Hello again, remember us?

I know you haven’t heard from us in going on 17 months, but it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy.  There’s a long tradition on the blogsphere to let the entries grow sparse until there’s only radio silence, but we’re not going to do that! To catch you up, we decided to split our personalities even more in order to answer these pressing questions.

“You’ve still been writing…right?”

Olive:  In this period of postlessness, I had my short story (Christmas in July) published in an anthology called Texas Shorts (Amazon link, SO COOL!). I was also a finalist in the Writer’s League of Texas’s 2017 Manuscript Contest for my manuscript, The Left Behind, a YA scifi.

I started reading professionally for NetGalley too. I might repost my reviews on this site, but I will for sure put them on GoodReads.

Finally, I welcomed three friends, three Afghan refugees, into my home. You can read about one of them online.

Aristen: Yes! But not just in the traditional sense. I conducted interviews and reviewed albums for a DIY non-profit magazine called Razorcake. Sadly, I didn’t get enough good review material to want to continue the gig. I started querying for my alt-history post-civilization adventure, Sing Pray Kill! and slipstream sci-fi novella Beautiful, Useless Things. I’m working on more novels and short stories. Soon I’ll join Olive in becoming  bonafide, published author!

“I’m so relieved to hear that. What else is new?”

Olive: Not a lot, but I’m feeling refreshed lately. Maybe it’s because it’s spring and my garden is laid out and planned.

Oh, and I did get divorced. That debacle sucked hard, but my wasband was not supportive of my writing endeavors (or educational or…shit), and it’s probably better that the relationship ended sooner than later. He liked the awards and recognition I got, but when it came to actually doing the work, well, he might have just said, “when are you going to be done with what you love so I can get you to do something that I love.”

As they say, it is what it is and that’s what it was. Only can go forward from here.

Aristen: Good riddance to he who shall not be named! I quit my cushy 9-5 job in November in order to work full time on becoming an author. I’m doing freelance video work on the side to pay bills, but…the significant pay cut takes some getting used to. As a result, I got really into cooking, and am having a lot of fun learning new recipes. I also started a Patreon to validate myself as a real, professional artist. (Olive: I donated! <3)

During one of my more manic moments, I adopted a cat from a rescue. Meet Bigface!

tzarinabigface.PNGOlive: I can attest, Tsarina BigFace is a SUPER sweet kitty and great companion. Aristen was long overdue to get a kitty.

“So what’s the plan?”

Aristen: Work, work and more work, every day and every night! I’m tracking all my writing projects with day to day task lists and committed to getting published within the year. I’m doubling down on our joint projects, as well as my individual efforts. Right now, Olive and I are in the process of refining and redefining the opening chapters to Azura’s Chosen. And we have more exciting projects we’re working on together as well. Blogpost on that soon, and I promise it won’t be in 2020!

Olive: We also had another betareader read the first in the series. She called it “thrilling.” We were, as you can imagine, thrilled. We’re updating a bit and making some changes to have the beginning of the manuscript to make the beginning move quickly. The first 50 pages are said to be some of the most important, so we’re editing with that in mind.

And now you’re pretty much caught up.

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Rogue One: A (Star) War(s) “Story” – Aristen

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Alright, first I need to write a disclaimer.

  1. I enjoyed watching Rogue One. I was entertained.
  2. Repeat: I was entertained. It is possible to enjoy something, but also be critical of it.
  3. After The Force Awakens, I was fiending for a new Star Wars anything. The promise of Rogue One intrigued me.
  4. But I do not think Rogue One delivered in many ways. I hadn’t read any previews or have I read any critical response to the movie. I just saw one trailer.

 

  • This post will contain spoilers, you’ve been warned

 

SPOILERS! BELOW!

Continue reading “Rogue One: A (Star) War(s) “Story” – Aristen”

National Novel Writing Month … Why not? – Aristen

We write all year. But November is a fun time for writers everywhere—a time when they can join forces and inspire each other through an organized event called NaNoWriMo.

