Monday, May 31, 2010

THE END and rewind


Today, I penned the last words to "Crimson Cacophony" [the first draft of what was known as "Forged in Blood" - Ed.] and I have a lot to say, which I want to say right now, but I am still on that kite, which carries above any sense or reason. I am at peace and in bliss with myself and the accomplishment.

I worked on this re-imaging of a novel I completed in 2008, but was not at all satisfied with the outcome. The creative origin behind "Crimson Cacophony" is not that inspiring to be frank. It was the first novel written. A fluke. Then abandoned, because it was not the novel I wanted to be represented with or the novel I saw strength in. This a cover version of a vague premise and filling in the details anew, I reinterpret the world and am in control. "Forged in Blood" [which remains as the working title for the sequel, because the forging happens there - Ed.] relied on tropes, ideas and scenarios already explored. Now, this is not so obvious. In the two years I had wandered away from the premise, I took some risks [at least concept-wise - Ed.] and discovered what genre had to offer outside the leather clad women with stakes [which I continue to hate and adore - Ed.]. This reflects this first draft, which is darker, more in the gray area as far as the protagonists are concerned and epic in its gritty master plans. A lot less innocent, a lot less sane. If this comes across, I would be grateful. But that is in the future, when the edits take place.

Right now, the freedom to pursue whatever I want is divine and makes me feel omnipotent. So what about you? Do you write THE END anyway [I don't]? And what do you feel, when you complete a project?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou.... [and non-fiction]


Assuming you [the loyal audience - Ed.] are a collective Juliet and I am Romeo, I do owe you an honest answer for my absence. I believe that a blogger must address his readers, even if he has only one reader. Also, he must address his readers and explain himself, even if he never said that he will blog every day.

I have gone to the Land of Deadlines. A trip most vile and draining, which prompted a few posts on responsibility and keeping the schedules you make [and waste time on - Ed.], but because of the intense month than lays ahead, I am more or less with my hands tied. So the grand program I had prepped for you will have to wait for a bit.

Deadlines include exams and that Research Paper, which currently is polished, but otherwise finished. What I find intriguing with non-fiction in a specialized field is how precise and concise you have to be. Whatever you state has to be backed up with facts and respected sources. In my case, I had to translate all the materials I found from English to Bulgarian, which added a new dimension to what I was doing. Writing this paper made me uncomfortable on two levels.

One, at a certain moment I felt that I serving an echo function, regurgitating what's already out in the media and news channels, be it distilled or not. Yes, I admit I had to develop a topic, which demanded a detailed exposition on the phenomenon I was writing about, but I also had to write a future prediction about the development of the said phenomenon. As the end approached, I was not quite sure, whether I left the facts talk for themselves or whether I contributed something from me. It's a peculiar sense of not entirely knowing what you are doing and veiled lack of control. And I have written non-fiction [a few rare opinion pieces as guest posts and blog posts for my own websites - Ed.].

The difference now is that with my regular opinion pieces I am in my field, I can tint facts with my my own tastes, I can rant, I can theorize and wonder. At the same time I am not obliged to confine myself to statistics and hard facts all the way. I can allow myself to shake the wrapped up present and guess what it is by the sound it makes, while it shakes. Of course I am positive that Larry would largely disagree as to the level of facts included as back-up support for whatever statements I make [since I advocate to let the mind take its own course].

Second, translating economic texts is challenging. No matter how well a person may speak and understand a second language, translating from one language to another poses an interesting and often nerve wrecking level of difficulty. Translation does not simply mean conveying the meaning of the words and the terms. Translators have to break the text, extract the essence and then imbue that sense into a whole new text, which is subjugated to different grammar. In order for someone to write a readable paper based on translated material [me in this I am afraid - Ed.], said person has to understand the nuances and grammar of both languages, the particular field and have done this a lot. I do pride myself to speak a good enough English to pass as English speaker, but I am not proficient with my native language's grammar [thank you, educational system - Ed.] and I have not done such papers in this field at all.

