Beware the Hawk 3, or, my collection of crappy first pages.

It’s probably time for an update on my Beware The Hawk series.

It’s an update I’ve put off, because I am having some trouble with the last book.

It’s not that I’m not writing it. I am. I started writing months ago.

The problem is, I haven’t gotten very far, because for about six months, all I could write was the first page. I’m not even kidding: Every time I sat down to write, I looked at Page One, hated it, and wrote a new beginning.

I now have a collection of crappy first pages. They’re everywhere: in my journals, on my old laptop, on my new laptop, on my phone. I think I even dictated one to myself in the car. If the public were hungry for an anthology of bad first pages, I’d be booking readings right now.

Please allow me to share my very favorite crappy sentence from my very favorite crappy first page:

“I’m going to find that thing. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know what happened to it.”

That thing. Is it the plot? The narrative voice? The author’s train of thought? We may never know, because I have no memory of writing this line. It’s like that time I sleep-wrote half a page during NaNoWriMO.

Anyway, I am happy to report that, in the last two months, I finally managed to move beyond the collection of bad first pages, and am now creating something that looks like a story. It is slow going, because despite the fact that I write 100-page thrillers, I have some loose ends to tie up and some mysteries to solve and I want to do it well. (I can’t imagine what this same task must be like for George R. R. Martin, who writes 1,000-page monsters and juggles 31 point-of-view characters.)

I can tell you a few things about it so far:
– My working title for this project is Songbird.
– There is a new point-of-view character.
– I am trying for 500 words a day on this bad boy.

I cannot promise they will be good words, but I can promise that words will be written. And for those of you who have been asking, I can also promise semi-regular updates here.

Got questions about Songbird? Get at me.

I’m cheating on my novel with another novel.

cheatingonnovelI started a brand new novel.
Why did I start a brand new novel?

It’s not like I don’t have anything to write. I have three serious fiction projects going on right now. One is my webserial. One is the novel I wrote two drafts of in grad school. And one is the third Beware the Hawk book. People are waiting for all of these. I’m committed to all of them.

Fiction-writing time is precious these days, because I’m working as a freelancer at home, and when I’m not freelancing, I’m taking care of my young son or helping my husband figure out this puzzlebox of an old house we just moved into. (“Why is it 80 degrees in some rooms and 50 degrees in others?” “What does this random knob on the wall do?” “Can you bring the baby monitor into the basement and help me figure out a thing?”)
Despite all of these things that have a claim on my time, I opened up a new document, and started writing a brand new novel last month.

Guess what I’m spending all my fiction-writing time on. I don’t want to do anything but write it. It’s the thing that gets me into my office in the morning and it’s the thing that keeps me from leaving for lunch. I think about the plot and the characters constantly. I write it in my head when I’m shoveling snow and when I’m going to sleep at night. I’m basically having a writing affair with it.

And of course, because it’s an affair, I feel guilt. Guilt, because I have a trilogy to finish, two thirds of which have been published and have actual, honest-to-god readers who occasionally message me on Twitter and ask after my protagonist. (Guys, I love you for that. Just saying.)
Guilt, because the people I went to school with keep asking me when I’m going to finish my drag queen/Shakespeare literary fiction novel and send it out to agents.
Guilt, because I am spending my time writing this manuscript that makes me so, so happy, and it’s a full-fledged swords-and-sorcery fantasy novel, and sci-fi/fantasy has always been my first love, no matter how much Flannery O’Connor and Graham Greene charmed me later in life.

But this book I’m working on makes me feel like a kid again. It reminds me of my first glorious unfinished novel, which I wrote when I was fifteen years old. I’d finish my homework and sit in my father’s office, writing this crazy fantasy epic with talking horses and hell-tunnels and not really a coherent plot, on one computer while my dad worked on the other. I’d write until my parents loudly announced that I had to go to bed. I had not developed an inner editor yet, and I never planned to show anyone what I was writing, so I didn’t even care if it was good. It was just for me, and that time I spent writing was my favorite time of the day.

Writing that behemoth was just pure joy, and I never thought I’d feel that again. And maybe I won’t, but this new novel comes close. Maybe it’s because I’m writing fantasy, and I just love fantasy. Or maybe it’s because at this point, this book is just for me. There’s no writing group or editor waiting for this one. I have no grand rewrite plans. I have no commercial plans for it. My ideal reader for this book is me.

