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Work in Progress: Ending finally worked

So I read the ending of my work-in-progress the other night in Writer’s Club.  And they loved it.  It worked.  Our published poet especially loved the final paragraph.

I’ve struggled with that ending for years.  I had trouble working out how it should go, what happened, how much to reveal, when it happened, etc. etc.  I’ve deleted things and changed things and rewritten it a bunch of times.  A while back, I showed a reader three different endings and asked which one she liked best.

This one finally worked.

Now, I’m finishing up the research, basically German culture and language.  I spent several years reading all about Nazi Germany and the decades leading up to it and how people thought; I think at this point I know all I need to know.

I’m bogged down in editing, though, because I struggle to find time to do it, and I’m working on Heinrich’s speech patterns.  I hear Germans all the time on the radio because I listen to Goth/Industrial, but I still have trouble getting it right.  I think next book everybody will be a native English speaker.  argh

In revising my first two books to get them ready for a new platform, the writing of my youth surprised me.  There were amazing passages I’d forgotten all about.  But with “Bismarck” I feel like I’m at the peak of my powers, as they say.  It’s probably because I’ve been running a website and blogging for some 18 years, writing all sorts of things, from political pieces to memoirs, while also reading all sorts of things.

It’s getting there, people.  It’s getting there…..

Description of my work-in-progress: Typing An Unwilling Time-Traveler, a novella I wrote in high school, onto my main website, revived my old passion for that story.  Ever since October 2015, I have been working on a full revision.  The original was about a teenage girl abducted to Nazi Germany by a time-traveler; the new version has become far more complex.  Now woven in are various themes such as narcissism, authoritarian religion, deconstructing from Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism, purity culture, and falling for a Svengali figure.  The themes of a Christian society falling for the lies of an authoritarian state, and how warfare is conducted, are also increasingly relevant to our times.  There are Gothic tropes as well as science fantasy.  You can read about my revisions in my writing blog.

I found someone like me who records memories for future self

I was reading a blog on NVLD when I came across a comment by Shava Nerad which read, in part,

My episodic memory is pretty good, but spotty. I can remember things going back to my toddler years. I started trying to remember events of my life when I was about eight years old when I realized that most adults didn’t remember what it was like to be a child anymore, and had the foresight as a gifted kid to try to “record” my memories for my future self so this wouldn’t be my fate (it worked!). My idea of my unfathomably ancient future self, in my mind at the time, was me-at-forty, lol, and here I am at nearly 60, still quite easily remembering my internal states as a kid.

I did this, too: When I was maybe ten, I read the Little House books, assumed they were all based on memory (not knowing that Wilder did some fictionalizing), and wanted to be able to do the same thing when I got older.  So I asked my psychologist to hypnotize me to remember everything.  I also started writing down everything, in diaries and letters and journals, and then backing them up: typing them, copying them, saving them on computers, locking them in fireproof vaults.  As I got older, saving e-mails became a new way of remembering.  Nowadays, I do my saving electronically, which is much easier to find room for and access at will.

So just like Nerad, I can remember many things from as far back as age one because I was determined to remember them.  I wrote down many old memories into Word Perfect; there are many things I’ve forgotten which I remember by looking back through these journals.  They are valuable to me, no matter if anybody else cares about the things I write about.  Even if nobody reads much of the memoirs I’ve posted here on my website, they are there for me to re-read and search through whenever I want to remember something.

And yes, I remember vividly what it was like to be a kid, to be a teenager, even at the ripe old age of 47.  😉  So when I see somebody my age post a comment online like, “Back in MY day, we didn’t act up in class/disrespect our parents/act like today’s spoiled rotten kids/etc. etc.,” I can say, “Um, yes, you did.  You were just as bad.  Spanking didn’t stop you.”

Too bad I can’t post a reply to Nerad.  I mean, I could, but this person’s comment was posted two and a half years ago….

New revision and buy links for my book Tojet

After April’s fiasco on the Lulu website–after a disastrous “upgrade” which screwed up thousands of people’s projects–I’m in the process of moving my books over to Draft2Digital.  You will still see links for the Lulu version of Tojet around the Net, but I retired the Lulu project, so they should disappear soon.  The link you need to find Tojet is here.  It leads you to different vendors.  Not Amazon yet, because my old links have to disappear first so Amazon doesn’t blacklist my new links.  Amazon’s rules are draconian….. But you can find a MOBI formatted book for your Kindle here.

It’s taking so long to move my books over because the files are 12-15 years old and need extensive formatting fixes to work with modern ebooks.  The days of using your print book’s PDF as an ebook are long over.  Not only that, but I’ve also been skimming through looking for stuff I want to change.

So Tojet has been revised for 2020, and I’m about to start the process with The Lighthouse.  I really look forward to updating Lighthouse because–even though it seems like everybody else prefers Tojet–The Lighthouse is my favorite of the two, with its Gothic themes and–I think–superior writing.  Yet everybody likes Tojet better.  Go figure.  😉  [Update: Lighthouse is done; see here for links.]

Narrowing down a genre for my novel: Gothic Science Fantasy

Now that my novel is nearing completion, after more than three years of work, a suitable genre is finally becoming clear.  The plot is all in place; I’ve been working on layers of editing and tweaking: sensory details, distinctive language and habits of the main characters, finding irrelevant or redundant passages, looking for things that need more detail or action, never-ending research, etc. etc.

