It’s not that I haven’t been expecting this…

…but of course university totally managed to throw me off track this week – apologies for the lack of posts and overall activity in the blogosphere. But hey, it’s Friday and luckily enough uni has free wireless internet everywhere so I get to post a little update on the ensuing chaos named uni.

Honestly it’s not even half bad. Yeah, there’s the slight problem of 18 credit hours paired with a 33 hour work week and the logistic problems that have arisen thereof (really, buses are horribly unpunctual here…) Anyway, between bus- and car-hopping I manage to get from uni to work back to uni every day 🙂

As far as classes are, most of them are still pretty much on high school level. Sure there’s more reading and more assignments in some, but that’s pretty much it. The German classes are almost ridiculously easy (not that my profs hadn’t told me that before), but that’s okay. It’s actually fun to be in a smaller group (which consists mostly of surprisingly nice missionaries who speak German surprisingly well). I really hadn’t expected that, honestly. Anyway, being the only native speaker in class besides the profs does have its advantages, especially since I pretty much slack off (at least for now).

However, there’s at least one class that will definitely be a challenge this term and that’s my English 4620: Renaissance Literature class in which the professor started out asking who in here is a graduate student and I’m just thinking: Shit, am I – lowly transfer student/freshman at the right place? Well, turns out yes I was and even though there are no official prerequisites for this class, the reading and writing level is pretty high (as expected by the course number). So far I’m not running into problems to keep up, other than getting through a tremendous amount of reading assignments. Over the last two days I read Thomas More’s Utopia, which really reminded me a lot of doing Cicero’s De Re Publica back in Latin. Actually that was pretty cool, even though it took some work to get through it. Generally I think I’m having less problems with prose than with poetry (can’t wait to do some more Marlowe though – yes, I’m a lit geek :p)

Another interesting one is my Creative Writing class that looks really cool, but will also be full of writing assignments, which aren’t that much of a problem themselves. The thing that I’m dreading here are the poetry assignments we’ll have. Honestly, verse is the enemy and I consider myself entirely inept at stringing a poem together. This one’s always been more of a thing my brother would do. We’ll see how it goes I guess.

As far as my plan of working on Light at least a little every day goes: this week was an epic failure. With all the initial stress of getting stuff lined up and juggle work and uni, I just was way too beat when I got home to be able to work in any way productively. Hopefully that streak has found an end yesterday when I started working on Five again. What I did here was mostly editing the first part that I’d written to make some adjustments, but I’m hopeful to get things moving again today.

Here’s to uni, writing and an immense increase of caffeine intake 😉

Yes. I am a masochist. Someone help me!

Seriously. Why the fuck do I own the complete Twilight saga now due to my overzealous mother in law a) fulfilling her bookclub commitment by ordering the entire – yes again, the entire! – set for me and b) she then tells me that she really liked the books, but that my ceaseless rants about the first book just cracked her up? Oh and apparently she – like me – is convinced that I must own a stack of ‘feel good’ books that make me point my authorly finger at and laugh (yeah, don’t ask…)

Anyway, like I said I apparently do have a problem of the masochistic and brain-destructive sort because I spent definitely too much time of this weekend reading the second installment in the saga of Bella of the Dependent  and Angsty Shallowness and Edward of the Godlike Beauty and Sparkliness. Honestly? It ain’t getting any better and by now I seriously doubt to believe that I made it through the book without some good mind-altering drugs… Seriously, this is like the Goodkind-syndrome: at some point you just keep reading and reading to see if it can get any worse.

I mean seriously: of course you’re bound to fall into the Pit of Depression if your oh so protective and good-looking (yeah, never forget to mention his good-looking-ness at least five times per page whenever his name comes up) boyfriend leaves you. Because hey! Teenagers! Angsty and Depressive! Gah!

Anyway if said depression and your main character who still hasn’t developed from her state of utter dependence and girly shallowness trying to find some distraction in her best friend who happens to be a werewolf and also happens to have oh so deep feelings for her, but she’s too emotionally scarred to return them without it feeling like a betrayal….anyway, if that’s the sole purpose of your novel and you then build it around an utter violation of Shakespeare’s perfectly fine Romeo&Juliet…well then you really have a problem.