Yes, I did not like the assignment. Yes, I believe that I was not equipped to do my topic justice, but I also consider this invaluable experience as it abounds with food for thought about the mechanics of this breed of writing and taught me some rules of conduct.

I have two questions for you:
~ What have you been up to yourselves?
~ Have you had any experience, be it similar or not, with non-fiction?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Angry Robot Books to conquer Podcasts


Oh boy, just when I was wondering what to blog about [more like finding the time to stretch my ideas fully] and Lee Harris pops this announcement in the e-mail.

Exciting times!

Beginning in July 2010, Angry Robot will be broadcasting a new podcast series. Broadcast monthly, the 30-minute podcast will take the form of a joint interview with two Angry Robot authors or staff, along with genre and publishing news and a monthly competition to win Angry Robot titles.

The host and interviewer is Mur Lafferty. Mur is one of the world’s best-known and best-loved podcasters, and the co-author of the book Tricks of the Podcasting Masters. As well as hosting her own immensely popular podcast for wannabe writers I Should Be Writing, she was also recently announced as the new editor of Escape Pod – the world’s most popular short fiction podcast.

Mur commented: “One of the things I love most about podcasting is the chance to talk to so many talented authors. I’m thrilled to get the chance to chat with Angry Robot authors; it’s an honor to be producing a show for one of the newest and most exciting SF publishers around.”

The podcasts will be broadcast from the Angry Robot website, and will be downloadable as a subscription through iTunes. The first podcast interview will feature Angry Robot Publishing Director Marc Gascoigne and Editor Lee Harris, talking about the history of the imprint, the move to new partners Osprey, and the future. August’s guests are Angry Robot authors Lauren Beukes and Kaaron Warren – and you can believe that’s going to be an interview worth tuning in for!

I’m absolutely thrilled to have Mur onboard – along with my writing group, I’ve been listening to I Should Be Writing for years!

Now, I am not a great fan of podcasting per se, I generally don't have the time and my tendency to space out at all times makes it pointless a pastime for me to listen to podcasts. But as this is Angry Robot we are talking about, I am most interested in experimenting with the format.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reviewer Gig [Because I can't have too many]


As you [most likely not] know, I am the chief-editor of "Temple Library Reviews". Mind you, I am not running a professional website and I shouldn't really be using chief-editor, but it gives me some mean rep, so I will stick to the title. Recently I have announced my detachment from the blogging scene in order to recharge the batteries and get back in the game with replenished and amazing stack of content and properly healed vocal cords [to shout every post to the world].

However, I plan on a dazzling carreer as a freelanmcer [I sense that this is the new Internet version of the Gold Rush] and wanted to have my name attached to a magazine. I asked in my politest and sanest tone and voila, my reviews will pop up at:

[Link is in the image]

Innsmouth Free Press is a fictional newspaper publishing faux news pieces – lovingly called Monster Bytes – in a Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos universe, as well as original short fiction stories. We also feature some of Lovecraft’s classic tales.

Innsmouth Free Press is a collaborative effort. We want readers and writers to help us map out and flesh out Innsmouth and the surrounding area, and to do it in epistolary form through news stories, opinion pieces, lifestyles articles, which blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Metafiction, if you will.

We also seek to publish short fiction inspired by Lovecraft’s writing, especially fiction that explores interesting, novel settings and characters juxtaposed with Lovecraft’s original fiction.

Our aim at Innsmouth Free Press is not to keep a static website that is updated with fiction every few months, but to maintain a breathing, energetic publication which evolves with help from the user; a publication where fiction does not take the shape of a self-contained short story.

In short, we’d love it if you would join us in this virtual playground. Many of Innsmouth’s streets and locations remain unmapped. Help us discover what lies in the shadows.

