Category Archives: The Beast

Me, the Beast and that B!+*# in Louboutins

Two things:

1. Turns out you can eat too many sugar cookies.

2. Writing sucks. Here’s why: Somewhere between inspiration and completion lies a battle zone, where muse and inner critic wage war. And here’s a glimpse of what it looks like at my place:

She made a disgusted noise—you know the one that starts with a ‘t’ sound and ends with an exasperated sigh. “You aren’t really going to do that, are you? End a scene like that?”

“Um. Sort of?” I say. I realize how lame it sounds. End every scene on an emotional shift. End every scene on an emotional shift. If she’s told me once, she’s told me a thousand times.

“I heard that,” she says.

“What?”

“‘Told me once, told me a thousand times.’ What did I tell you about clichés?”

“That they’re…bad?”

“Hmph.” She bends forward, rests a manicured hand on my desktop and adjusts her glasses with the other. She peers closely at the screen and then turns to me, incredulous. “Did you just use an adverb?”

“Ahh.”

I did. I totally used an adverb. I was in a hurry. I thought it sounded okay. I didn’t think anyone would get hurt. Oh god. There’s just no excuse. Not when SHE’S around.

SHE is inner critic, editor in chief and nothing satisfies her. She’s tall, effortlessly thin. You know the type: power suit, lip-liner and those shoes with the red soles—the-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of-thems.

Louboutins,” she says with a perfect French accent.

“Huh?”

“The shoes. They’re Louboutins.”

“Oh, right.”

“Wouldn’t kill you to do some research now and then, you know.”

I try to catch the Beast’s eye, but he’s reclining on the other side of my desk, feet up, examining what appears to be a booger at the tip of one filthy finger.

She clears her throat and taps one crimson nail on my monitor. “Are you with me, Karen?”

“Yes.”

“Then fix this,” she hisses, her finger underscoring the adverb.

She pulls back. “Oh my God. Did you just attribute my dialogue?”

“Ahhh.”

She throws her arms up and storms for the door, pausing long enough to mutter to the Beast before she leaves: “I can’t work with her. She’s hopeless. Don’t waste your time.”

The Beast does nothing. The door slams and I spend a few moments staring at my hands lying limp on the keyboard.

Finally, I look up and try to snag his eye. “That’s good, right? We can finally get some work done.”

He leans forward and wipes the booger on the underside of my desk. “Maybe,” he says. “If you’d get your ass off that blog.”

Sigh.

Here’s hoping you win your creative battles today.

 

 

The Forehead-Smacking Moment I Figured Out NaNoWriMo

There are two kinds of writers in the world: those that do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and rise to the challenge of producing 50,000 words in November, and writers that spend the month coming up with excuses why this is not sensible, practical, rational or useful.

I’ve always been in the latter camp.

I mean sure, I could write 50,000 words in a month. But who wants to read a book composed of “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” repeated 5,555 times?

Then, the Beast showed up. “Best Friends for Never,” he said in a phlegmy whisper.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll write it. Someday. Like when it’s warmer. When the bills are caught up. I’ll take some vacation time—next year maybe. When I’m caught up on my sleep. And laundry. Better yet, when my youngest is out of elementary school and I don’t have to haul my oldest to band practice at 6:30 am. Or when I’m retired.

“Write it now,” he said. He let out a stale stream of cigarette smoke and flicked some ashes on the rug.

“I don’t even know what happens. I mean it’s just an idea.”

“Write.”

Fine.

I was late out of the gate, starting on November 5th. For a few days, I juggled 400 words at a pop and questioned the point. And then: BOOM.

I got it. I got what NaNoWriMo is really about. And no, it’s not a contest. And no, it’s not about discipline and it’s most certainly not about perfection. It’s about opening the door wide. And in the process of opening that door, you need to slam your inner critic hard against the other wall. (Mine left a long lipstick streak down the door jamb before she fell unconscious.)

And when that door is open, well that is when the story happens.

As of today, I’ve got 20,000 words. And while it it’s pretty unlikely I’ll win NaNoWriMo this year, I have to say I’ve already won. I’ve got a story that’s making me breathless and I can’t wait to finish it. And the fact I won’t get done by November 30th isn’t because it’s not there—it’s because there’s not just enough time. So when November goes and December comes, I expect to be still happily click-clacking away on Best Friends for Never.

Congratulations to all of those who have completed NaNoWriMo and to any and all that have taken the challenge. Best of luck in taking your novel to the next step. And to those writers who always put entering NaNoWriMo right up there with pushing a shopping cart to the top of Mount Everest, consider this: what have you got to lose?

Attack of the Nefarious Google Beast

googlemapI like maps, planned destinations, hotel reservations, heated pools and chocolate croissants. I like research and travel books and poring over online reviews and intimate knowledge of space and place before I get there. And yet somehow the best part of the journey is always the unplanned detour or the unexpected stop. It’s there I find the ultimate souvenir, the perfect picture or the barbecue ribs worth dying for.

