Monday, December 12, 2011

It's live, folks!

Here it is, my first novel, available on Amazon as an ebook. Very exciting!

That's a wrap...

In 12 hours, The Timeless will go live on Amazon. Very exciting. Now I can concentrate on other things while I wait to see how it turns out. Must distract myself... luckily my kids are willing to help. And that pile of laundry. And the sink full of dishes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chapter One: Tidied and Ready to Go

The Timeless-Chapter One Preview

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Another Cover Mock-Up

This is more in line with my original cover idea. My in-house graphic designer has bigger fish to fry these days so I am trying to figure out the nooks and crannies of making a cover myself. It is not easy. What do you think about this attempt?

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Inspiration for Timeless

My characters in Timeless were invented based on this sort of science. Please watch because while my evolutionary mutants may be beyond the ideas discussed, the ideas themselves are extremely promising for us regular mortals. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hello Again

Just peeking out from my cave to say howdy. I am working on the edits and rewrites and am stunned by how tiring it is. I feel like I am writing a new book. Yet I will prevail! Perhaps I will share a few pages here, when I have time.

Meanwhile I have also been busy nagging the in-house graphic designer to work faster on the cover. And because it was making me anxious, I decided to do a mock-up myself just to get the ball rolling. Hopefully it will make my designer feel sorry for me and get cracking on the cover. What do you think?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chapters Nine and Ten

These will be the last rough drafts I share with you. I am one chapter (plus a heck of a lot of editing) away from completing my first book. I really didn't think I could do it but here I am, with an almost novel on my hard drive. Very exciting.

Time to retrieve monkey #2. Enjoy the read...

Timeless, A Novel- Chapter Nine Rough Draft First Half
Timeless, A Novel- Chapter Ten Rough Draft First Half

For All The Tired Novelists Out There: This One's For You

I have been some combination of mother/teacher/grad student/small business owner/designer/maker/writer/novelist for a while now and let me tell you, I'm beat.

Sometimes, I fall asleep as I'm writing and yet somehow keep typing, resulting in some interesting dream transcriptions (though it isn't so interesting if you are trying to finish a term paper or a novel).

I have found a certain system to help beat back the drooping eyelids that I thought I would share with you, especially since this is November and National Novel Writing Month is now in full swing.

1. Eat well and drink lots of water during the day. Seriously. Common sense and yet a lot of us skip meals or get dehydrated at work. Avoid this at all costs.

2. Around 5 PM, ingest something that will give you a boost. A banana, a cup of coffee, whatever works for you but do it around sunset.

3. Vary your liquid intake at night. Don't just drink coffee. Mix it up and you'll get better results.

4. Go for a walk. Not a long walk, but about a 15 minute brisk walk.

5. Take a shower and scrub your body well. Gets the blood flowing.

6. Stretch or do yoga. Try to include a little something aerobic in your routine.

7. Don't eat the same snacks every night. Chocolate will help you stay awake only if it is new to your system. So rotate your snacks, particularly those sweets you might rely on to keep you going.

8. If all else fails, go to sleep. And don't feel bad about it. Sleep is necessary for recharging your mind and body. You might get some good ideas from your dreams or be able to figure out a plot problem when you wake up with a fresh brain. Feeling guilty about your slumber will only drag you down and, guess what, make you more tired. You don't need that.

I hope this helps those of you who struggle like me to get as much done in the hours around midnight. If you have anything you would like to add to the list, please share in the comments. I am always looking for new tricks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The End of Chapter Eight

I am on the downward slope now, my friends. Chapter Eight is finished and Chapter Nine is underway. I have decided that for now on, I will only share bits and pieces of the novel, saving a lot of the juicy bits for the actual publication. I am looking forward to starting on the editing this weekend. My partner-in-crime, I mean life, is working on the cover as we speak. Things are going strong. I hope that by this time next week, I will have already pressed the submit button on Amazon. Before then, I have a lot of work to do. It is good work though so worth the loss of sleep and sanity for a few more nights. Until I have to start book two, that is.

Happy reading!
Timeless, A Novel- Chapter Eight Rough Draft Last Half

Indie Writer Role Models

So, this new indie ebook publishing world has a slew of great authors. A few of them have stood out for me (and the general public) for their success. I wish I could just say this was for the pleasure of writing, but with little ones to support and my soul feeling all dingy teaching full-time, I want to follow in their particular footsteps.

There is the young star Amanda Hocking, who brought the possibility of e-publishing to the mainstream media's attention.
Read more about it here: Authors Catch Fire with Self-Published E-Books
Hocking is young and had a lot of time on her hands and no dependents so as much as I cheer and envy her success, it is hard to compare what she has accomplished to what I can accomplish with my particular situation.
When I look for writing role models, traditionally published or otherwise, I look for mothers, particularly working mothers with multiple noses to wipe. My favorite one so far is Darcie Chan, whose best-selling novel has generated much acclaim due to the merit of her story alone. She works during the day writing environmental legislation then writes really good fiction at night after bedtime. Chan makes for an excellent role model and is an inspiration to literary fiction writers who want to support themselves.