I am happy to be included into their team and get to work with people from all over the world. I have a thing for Canada [mapple syrup and lumberjacks] and I can sense that this will be a good match. I am just hoping that my schedule does not rumble too much.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eight Days of Hell: The Exorcism


Tuesday and Wednesday were my days off, supposedly, but they felt worse than working. The big bad university threw some mean James-Bond-villian worthy moves and I am still outraged by the lack of responsibility, illogical working time/vacation and lack of prior notification. But the last two tests are things of the past, the presentation went swimmingly and the deadline, which defined the last four days was extended with two whole more weeks, so I can now continue to waste time on the Internet. Isn't that cool?

I feel like this fella. Crabby, but cool in a weird way.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eight Days of Hell: Day 3


The screaming has stopped, because I am too sleepy and I had a 14 hour academic day ahead. I begin to feel that a coma is stalking me from the dark alley. The headaches have me by the temples and my eyeballs are flaming.

This is how my soul feels like, though. Yes, it feels like chocolate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eight Days of Hell: Day 2


I continue my screaming, while at work and panic over the deadlines. Thankfully, the two tests are up for tomorrow, so the panic attacks and crawling over walls and ceilings, while drooling acid, will subside. To dispell these images, here is some bento. Enjoy:

Sometimes, food can be art, too. Very geeky, but delicious art.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eight Days of Hell: Day 1


I am preparing for a major week of terror in the university. The deadlines are conspiring against me, so I will be off from meaningful content. In the meantime, enjoy some serious #LOL pictures that will distract you from me screaming in the background as I write a twenty page paper, a presentation in German and study for two tests.

Pumpkin turned to Predator. I guess this Fairy Godmother has a thing for horror movies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Postman DOES not hate me [or maybe he does a little]


In a surprise turn of events, the week has been most generous with new procurements. Because I am a wee blogger with a wee blog in a wee country, which screws with the laws of reality, I am not the most popular choice for review copies. However, when I emphatically threw the towel to signal my defeat Lady Luck decided to stop screwing with my addiction and its needs and sent me this via the amazing publicists, editors and authors themselves.

"Metrophilias" by Brendan Connell [Collection of city based flashed fiction within the SFF spectrum]

"Tell-All" by Chuck Palahniuk [A Golden Era Hollywood murder story; quite the departure from the SFF genres]

"Walking the Tree" by Kaaron Warren [Blessed be Lee Harris for sending me this one. I go gaga over Warren's fiction]

"The World House" by Guy Adams [My tingly sense is indicating that this will be one heck of a fantasy ride]

"The Left Hand of God" by Paul Hoffman [the controversial novel, which all love to hate. I want the first hand experience.]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Hooking Hook [and I am not talking pirates]


Writers often hear the old dogs mutter after a swig of their whisky that ‘you have to hook them real good and let them squirm, trying to pull free’. It should be a swift, merciless action with no margin for error, hidden like a sword in an umbrella, and it should be dealt at the very first sentence. Everybody in the business emphasize on stunning the reader the very first page, because after all, a book is an investment of as much money as it is of time. The agent, editor and reader have to be persuaded you are worth their time and money. So, you hook ’em real good.

But what exactly is the hook? How do people within the industry perceive it as opposed to the reviewers and readers in general? Is the hook all that important as it was suggested in a post a month ago [I struggle to remember where this was posted]? I was curious and decided to ask the people on Twitter. These are the results:

@nicolamorgan: Here's you go: "A good hook is a fluorescent life-jacket for your book - without one, no one will see it before it sinks." ~ Talented author Nicola Morgan delivers the dictionary definition, though with more flare. This is the rule of thumb. It’s a must-have, though it is not exactly explained what it is. In 140 characters, it is no surprise. This suffices.

The hook can also mean concrete things:

@MihaiDarkWolf: Sparkling conversation or a good action starting scene. ~ Reviewer and blogger Mihai Adascalitei enjoys the dynamic entry.

