of religious tracts where fairly 40% of the words are in all caps and bold to boot.  You see that you know the author is off their nutter.  You try and read Lucid I don't know what you think.

After only several years post-'locking down' the text, I did finally yoink out the original last paragraph of the all important first chapter.  
Below are versions 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.  
There are no other references to Alice's Adventures In Wonderland in the novel, but for years I thought using the Cheshire Cat was a terrific out from Lucy's Hollywood-heavy visit to see her actress sis get hitched.  
I was hard-headed about not tossing in a Carroll book title, just getting along by mentioning the kitty and then referencing the work(s) nonspecifically.
I'm almost at the point where when it comes to writing my ego is all but shed for the good of story.  


When I went to bed, Dad was still pacing the house.  I was exhausted.  I slept easily and woke with a vague remembrance of Queen Latifah’s smile winking in and out of existence in my dreams like the Cheshire Cat’s in Alice’s trip through Wonderland.


When I went to bed, Dad was still pacing the house.  I was exhausted.  I slept easily and woke with a vague remembrance of Queen Latifah’s smile winking in and out of existence in my dreams like the Cheshire Cat’s.


When I went to bed, Dad was still pacing the house.  I was exhausted. 
I dreamed of the wedding, the exchanging of vows.  As Maddy talked, the words ran together until it was gibberish.  The gibberish turned into a call and response with the guests, and the guests began to glow the same blue as the 'L' pendants around some of the necks.  And then it was all the necks.  Even Dad wore a glowing 'L.' 
Soon the blue obscured everything except Maddy's face, and then even that began to disappear, feature by feature like she was the Cheshire Cat, vanishing from view. 
Her mouth was the last object to go, and then the chanting stopped, and then there was nothing but blue.    

Sunday, August 27, 2017

He's Splat. He's Splat. He's Splat. He's wearing tire tread.

That's Splat.  A major supporting character in Exit The Skin Palace. He's a spirit animal, a mascot for all of us that sink it in the stink now and again but remain fortunate to live in the first world (and even more fortunate to remain out of the destructive reach of the occasional life-altering tropical storm).  

Life runs you over multiple times? Be like Splat. Exercise patience. Just wait for some enraged ectoplasmic pre-teen to come along and revive your ass.

Although coming up short never ever stops being a shit sandwich, purty flowers do appear.  I didn't advance in the Pitch Wars contest, but my-almost-mentor Amelinda Berube took the time to not only read Exit but also to provide invaluable feedback.  

There are a lot of dangling threads at Exit's end.  Mostly because I'm lazy, but also because I realized there was something about Monty Strahl that made me want to spend more time with him and his little corner of ghost-purgatory.  

After Amelinda pointed out the obvious, I did rewrite the next-to-last chapter so one thread is knotted and at least one other is 'loosely' knotted.  

Another beneficial bit about her feedback is its arrival at a moment when I was convinced I suck up to the point where there's no point in continuing to hunt and peck at dark-thirty in the morning.  

I still think I suck as a writer and definitely as my own copy editor, but regarding the latter, if you're just a little guy trying to get some agent/editor/publisher to give you a shot, the cost of professional services is somewhat prohibitive.    

Having said that, tentatively going back through The Lipless Gods via Grammarly, the grammatical horrors pale in comparison to the recoil I feel at my storytelling.  I just want to bust out the cleaver and reduce the MS by fairly one-third.  

I'm still waiting on the one agent that's had the full Exit MS going on six weeks now.  There are others I've queried but at this point I know I can add almost all of them to the big pile of 'no.'  

To stay busy, given the Exit thread-tightening, I can now tweak Surfer On The Drift just a little so the two books complement one another.  And although I thought I'd next tackle my effing brilliant Sylvia Plath/vampires/aliens idea, a third Montgomery Strahl/Dawn book wants to be written.  I have ideas.  Some creature that lives in shadows.  Hella violent conflict between ghost hunters pursuing the same prize. And I've solemnly vowed that this time around Trista will do more than just cause ache in the hollows of my protagonist's chest.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Dust Bowl of the Damned

For months now, the blurb/pitch for Exit The Skin Palace started off like this: 

    One moment, 12-year-old Montgomery Slaybaugh is screwing off, killing time before the birthday pool party to end all birthday pool parties.   The next moment, Monty's dead.  
     He's not in Heaven.  He's not in Hell.  He's a ghost.  One more shuffling shiftless soul in the Game Room - a rust-colored wasteland, the dustbowl of the damned.

Now it has evolved to this:       

     One moment, 12-year-old Montgomery Slaybaugh is screwing off, killing time before the birthday pool party to end all birthday pool parties.   The next moment, Monty's dead.  
     He doesn't wake up in Heaven.  Or Hell.  Monty's one more ghost in a dust-covered, rust-colored wasteland the thousand-plus locals call the Game Room.

Mostly the change stems from the gut-check realization what should've been - "Dust Bowl" of the damned - made it to most agents as -dustbowl.  

Oopsies.  But it's ok.  I'm used to looking like a fucking idiot at this late point in trying to secure and then savor the loving touch of a publishing industry professional.  

But if this is really a book for the YA and Teen set, 'dust bowl of the damned' doesn't mean squat, I would think.  So there is that reason for the change, too.

I can't look at Exit or Surfer right now. Someone else needs to but I seem short of the $1000-$1500 most copy editors are looking for to take the shears to a 67,000-word MS. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Surfer On The Drift (Chapter 51)

     Most of the time, Dawn didn't look happy. It was her normal look she said. Prospective employers had always hassled her about it. So, she'd punch a button and wow them with her smile. She'd told me without a smile, she was Debra Winger. With the smile, she was Farrah Fawcett. She didn't care we'd died 30 years apart. I could look the ladies up on a computer and see what she meant. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Exit The Skin Palace (Chapter 49)

     Once her hand was on the Hangman, it stayed on the Hangman.  She squeezed the creature's throat.  The wings shuddered.  The claws at the end of the wings feebly went after the dead woman's hand.  The matriarch's other hand approached the Hangman's face and then seemed not so much as to take hold, but to sink in, gouging the black tarry mask, squeezing so hard the mask oozed on out between her fingers.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Exit The Skin Palace (Chapter 38)

"Little ghosts," said Perplexia.  "Little ghosts with nowhere to go.  I can tell you this.  I can tell you, little boy ghost, friendly little boy ghost, I might take my time with you.  Some ghosties make the worms wiggle.  Some can make the worms dance.  Can you do that?  Can you make them dance?  I'm going to find out.  Before I eat you, I'm going to find out.  Both of you.  Old and chewy, young and sweet, before I eat you, I'm going to find out."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Wall

Running Surfer On The Drift through Grammarly, the faults cropping up with soul-crushing regularity are 'Passive voice' and 'Possibly confused word.'

More troubling is the sense I've hit the wall.  Every novel I've written, the wall thrusts up into existence.  Sometimes, more than once.  

The wall is the point where objectivity checks out, and right now, I can't tell if any of the story makes sense, and even if it does make sense, Monty's narration is fluctuating from enjoyable to annoying, not only chapter to chapter, but paragraph to paragraph.  

I'll just blame my chest cold and keep soldiering on, because that's what bad-asses (and bad-writers) do, 24/7.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Surfer On The Drift

From today:

Organ failure was the Siamese twins listed cause of death, the outcome from a lifetime of constant alcohol abuse.  Ms. Drope didn't waggle a finger at a specific brother, but she did relate the likelihood Bill had fathered (and abused) an illegitimate child, and in his heyday, could rumoredly outdrink any other circus performer alive, bearded or otherwise.