I’ve spent my adult life writing things for other people: newspapers, editors, writing groups, teachers, mentors, whoever. It feels like a gift to be able to write something for myself. I just wish it weren’t taking away from the time and energy I should be spending on other projects.

DinoLand has been reposted, and it’s better-looking and more navigable than ever.

Good news! John, the editor over at Geek Eccentric, saw my post from a few days ago about DinoLand getting taken down for the holidays and, because he’s awesome, gave me a present: even though the rest of his site is dark for a while, he put my chapters back up.

Not only that, but he tarted them up and made them easier to navigate; you can now click from chapter to chapter by using the links on the left. My fiction has rarely looked so good.

The latest chapter was posted last week, so check it out.

Thank you John!

Quick note about Geek Eccentric

UPDATE: John, over at Geek Eccentric, has reposted the chapters, and they are better formatted and more navigable than ever. (So no PDF Party.) Thank you John!

I have a bunch of posts that link to Geek Eccentric on this page. Some are to articles, and most are to my serial novel, DinoLand, which has been running there for almost all of 2014. Well, Geek Eccentric has gone dark until 2015 because the site is reinventing itself and the published chapters are currently unavailable, so I’m temporarily taking down the link to DinoLand.

To any readers, I am very sorry for the interruption. If there is an interest in reading any of the chapters during the hiatus, please contact me. I’ll hook you up.

Jurassic World looks uncomfortably close to the plot of my book.

Well, this is awkward.

I just saw the trailer for Jurassic World. I’ve talked about this before, but I feel I need to say something else, especially in light of my latest chapter.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been publishing a serial novel about a dinosaur zoo over at Geek Eccentric this year. It’s a project I started drafting eight years ago as a NaNoWriMo project.

I was obviously influenced by Michael Crichton (I read Jurassic Park and The Lost World as a kid and loved them), but the real inspiration was a dream which featured the basic points of the plot. It was different enough from Jurassic Park: I envisioned a mid-level amusement park that was already open, with resident dinosaurs that were no more of a threat than any wild animal in any zoo. In fact, the real threat in my book isn’t even a dinosaur. The real problem is owner’s penchant for genetically modifying animals.

Which is why, after seeing the trailer, I feel the need to write this post, because certain plot points I wrote are also in Jurassic World.

It’s funny, because I deliberately don’t pay attention to entertainment news in order to keep myself from being influenced on certain projects. In fact, I didn’t even think there would be another movie in the franchise, not after Crichton’s death, and certainly not the year my serial novel was running. (It’s not the first time I’ve been surprised on this project: a few months ago I learned that Disney actually has an attraction named DinoLand USA.)

There are still plenty of differences between my park and the one in the movies. Mine isn’t as fancy as Jurassic World; it’s basically Six Flags with dinosaurs, while Jurassic World is the Magic Kingdom with dinosaurs. It’s not a man-versus-nature story: my story is told from the point of view of someone who grew up with the park, and in fact the story is really her story.

Here’s the thing I want to get out there: I wrote my book a long time ago. The outline I’m working from was created almost a decade ago, and although I do tweak it when I write and edit my monthly chapters, I more or less know where the story is going and you know where it’s not going?

Anywhere close to Isla Nublar.

DinoLand’s last chapter of the year.

Chapter 10 of DinoLand is live right now, and it’s a big one.

The Night of the Bucking Brachiosaurus is finally drawing to a close (and it’s about time, since we’ve been reading about it since what? March?) and it’s time for things to happen. Perdita and Doug have their big confrontation, and we finally learn what Steve’s been up to this whole time.

Go over to Geek Eccentric and check it out.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And then, like so many network shows, DinoLand is going on a hiatus. Max and I are taking a break for the holiday season (we don’t think you all are going to want to read our work at the very beginning of the new year) but we will be back the first Sunday  of February with the beginning of Part II.

Join us on Feb. 7th. Expect more dinosaurs! Cray-cray bosses! Dramatic reveals! Cliffhangers! Pseudo-science! New point of view characters! Pennsylvania in danger! Did we mention dinosaurs!

It will be a blast and we can’t wait for you to join us!