Either a well written fast-paced action scene or great dialogue. ~ Reviewer and blogger Carolyn tends towards the same need for adrenaline.

However, some readers, if unsure what does it for them, know what certainly won’t entice them:

@BookChickCity What doesn't is a dream sequence, so cliche and over done!

Can tell you what doesn't! Either a weather report or a city description - anything where there are blocks of prose

From here on the hook tends to morph into something less tangible, less of a situation that the writer knows it works, but something to do with the big construction blocks of the novel:


For me it's all about voice. Not that I don't like action upfront or a book that starts with a bang.

@nextread a good voice doing something interesting.... but it's different for all authors.

@Hagelrat as a reader character, if I like the voice in the first few pages you got me.

I'm weird, but what hooks me in a book is a great voice. Tolkien had it, and I followed him to Mordor and back.

Characters and Plot

I like it when the characters have strong personalities, and also when the language flows along with the plot =)

@ALRutter I actually like it when the main characters is confused and we're confused right along with them (A Madness of Angels)

@MihaiDarkWolf Plot & characters. If none of them catches my attention, most probably I will have a hard time reading the book.

@ALRutter The characters. If I don't like the characters, I can't read the book.

To other qualities:

Any book that has a story that keeps me reading when I should go to bed.-Total experience more than any particular hook.

A good story is a good story, whether it's gritty, high or low fantasy. Hooks are just icing.

I look for someone who can write an above average sentence, and then who has an imagination.

@niallalot Wit. Inventiveness. Character. All three and I'm in love. One will do in a cinch.

The results are varied as are the people and their involvement with literature. Some are just fans, who can’t keep their noses away from a book. Others are reviewers. Third are authors. There is no way to be certain what you need as a hook, because your work will appear in front of many people. I gather that agents and editors will demand to see potential right at the start and I gather that your book has to hold the casual customer browsing through the bookstore. What is most optimistic however is that most book lovers are patient enough to let a book grow on them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

[Blog Spot] 'The BubbleCow Blog'


Writing is a vocation. Publishing is a business. While writing is strictly individual and a force, which can’t be subjugated to a general set of rules, publishing, similar to other businesses, has its ways, hidden tricks and guidelines to separate the successful from the unfortunate ones.

By rule of thumb, writers are not perceived as the savvy entrepreneurs with predatory instincts and if you’re a novice writer with ambitions to break into the business and stay published, you have vague assumptions about the complexity, with which the industry functions. The need for blogs with more business oriented content has arisen and the Internet has provided.

As with all good finds in my Google Reader, The BubbleCow Blog was accidental and I can’t even recall, where I must have clicked to arrive at his website, but I never regret the day. I am not a techie. Even though I belong to the generation, which hails technology, I’m lost as far as utilizing technology to my side and how modern media can help me create a better buzz.

Gary Smailes co-founded BubbleCow, a literary consultancy, providing professional help for writers. Although he is in the children’s book segment of the industry, the wide-ranged advice and information he provides free through The BubbleCow Blog is universal. His posts are on the shorter side, but are to the point and there is no word wasted. What I personally find most useful include the video tutorials about various software programs and the blog optimization tips on increasing subscribers and visitors.

Perhaps, what I enjoyed most was the free five-day e-mail tutorial on Book Proposals, which is a tricky and daunting task for most writers in early publication stages. I’d suggest to follow the official @BubbleCow feed for more linked articles.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

[Currently Reading] 'Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil' + Fables


Dark secrets abound in the town of Bayou Gavotte, Louisiana, from blackmail to fetish clubs to murder, and when blood-and-love starved vampire Ophelia Beliveau calls the police to scare away whoever is desecrating her garden, Detective Gideon O-Toole unearths more than he ever dreamed.

Initial Thoughts: I think I have a taste for something Southern and spicy... I am only 30 pages in and I am liking what I am reading. It's succulent. What can I say?

