Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: TPOM3 (page 2 of 2)

Writing Insanity

There are times I think I’m more insane than being bipolar makes me. Like right now.

I have, at this moment, a total of five writing projects pulling me in various directions.


Main project I’m working on is Unwritten Letters. This is the one where I want active wordage on as close to daily as I can make it. Missed yesterday due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which was because I hadn’t been to bed the night before, but have written every previous day since Sunday and will get another scene on it today. I’m outlining two plot cards per one scene written on this project, as is my usual habit with writing now.

I’ve “set aside” Casi/Vel, whose title is now Sense of Balance and looks like it’ll be a trilogy, possibly with both characters’ points of view. I’m debating POV while I consider what I need to research to make this project roll. Usually I balk at heavy research; what I can’t take care of on an “as needed” basis usually scares me off of a project, but I’ve known for a long time that all I needed was to conceive a project whose characters grabbed me by the creative-mind’s throat and held on. SoB is that project. So, as soon as the snow starts melting and I’m done with cancer treatments (which may happen at about the same time depending on what radiation research study arm I end up in), I’ll be heading up to the public library to start my research. Can’t go ’cause of snow and ice on sidewalks right now, and taking the bus is a waste of money when I can walk there (and need the transit money for trips to cancer treatments and other appointments). So this story is “set aside” but very much on my mind, and I intend to make a list of plot points over the duration I’ll be waiting until I can start the research.

Third project is going to go a bit slower. This is the first book of Autocrat’s Rise. I’m writing this according to to the steps in the Two Year Novel Course written by Lazette Gifford. She’s teaching it now on Forward Motion For Writers, and since I have to basically build Ghulia from the ground up, I decided to join the class. This will be a slow process: one class a week, so I should be able to keep up with it (provided I don’t have any more major unplanned events like last year, which caused me to drop out of it). I’m not too worried about moving fast on this project, so using the 2YN course should do me fine by it.

I’ve picked up on TPOM3 again, too. Been getting about two plot cards a day on it, and that’s been my goal for five days this week. I need to organize the cards I have, so I know what all I need to get done. For this, I’ll probably finish the outline before I pick up on active wordage for it, then I’ll have to go through and add in all the (few) unwritten scenes in the first two books before I can call the whole trilogy complete. Then I’ll have to go through and correct age/time/date references since I finally completed the Calendar and age conversion tables (which I may write more on later). Once I get done with this, I’ll start work on A Life of Note, which follows the same MCs into different situations.

For my final project, I’ll be spending the next week or so going through Stirrings. I spent all day yesterday reading it to get an idea what I need to do to fix it, and Jennifer Amriss read through it for me and told me what I needed to know in order to do a full edit run on it (verdict was I didn’t make any character completely unlikeable and I don’t need to do too much work to emphasize certain plot points). Basically, the major issue is correcting all the age/time/date references and picking out typos and other minor things like making sure everything makes sense (came across a sentence earlier which I needed to correct). This shouldn’t take much time, though, so I should be officially DONE with it within a few weeks at most.

And these are all in addition to things like reworking the Timeline for the stories/world and Real Life Things and finding time to read and work on other crafts (namely, crocheting). I want to get UL and TPOM done before this fall, when I plan on going to college. I’d like to have ALON and AR outlined by November and be at least starting on the outline for the first book of SoB by then, too. I’m trying to learn to treat my writing professionally now, so when I’m able to start publishing, I have a backlog of outlines and story ideas to do background work on as well as write.

Beginning of the Writing Year

On 1 January, I started a new story. This was unplanned, the result of an idea which wouldn’t leave me alone long enough to focus on other stories. Writing out the initial scene on this NewIdea worked; I was able to write on Unwritten Letters. The next day, I ended up writing more scenes in NewIdea, which, for lack of a better title at present I’ll refer to as Casi/Vel (the two MCs).