When I got the idea for HitList, it wasn’t so much that I found it, as it found me. I was just merrying along, writing my Well-Planned Book (about something else entirely), when The Beast (aka HitList) came, knocked me across the teeth and took over my brain.

I was helpless to stop. I knew it derailed me, but there was something so compelling about it—I couldn’t look away. Each word made me eager for the next. I couldn’t stop writing—I had to find out what happened. And this experience showed me that while there are intentions, plans and plots, there is the thrill of riding the story and letting it take you. Amazingly, by the time The Beast left, I had a book–a better book than the one I’d planned.

So, I was not completely surprised when some innocent and well-intended research on my googlemap streetviewcurrent WIP turned into something else. The Nefarious Google Beast blindsided me and dragged me into an alley, where it threw me in the trunk of a waiting car. I was just sitting there, staring at something on Google maps and one thought led to another, which led to a sentence, and turned into a page and I’m starting to wonder if there might be a book attached.

It may only be a short story, it could be a meandering diversion down the rabbit hole and back, but right now I simply can’t wait to get to the next sentence. Oh, what next? What next? Where are you taking me, Nefarious Google Beast?

I may end up miles away next week with nothing to show for it but a short story and a tattoo I don’t remember getting, but heck…I think I’m gonna go along for the ride.

Ding Dong, The Beast is Gone

After more than a year of pushing words around, I’m happy to announce the second draft of HitList is done.

What does this mean? For starters, I can clear the litter of scribbled notes off my desk, take the kids kite flying and when we’re back, get busy trying to find the bottom of the laundry basket.

What’s next? Final feedback, and then the dreaded query and synopsis. IF and when I’m ready to face the trauma of shopping it around. Maybe I’ll blog more . . . mwah ha ha . . . you’ve been warned.

Another book? Ack–bite your tongue. If I could manage to keep things in proper perspective, I might be okay. But The Beast has no respect for me, my full-time job, OR my family. He yanks the covers off  at 4:00 am and drags me out of bed by one ankle. He snaps at my daughter when she wakes up at 6:30, blissfully ignores my son and would leave me hunched at the computer until I was nothing but a pile of flab and bones. He intrudes at every family outing and even barges in on me in the shower. I hope to avoid this, for awhile at least.

I need a tidy hobby, a rewarding one that minds my privacy and respects my need for sleep. Maybe running. Or photography. Like perhaps I could produce calendars . . . something like Sexy Firemen or Hot Hunks of Law Enforcement.

Now that’s something to aspire to.

Me, The Cowboy and The Beast

The cowboy was perched at the foot of my bed.

“Wake up, girl.”

He calls me girl. It’s irritating. If you want me to tell your story, you should at least call me by my proper name.

I kick at his hind end so he’ll get up and leave. “You’re a prompt, you know. A writing exercise. You’re not a book. You’re not even a short story–you’re a paragraph and I’m done with you.”

We both know better. I first met Henry Thomas Colter twenty years ago while I was on my historical fiction kick. I know him, know his story. I know about the woman he left behind in Ohio and the dying man he’s about to find and how he ain’t never gonna make it to Oregon.

But really…what is he thinking? I go from first person teenage hacker to third person Western? Who even writes Westerns?

“You’ll destroy all my credibility,” I say. I’m just kidding. I never had any credibility. C’mon people, I opened with poop.

I blame Gordon for this–and you too, Sharon.

11,000 or so words to go on The Beast.

No, I’m Not Dead.

The Beast has been keeping me busy. I had to wait until he fell asleep in order to sneak in an update to my blog.

Some days he barks out 3,000 words in a single day. But lately he’s only gobbling up my word count. I just do what he says, it’s easier that way.

I did find the time to send out some queries, I’ll post an update if anything exciting happens… that is, if the Beast will let me.

The Next Morning, The Beast Was Still There

“I was thinking we could just call it good, I wrote your story,” I said. 1,100 words — a short story. It wasn’t bad… still it was a relief to have it done.

He made a gurgling, phlegmy sound which might have been a laugh. “We haven’t even gotten started, sweetheart,” he said.

I did not have to take this — this was my house, my mind, and I would write what I wanted to — I had to draw the line somewhere. “Look, I don’t write that kind of crap. I’m doing Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. Get out of my house.”

“No,” he said and narrowed his eyes at me. “I’m not leaving until you write me.”

“But… no one is going to like me.”

“Not my problem. Your job is to write me. We’re wasting time.”

His feet were propped on the coffee table and as I tried to shove them off I saw the pile of glitter. Pink glitter. “What did you do to Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows?” I hadn’t seen my old book since the day he showed up.

“Haven’t seen her,” he said and patted his stomach.

$#!+

This was ten days ago and The Beast has since grown to a timeline, a plot outline, pages and pages of character worksheets and 8,000 words of manuscript. I’m hoping if I do as he says, we can get this over with.