a struggling author who needs a job

I haven’t updated this thing since July. Wow. I guess it shows that I’m not really into WordPress. Plus, the features kind of bother me. I’ll take a break from blogging here; not sure how long. My main hangout is over on tumblr.

~Ciao.

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In which I reveal my New Project

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In this issue:

1. Film poster [x]

2. See that poster? That’s this year’s summer blockbuster- well, sort of blockbuster. But that poster, that film, has been plaguing me for the past month or so. See, just last month, I decided to take a break from HIDDEN ZERO CHAOS and go back to work on a project called THE PROXY WARS. It’s an idea I’ve had since 2005, back when I wanted it to be a comic (which is funny considering my drawing skills are lacking). In 2010/11, I decided to give it a chance as a novel. I changed a lot over the course of the years. Originally, it was the story of a 12-year-old girl named Lamb who could pilot a giant robot. In the “remix” version, she became 18, I added two contrasting love interests before I combined them into a 16-year-old boy named Cipher who could also pilot the robot. I added two opposing sides- each with their own giant robots -who were trying to take Lamb’s robot. Afterwards, I abandoned the story to work on something else, then in June, I came back to it. For the first few weeks of June, I wrote 4,000 words a day. After 80,000 words, I stopped working on it to go back to CHAOS. The reason I stopped were for two reasons: 1) Certain plot elements were too coincidental and/or didn’t make sense overall. 2) Pacific Rim was coming out.

Now that it’s out, from what I’m hearing from people, PR and PW have a lot of similarities that scared me even more:

1. Both have a male and female capable of piloting a giant robot.

2. In universe, both robots were created based on Japanese culture.

3. Said robot requires some type of mental link with the pilot and mecha to get it working.

4. Robots came about to combat monsters/aliens.

5. The male and female leads have some type of ship teasing, but nothing comes out of it.

6. A theme surrounding family.

There’s more to it, I’m sure, but these six things were enough to make me never go back to PW, even though I really wanted to. Even though I just posted earlier this month that I finally finished the rough draft of CHAOS.

Since finishing that story, I’ve been in some weird stage where I couldn’t decide what story I wanted to work on. I no longer had interest in CHAOS- it was dystopian, felt too much like The Trilogy I Will Not Name, and also suffered from other stuff. I no longer wanted to work on it. I thought about going back to PW, but with PR out, I kind of freaked. I thought, If this ever gets published, people will accuse me of ripping off Pacific Rim.

Then, honestly, right now, I became level-headed. I told myself that, for starters, I was thinking too far ahead; that if I finished PW that it’d get published no matter what. Not only that, but who cares if someone thinks that? When people say that ideas aren’t original, they truly mean that.

But the other thing I’ve realized is that I know what makes my story similar to PR and what makes it different:

1. Pacific is inspired by the directors love of Japanese monster movies. Mine is inspired by Arthurian legend and my love of Japanese animation (interestingly enough, not so much mecha, though Eureka Seven is hugely inspirational to Proxy Wars).

2. The mecha in PR (jaegers) were created to combat monsters. The mecha in PW (ANO) were created to combat aliens but are now being used against people.

3. The mental link in PR requires two minds to get the jaegers to work. Without giving too much away, with my robots, you only need one person to operate the ANO, and that one person is someone somewhat engineered to do so.

4. PW takes place in an environment where the younger generation blames the one that came before it for messing up society (the story has elements of dystopia), and the generation after the youngest will grow up hating the elders. Because of this, most people leave home around the ages of 12-14. To explain why Cipher, 16, still lives at home, I created a grandmother who wants to hold her family together to combat this extreme generation gap.

There are some other ways that the story’s different, just as there are other ways that they’re similar. Not to make this post any longer than it need be, but I’m coming back to THE PROXY WARS, which I’ve just finished the first draft (which is sloppy as hell). I think I’ll also try doing my progress reports update every Thursday, too. Hopefully, I’ll stick to this one and not write another post talking about a new project. I mean, this story is fun as hell. Yeah, I’m trying to be realistic with these robots- there are scenes where people jump from buildings in the midst of robot attacks -but it’s also fun, which is something I feel I need right now.

Sorry. No more rambling.

First Draft

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I finally finished this. I finally have a first draft of HIDDEN ZERO CHAOS. Actually, I kind of bs’ed it at the end, just putting down scant scenes I had in my outlines, but the bottom line is I’m finished with the rough draft. Right now, my mind’s kind of foggy for some reason.

Anyways… The month of June will forever be known as The War of the New-Projects. In 30 days, I revisited a total of 4 projects, including CHAOS. On my tubmlr, I even documented my word count goal for another project- the one I wrote about earlier.

But enough about that. I have a first draft worthy of editing. I think I’ll take a few days off, then come back to this and bust my ass off. There’s a lot I have to do to get this thing ready for querying, which won’t be happening anytime soon.

Posted above is a wordle for my first draft. I’m not surprised to see the word “just” up there. A lot of my sentences are, “Can’t we just leave now?” or “Let’s just mix this with that,” and so on. I really need to cut that out.

Word Counts

Before I understood the importance of word counts when it came to publishing, I decided that, for my first “major” book project (called Pride of the Nation, which sounds like a KKK pamphlet) that I would count words. My daily word count was 500 words, which quickly turned into 1,000. Some time later, after I abandoned the project for some reason or another, I opened the folder and expected to see at least 100,000 words- it was around 30,000, a number I found laughable.

