What’s scarier than Halloween? (The struggle is real)

Halloween is careening toward us, rife with ghosts, monsters, princesses, and jack o’ lanterns. Pretty much everybody loves it, if only for the cooler weather and the changing seasons.

And the pumpkin spice.

pumpkinspice

Today, I just did something scarier than dressing up and wearing fake fangs.

I finished editing Malicious.

This means preorders and cover reveals and hammering out a decent summary that doesn’t give away every last detail about books 1 and 2. (Is that even possible with the third book in a trilogy?) And worst of all: The Resistance.

Seth Godin defines the Resistance as the lizard brain, the part of your psyche that wants to survive. It doesn’t like changing the status quo. “We’re safe right here,” it says. “Why should we do something scary like publishing a book? We might get bad reviews or something! Let’s just sit on it and never show it to anybody.”

I think there’s something spiritual that goes on, too. I’ve seen other authors talk about it. These voices start whispering, “Why should you even bother? You’ll never amount to anything. The book isn’t any good.” And so on. It’s like, really extreme negative self-talk. I generally have pretty upbeat self-talk, so when this negative stuff starts, I always notice it. Once I address it in prayer, it stops.

And publishing a book is pretty terrifying. Particularly the end of a trilogy. The story has to pay off all the plot and tension set up in books 1 and 2. I want my readers to put it down with a satisfied sigh and walk around with warm fuzzies for a day or two. You know, the kind you get when you finish a REALLY good story and you’re all contented inside.

This was also the hardest book to write. I’ve rewritten huge chunks of it over the course of a year. I’ve slaved and fretted and brainstormed. But when I got it back from my editor, she said this was the smoothest of my books she’s edited so far. My beta readers were enthusiastic, saying this was the best book I’ve written yet. That kind of encouragement should make me feel invincible.

But the Resistance drags its feet. The struggle is real.

How about you? Do you get scared when you’re about to finish a huge project? Or am I just weird?

Advertisements

Confession: I love similes

I’m knee-deep in editing the final book of Malevolent right now. In the big battle in the middle of the book, my editor keeps saying, “Too many similes … too many similes … can we have some metaphors instead?”

This is my confession. I love similes.

I never thought about them very much until I read Signal to Noise by Eric Nylund. It’s a cyberpunk book in which everybody has brain implants that let them interface with computers. They all work in these “bubbles” instead of offices. The bubble interfaces with their implant and lets them visualize their own thoughts and ideas as metaphors. For instance, one character’s office is a steel plant with lots of machinery running. When the hero gives her bad news, in the background, the steel plant has an accident and molten metal spills everywhere.

The whole book is like that. It’s crushingly vivid because there’s a powerful visual metaphor in every paragraph. I counted, once. Every single paragraph. But it has to be that way, because the things he’s describing are impossible to imagine otherwise.

So I developed a habit of way over-describing the crazy things I was trying to write about. Here’s a sample of what my poor editor was talking about, from the middle of Malicious:


As before, I felt the barrier as hot and cold at the same time, like having a fever. I slipped into a weird trance state, almost dozing with my eyes open. There were life motes here. I could use them–this barrier was like a water main under high pressure. All I had to do was give it a crack.

Instead of blocking out Mal’s immense death power, I reached out and grasped it. He made an awful sound, a soft scream I had never heard before.

“It’s okay!” I said, unwilling to break out of my trance. It hurts to have your motes yanked, so I tugged as gently as I could. His motes had a pull like a gravity well and a definite shape. Wielding them like a magnet, I aimed them at the mote stream of the barrier at my feet. Life motes poured into both of us, hot, violent, unpredictable. I pulled in more and more, the pressure building as a fever-heat behind my eyes.

The ghouls were twenty feet away and galloping toward us like apes. Mal stood paralyzed, eyes closed, suffering as I used his power. He wouldn’t be able to stop them.

But I could.


See? Six similes in three paragraphs. I’ll have to revise this. I think I have a problem.

In the meantime, have a few Inktober sketches!

inktober-17-treeswift
Tree swift

 

inktober-17-monitor
Monitor lizard

Love is death

I think I overthink the romance genre.

I mean, people who read romance novels are just picking it up to go through the emotions of falling in love, right? That’s why romance has such a predictable formula–there doesn’t need to be a ton of plot. Guy meets girl. Girl and guy have secrets. Girl and guy hit it off (or fight). Circumstances throw them together again and again until they get to know each other a bit–and then secrets come to light and they splitsville … and then they realize they can’t live without each other and work hard to make things turn out. Happily ever after. Fade to credits.

As I’ve mused before, love has a lot of aspects to it. Like when I released Malcontent, I was chewing on the idea of respect in relationships. Too many relationships have been wrecked without it.

I was playing with another romantic plot, and I remarked to my writer’s group, why can’t I write romance without adding suspense? There’s always got to be death. People laughed.

Then I started thinking. When does love NOT have death? When two people fall in love, they have to die to their own selfish desires, their own secrets, for the good of the other person. Heck, it goes on, too. Say they get married and have kids. The parents have to die to their wishes for dates, alone time, any time at all … for the good of the family. Death, death, death.

But out of it comes life, life, life.

04129_zuiderheide_1920x1080
Desktop wallpaper from InterfaceLift

God’s built the principle of resurrection into the fabric of our reality. We have to die to those desires so new, better things result. And it happens all the time. Any time a person dares to die to themselves for the sake of someone else, something good results. At least, it does in my life! So I suck it up and die to myself in little ways every day, because the reward is so worth it.

It works the same way in fiction. I find that my best romantic plots involve death–characters who are willing to die for each other, in tiny ways as well as big ways. I guess I just overthink things. Or maybe I’m just coming to understand “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”