Jul 052011

After twelve days of writing, I am at the mid point of my Violatrix novel. Holy shit. How did that happen? Who knew that not having a job would give you so much writing time?

Part of my success came from just writing the damn thing. I keep writing, even when I am not 100% confident in where it is going. I can clean it up in the second draft. The important thing is that there is no second draft without a first draft, so I keep writing like a mother fucker.

The other part of my success is that I built up a buffer of short stories for posting on Wednesdays. I am really understanding how much time goes into just thinking of a concept for a short story much less writing it. I have been averaging a chapter a day where as my normal story average is 1.5 stories a week.

Which makes me wonder if the time involved in writing short stories for free is time well spent. The short stories become testing chambers for my ideas and the novels are my ideas refined and expanded, but when I post a story and get that tiny amount of comments on it, it makes me wonder if I should have just spent that time making a book where I get some tiny financial reward. It is certainly on my mind.

Of course, halfway done with a novel is still not done. I got to write and I am going on a 3 day trip this weekend so that will certainly kill my momentum. The upside to writing this fast is that I have not become sick of the subject matter or the story itself yet (I’m looking at you, Island Princess). I just want to record this happy moment of novel writing bliss while I still love the story.

Jul 012011

I am elbow deep in writing my Violatrix novel, which is a funny coincidence because one of my characters is trying to get elbow deep into another character.

Since I have nothing sexy to share with you, I will share some writing wisdom.

Hands down, the most inspiring thing I have read in ages about writing is 25 Things You should know about writing a novel (or how the lunatic writes a book) You need to read this. I already knew most of these but never have I seen it so well articulated. It is like the crusty bitter writing coach I always wanted. It is written by Chuck Wendig, who to my knowledge is neither crusty nor bitter, but he may be my new messiah.

I worshiped at the altar of Chuck Wendig until he wrote this other article Strangling Mermaids: More writing myths that need to die. Now I hate him because I am so jealous of this article. Fuck, I have been thinking it for years but never really put it all together.

Especially this bit,

Does that mean I’ve never been surprised by my characters? Of course I’ve been surprised by my characters. But I don’t attribute it to them being real. Instead, I high-five my subconscious mind and say, “Nicely done, part of my brain, I approve of your decision.” I mean, it’s not like comic book writers are like, “Yeah, I don’t know why Superman just took a Kryptonian Super-Shit on Hawkman. It’s just, hey, that’s Superman. I don’t control him. That crazy motherfucker does what he wants. The underwear on the outside? His idea.”

So yeah, check out Chuck’s blog. Leave him offerings and sacrifices.

In vanity news, Darius Whiteplume wrote a wonderful review of The Colette-Ashbee Collection which he liked. I have been writing for ages but it always blows my mind when someone I know happens to like my stories. I am especially happy to see the Colette-Ashbee book get some love because it contains a novella length mystery story and I was always curious how it stacked up with other mysteries. I don’t get much fhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifeedback for books so there is often that niggling doubt.

With my new found free time, I have gotten around to organizing more of my stuff. Like any blogger, I am compelled to share this with you. I started a Tumblr called “Stuff That I Own” where I discuss stuff that I own. It also gives me a chance to discuss artists and creative types that I have dealt with as well as less than honorable sellers. Since I can’t invite all of you to my house to show it to you personally, this Tumblr will have to do.

Finally, I leave you with my latest audio obsession, the supernatural Lykke Li.

Jun 272011

Star Trek has taught me that the proper number of officers required to run a spaceship is somewhere around ten people. Battlestar Galactica taught me that number is more like three or four, but quite frankly, that is boring as shit. The more command officers that a story has, the more possibilities for conflicts and alliances. When you write porn, the more potential sexual partners, the better.

So after writing up the cast for my Violatrix spaceship, I had nine characters. That is quite a few characters to deal with right away. I worry about the reader getting overwhelmed and confused. Since it is also science fiction with some non-English sounding names, the potential of confusion just gets higher.

