You Are Hearing Me Talk

There are things over which an author has no control. This is never more easily understood then when you are the author. Lately, there’s been at least one dust-up over something the author of a very popular series could not really be expected to change. Because, the “not in control” thing. But I guess some people think we’re just kidding.



(But she looks comfy, tho.)

And so anyway, the point of all this is who knows what will be, but IF I were to see an audio rendition of The Last Life of Avrilis (guess where that links to… guess!), I have but one request. That the narrator be one of the following:


To be fair, I think everything should be narrated by one or both of them. No. Not both. We would not survive it.

While, on deeper meditation, it seems strange to have a grown man narrate a novel with a young female protagonist written by a woman… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Have you heard them speak?! Was your soul not awakened?! (Apparently I have no convictions and stand for nothing. Because I think this could still work.)

But on the off chance that either selection would be off-putting, I will also benevolently accept another superstar narrator, in the form of Meagan Good.


And Start Again At Your Beginnings

New book, new process. That is the apparent fact of my life as a writer. So despite that I’m writing a “sequel” – and you’re all, Bethany, why would you put that in quotations, and I’m all, Friend, I can’t really go into that – writing Avrilis 2.0 is another exercise in learning to write the book. And that’s not a bad or hard thing.

It’s exciting to me to figure out what I need and what I need to know to really start a project. Once I had my grid process for Avrilis 1.0 (whose Goodreads page I SHAN’T neglect to foist upon you from here on in, get used to it!), I thought that would be the key to all future projects.



So I still have the chapter grid, altho the column functions are different now because I graduated from needing all of them (YAY improvement!) and also identified which ones I don’t really rely on (like “dialogue” became “highlights”), but I have disabused myself of “pantser” or even “plotter” in the sense that I often see it used.


I have accepted how very much happens on the page. I imagine the writer who can completely plot out a novel and know down which rabbit holes her mind will go, and I think, how nice for her. Or something less committal and equally uninvested. The thing is, go, her. Do you, everybody. But I am very aware that anything I plot will end up sounding super boring or will be so far-fetched that I’d never get there organically once pen goes to paper. Or I’ll summarize a conflict in one sentence and be like, this is gonna bloom once I’m actually writing it! And either, nope, that was it, wasn’t as deep as you thought, or yep, there’s no logic to that. Too intentional.

SO! What worked/is working with this one: I wrote down the major things I knew would happen and estimated where in the book they would occur. (That’s something I’ve never done, btw, tho it feels closely related to word-count segmenting, which I did for This Is Not Heaven.) And then I worked my way back from the first such thing (I mean, the first chapter inciting incident notwithstanding), and voila. First five chapter outline, give or take.

But to be honest, this time the thing that made everything pop-pop! (isn’t it cuuuute how Magnitude went on to be Sid in Galavant, d’awwwwwwwwww)

– wait, where were we?

YES! So the thing that ended up being the MEAT? Totes not the list of big things or whatever the devil I was talking about here. It’s what happened off-camera (Bethany, you’re talking about a book. I know, shuttup.) and how people feel about it. Seems so DUH once it’s decided. But something was missing and trying to just plot out a book and think about the things that would happen and even KNOWING the things that would happen didn’t make it WORK.

All of which is to say, that column I didn’t need on a grid anymore… is basically what I just circuitously defined as being the thing I needed to know.

How I Be

I managed to solve a little problem today. And to celebrate? I’m going to tilt my chair.

Yep. I’m just speaking in Homer Simpsons quotes now. It is the perfectest herald of joy, so they say. (They don’t say that.)

During this whole move back to the United States but not a state we’ve ever lived in situation, there is UH LOT to do. Trust. And I’ve gotten some good-great revising done and am somewhat staying productive? Somewhat.


I’ve been musing on Avrilis Book 2 – hold for glitter cannon festivities – and today the elements and recent story bit additions feel like they slipped into place so that it feels like this is a book! The world wraps around that, the characters themselves fuse it all together – with their whys and needs and motivations – and I know you’re thinking, why would you be this pleased over something that’s admittedly early stage? Because that’s how you get to the next one.

Sing wid me now…

A Story Is A Play Is A Novel Is A Show

The first time I changed formats/mediums was in university. I’d written a short story about a girl who realizes her boyfriend’s interest is moreso in the fact that theirs is an interracial relationship than in her. (It would be giving it too much credit to believe the execution lived up to that, since what I mostly remember is the character fumbling with the inconsistencies of what you’d expect your partner to “get”, what level of social maturity/critiquing in which you’d expect they could participate.)

I decided the story was better served as a screenplay, a decision probably not unrelated to the fact that moving from high school into university cut my performances by about 90%. No marching band, no color guard, no repertory theatre, no drill team. But that’s not the point.

