Nightlights Favorite Character Poll closes tomorrow!

Man, running this blog has been one little lesson after another, based in one little mistake after another.

For example, after it scrolled off the top, there’s no way to easily find the Favorite Character Poll! I thought I was so clever in removing the Nightlights category from the top bar. Oh yes.

So, hey, guess what! Here’s a link to the Favorite Character Poll. If you haven’t yet voted, I hope you decide to do so!



Nightlights Soundtrack

OK, the post I was planning to write has been postponed due to a lovely and wonderful houseguest. But! I’ve been planning for a while to make a post about the music I listen to while writing Nightlights, along with the process of building a soundtrack and the way I use it.

I like silence when I write, often.

Unfortunately, I have a few problems.

  1. I don’t live alone
  2. I have (actual, professionally-diagnosed) ADHD.
  3. I’m not always in the mood to write when I need to write.

Music helps me with all of these problems. Music I’m extremely familiar with becomes a kind of white noise, serving the dual purpose of obscuring other sounds and eating up a distraction track in my brain. And if I turn it on when I’m not in my writing headspace, the strong habitual association and imagery associated with the music tows me where I need to be.

For Nightlights, I started with a song or two I vaguely associated with characters or events in Nightlights, and fed them into Pandora. Then I listened to the station created while outlining Nightlights, and grabbed other songs it suggested. Pandora is a lot better than relying on broadcast radio stations, which is how I used to do this. I’ll choose songs based on similar musical elements, or the lyrics, or even just a few lines in the lyrics that really feel perfect for a theme or concept. Then I listen to the soundtrack a lot until I know it like the back of my hand.

Sometimes songs show up in multiple soundtracks if I really like them or they touch on multiple concepts.

My favorite part of having soundtracks is that I feel like if I pick them early enough, they actually influence the story, because they’ve wormed their way so deeply inside my head.

Below, find my soundtrack, as currently ordered by my player! I’ve tried to include a few lines that capture why I picked the song, as well as a link to a performance of the song.

Angels (Within Temptation)
“No remorse ’cause I still remember
your smile as you tore me apart.”
Break (Three Days Grace) (Note: I love the whole sound of this song.)
“I’ve tried, but nothing is working
I won’t stop, I won’t say I’ve had enough.”
Comatose (Skillet)
“I hate living without you, dead wrong to ever doubt you
But my demons lay in waiting, tempting me away.”
From Heads Unworthy (Rise Against) (Note: This is also a Matchbox Girls setting song, but I didn’t discover it until way too late.)
“I’m not after fame and fortune, I’m after you
When I’ve served my time I swear I will come back for you.”
I Will Not Bow (Breaking Benjamin) (Note: While this wasn’t the original seed song for Pandora, I think of it as the core track now.)
“I don’t want to change the world, I just want to leave it colder
Light the fuse and burn it up, take the path that leads to nowhere,
All is lost again, but I’m not giving in.”
Still Waiting (Sum 41)
“This can’t last forever, time won’t make things better,
I feel so alone”
Savior (Rise Against)
“that’s when she said I don’t hate you boy,
I just want to save you while there’s still something left to save”
Animal I Have Become (Three Days Grace)
“Help me believe it’s not the real me
Somebody help me tame this animal”
Pumped Up Kicks (Foster The People) (Note: Lyrically, this song is quite disturbing. It caught my attention because of the sound and just a hint of the what’s in the lyrics.)
“Robert’s got a quick hand,
He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan.”
Blurry (Puddle of Mudd)
“Everyone is changing, there’s no one left that’s real
To make up your own ending, and let me know just how you feel.”
Feel Good, Inc” (Gorillaz)  (Note: Okay, I generically love this song.  And I loved it first for ‘Hahahahaha’.)
“Yo, we gonna ghost town this motown
with yo sound, you’re in the blink,
you’re gonna bite the dust, can’t fight with us
with yo sound, you kill the INC”
Monster (Skillet)
“I keep it caged but I can’t control it,
‘Cause if I let him out, he’ll tear me up, break me down.”
I Hate Everything About You (Three Days Grace) (Note: This song was the seed song. Oddly enough, it was originally for a different story entirely, which I still hope to write someday. The story has evolved a lot since then but the song still serves a small purpose.”
“Why do I love you?”
Lights Out (Breaking Benjamin)
“Now you want to take me down
as if I even care
I am the monster in your head”
Semi-Charmed Life (Third Eye Blind)
“And I wish it could get back there, some place back there
in the place we used to start.”
Holiday (Green Day)
“Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
“How can one little street
swallow so many lives?”