I soon understood why most Star Trek movies only focus on two or three characters while the rest of the crew gets snappy one-liners. It is hard to divide out attention equally. I notice that Star Trek novels tend to give the crew equal shares of the plot, but I suspect they can do that because they are not introducing anyone to the reader. When a reader of Star Trek picks up a book, he already knows who Spock, Kirk, McCoy and even down to the minor characters like Sulu. The reader knows these characters. In my book, I have to introduce everyone to the reader for the first time.

My strategy was to create a sort of relay. I start with Character A as the focus. We see things for A’s point-of-view and what A has to deal with is Character B. So we get to know A from A’s perspective and we get to know B from A’s perspective. Then the next chapter is told from Character B’s perspective and they interact with Character C. This continues as we meet new characters. The character just met in the last chapter becomes the relay to the next character. And since this is a sex book with people plotting to kill each other, it gives a lot of characters some nice one on one time.

I loved this idea so much that I decided to make the entire novel follow this format. I might have nine characters but we deal with two or three at a time at the most. I considered myself a genius.

Well, right up to when it just doesn’t work. This format hijacked the plot. I was trying to fulfill the demands of the gimmicky format rather than the needs of the plot. I spent a week trying to make it work before I realized something terribly important about brilliant gimmicks. It is only brilliant if it actually fucking works.

So I have decided to use the relay gimmick only up until the characters are introduced. I do think I will keep with sticking with one character’s perspective through the entire chapter as I think that is the only way to write, really. I feel that sex has to be experienced through the eyes of one person at a time, as the uncertainty of what the other character’s motives, likes and desires is a big part of sex.

Interesting enough, even giving attention to all the characters hasn’t prevented the fact that some characters are just inherently more interesting. Some characters right now are interesting as far as how they are obstacles to other characters. I also found that the most sympathetic character really helps move the story along. I use to criticize Star Trek stories where the minor officers get little air time but the truth of the matter is that maybe they just don’t add that much to the story. If a character wants to be a bigger part, then they got to be fucking worth spending time with.

So, what have I learned last week?

Gimmicks are only brilliant if they actually fucking work.

Lots of characters are fine but they need to be character you actually give a fuck about.

Star Trek writers had it harder than I thought.

Jun 032011

Since I have more free time, I thought I would document my through process for my next book. I find the process of writing to be fascinating so I will try to share my thoughts just in case someone else does too. I will also avoid spoilers which might be tricky, but hey, I hate spoilers as much as I love process.

The Violatrix is a book set in Queen Erishella’s navy. Erishella is a cruel monarch who sends spaceships out to find new worlds to subjugate. The Violatrix is the name of a space ship where the story takes place.

My high concept description is “Star Trek if the crew followed Ming the Merciless.”

As much as I love star Trek, I don’t have an interest in doing a parody of it. The evil mirror universe in Star Trek is a big influence but I beleive it is better to create than to write fan fiction. When you create your own characters, your own rules and your own universe, than it is yours. No reader will ever say “I don’t beleive evil Kirk from a parallel universe would act that way!”

I also like the universe of Queen Erishella better. Using Flash Gordon as a jumping point, you start from a place of high adventure and space opera. Star Trek investigates and uses science. Flash Gordon fights a lot of half naked people while other half naked people are tied up. Queen Erishella uses science to get people naked and make them do terrible things while they have sex.

Sex is the big thing. I write erotica. Any story I do is going to be soaked in sex. Violatrix is a sexy ship that preys on lesser planets. The crew is a mix of dominant personalities and submissives. They fuck a lot. Fucking is worked into the process. The Captain is the King of Fucking and everyone envy his power. Betrayal and venom will be the fuel that this ship runs on. The reason this crew is the terror of the universe is because they sharpen themselves on trying to terrorize each other.

Which means I have potentially have a cast of unlikable characters. That could be a problem. This is where I think humor helps. The reason so few BDSM stories have humor is that it kills the deadly gothic tension that they are trying to build. I use humor all the time because I am a smart ass. I think humor will help keep this book from being a total bummer.