Despite having a half-dozen other half-baked projects in various states of disarray, NaNoWriMo is a fun exercise (cough EXCUSE cough) to start fresh and try something completely different, all with a 50k word count goal.

It’s also convenient, as right now, that OF GOLD AND FIRE is in the hands of our editor, and will be for most of November. Despite doing initial forays into rewrites of Book 2, I like taking time off from that particular universe and meandering in something else. (As long as the Dark Souls 3 DLC doesn’t ruin my life…)

Here’s what we plan on writing, with links to our profiles in the event you are participating and may want to add us as “writing buddies.” Hey, why not? Writing together is so much more fun that writing alone. So why not join us?

Working Title: Kings of the New Church
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy and Existential Horror
The Pitch: Daysi Hellsing is 30 days sober, still in denial and by accident, finds herself in an AA meeting to fight her demons… alongside actual demons.

Working Title: The Left Behind
Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-Fi
The Pitch: After volcanic eruptions combined with man-made pollution sours the air killing all the microorganisms at the bottom of the food chain, mass extinctions ensue. Humans abandon Earth, traveling the galaxy to spoil another planet, and Tarrah is left behind but far from alone.

What do you call world building while on the toilet? – Aristen

An infodump! /cue laughtrack

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

-George R.R. Martin

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From lurking in forums and talking to other aspiring authors, it surprises me how much time people spend designing their world before they dive into it.

For me, the blank page is freedom. It’s looking into the void and grinning at the endless possibilities. But after that seed starts to grow, then you’re in the shit. Maybe it becomes a jungle around you, so dense you get lost in all the intricate foliage and insects stinging at your eyes, laying eggs under your skin. Or maybe it’s a pathetic collection of withering plants (kind of like what I have going on at my current apartment) that you are desperately trying to keep alive.

Continue reading “What do you call world building while on the toilet? – Aristen”

On finding a shared vision… – Aristen

As much as we’re in tune with each other’s visions, as much world building as we do, Olive and I still have to talk to each other constantly to figure out everything, from what a character is wearing in that moment, to what the inside of the room looks like, or why would they be hungry at an effed up time like this?!

Here’s a fictional example, but it mirrors many real life discussions:

“There’s no way he’d put that jacket on.” I insist.

“Why?” Olive responds.

“Because obviously, when he was six years old, the people that took him in were wearing blue, and now he associates that color with” etc etc I spout some bullshit I think is brilliant.

“… OR maybe the people made him wear blue all the time, but they always wore red. And didn’t let the poor bastard wear blue. Ever.” Olive keeps it going.

“Holy shit.” My head starts to hurt. But by god, she’s right. It just makes sense.

I suppose that’s the point that we’re both searching for when we have these conversations. That moment where we both say “Yeah that makes sense, in this fictional, complex world we’ve created, that makes total sense.”

On killing your babies… – Aristen

Olive’s lawyerly day job involves doing a ton of research, which is incredibly useful when it comes to figuring lovely things out like… “Could someone’s head actually come off in that situation?” (Spoiler: The answer is yes!)

I work as a video producer, and one skill I’ve honed is how to achieve the most impact with the least amount of time. As an editor, I work under fierce time constraints, and not only deadlines but a very specific amount of time I’m allowed to present whatever it is I’m cutting together.

I thought that this might help when it came to sitting down and editing our rough draft for content. After all, I’m used to taking hours of footage and boiling it down to a few minutes of a trailer or video, sometimes even 30 second TV spots!

So, first, you look at the big picture, the top level ideas and see what’s necessary and what isn’t. Then you look at what’s good and what isn’t. Sometimes they aren’t the same thing. And when that happens it feels like you have to put on your butcher apron and get out the cleaver, despite how desperately your dear, poor story is begging you for mercy.

I think about rule #4 of Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for creative writing.

“Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.”

Continue reading “On killing your babies… – Aristen”