Ew. Honestly, I’m not quite sure whether to laugh about how bad it was or to cry about all those poor, deluded readers. Yeah, what can I say? I’m a death chooser :p Yay self-destruction by intake of Bad Fiction (TM) Children, do not try this at home!

Writing Characters of Opposite Genders

I’m pretty sure we’ve all had that experience: We read an author who attempts to write about characters of the opposite gender than theirs and they horribly and often ridiculously fail. Now as a female writer who usually writes from male PoV’s I’ve always been a little paranoid of said failure to convey an authentic male voice. Honestly between the first and the second draft of Light I feel like I’ve improved a lot in this aspect, but I’m sure there is the one or other section that doesn’t come across as entirely authentic (can I get some more male readers to take a look at let’s say the first three chapters, pretty please? Volunteers, just drop me an email and I’ll be more than happy to send you some sample chapters!)

Of course there’s the question of what exactly qualifies as an authentic portrait of a male/female voice.

Personally I’m not a believer in gender-stereotypes and don’t think that they are what define gender. When I’m looking at who some authors fail or accomplish to create a realistic picture of a character obviously not of their own gender I often find that those characteristics are much more subtle than general stereotypes. It definitely isn’t easy to do and as a writer I often find it hard to know if I succeed at giving a realistic image of my male protagonists. The fact that I’m writing about gay/bisexual male protagonists who are occasionally introspective only adds to me trying to write about them in a realistic fashion. Seriously, nothing bugs me more than the fact that many people automatically associate a certain degree of femininity with gay/bisexual men and the other way around with women. Needless to say that I’m pretty much expecting the sexuality of my protagonists to put off some readers, but that’s their karma I suppose 😉

Anyway, I’m curious: What would you say is characteristic for a realistic male/female voice and what experiences did you make writing characters of the opposite gender? Comment away 😀

Six Feet Under

Man, I had totally forgotten just how awesome this show is 😀

Ruth (trying very hard to deal with the fact that her younger son is gay and she now knows about it): And David, if you have a special friend, he can come as well.

David: Why is my friend special?

Ruth: Alright. If you’re having sex with any man I’d like to meet him. Is that better?

David: Not really.

And yes you can get accidentally high on ecstasy, because your white-collar gay brother slipped one into the family’s aspirin bottle. And no he won’t get you more.

Scenes like those and the hilarious appearances of Nate&Dave’s dead father make this show priceless. I seriously doubt it ever made it uncensored into American TV 😉

Damn good show!

In which the author is incredibly sleepy and droopy-eyed…

Yes, it’s been an incredibly tired day (what was that about trying to make it to bed a little earlier tonight? *checks clock* never mind…)

Anyway, today’s word count: 694 and the first Ares scene of Five is finished 🙂 I’m actually quite happy with it and once again Damian just gets pissed. I wonder why :p

Right now I just really looooove rewriting. I feel like I’m more and more getting the hang of things like my chararacters’ voices, the general atmosphere and shiny main plot events 😀

And with writerly happiness I shall venture off to bed now.

Procrastination: A Writing meme

Okay, so I’m sitting here ready to start working on the rewrite of Five and what do I see? Yes, I tend to randomly run across meme’s at times. This one’s from Writing on Wednesdays

Do you write fiction or non-fiction?  Or both?

Definitely fiction. Urban fantasy in this case 8)

Do you keep a journal or a writing notebook?

This blog is my writing journal, but other than that I have two notebooks, one of the first book of what I’ll try to make into a duology, though it might turn out to be a trilogy in the end. We’ll see. The other one is for book 2 of the same series, which I’m planning to kick start during this year’s NaNoWriMo.

If you write fiction, do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing? Do you find books on plotting useful or harmful?

I usually start out with a general idea, though my characters and their backgrounds/personalities tend to be there first. In the end plot and character are totally inter-related and there’s no way to do one without the other. If you’re asking me whether I keep super-detailed outlines? No. My notebooks are full of general thoughts and ideas that often are the skeleton of a chapter, but the actual writing itself often happens quite spontaneously. And no, I don’t know how the series will ultimately end yet. I have a vague idea, but that’s about it. It’ll come 😉

I read a couple of different books on writing and honestly, I’m pretty neutral about them. They usually give you some tips and hints, but you’re often just as well off without them. If you’re looking for some structural help, books like Make a Scene or How Not To Write A Novel are definitely helpful – and the latter one is just a hilarious read, but honestly I’d be writing the same way as I am now if I’d never read them. In the end my own inner critic as well as the help and advice of fellow critics helped me to figure things out and work on an overall improve of my writing.

Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

It depends. There are days when I constantly think about the novel and just can’t get a scene out of my head until I sit down, but then again there are days like that when I simply don’t get to sit down and focus on writing. Right now I’m trying to work on the novel every day. I don’t have a set word limit, but I try to get something down every day to stay on track.

Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time? .

Again, it depends on the day. Sometimes I manage to get some writing done during work or finish a chapter faster than expected, but I often spend a couple hours straight in front of the laptop. Of course there’s internet to distract me, but it usually works really well.

Are you a morning or afternoon writer?

Honestly, I’m a NIGHT writer. Don’t know why, but there’s some pretty awesome stuff that you can crank out of my caffeinated brain at 3 AM and thereabouts. But then again I pretty much write whenever I get to it. which is often at night, but sometimes in the morning or afternoon at work.

Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?

I’m really particular about having the right music to write with. Sure, I can write in silence and I really like to sit in my favorite coffee shop and just write a few hours away, but I definitely like to write with music. Current favorites are anything by Seether or Apocalyptica, mostly whatever suits the mood of the scene I’m writing.

Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

Uh. Laptop. I loooooove my little 13″ carry-everywhere laptop and not I bought a little tiny flashdrive that goes wherever I go. Yes, O Laptop I love thee!

Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?  Or do you let the story evolve as you write?

See my answer to question 3? Honestly, I know jack-shit about the ending when I start a novel. And yes, not knowing how it will ultimately end sometimes drives me nuts. Ah the woes of a writer’s life!

Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

No. Really. If it would I’d write cheesy vampire novels without any content or bad language.

INSTEAD I’m having fun with what is hopefully turning into publishable material: Dystopian futuristic setting with a medieval backlash, two gay/bisexual protagonists who are really quite unsympathetic at times and really don’t want to get involved in issues like politics or moral justice and in the end their suffering is long and emotionally traumatizing and oh so infinitely pointless (as far as book one is concerned at least)

And yes, since you ask, I prefer my characters to be complex, edgy and morally ambiguous. Oh and they have motivations other than being eternally in love with Brainless Hero of the Godlike Looks (TM) You get the idea. If you’re looking for mainstream-adherent fantasy, Light is the wrong book to read. Though of course I’d want you to buy and read it anyway :p

Editing/Revision – love it or hate it?

Right now I love it. I love how much this is improving and how much new stuff I’m adding to make the novel so much better. I’m really hoping to get most if not all of the second draft done by the end of the year. It would be awesome. And then the third draft/polishing comes 😉

Worldbuilding: Illyrian Pantheon and Calendar

‘Officially’ the Empire of Light is a monotheistic culture, mainly believing in Helos the God of Light, whom the City of Helos is named after. However, the Illyrian year follows the four major Gods and Goddesses. There are no months as such, but the year is divided by its seasons:

Spring = Gaea (Goddess of Dawn and Life)

Summer = Helos (God of Sun and Light)

–> Summer Solstice: Sun Dance (celebration of the Longest Day, celebrated on the day of the First of Helos)

Fall = Artume (Goddess of the Moon)

Winter = Nys (Goddess of Night and Darkness)

–> Winter Solstice: Darkest Night (the celebrations on this day are similar to our modern Carnival etc., celebrated on the nigh of the First of Nys)

Minor Gods and Godesses (officially their cults are all but extinct, but some of their Temples survived the Unification Wars):

Eyrenna – Peace

Aeres – War

Naegar – Water

Aerya – Air

Phaeron – Healing

Merwyn – Spirit

Except for Merwyn, who is commonly shunned by the Empire for his supposed connection to the Curse, all the other minor deities are just minor references in the novel. I’m trying to keep religion relatively simple. The Illyrian year completely focuses on Helos who is the only male among the four major deities and is perceived as superior all-uniting God by the Empire of Light. While Sun Dance on the First of Helos is generally a bright festival of Light, Darkest Night is celebrated to defy the darkness of winter.