I also think that if every character is a bastard, then it become enjoyable to see them inconvenienced. I also want to give every dog their day, so that even the submissives who get abused take it out on someone else. Plus, they are a crew of perverts, so I think there will be a lot of situations where people are being taken advantage of and they are not complaining all that much. This might seem offensive in theory but in practice, it sometimes works. A ship full of bdsm science fiction can get a lot of leeway.

Which brings us to the plot. Plot A will be the Violatrix and the crew against a threat. This will be main plot. Plot B will involve two characters trying to assassinate the Captain. Plot C will involve two other characters trying to smuggle something on board for their own personal profit. That leaves three characters left over who will either be accomplices or obstacles for the characters in Plot B and C.

And fucking. So much fucking.

Jan 032011

I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. They always seemed to be set ups for failure and always a perverse tradition of adding stress and deadlines after what is supposed to be a relaxing period. I am certainly reconsidering that attitude.

I have a different attitude now due to some recent medical scares. My yearly physical revealed an irregularity with my heartbeat and I was sent to take a stress echo test of my heart. I was also diagnosed with my pituitary gland not producing the hormone to tell my testicles to create testosterone. I was scheduled to have an MRI of my head to see if there are any tumors. Medical science being what it is, I had to make appointments, wait, fill out forms, wait, have the tests done and then wait for the results to be analyzed. As a writer, waiting is pretty much asking my brain to conjure up all sorts of negative scenarios. I’ve been a little stressed.

This stress has made me reconsider the way I do things. I tend to create pressure for myself without the help of others. I religiously come up with a new story to post every week because I feel that if I didn’t post a story, there would be next to no reason to visit my blog every week. I also want to make more books and long stories but that 52 stories a year deadline is a killer. I put out four books last year, 52 stories and wrote the majority of a 5th book. That is pretty nice and I am proud of it but it is also exhausting. I know I should slow down but it is very hard to do so without feeling like I am lazy.

My heart echo came back and my heart is great. Today I find out about the MRI and whether I will need surgery. Even if I do, there is not much risk to my overall health. All in all I am in good hands but man, weeks of waiting for tests and results have worn me down. It killed my writing and not writing stressed me out more. I felt like I was a failure at my own hobby.

With that in mind, I am going to aim for a bit more relaxation. I can’t do much to reduce my work stress except perhaps give less of a fuck, but I am going to work really hard on not being my own worse enemy. I may recycle more pre-blog stories into the blog on Wednesdays to give myself more weeks off. I may give up posting weekly altogether if I find myself on a good streak of writing chapters for one of my books.

I am still debating what to do but my overall goal is to fucking relax. I love writing and I will never stop but sometimes I just don’t have anything written for you right now. Does that make sense?

Picture is of London Andrews because holy shit, every year needs something beautiful to start with.

Sep 132010

I had a stressful week at work last week. We are picking up a new contract which will require me to do some work that I really detest. It is like if suddenly your job added shoveling shit to your daily duties. I am sure I will get used to the smell of shit but man, it’s a bummer.

Which is why in times of darkness I turn to my erotica. Writing porn makes me happy. Writing porn is something I look forward to. If my day job is going to suck more, than I need to make sure my hobby makes it all worthwhile.

My Librarians book is almost ready for publishing. Once it publishes, I can get back to writing and posting more stories about them. I miss Claire. I have a lot more stories to tell about erotica. I do wonder if low sales will impact my fondness for the characters. I hope not but you can never predict how the inspiration will be affected.

I am also 75% done with the Island Princess Bedtime Stories and Activity Book. I have written two new stories for it and I need to do a third. It is crammed with activities that I hope you will find fun. I have enjoyed making but man, it is a challenge. Remind me to not do another one.

I am also slowly writing stories for the Pirates anthology I will be publishing next summer. Pirates are my obsession and it is fun to create brand new characters. It is fun to escape into a completely fictional world of a co-ed pirate orgy ship. It is fun to write sex over a cannon.

I should really start Violatrix at some point. The damn thing is outlined and ready. I think the specter of the Librarians and Island Princess books are holding me back.