The process of transposing a story from the page to the stage or screen is such an exciting (to me) experience. It’s also (sometimes) frustrating, stumping, illuminating, a dozen other things. My willingness/need to do this – not only when I realize a story is better suited to something other than a short story, novella or novel, but also when it would simply be an interesting variation to see it that way in addition – is probably why I’ve always taken exception with people who insist on comparing novels to their film adaptations. Or more accurately, comparing films to their source books. It. Is. Not. The. Same. It’s not supposed to be, it couldn’t possibly be. Get on with it.

So, upon hearing about the Sci-fest (the Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival)

…I decided to take one of my short stories – one that wouldn’t exceed the 20 min run time – and transpose it into a stage play. It was actually pretty easy to make the choice, not just based on length but also on what I thought I could most effectively stage on a budget. (The flash trilogy about planets having their own unique soul conditions or my beloved Jigsaw, whose synopsis is available on my Writing page, did not quite fit this bill.)

The clear choice was Caroline Samir is Alive and Well.

And then I got stuck.

Not inorganically, which is just another way of saying the pause in the process was necessary, but still. Frustration. (Mostly because I had other deadlines…) Because pretty early on, it was apparent that the choice Caroline makes in the short story would not be emotionally satisfying or even possibly defensible on stage. Which means that I needed to reimagine her decision for the physical audience that (if not at sci-fest then someday and somewhere else!) would be watching. And of course it still had to be consistent with who she is.

The good thing about Caroline herself, and one of the reasons I knew this story was the right one to use, is that she is very boldly herself. Probably irritatingly so, for some. Myself included if I had to spend more than 5000 words with her, to be honest. But that possibly made it a bit easier to think of another way her choice would manifest.

So, long story short (not really, we’ve already been here a while, no?), the ending of the stage play is completely different from the ending of the short story. Necessarily so. And I love that.

And don’t get me started on transitioning a novel into a tv series.

Have you ever rewritten a story for a different medium? Did you love it? (Objection. Leading.)

Yes, it *IS* bold to end a blog post with a question when your once conversational community may be gone forever, which is totally your own fault for not blogging in like ever.

Title This After Reading

So I’m listening to Hammock’s Oblivion Hymns over a 10 hour rain track and every time I do this, I just feel like a genius. You know? Like…in some very real way…it’s because of me that this is awesome.

I’m amazing.

And I’m also something else. It’s funny how I don’t trust my writing that isn’t speculative now? Which is easier to feel properly than to relay to you. I have to feel a purpose, which I have considered that I may simply be conflating with texture. Or voice. Something that takes this beyond something that happened that I am relaying to you like minutes. And when I say, why does this matter, I’m really only speaking to myself because I think this is an author-end consideration. I don’t assume the technique will “matter” to a reader, or need to. So anyway, what is communicated by speculative elements brings purpose for me.

All of which is to say, the short story I’m writing at the moment is not speculative. I had to ask myself “why would I write this” for a couple hours before I found an element that provided a “reason”. Geez, this isn’t making sense, is it? L’abort.

Anywho. I have no mixed feelings about returning to my non-speculative-writing soundtrack. It is glorious, altogether. Have some.


That and. I just. I need to go to Iceland. I need it. I cannot explain how I know this. But I need to write in a dome-shaped house of glass in the middle of a void.


So Music Be The Food Of Love

It be. No “if”s. So I thought, seeing as the other day I explained how it’s one of my five components of making a project happen – which is super misleading because it makes me sound like I’m in control like I can just make those things come together – I should/want to post one of the songs from a couple of said projects! #YoureWelcome

Jigsaw – this most recent project was a bit different in that the soundtrack (which was robust and loverly) was much more world/tone-setting than my usual while-writing soundtrack. (As in, while writing, I typically have more of a score – heavily Hans Zimmer/Antonio Pinto/etc – and then during revision, I have a soundtrack.)

So there are a couple of songs that reeeealllly impressed upon me while working on this project but I shall choose one. ::TEARS::

It’s always between this song and “The Last Stand” by Koda, but I don’t trust you guys to listen to an 8 minute song based solely on my guarantee that IT WRECKED ME. (Like, I get that we all have different musical responses and experiences but I don’t totally get it because I will never understand someone not understanding how I feel about this song. You know?)

Seriously, writing Jigsaw had several hidden gifts, one of which was discovering Koda. I can’t. I cannot. You know what, sucks to your asmar, I’m posting it again. Because this was a huge part of writing that project.