Fables: I have resumed my reading of Fables. Got the 50+ issues after my winter reading and now am enthralled by the war preparations and the happy moments in-between. How can something so used as a concept be so addictive? Willingham is a genius and James Jean is the best cover artist in the world.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

[May 9th] Onward... You remember whereto, right?


Project: “Forged in Blood”
New Words Written: 4,000
Present Total Word Count: 41,608
Goal: 100,000 by End May [or maybe 90,000]

Percent Reached: 41%

Things Accomplished in Fiction:

After a 14 day writing hiatus, which occured against my will, I have returned. As predicted the middle forced itself on me as an unwanted distant relative, who is simply abusing my hospitality by paralyzing my every move. Or something like that. I have had a small time epiphany about how to proceed and the male supporting character has finally been dealt with in an according manner, which will ensure a complicated and tensioned interaction between the two. Or it will, when I am on the first round of edits. It took some time, but I connected with the characters again and am excited to finish what I started, when I said I would. Thanks to Adam Cristopher’s deathbed philosophy I will complete this novel.

Things Accomplished in Real Life:

Hectic. University has integrated with work, but the relationship is tense. I passed almost all the tests necessary and just need a 20 page paper and a 5 minute presentation completed before the exam session starts. In the mean time, we had the very first big group of guests to stay at the hotel and I saw a little action during the day shifts. The printer was the main culprit. I have not met a more disagreeable machine after my computer and I do mean possessed by evil gremlins. I may need a priest, who specializes in office tech exorcism.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Things I Would Do During A Zombie Apocalypse


Seriously, I will get really, really excited.

Beat the Middle


In a short note with no deep insight, I am casually sharing with the silent void that is the Internet that the dry spell has ended. Yes, I have not been writing since April 21th. Call it sacrillige, but the bad period has packed its bags, left a sticky note saying I suck and left. Despite all the distractions at work [people are nosy and demanding, what can one do] I did my 1,000 words.

Lessons learned:

~ Middles sort themselves out with time and a bit of a creative muscles.
~ I am as linear as an arrow, which means no writing scenes that are yet to happen, but I have not gotten to them yet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Language; Tis mysterious


I have been contemplating on what to write these days. Meaningful that is. I have ideas that nibble on my brain for quite some time, but I feel like I need to slam my forehead on a flat surface to produce something structured and coherent. However, I want to be short and sweet as far as language goes, because I’m positive this is A) rare and B) therefore not a topic with an easy answer.

When I mean language, I do not refer to actual means with which the writer sculpts a story on the proverbial white sheet. I mean language as in English, Spanish etc. What I know about the act of writing boils down to ‘I am not writing in my native tongue, so Geronimo and hope this works in a remotely possible way’*. Therefore, my preoccupation lies with grammar, clarity and not committing linguistic suicides [waste instead of waist or was it the other way around]. One day however, while at the amateur book club at the university, we talked about language, because I was the only one writing in English [as opposed to everybody else, who stuck with Bulgarian].

“Why?” they asked.

“Because it’s easier…” was the explanation. As illogical as it sounds, I find writing fiction in English to be effortless as compared to Bulgarian. Why though? Yes, I have studied English as much as other people have, perhaps a bit more, and I have written in Bulgarian before. I did the switch to English as a senior in high school and it worked.

“Perhaps, it’s easier to be honest and express your feelings in a language that is not your own.” The Club Moderator guessed and I have been thinking about it really.

Language is power. Native language is a part of a person as much as anything else that more or less defines a human being as an individual. As we all know, writing is a striptease of the heart, where the artist exposes his opinions, his beliefs and his feelings. He** does so with his own words in his own language, which further deepens the intimacy and when the time comes for the writer to take the plunge into the deep, he chickens out, holds back, fears the exposure and therefore the story is less than it could have been.

So far all this is pure speculation; I am spinning theories as always.