As my work stress increases, I find myself wanting to do something quick and dirty. Buddha knows I have almost a year’s worth of writing ahead of me but I have this itch to make a brand new character in some genre I haven’t played in yet. Erishella satisfies my science fiction urges, and Nighthammer scratches my fantasy urge, but I wish I had a new genre that I could play around in and define. Genres are like video games to me. Getting my feet wet designing an empire for an Evil Queen was better than the latest zombie shooter. I already have more than enough to keep me busy but making something new is what I really love. I just have to make sure when I do find something new I don’t explode it into a novel length project.

I need a new fetish.

Jul 192010

This weekend I finished the first draft of Pusse’ and Cox. I still have some rewriting to do as well as seriously make one of the characters more interesting, but all of the chapters are there. It is an incredible feeling. I feel like the first day of summer vacation. I am a free man.

Which means I am free to go right into another novel. I can finally start my Violatrix book. The high concept is BDSM Star Trek. I had already worked out the crew but since I lost the notebook with all of my notes, I will need to start all over. Oh well. Time to get cracking.

When I write a novel I try to to surround myself with things that keep me inspired in the genre in which I am working. For Pusse’ and Cox, I had wallpaper from Actiongirls.com so I would always have a fresh blonde with a gun on my desktop. My writing music was the House of the Dead: Overkill soundtrack, the Planet Terror Soundtrack and everything by Electric Six. I watched any halfway interesting action movie on Netflix and Demand. I have been soaking in high octane action and a change will be nice.

For the Violatrix, I will most likely be loading up on science fiction and bondage. If I can get both then that would be a double win. I find the immersion important for when work stress, sick pets and bad moods threaten to choke out my creativity, sometimes seeing a naked breast in the right context can keep the writing flowing.

Today though, I am going to sit on my ass and enjoy my novel free day.

 writing  Comments Off on A Small Respite
Jul 162010

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak is that rare lovely book about writers that just inspire you to write. I was in a Seattle bookstore with several hours to kill and I picked this book up and came close to reading it in one setting. It was just that compelling.

This book chronicles the histories of the women who had the most to do with the writing of the Nancy Drew novels as best as we can determine it. The identity of the writers was a trade secret by the well meaning though sometimes naive owners of the character. It is a fascinating story about the woman who was almost the real life Nancy Drew, Mildred A. Wirt, and the woman who wanted Nancy Drew to be the perfect girl no one could possibly be, Harriet Stratemeyer. Although the two did not always get along, they both contributed a huge amount to such a beloved character.

The book is about Nancy Drew but really it is the story of two women around the turn of the century. One woman was a tomboy who became a swimmer, a writer, a reporter and finally a pilot who produced a ton of work. The other woman inherited her father’s pulp empire and managed to keep it running in a time when kids were not reading. I am stunned this has not been made in a winter chick movie already.

I was most touched by stories of Mildred A. Wirt’s work habits. She would often send in manuscripts and mention in passing that she wrote the entire novel while going through some terrible tragedy. The owners of Nancy had no idea what Mildred was going through till after the fact, but the lady was always on time. The next time I don’t feel like posting a one page blog post, I remember Mildred typing at her husband’s death bed so Nancy can figure out the mystery of the mysterious Mcguffin.

What did amuse me endlessly is that Edward Stratemeyer, the creator of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, created a subcontracting system. He wrote outlines and sent them to writers to make the novels. Then Edward would give feedback and notes so that the writers wrote more to his style. He was teaching people how to write like him, and considering how successful he was, it wasn’t a bad thing. It does make me a little jealous though. I wish I could hire someone to write more Librarian stories. I’d love to read more instead of waiting on my slow ass.

If you are a fan of Nancy Drew, you’ll love it. If you are a fan of writing, you’ll love it. If you are a fan of incredible women doing the impossible, you’ll love it. It is just a great book.

Jul 092010

I have two projects vexing me at the moment. I love both of them but damnn if i can make them work at the moment. Well, they work but they just don’t work the way I want them to.