The Last Life of Avrilis – Avrilis was first written in 2010 so it’s had a long history of musical accompaniment, starting with “A Small Measure of Peace” by Hans Zimmer. Gah. So good – but more about meeting the emotional tone of a character than finding a sound that matched the world. During revision, I found several songs that were – promise! – written for this book. O_O Unbeknownst to the artists who wrote them. The first such song was “Blinding” by Florence & the Machine, then Ellie Goulding’s “Holding On”, and most recently (and epically) Röyksopp’s “Running To The Sea” feat. Susanne Sundfør, remixed by Seven Lions – DO.NOT. get me started on Seven Lions.

But let’s hear the throwback anthem.


Imogen’s Stupid Untitled Story – @_@ Not that she’s stupid but isn’t it stupid to not tell me the story’s name? Exactly. Jigsaw and What’s-her-name aren’t set in similar worlds basically at all – Jigsaw is more traditionally, albeit sort of immediate futuristic; Imogen’s story is what I call Antiquated Futurism, or more specifically Greco-Roman Futurism – but their music has a little bit of overlap. I definitely use both the above Jigsaw songs to muse on Imogen, but then the songs with more prominent vocals don’t match.

My primary Imogen song at the moment is “Red Eyes” by Thomas Azier. If I tell you to ignore the video, it’s gonna call your attention to the video, right?


And together, we started Imogen’s rewrite last night. The funny thing is I used to feel tethered to the words I wrote down, years ago. It was so uncomfortable to revise (it felt so messy it made me anxious) and it was painstaking to discard (what can I say, I’m a hoarder) and starting over was a non-starter. This reads laughably to me now and I’m too far removed from it to take my former feelings seriously, but I know it was true. Now rewriting amazes me. It’s startling satisfying that you can rewind, throw away and breathe new life into a concept. Because what I wrote starting more than a year ago was boring me to tears when I tried to get re-acclimated to the story. Except there were all these elements I loved, tho getting through to them was seriously draining the life out of me. LITERALLY. O_O Literally figuratively.

Sometimes I worry that I’ll forget a turn of phrase that I really liked, which I think is where Thinking About Writing comes in. After sort of meditating on the story as a whole, rewriting it can still capture those elements – yes sometimes differently and calm down, little obsessive – and all of a sudden the project is exciting again.


You Christmas, You!

Regarding the title: If you’re unfamiliar with Linda Belcher’s Christmas poem….you are truly missing out.

Look what I can do!


The lighting’s not perfect but stop being so negative, you guys. Because who knew this sweater that is so old I can’t even would still be rocking my world? Our marriage has been – literally – perfect. Mine and the sweater’s. I can’t imagine my life without it. I guess this time of year just really makes ya think.

And then, anyway. I’m trying – no, I’m *going* to get back into this WiP. The thing is, she’s already chopped liver because I left her around 12k back in March to do the first of two R&Rs…and then didn’t return to her because Jigsaw happened. And it was more her fault than mine because her world got all strong-arm-y and tried to overtake what I’d intended to be a novella, and despite being really interesting to me, I did not and do not want to write about the political intrigue of her society. Sorry, Imogen. (That’s the character’s name. Did I mention this so-and-so hasn’t even told me her title? It’s like she doesn’t want me to write her.) But I’m really into rewrites, so bye-bye 12k. I doubt much of you’ll make it to the finish.

All of which brought me to the topic of What It Takes For Me To Write A Project. I’d say in no particular order, but that’s probably not true since I typically come up with the first one first. I’d also say, some combination of these but honestly, I feel like I need all five. So maybe I’ll just stop talking and list them.

a) Concept – Obviously this is pretty important for speculative literary fiction. Jigsaw was a dream, Keepsake came out of my brain trying not to let me fall asleep, etc. This is one of the most AHA! moments – or at least, the first.

b) First look – This is either the first line of the story/book or a mental movie of the first scene. This one’s interesting because it’s not tethered to a particular point in the process. Sometimes the first line happens several times. Like in the case of rewriting. The thing is, it has to feel like “the one” every time for me to move forward. The first look might also come before or after the Thinking About Writing phases, which aren’t listed because duh. That’d be like listing “writing” as part of my writing process.

c) Music – Yeeees. This is a big one. Again, this one isn’t set in stone, in terms of when this happens. With Jigsaw, I think it was right after concept, to set up the world, because often the only way to properly translate it before literally translating it to paper is to find music that does it for me. I do not understand people for whom music is not everything. I do not. With the WiP, I sort of lit up yesterday when I realized I had a song for the soundtrack. This is especially exciting because this is the WiP that tried to change shape and ended up getting relegated to the corner for the rest of the year. O_O So, yes, finding a song that matches what she’s meant to be is a good sign.

d) First query – This has become increasingly important to me over the last several projects. First of all, I love queries. I do. Writing them. Revising them. Nom. So I’ve found that when I’m really serious about a project, I have to write a query for it, sort of flesh out not just the crux of the story but also the character and sometimes the actual tone of the voice. I could get reeeeal inaccessibly in-my-head on this one. But I won’t. Because it’s Christmas and that’s your present.

e) Title – Man, this is another one that has become sort of paramount. Because titles come quickly to me, when one doesn’t, I’m missing something very important to my process. The title is everything. First of all, I keep a lot of “administrative” documents and I HATE them being titled after the main character, unless of course it’s also the title, which has only ever been the case with Keepsake, and even then, it’s not her given name.