But what if a screen can be raised? What if the writer writes in a foreign language, where the words have the meaning, but don’t have the emotional memory responsible for the reluctance in going full Monty?*** Then the writer would have control over what he’s comfortable with and how he projects it on others. He would inject the emotions with the fear of overexposure sedated a degree.

I believe that there may be a grain of truth to this assumption of mine and it does make for an interesting foray into the rich psyche of a writer. What do you think? Nay or yay?

* - according to beta readers, it does, so I am hoping that some editors do bite the hook.
** - I am going for the universal He, though I take into account the lovely and talented writers from the opposite gender.
*** - Laugh with me?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What I want to read...


Written by PAUL DINI • Art by STEPHANE ROUX and KARL STORY • Cover by STEPHANE ROUX • Variant cover by BRIAN BOLLAND

At last – the Mistress of Magic in her own ongoing series! Zatanna Zatara has long made her home in San Francisco, but right under her nose a sinister threat has developed – a crime boss who dominates the criminal underworld with the dark powers of the magical underworld! The terrifying Brother Night is making his play for San Fran, and the police force – including hunky detective Dale Colton – turn to Zee for help. But Brother Night is a whole new kind of criminal and if Zatanna thinks she can backwards-talk him down, then she's in over her top-hatted head! Superstar writer Paul Dini (BATMAN: MAD LOVE) is paired with the gorgeous art of Stephane Roux (BIRDS OF PREY), making his anticipated DC debut on interior art! There's only one thing to say – T'NOD SSIM TI!


I am not a DC reader. I admit that Marvel has snared myt heart and held it inside their hands, but I want to bridge through to DC territory and what better way than a whole new series, dedicated to the amazing Zatanna, one of the most charming female superheroes ever. I am more or less ecstatic.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Not writing... I have been cursed! [No wait, that's an excuse]


I have been hiding it. Mysteriously, there have been no progress reports, because there has been nothing to report [apart from a 3-4 thousand words]. I am in the middle of a project, which for me is the slowest point in a project. At first I block and take a day to think about things. Then I take a break to starve myself to write and this usually grows into fear to touch the novel and discover that I am still headed nowhere. Usually, this resolves in less than a week, a week at most.

I also tend to believe that this is the point, where most people with writing aspirations [the fame and recognition after making bestseller list] quite the novel and say that they are writing, but are in reality are not. I am not condeming anyone, because for a time being in my teen years I was the same. Always a starter, never a finisher. But the fear of being one of these people, who socially are not well regarded [and also who give actual writers a bad name*], pushed me past the painful middle.

This time my writing time is eclipsed by Accounting, which has proven itself a stubborn project and it is not just my time that is sucked, but my mind. This is where for me it gets tricky, you know. Accomplished writers underline how important persistance is and how a writer should steal time to write. But what does a writer do, when the real world has invaded his thoughts and even if he has stolen the time write, he can do nothing with it?

I think the answer should be, don't write... This is perhaps the only instance, when pushing your mind creatively is worse for you. You hate the project, because work is glacier slow. You lose that precious self-esteem as a writer. 'Oh, I write shitty words all the time, so I suck'. And writing is not easy. There is no need to make the process painful for your mind and for your emotional comfort. BUT if you are not dealing with a small time crisis with a real life [as in a crisis that does not have long term consequences], push people. No excuses**.

Now, I am not sure, when my creative constipation will end. I have had a few fail starts with the bare minimum completed, but it felt god awful. However, I received the best critique ever on the first chapter of "Forged in Blood". I sent it to a non-UF writer, who knows good, when he sees it, because he reads so much and widely. He pointed more positive things than negative and is even impressed. I think as far as motivation this will be crucial in helping me overcome the middle.

Question: How do you deal, when the dry spells enchant your keyboard-waltzing fingers?

* - "But Marcia, our dear Harry is a 'Writer'. He is inm the middle of a 'novel'." - Hah-Hah
** - But as we all know, writers excel at making excuses and sound sincere about it. I am sure I have perfected this technique.