Silence and Scent

All right. I’m tired but I have things to say.

First: My publisher, Candlemark and Gleam, is giving away galley proofs of Erekos. It has an ominous, well-written beginning. It actually bodes. And the priestesses in it remind me of the witches on Discworld. Despite prose as thick and rich as a swamp, the plot is definitely moving by the end of the first 20 pages. I wouldn’t call it an easy read but it definitely seems like a worthwhile one, especially if atmosphere appeals to you.

Next: I’ve been working on getting ready for the Nightlights launch. It’s going to be an ongoing process and there will be changes happening to the blog in preparation for that. But there’s other work to be done. For example, I have to decide how often to post chapters.

I was originally planning on 3 times  a week. I planned the serial to be 12-scene ‘episodes’ and that fit nicely into 3x a week, 1 episode a month (and then maybe I’d make the episodes available as cheapy ebook novelettes), finished in 11 months. But I just discovered the #tuesdayserial community on Twitter. It’s a number of people who, like me, looked at #fridayflash and said, “I can tell a longer story in 1000 word increments!” And it works in pretty much the same way: post your work, promote it on Tuesday using the hashtag, and register it on a community website.

I really like this idea and plan to participate. But most people who participate seem to only post one ~1000 word scene a week. There’s no rule saying I can’t do more, but I’m now worried about overwhelming people. I wonder if I should be?

Writing-wise, things are going… well, I guess. I need to figure out when I’m going to do a second and third round of editing, but I’m continuing to clock in a scene a day. Yesterday I realized I was 1/5th done!

Let’s see, what else…

I construct soundtracks for my writing projects. Lately, I have both an actual soundtrack in a media player, and a pandora channel inspired by that soundtrack. Sometimes the songs maybe aren’t ones you’d expect. For example, song #1 on the Matchbox Girls soundtrack is Metric’s “Gold, Guns, Girls”. Looking at the rest of that playlist, I… I can’t imagine what I was thinking. But it worked! All the songs, the Linkin Park and the Cirque du Soleil and the Bleach first OP melded together into the sound of Matchbox Girls for me, so that all I had to do was play it and I was there.

I have a soundtrack for Nightlights, too. It’s longer than the MG one and I’m only 1/5th through writing, so it might span a few CDs when I’m done. As I’ve done in the past, it has a mix of songs I just happen to like right now and songs that really seem to define some element of the story for me (usually in nearly inexplicable ways). The lead song in the playlist is Breaking Benjamin’s I Will Not Bow, although there are several close seconds. Maybe I’ll share them in another post. 🙂

Today in the grocery store, I heard an older song, one I knew quite well, and I realized it belonged in my soundtrack. I spent a few seconds trying to remember the name and artist, decided it was Heart’s Alone, and went about my business. But when I sat down to go buy a copy of Alone, it turned out not to be the song I’d heard! Oh no! I have no idea how I’m going to figure out what that song was now…

Ok, enough babbling.


Spring On Fire

After a few months of querying agents for Matchbox Girls, I decided to switch my focus to publishers. I was still interested in agents, but despite having a query that seemed reasonably functional, I was getting very few requests. I’d already realized that MG wasn’t as commercial as many other urban fantasies (and by ‘commercial’, I mean, focused on using the factors known to sell a lot- I don’t know if that’s what publishing professionals mean when they use that term) so I couldn’t blame an agent for not being interested in something that they probably wouldn’t be able to sell for very much. After all, they only get a percentage of what I would!