January second and third, I rather plowed through the opening of this story. Unfortunately, this focus on the NewIdea coincided with a rather severe case of chemo fatigue, as I had chemo on Tuesday. I was not expecting my third round of chemo to take me out like it did, but I lost my connection to my writing, though I wrote anyway. It was the oddest, most disturbing two days of writing I’d ever experienced, even taking into account Hell Year of Writing in 2012, which was my worst year of writing overall. In 2012, I spent most of the year in despair with my writing, hating every word, but so desperate to write I forced words out, which only exacerbated my depression and writing downswings. I spent at least half of 2012 in a writing downswing, where I didn’t write unless I had an outline and some sort of incentive (Julno, Nano). I barely got my 2012 FM Anthology story written and turned in on time, and it was the only writing I actually enjoyed the whole year.

The second and third days of this month were like that, only worse. I not only detested my writing and couldn’t stand to look at it immediately after writing it, but I also felt so disconnected from it I doubted it was any good. Normally, when I have doubts, they’re not unfounded, but I was in no condition to figure out the problem and deal with it until yesterday (the 4th).

When I came back to myself—started feeling connected to the story and characters again—in the evening of the third, I asked an online writer friend, Jennifer Amriss, to read through what I’d written already. This was important. I’d regained contact with my writing on an emotional level, but I knew something was wrong with it, and couldn’t identify the issue. Not knowing the issue blocked me after I wrote one scene where I felt connected to my writing and my characters, so in order to progress, I knew I had to identify the issue and deal with it so I could move on. The reason why moving on this project was so important? I was not receiving any inclination to work on either of my other projects; the only ideas I was coming up with went to Casi/Vel.

Jennifer kindly agreed to do a quick read-through of the 12+k words I’d managed to write on Casi/Vel. I emailed her the project and distracted myself until she contacted me. Her verdict: the first several scenes read like a textbook. She told me where she thought the story actually began to open up and where my writing started touching the characters in such a way to make them real.

I had two options. Either try to fix the faulty writing, or simply cut the first four or five scenes or so to the point where Jennifer told me my writing got real. I didn’t make a decision on the third, primarily because I wanted to make sure I was actually in touch with myself and my writing mind and I knew the best way to do that was to sleep on the issue.

Yesterday, I cut the scenes out. They had no pertinent information I could not provide a different, better way, and it would have taken too much time and effort to fix them up to a point where they didn’t read like a textbook. What little important information I needed to include, I was able to sprinkle into the first couple scenes as exposition attached to dialogue or in descriptions and whatnot. After the cut, I had just under 7k words, and I proceeded to rebuild my wordcount right after the cut, since dealing with the problem removed the block.

Another good thing about making the cut . . . I’m now able to deal with UL and TPOM3. I read the most recently written scenes of UL and its plot cards last night before bed and am ready to get two new plot cards on it before I write a scene. I also plan on getting at least two plot cards on TPOM3, out of order, later.


Get any group of writers together, regardless of genre, and if they’re the type to write a little each day, or have a set wordcount goal a week, you’ll eventually hear them discuss what they’d rather be working on. This isn’t a negative desire as in “I’d rather be at home reading than working my paying job.” This is the writer full of a fresh (or not so fresh) new (or maybe not so new) idea which is currently firing up their creative mind to the point where that one idea is the one they want to focus on.

Some writers are fairly good at lining up all their story ideas and saying, “I’ll write you in this order and no other way.” It’s just the way their minds work. Others aren’t able to be quite so organized or patient and bounce from one project to another until they eventually start completing stories.

But there’s always those Rathers. Even when if a writer is the type to bounce, it’s that Rather speaking.

I’m generally able to line my writing up and say “I’ll do you in this order.” This does not preclude me getting an attack of the Rathers, however. I’m in the middle of one right now in fact, with A Life of Note, the story (set) which follows pretty much right after events in TPOM. Well, within a year or two of events from it. ALON has been a rather well-behaved idea most of the year, to be honest, waiting patiently for me to get close to finishing TPOM’s three books. But it wants to be written. I can tell.

‘Cause I’d rather be working on it right now.

To explain: Last year, when I started on Unsought Gifts, the first book of TPOM, I did so with the assumption ALON would be book two of the (at the time only) trilogy planned with my characters Asthané and Géta. I thought UG would be about 90k-120k words, then I’d take my characters back to the Capitol to do their thing, then have a third book concerning a major war with an ancestral enemy. No problem. Simple!

Except, not quite so simple.