I need these things.

And then there’s Semantics. Mostly having to do with the question of how it needs to be presented. What makes the most sense for the world/character/story being told? Vignettes like Keepsake, single stream of events like Jigsaw, chapters like Avrilis? That needs to be woven into an element of the story itself, which is why Jigsaw had to be immediately rewritten. Don’t even get me started. Nom.

These things, these are my lil’ babies.


You Are Hearing Me Talk

I have for a long time been consumed (hyperbole) by the consideration of writing separate characters. I think that would be my nightmare as a writer, to wake up one day and realize I’d just written the same person over and over again. Mustn’t it be the same for other artists? Would it not be humiliating to write the same song again and again? Unless you’re Thomas Kincaid and that’s your platform, who wants to paint the same thing over and over? And really, isn’t that the basis on which people dichotomize artists and people who make a living from making art? (Which is to say, on which I?) One of the criterion, at least?  Do I have a declarative thought to share in this piece?

Not that I have to point this out since I’m fairly sure you all know where you are, but these are just my thoughts. Possibly just my “this season” thoughts, of which I’ll someday be disabused, but I doubt it. I wonder sometimes if people think concept and world are the only things that matter, if that’s where creativity is proved. And then, the assumption that the concept or world and how it bears on the MC will ensure the MC’s distinctiveness. But unless it’s a conscious consideration – how was this character socialized by this reality – it’s still possible to put a cookie cutter MC in a thousand different (even speculative) worlds. Actually, it’s in speculative fiction that I’m most concerned about the oversight. I don’t want my characters to be interchangeable. Slash will not allow.

To be fair…none of my characters are that happy…

So as I have two WiPs, one active, one to which I’ll return, I’m thinking back on the last three MCs and really trying to imagine them in the other worlds. They’re all women, they’re all the equivalent of Black American – but these aren’t character traits. Doy. Yes, why they are who they are has always had to do with the society in which they grew up, the circumstances, and the best part is when you’re writing and the character informs you of how they would naturally respond to some stimuli. As in, that’s been my desire and attempt. But I still have to try to envision them in one of the other societies, because – in my mind – they shouldn’t be able to fit. (Obviously, we’re talking about my rules and parameters for my work – but I can tell you the times I’ve seen a writer/creator’s cast in two separate shows be the same basic archetypes, I’ve wanted to rip my hair out. And theirs, too. So it’s not entirely just about self-regulation.)

And yet, sometimes I think a writer is purposely or at least permissively fixated on a type of person, or a group of people, to great success. I might say Toni Morrison’s casts and her musings on this community in Ohio allows for fluctuation – she is a master of never writing a minor character – but also similarities. Maybe I just need to read all her books again (challenge accepted. again.) but I couldn’t say the lead character is always distinctly different from another one because their predicament tends to be the same. Or related. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean. Let’s take a moment of silent reverence for ToMo and then move on.

So. Standing Avrilis next to Dolores/Elsie next to Imogen next to Eva. Making sure their similarities are only skin-deep. (Well, not only. I’m not trying to rewrite the human spirit. Always.) I can remove one immediately. One is in process, so she’s the one in danger. Her circumstance could result in a self-consciousness not unlike another MCs, but how she responds or how it manifests should continue the conversation her world/concept began, I think.

I think…I may be entirely in my head right now. My apologies.



::Looks back at all the above words:: So you know. Do something with that.

Take It To The Page

Things I Do (As A Writer)

1) I muse while I write. I listen to a piece that reflects the emotion of the scene itself.

Ways This Can “Backfire” (Or: Why You Can’t Muse Too Hard)

A) It has occurred on occasion – read: more often than not – that I have taken myself on a journey, girl. Got all up in those feels and expressed an entire process of emotion-ism-ality and just experienced this entire narrative that’s rich and intense and lengthy. Because…I was feeling between the words.

Things To Know So That You Don’t Come Off Like A Noob, Bethany

I) [Like the Roman numeral, not like the letter.] It takes longer to write a scene than to read it. ….Read it. With or without the muse (music). Actually, I prefer with. Because then it’s really super abrupt when I realize how much did not make it to the page. The read doesn’t match the muse, so to speak. I got down a sketch, a skeleton – but not the meat. So I go, whoops, maybe let’s try that again.