Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writing the First Flashback

I'm kind of excited about the flashbacks that are coming in book two of the Hemlock series. These scenes will take you back to some of the formative moments of the City, and should provide some good (and exciting) background on it. These scenes will also weave certain details from the first book into the over-arching story in a very clear way.

Dragons are also making their first (animate) appearance in the story in book two. I think they always bring a certain excitement and epic scope to a fantasy yarn, but I think the key for an author is to use them appropriately and try to avoid cliche. We'll see how I do on that front, but I am reasonably confident that my take on them will be somewhat unique.

My daughter hasn't been sleeping well for the past few weeks, which means that Mom and Dad haven't been sleeping either. I've lost some time due to this, but I am forging ahead as well as I can, under the circumstances. So far caffeine and perseverence have been my main crutches, although the predominance of the former will soon have to yield to the predominance of the later as my body simply runs out of energy to exploit. My "trials" often lead to better writing, so maybe this recent period of creativity I've been having should be attributed to my daughter...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Poetry of Youth

"He feared his maturity as it grew upon him, with its ripe thought, its skill, its finished art; yet which lacked the poetry of boyhood to make living a full end of life. Physically he was young yet; but his changeful and mortal soul was ageing quicker than his body--going to die before it, like most of ours." - Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence

The above is a quote that really resonates with me. It pretty much sums up the role of writing in my life. It restores and maintains the poetry of living. T.E. Lawrence expressed this idea so beautifully that for me to write anymore will probably just lessen the impact of his skillfully crafted words.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Interview done!

I just completed a wonderful interview with John Rakestraw on his blog talk radio show, which is now called "The Platform". We covered a lot of ground and I think it was an interesting conversation--and will be of special interest to anyone who's read Hemlock and the Wizard Tower. John is a really great interviewer, and I even got a chance to speak to Toni Rakestraw, who edited the 3rd edition of the novel!

John Rakestraw interv iews B Throwsnaill.

I recommend checking out some of John's other archived shows, as well. They are very interesting and informative, and John brings a wealth of creative knowledge and experience to the table.

Thank you, John!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interview / Even Further Plot Developments

I'm going to be interviewed by John Rakestraw on his weekly internet radio program "John Rakestraw Talks" on Saturday 6/25 at 1:30 eastern time (10:30 pacific). Every author loves to talk about their writing, so I'm sure it's going to be a blast. Here is a link where you can listen to the program: John Rakestraw Talks.

I'm getting tired of writing updates about cool ideas I'm having for the next book. Maybe you're tired of reading them, as well. I just need to get writing so I can share them with you, rather than trying to type up something cryptic that won't give anything away. Despite this self-remonstration, I feel compelled to mention that yesterday was an *epic* day for story ideas. A bunch of "threads" came together, and I think I have the arc for the remaining Hemlock novels completed again. And it is much, much cooler now.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Further Plot Developments

I got a really cool idea tonight. And this idea gave me a new perspective on my creative process. In addition, I learned that the storyline for novel two--and actually for the entire series-- is still under construction. I didn't think this was true just a few days ago. But, to use a tired metaphor, layers of plot keep peeling back to reveal a more intricate back story.

I had one solid idea leading into the weekend, but I still had this feeling of uneasiness about the story. It felt like a restless energy in the back of my mind, which wouldn't release me until I'd mined an unformed concept out of my subconscious. Or, you could look at in from the opposite perspective wherein I was consciously asking my subconscious to produce a cool idea. And I was thinking about it all weekend ("OK, subconscious, I'm listening. Feel free to chime in with your great idea whenever you are ready...").

I can't really say whether the unformed idea caused my mildly obsessive yearning for it, or whether my yearning for it caused the formation of the idea. Maybe there's a duality to it like some wacked out quantum physics experiment where the act of perceiving a particle causes it to have a well-defined location. Maybe the yearning for the idea and the idea came into existence simultaneously and I had to bridge the gap? Oh well, almost time for Game of Thrones. Enough of this babbling for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Merit / Blog Giveaway

I've been thinking about Merit this week. Yesterday I had a "whoa!" moment when a big concept struck me. I'm not sure how it will play out for the little guy, but big things may be afoot for him. I'll probably know more after I mow the lawn this weekend (if you've read some of my former posts about inspiration, this will make sense).

I'm participating in "The Great Indie Summer Read Giveaway". Over a hundred e-books are being given away over the course of the summer, so check it out. Here's the link: The Great Indie Summer Read Giveaway.

This feels like kind of a short update. I spent most of my week trying to avoid being absorbed by a gelatinous cube, so I'm a little fatigued. It seems like hard work always pays off down the line, but these are the weeks when being a full-time writer seems like a very attractive dream. I guess I'd better get back to writing asap!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A New Review / Thoughts on Falignus

I want to thank Jeffrey Poole, author of Bakkian Chronicles for reading and reviewing Hemlock and the Wizard Tower! You can read his review here. A few sites where I've applied to have Hemlock and the Wizard Tower featured tell me that I need at least five reviews before they will consider featuring it. So getting #4 is a big, big deal for me. Thank you again, Jeffrey.