Still, I was pretty sure that there were people out there who would enjoy Matchbox Girls. Not everybody enjoys what’s considered commercial, after all. So I started looking at small presses as well as doing my weekly agent submissions.

A few weeks ago, the editor of Candlemark and Gleam asked to see the full manuscript of Matchbox Girls. And a week after that, she sent me an extremely nice email telling me how much she’d enjoyed Matchbox Girls, and how she’d like to send me a contract.

This made me jump up from my seat, pick up a handy child, and twirl him around in a circle. Then I sat back down sedately, asked her for the contract and started doing research.

I did a lot of research, on Candlemark and Gleam, on small presses in general, and on contracts. I thought about what I wanted for Matchbox Girls. Then, I signed the contract!

Matchbox Girls is scheduled to come out in February 2012! It’s with an editor now and I’ve already contributed my cover suggestions.  I’m pretty excited, but also pretty busy: I’m still planning on launching my serial novel Nightlights in August, and I’d like to get a draft of the sequel to Matchbox Girls done by February. I’ll also have to find time for the MG revisions and proofing.

I’ve been accelerating my schedule for Nightlights. It still won’t be complete when I launch it– which is by design and part of the experiment– but it will probably be more than half done. I’ve also been playing around with this website, since my current plan is to launch Nightlights in this blog. Some lucky invisible reader might even have seen the first scene of Nightlights when I started testing out some options!

So, yeah. I’ve suddenly got a lot going on, and I’ve been working harder than ever. But don’t worry, invisible audience! I’m still going to be posting here at least weekly. And I’m still hoping to have a contest later this summer.

A bright new year

Today is my birthday! I view birthdays as far more of a marker of renewal than the traditional western New Year.  Maybe it’s because my birthday is in the spring?  Anyhow, on my birthday five years ago, I’m pretty sure I made promises to myself I haven’t really been able to achieve so far.

Fortunately, technology is now on my side. While I’m not ready to share lots of details, I wanted to at least mention how I plan on spending this year.

This summer I’m going to start releasing a work of fiction on the web, a little bit at a time. It’s a work planned from the ground up to be read in small bites– I think of it as fiction you can read while waiting for the bus, or riding the train. Smartphone transit fiction. (I also plan on releasing it in larger chunks, less often, for those who might prefer it that way.)

What kind of story? Oh, it’s the ‘teenagers fighting monsters’ sort. I know that doesn’t appeal to everybody, but I’ll be doing my best to make it fun and interesting. I’ll be posting teasers and maybe even a book trailer as my launch date approaches, so stay tuned if you’d like to find out more.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope everybody has a great spring. I’ve certainly got a busy one ahead of me…


I beg to dream and differ…

Slowly but steadily I’m accumulating a pile of rejections. It isn’t the ideal situation but it’s better than not trying. I think earlier today I was planning on whining about this. Since then I’ve convinced myself to dive back into my new project and found something much more interesting to talk about.

I usually tend to worry a lot about how things work in my scenes and settings. Are characters behaving realistically? Are they using technology logically? My magic is always extremely well-defined, with rules and limits and origins and consequences figured out ahead of time. I like the kinds of settings that result from thinking about those details. And I sometimes get totally hung up on such details, unable to write more until I’ve answered some question and fully considered its ramifications.

Today I finished reviewing the zeroth draft for the New Project. I managed to write it without worrying too much about many of the technical details. And I didn’t get hung up on figuring out those details because the scenes they mattered in seemed pretty solid.

This felt really strange! But I’ve read plenty of books where the details were left unexplained, the ramifications unconsidered. So maybe this could work? Is anybody else this crazed about technical details?

I’m working on a small piece of fiction based around the ramifications of a certain bit of magical technology, by the way. It might be done in time for Friday Flash.