I wrote UG and book two of TPOM in one individual file, and it quickly became apparent that, though UG itself was only around 50k-60k words, the rest of the story was going to exceed pretty much all expectations for putting it into one book with UG. So I did the wise thing and cut UG from the wip and put it in its own file and wrote what is now the second book to TPOM out to completion. The second book, tentatively titled Severe Notes, is about 110k words, with a few missing scenes I haven’t been able to write ’cause I haven’t known the ultimate ending of the trilogy. I’m looking at book three to come out around the same length.

This of course necessitated me setting ALON aside, since there was (is) no way it can fit in this trilogy. It’s had a year to get “ripe” for writing. This means I now have plenty of scenes for at least one book sitting in my head, with quite a number of plot points and a variety of other ideas which may or may not get used once I start hammering things out.

As a result, every so often throughout this past year, I’ve looked at ALON and thought, “I’d rather be working on that.” I simply haven’t been able to since it requires me knowing where TPOM ends for the MCs on an emotional basis. Now that I’m getting close to that ending, I’m feeling the Rathers very strongly. My mind is turning more and more to ALON and what I want to do with it.

Even with my ability to organize and line up my wips, ALON has been getting antsy to be written, and I’m enjoying the process of going batty with anticipation of working on it while finishing up TPOM’s third book. I have to say, after the experience I had with the gay romances, this is not as annoying as some other writers might find it. I’m glad to have my Rathers and be toying with the next major project I have planned.

Nano Winner

I have completed the 50,000 word goal of Nano.

I’ve won in previous years, but this year there’s a big difference. I still love my stories. Previous years, writing the gay romances, I absolutely detested them to the point of not wanting to look at them the moment I reached 50k and had won Nano. This was the same whether or not the project I’d actually worked on throughout the month was complete. I had to set it aside because I absolutely detested it.

I wrote more on TPOM3 than I did on Brotherhood. Part of the reason for it is that I’ve been struggling with the latter’s outline somewhat. The rest is simply because I have quite a number of plot cards done on TPOM3, and I knew I wouldn’t reach 50k before I finished those plot cards.

My problem with Brotherhood is that I need to organize the last plot points before I can finish the outline. I’ve done some math, and if I want the story to come out at 120-150k, I have about 25 plot cards left I can do on it. I’m not sure I can fit everything into it with that few. Now that I’m done with Nano, I can spend a day getting down the remaining plot points in order and work out plot cards for them. I have quite a number of things which must happen before the end of this book.

TPOM3 is a little easier to work with. I’m getting better ideas for what to do with the finale, and I need to work out a syllabary for the language. Then I’ll have to go through both wips, since Bremma is mentioned in Brotherhood, and change the name of the country and whatnot. This is simple and straightforward, so I should be able to get it done if I just focus on it.

To help me with the syllabary, I have Holly Lisle’s Create a Language Clinic book, which I’ll use judiciously. The way she has it worked out, I’m afraid I’ll end up with repetetive languages if I just go through as instructed and do everything as it advises, so I pick and choose the exercises I use to create my languages. This was a great help when I worked out some aspects of a language I created for a Science Fantasy project I’m not sure I’ll get back to, so I can’t see a reason why it won’t help with a syllabary.

Once I have everything done with the Syllabary and a new name for Bremma and Enemy Mage, I should be able to make further progress on TPOM3’s outline. I figure I’ll work the rest of it out, alongside the remainder of Brotherhood‘s outline, so I can pick them up and finish them in one fell swoop later.

For next month, I’m planning on printing out the online instructions for GIMP, a graphics program I hope will enable me to make decent covers. It’s a free program, which is why I got it. I can’t afford Photoshop, though I’d love to be able to buy it and use it. I intend to spend all of December working on GIMP, aside from necessary plotting on my stories. I don’t plan to add new words to my wips next month, but I may if I get desperate. I just want to get to know GIMP well enough to fiddle with it for my covers.

Nano Update 2

It’s nice having a three day weekend. That means there’s a guarantee the VA won’t be open on Monday, which means I have a day to work ahead on Nano. Thank you, whoever in the past suggested creating Veterans’ Day. I need the extra day this weekend, to do laundry and to work ahead on my word count in Nano (LOL).