The first one is Pusse’ and Cox. It is about a male stripper turned bounty hunter teaming up with a college cheerleader turned detective. Together they are chasing down a mad scientist who is turning people into sex crazed zombies. It is a combination of an action novel with a sex novel. Quite a few chapters are crammed with gunplay and dead people while other chapters are pure porn. I am pretty fond of it in theory.

I am not so fond of it in execution. This might be the pulpiest thing I have ever written which is good, but it is so far outside my usual comfort zone that I find myself second guessing myself. My inspirations have been mostly movies like Planet Terror, Bitch Slap and the cartoon series, Aeon Flux. The problem with using movies as inspiration is that they are visual things. Books are more cerebral and sometimes I just can’t write “And then a ten minute slaughter-fest happens.” I have to write the damn thing.

I am close to finishing it by about three chapters. It reminds me of the old saying “If it is not finished, then you have created nothing.” I feel that is so true. This story is longer than my usual works but man, I feel both exhausted and lazy. It is not done so I feel I really have nothing to show for the work. I should just finish it but deep down I worry that the whole thing is shit.

I see now why some writers always write about the same topic over and over again. They know that topic. They don’t spend their time wondering if they got it right.

My second big project is a follow up to my fictional zombie blog I did a while back. The premise is that the blogger is investigating mysterious paranormal events in Atlanta. To start with, he checks out a haunted house. He investigates the house for a month with a daily posting schedule until he satisfies his curiosity. Then he blogs once a week checking other small events until he comes across another big mystery in which it goes back to a daily schedule. I alternate back and forth to give myself space to write the next big mystery.

I like the idea because it lets me write horror on a regular basis but at the moment, the first haunted house is kicking my ass. I have one really unique idea annnnnnnd that’s it. One idea does not make a story. Even the zombie blog had three or four mysteries in it. I wrote about three weeks of entries before I realized I was padding a little. I put the blog away for a little bit and decided to take a few months off. Well a few months passed and I am still stumped.

I planned to start it in October of this year so I still have time to fix it. Which incidentally is why I write these things ahead of time. If I started posting them as soon as I was writing, I would be crushed by the terrible deadline and failure.

Remember this kids, write ahead. It saves you from having to write posts explaining why the conclusion of the story is delayed.

 writing  Comments Off on My Kingdom For a Finished Story
Jul 052010

I appear to have lost my writing notebook that I have used for the last 3 or 4 years. I say ‘appear’ because I am mostly in denial. I’ve had that notebook for ages and I am holding out hope that it was not left in a hotel room in Seattle like I suspect it was.

That book was crammed with notes. The covers were old fashioned pinup pictures so the naked breasts should let anyone know what depravity is inside. Granted, the sexual perversity is written in my crappy handwriting and almost tangential shorthand. I am curious if anyone can make heads or tails of it.

For example, I had the outlines for Volleyball Madd-Ness, Who Ate Claire Currie, both Wolf Inside series as anything else of length I wrote. I had pages of Prisoner of the Wizard’s Harem where I graphed the decision trees. Now when I say outline what I really mean is things like this-

2- Meet dominatrix
3- Oral with cheerleader
4- girlfriend drama

Now imagine cheerleader crossed out and a cryptic ‘cashier’ written beside it. Not the most descriptive notes ever but certainly dirty.

The only notes in the book that I hadn’t turned into a story yet was the crew of the Violatrix. That was going to be my science fiction novel set in Erishella’s universe. Essentially it was going to be the Enterprise if the crew was heavy into bdsm and murder. I had some names and character dynamics that I don’t recall with one hundred percent accuracy. Oh well, back to the spanking bench on that one.

I also wrote down the succession of Librarians for the Ashbee-Collette collection for the past two hundred years. I wrote that down in a frenzy of creative scholarship and I really wish I had made it a word document instead.

Oddly enough, I also kept my notes about what I needed to do to finalize my divorce. There was nothing identity theft important in those notes, but it was a weird souvenir of my gaining my independence. I am going to miss those notes.

So here’s to the lost notebook of Shon Richards. If you find it, I hope you fill the remaining pages with smut and lust.