In the process, themes and symbolism are also revealing themselves, even ones which I did not consciously include.  It certainly does not fit into a “pulp fiction” genre category, ie, following formulas and light on meaning or symbolism, while focusing mostly on a quick, plot-driven read.  No, my book reflects the fact that I like to read a lot of literary novels.

There’s a definite romance, two in fact, but it’s certainly no Romance-novel “happily ever after.”  Actually, it’s an obsessive, even destructive romance, in which one of the characters–whether he’s truly a narcissist or not–sure acts like one.  And if you don’t have an “HEA” ending (as the fans term it) in a romance novel, there’s a very good chance your readers will toss it against the wall and never read any of your other books.  (This has actually happened with writers before.)  But if you have an HEA with a hero like mine, it’s likely to get pushback from abuse victims like we saw with Fifty Shades of Grey.

It doesn’t fit into science fiction, either.  I’ve always been more interested in the fantastical science fiction–Doctor Who, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Farscape–and not so much in hard science fiction.  So what if it’s unlikely a humanoid alien ever lived on Mars?  I still want to read about that.  So what if hypnotism doesn’t actually work like in the old movies?  I still like to watch them.

Turns out, “science fantasy” is a term used for that kind of science fiction.  It doesn’t have to follow strict, real-world scientific principles, and can include mysticism or the supernatural, such as the Force or ghosts or fairies.  So my novel–light on the science but heavy on plot, symbols, reflections on human nature, etc.–fits right in.  It also fits because the hypnotism goes beyond what actual hypnotism can do.

(Or does it?  A boyfriend in college hypnotized me and caused a mental link, just like in the novel.  But then, I can never really be sure how much was truly a Link, and how much was him playing with my head.  But the concept is not unheard-of.)

But that’s not all it is.  Not only is there a romance.  Not only is there time travel and a mad scientist.  But there is a focus on the psychology of the characters, so it can be called a Psychological novel.

There are also themes, symbolism, a character-driven story that’s at least as important as the plot, and deeper meaning exploring the depths of human nature, making it fit in the Literary genre.

But then you find those themes which have become prominent over the past few years as I’ve worked and tweaked: Byronic hero, described above.  Svengali, the older man hypnotizing and manipulating the young woman, while another man–the young hero–tries to save her.  The older, aristocratic man obsessed with the young virgin, imprisoning her in a castle.  Dark themes of oppressive religion and questioning, abandonment, betrayal, destruction, death.  Hypnotism.  A character who is also very vampiric, inspiring a dark and erotic fascination not just toward the young woman, but from her as well.

So there you have it: It’s a Gothic.  Because the Gothic elements are not based in the supernatural (other than the hypnotism and the Laws of Time which seem almost like a deity), “Gothic Science Fantasy” seems most fitting.  Also, because Psychology and Literary elements are all very much a part of the Gothic genre, I don’t even have to specify that it’s a “literary” or a “psychological” novel.

So there you have it: I’m working on a Gothic Science Fantasy.   This will help me with the editing and, later, the marketing, because publishers and readers both want to know “where it fits.”  I love genre-bending novels, which this certainly is, but it helps to know where to put it and who to market it to.

 

Black Forest Dream

Black Forest Dream

I whipped up the following last week for our yearly Writer’s Club Halloween party.  For a couple of days I’ve thought about posting it here, since it got a good response.  Then I heard that another of our writers posted his story.  So that spurred me to get it done.  Here is the story:

 

I lay underneath a pine tree in the Black Forest, asleep.  I had hiked for so long, alone, that I thought a little nap would quickly refresh me for the walk home.

A bit of fiendish laughter woke me up–or so I thought.  All around was so dark that I couldn’t see who it came from. I sat up; something clanked against my chest.  I patted my chest with my hand until I found an amulet of some sort, shaped like a bat.

“What is this?” I cried.  Somebody giggled again, then scurried away, stirring up pine needles.  I got up to continue on my way home.

Was something watching me?  What could be here?  Those were just fairy tales, stories meant to scare children.  There were no ghosts or goblins or witches or fairies in the Black Forest.  Though an animal was a far more likely possibility, so I pushed my legs faster.

Till I tripped.  My backpack pulled me over and my ankle twisted.  I bent over and held onto it, hoping it was just a sprain that would be over with quickly.

What did I trip over?  That dratted giggling again!

“Show yourself!”

A mist, even darker than the blackness, swirled around the treetops, falling down ever faster toward me.  It leaped off the trunk right over my head, and landed on the ground in front of me.

“Let me help you with that,” it said.  “You are the one chosen by my goblin slave.  Very pretty–good choice!”

The mist dissolved into a black-clad human shape, a man, tall with black hair and slanted, onyx eyes.  He bent down and touched my ankle, which stopped hurting.

“Who are you?” I said.  Goblin king?  Vampire?

“I am–”

I awoke to a moth landing on my nose.  Dang it, right when I was about to find out!  I sighed and dragged myself up off the ground, resigned to finish my hike out of the forest.

Something clanked against my chest.  I looked down and found a bat-shaped amulet.

END

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