So far, I’m keeping up fairly well despite all the appointments. I managed to work ahead enough to be able to coast through Thursday and Friday, though I got home early enough Friday to write a bit before bed. Yesterday, I slept in, and today too—must have been catching up on sleep missed due to the early hours rising despite getting to bed by ten each night. Oh, and walking all over the VA Hospital to my appointments and errands.

Yesterday, I did pretty well, getting a decent count of fresh words on TPOM3. Today, however, hasn’t been so easy. I don’t know why, but I had difficulty connecting to both my projects. I know the rewritten wedding scene in Brotherhood is worse than the original, so I may rewrite or try to combine the two scenes from both wips when I do my major edit. I think I’d have felt the new scene was worse than the original even if I’d been feeling more connected to the story. It’s just one of those scenes that’s going to need extra work.

TPOM3 was a bit easier to get into, but the writing of it still felt stilted and awkward. I did manage to do what I needed to with the scene, and it reads very well. It’s a keeper. I left out some things I’d outlined, added several things I didn’t think to outline and probably wouldn’t have been able to fit on the card even if I had, and created a very good scene which pleases me. I’d like to get one more scene on this project, but that relies on me getting a plot card on it, and I’m not sure I have the mental capacity to do so tonight.

Total wordcount on Brotherhood is over 51,000; total wordcount on TPOM3 is over 15,000; total Nano wordcount rests at over 20,000. I’m a little ahead, which makes me happy.

Progress on Brotherhood

I’m glad I cut Brotherhood like I did. It’s opened up a whole new storyline for me. Same basic plot, but I’m taking things a little differently. I’m cutting one side character out (a Priest Doéna befriended), moving Bréyan into her place, and using the whole switch-around to set up the relationship which develops between him and Doéna.

Right now, in terms of outlining, it’s moving slowly. I’m kind of struggling to come up with plot cards, but it’s not because I lack ideas. I have plenty of ideas. It’s sorting them into something I can use, then coming up with a scene combining a couple different plot factors.

I’m having fun, though, and I’m very excited about the story again. It thrills me no end to be making such progress on Brotherhood, even if it’s going slowly.

My original plan with it was to copy and paste scenes I wanted to keep from the original manuscript. It seemed to make sense, as there will be places where the two versions meet. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I learned how unwise that would likely be the hard way. I came to a spot where there was a scene I really wanted to keep. So I copied it over, rearranging the scenes I already had around it without paying much attention to what I had written. Then, I proceded to rewrite the scene a couple days later, after writing an interim scene.

I’d forgotten I’d already included this particular scene, which was one where Lorien and Necée spend their first period of Visitation Hours together with their respective chaperones—Doéna and the princess’s cousin, Anée.

I didn’t realize my mistake until I read through the wip from beginning to where it ends. Then I tried to cut/paste the scene from the old wip into a workable spot before finally giving up. It just would not fit. I deleted it completely, reread the past few scenes, changed some things which were mentioned previous to when they actually happened, and now have a story I’m well satisfied with.

Sometimes we writers cause ourselves more work than writing needs to be. LOL

Of course, I made the decision to cut the scene immediately after writing the brand new scene (I hadn’t even written the wordcount total for it down, which I should have done). After cutting the scene, I realized my mistake, but had lost only about 208 words in the cut, so just decided to go with it and recorded it on my logsheet. Thus far, the new logsheet I started has more lines used for cuts and totals following them than for actual additions of words I’ve written. Makes me chuckle. My recording of Brotherhood‘s words has not gone well. This set of logsheets was started off with a patch-in of wordcounts because I shredded the 5×8 index card I had the original logs written on before copying the times and chapter counts over to the proper logsheet. That was, I assure you, enough to convince me not to use index cards for makeshift logsheets again.

As for my Nano project, I’m not moving on that. Need to look at it, see if I can get some more plot cards for it before November. I doubt I have enough written on TPOM3 to make it to 50k words, and I’d rather not have to do the outline as I write. Yes, I’ve left it for the last minute, but I’m backbraining a lot of stuff still, so I haven’t been able to make much progress when I have tried.

Then again, I’ve been really into Brotherhood the past weeks, so I may switch my Nano project over to that and go rebel—add 50k words to what I have already. It’s just moving too slowly for me to have much confidence I’ll be able to keep up with Nano if I use it.

Oh, well. I’ll get something going.

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