This new review is the second one that mentions some uncertaintly about the character Falignus. From a pool of four formal reviews and a couple more informal ones, one mention of a problem can be explained as a possible outlier or matter of taste; but two mentions starts to sound like a trend. We're going to learn more about Falignus in the next novel, and hopefully this will help to explain away any ambiguity that there may be in the first novel relative to what his nature and motivations are.

I will say a few things though (in a spoiler-free way). The guy has a temper. Some of his more chaotic actions are a direct result of that. In fact, he is chided by Gwineval in one scene about this very characteristic. He is clearly ambitious, but he is also a skilled administrator and politician. He is trying to forge his own destiny, but he's been set upon a path by his background, and there's a lot of inertia in play there. That's all I can say without introducing spoilers. I'd be happy to continue a spoiler enhanced discussion of this on a new page, if anyone is interested.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Stanley Kubrick Would Write It

I wrote a scene last night. I re-read it this morning. It is clear, concise, and moves the story along. But I'm un-happy with it. It needs "something". So, I'm sitting here thinking about it, and the thought suddenly hits me: "What would Stanley Kubrick do?".

The answer, of course, is that he would do what he was notorious for, which is to shoot another take. He would just keep re-shooting until he got a take that spoke to him on some fundamental, artistic level. He was always looking for the actor to bring something different--something unique--to a scene. I think this is why his films all have an other-worldly vibe to them (which I love and which is why he is my favorite director).

I aspire to have every scene in my novels be interesting and unique. It's not enough, in my mind, for a scene to just move the story along. So I guess it's back to the drawing board for this particular scene. One of the characters needs to step it up! The director will just keep re-shooting until it's done right.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Happy Xenomorph

Wow, a scene from chapter 2 or 3 (not sure yet) of the next Hemlock book just burst out of me like a xenomorph larvae from one of the Alien movies. Except minus the blood, and the acid, and the teeth. It was like a happy xenomorph, leaving catharsis in its wake instead of pain. And probably making me less of an alien for a while.

That is part of the catharsis of writing for me--a comfortable return to an appreciation of the mundane in my life. Mundanity can be wonderful when it is complemented with a generous helping of wonder, and writing does that for me.

Hemlock is clearly changing and growing in this new story, but sort of in two steps forward-one step back fashion. Now that she has attained and realized her power, she has to figure out how to use it...on her own.

I'm having fun writing it. It's taking a long time though. But I'm pleased with what I have so far, so I'm not planning any radical changes in approach for now.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Read, Wight, and Bluegrass

I worked on some plot design for the next Hemlock novel yesterday. I also did some more thinking about how I write. I have concluded that I get the best ideas when I am on wheels and listening to music. This can either mean driving or mowing the lawn with headphones on. I don't know why this particular tincture works for me, but it is very consistent. Maybe travelling in a vehicle untethers my soul somehow and lets me tap into creative energies more easily? It's not easy to explain.

I had a neat moment over the weekend. My father plays the banjo. I was slightly embarrassed by this during high school, since it was the age of rock and roll, and bluegrass was not exactly cool in my estimation. All of my friends thought it was cool that he played though--why I never figured it out until much later is one of those mysteries of adolescence. Anyway, after much coaxing and a kiss from his granddaughter, my father gave us a little concert. Do you ever realize how special a moment is while you are living it? This was one of those moments. My mom got pictures, but my phone battery was dead, so I missed the video.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Human Fish Tank

I've come to the realization that I really enjoy eating my lunch at Subway. Subway, to me, is like a small utopian environment. Everyone comes with a need (hunger), gets complete control over how that need is met, and ultimately leaves satisfied.

Everything is compartmentalized and clean. Colors are bright and the decor is contemporary. You get your food in a tidy little basket. You are given one napkin, which is usually sufficient, though you wish for more. The waste from your meal is just a piece of wax paper and your well-worn napkin. You recycle your plastic mesh tray like a good eco-citizen. You could be on a space station, or deep in space on a generational Mars expedition.

And there is human interaction. Customers speak in code words to sandwich makers, who stare back from beneath heavy-lidded eyes often tinged with a ruthless efficiency. Woe betide the customer who delays a response to the sandwich maker. But, by the same token, the sandwich maker who asks the same question over again can be subject to derision from the customer. It is a cruel, almost Darwinian interaction.

Real estate is tight, so people are forced into one another's personal spaces as they wait in line or navigate the maze of tables during lunch hour while fetching a soda refill. Social classes intermingle and dramas unfold. When one customer complains loudly, the owner attempts to placate him, but the customer storms out yelling with the tone of righteous indignation often adopted by those who are neither righteous nor possessed of much dignity. The entire store subsequently learns (by virtue of a response delivered in the gravelly, booming voice typically employed at construction sites) that this person is chronically miserable, and his coworker informs the owner that, no, he won't be pleasing this individual today, and that he is lucky not to have to deal with him every day.

This is life: twenty minutes of life wrapped into a sub and served for less than $7.00 with a drink and a bag of chips. Forget the movies, this is the better ticket.