 Back then, I believed word counts were something worthy of boasting. Stephanie Meyer (I know, I know) said Twilight was 300,000 words when she queried it. I can top that, I thought. Then 2010 came around with another project, The Girl Who Ate the Poisoned Apple, which I blogged about on Dancing Riceball, Part I. I grew up while writing that manuscript; I researched, followed published and aspiring writers’ blogs, and realized something:

 I write plenty of unnecessary shit.

 Granted, this was a fact I realized before 2010, when I gave NaNoWriMo another go and completed my manuscript. NaNo was instrumental in my writing. To reach my goal of 50,000 words in a month, I wrote nearly 2,000 words everyday. I wasn’t proud when I posted my last word count and received my certificate of completion. Why? Because that story, Graffiti, was only three chapters long. I know books don’t have a set requirement of chapters, but the fact that I had three that literately had nothing happening in them- I knew something was wrong.

 So when I finished the first draft of the Poisoned Apple, I was in trouble. From memory, young adult books range from 60,000 – 80,000 words. Anything higher, especially 100,000 words, and you’re entering into literary territory. I’m talking sweeping epics, family dramas and other thought-provoking shit. The first draft of the Poisoned Apple topped 170,000 words. All this for a slice-of-life story. The book would’ve been better at 70,000. I still queried it, and it was rejected. All agents who responded said something along the lines of It’s interesting, but it’s not for us. I know the hefty word count, which I reduced to a still whopping 130,000, was enough to scare people away (among other things about the story).

 I’m playing it smart with this current manuscript. With my NaNoWriMo in June project, I’m planning on writing 4,000 words a day. If I stick with this, it’ll give me a word count of around 120,000, which I’m hoping won’t happen. The purpose of writing 4,000 words is to see if I can do it and how much story I cover- meaning that if it takes me, on average, 4,000 words to cover one chapter, then I might be in trouble. (Now that I think about it, wouldn’t it make more sense if I stuck to 2,000 words?). I googled average length of chapters and found a number around 2,500. Even though chapter lengths and their numbers varies, I’m hoping this will keep my overall word count goal to a maximum 85,000 words. Checking the word counts for my chapters won’t be something set in stone, but I’m hoping it’ll be enough to curve me away from writing unnecessary, filler words. Like with this post- I’m sure I could’ve chopped some things away.

Freelancing

Still looking for a job- and still writing about looking for a job. I’ve decided that I want to be a freelance writer. The idea isn’t a rash one, but the idea to actually make that come true is. Yet I have no experience in writing professionally, and I lack any writing credits.

Apparently, so do others, which is why I joined two freelance writing boards. One I gave up almost immediately; it looked a bit shady and had poor web designs. Thankfully, I singed up under a pseudonym. The other one seemed more legit, even asking for a sample of my writing. It asked for 200 – 250 words. Piece of cake, I thought. I’m writing 4,000 words a day in June. Wrong. I struggled with that topic, and when I finally settled down and actually found the material to write the sample, the word limit hurt me. I had to chop away a hundred extra words, which resulted in something cheesy that didn’t even sound like me.

Yet still…

I enjoyed it. I’m hoping for an e-mail saying I’ve joined the board. If not, I’ll move on or whatever the hell I’m supposed to do next with that website. I’m hoping I’m approved- if that’s the next stop. It’s not about making money. I just love to write, and, even though I struggled with finding information on caring for lawns in Utah, I love the fact that I felt forced to write about something different for a change.

I think I might search the wordpress freelancer tag to see what anyone else is doing…

~Ciao

RTW: Most Surprising Read

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My pitiful looking “book jar” tells me I haven’t read that many books this year, so I only have a small selection to choose from. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks stands out. Although I thought this book would be enjoyable, I wasn’t at all expecting to love it and actually come close to crying over it. It’s based on the true life of Henrietta Lacks, a young woman who died of cancer. Unknown to her and her family, her cancerous tissues, named HeLa, were used from anywhere to finding the cure for polio to being flown into space. Rebecca Skloot manages to weave a story that covers racism, ethics and even mystery- the details surrounding what happened to Henrietta’s oldest daughter, Elsie Lacks, was especially heartbreaking. But of course, what made the book stand out- and even Skloot agrees with this -is Deborah Lacks, Henrietta’s second daughter. Immortal Life is a bit like a biography and autobiography on Deborah. She’s been through so much since her mother’s death, and her anger and joy reads through the book- she’s this book heart.
I would write more, but the emotions from reading this book are coming back to me.

New Project Virus

So, I did something stupid. That New Project seeped inside me. Technically, it’s not a new project, but an old one I’ve had sense 2005, long before HIDDEN ZERO CHAOS. Doesn’t matter, because I became infected with this story and spent more time on it then CHAOS, to the point where I’ve missed my first and second draft goal. Gotdammit.

Nevertheless! Ophelia, my main character, came calling for me, and I’m back. No matter how long it’s taking me to finish this story, I have complete faith in it. After I’m done organizing the outlines for all three books, I’ll get back to work on CHAOS, which will be this coming Saturday.

This time, my daily word count, in order to finish this book, will be the routine 2,000 words per day. I’m going to channel a certain author and post, on my tumblr, my daily word counts (hopefully- maybe I’ll still have the Internet by that point) and a few quotes from the writing to keep me motivated.

In other news, I still don’t have a job.

P.S.: And why is the date on my blog a day earlier? Am I traveling through time…