Of course, with Timeless, I am following Hocking more, writing for a cross-genre loving audience more than for myself. Yet once I am finished with Book One and Two (and hopefully experience a portion of the success Hocking has experienced), I will be afforded the time to slow down and be more careful with my writing. I hope to strike a balance of pleasing my readers and writing stories that I would want to read. It is the dream of most indie writers, I am sure, and having at least two good role models encourages me to continue. Who are your indie writing role models? How did you choose them?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pushing through Chapter Seven with some inspiring words

This chapter is taking me a few days longer than I had planned. It is strange because I have already mapped it out and done a draft by hand, which is usually the magic combination for writing productivity. Perhaps I am stressed over something outside of the book. Perhaps I am feeling nervous since I am now on the downward slope, having passed the halfway mark in the last chapter. After this chapter, everything is action packed and should flow out of my fingertips and onto the page like water. This chapter, in the meantime, has proved to be a little challenging.
To meet the challenge, I have come to rely on this list:

It has been our desktop wallpaper for months. There is always one line that stands out when I glance at it, that is just right for my needs at that moment. And last night, I came across this, by my nerd crush Ira Glass:

The main thing I need to do right now is push past this. I have set a deadline that I will, for once in my life, respect. Tomorrow is a holiday so tonight I will not sleep but two hours and tomorrow I will write for a least eight hours, plus the hours I put in after the kids' bedtime. I am determined that I will accomplish #33.

So, here is what I got so far. As always, any feedback in the comments is most welcome. Thank you for reading!

Timeless, A Novel- Chapter Seven Rough Draft First Half

Sunday, October 30, 2011

November Rising and Here's Chapter Six

My writing got put aside while I organized and executed the annual children's Halloween party for the school where I teach. It is amazing how exhausting such tasks can be but it is over and I am back in the saddle. I was anxious to finish Chapter Six as it contains a turning point for Ruth that not only reveals more about her as a character but pivots the plot of the book quite substantially. Since this book is to be the first in a short series, I was thinking of a subtitle that would be something like "calm before the storm" or "the eye of the hurricane". Kind of campy right now but I feel like this book is really a brief lull for these women before they have to hop into a hyperactive period of their long lives in the next book. I'll work on that subtitle later. In the meantime, I will hopefully get Chapter Seven cranked out tomorrow. Until then, I give you Chapter Six:
Timeless, A Novel- Chapter Six Rough Draft

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inspiration and Direction for 'Timeless'

A while back, when I was living on a windswept island off the coast of Nagasaki, I listened to this segment of one of my favorite PRI shows, To The Best of Our Knowledge, and was introduced to the work of Aubrey de Grey. He is considered a maverick scientist who believes that we can and will regenerate our cells and avoid death all together. It is fascinating stuff and just the possibilities of his theory planted the seed for 'Timeless'.

I started thinking about immortality and what we would do if we didn't have the threat of death always looming. I could frame it easily based on what we do now with our lives that have been drastically extended in recent generations by medical advances. Being a Buddhist, I dwell on the concept of death quite a bit but if the fact of our mortality was taken off the table, what would we do with ourselves? So you see in book one of this series, readers are afforded a glimpse into the rather mundane lives of three longlife women. Longlife bodies never change after they reach their prime around 30. So imagine how hard it is for someone to run into their ex, or to live with a husband who has changed though he still looks the same as when you first met him. Imagine getting bored of yourself and your life and having little relief from that oppressive dissatisfaction. So my characters pass their days quietly, baking desserts, eavesdropping on shortlifes, trying to forget a past that is always present. The women, Zoe, Rebecca/Cassy, and Ruth, in book one are a true contrast from their male counterparts, who seem to deliberately make their lives and others' lives difficult so that there can be a sense of purpose. At the end of book one, the men intrude and interrupt the women's quiet lives. We can suspect that the women will no longer have the option to be excluded from the political activities of the men and, as they are pulled deeper into the fray, we will see what a twisted world the men have crafted for themselves which involves manipulating shortlife affairs to their advantage.
I pushed this story to the top of my pile after thinking that it connects neatly to two current concerns: immortality (via vampires but still) and political/corporate corruption (I've been greatly inspired recently by the Occupy Wall Street movement). I decided that Amazon was the best way to publish it so that people living today would benefit from another fictional filter to help them decipher their world.
Anyway, I know it is hard to see the plot so clearly in the drafts so far. That will change when switch from creator to editor. But until then, I thought I would give you, my loyal readers, a little insight into what I am about here.
Thanks again for reading.

Chapter Five and an EDP

I finished Chapter Five's first draft just minutes ago. It contains a little romance and a big plot twist. Hopefully a good read though honestly I haven't even gone over it with my editing brain switched on yet. I'll get to it later. I am too busy editing the first four chapters and fixing all the little holes and disconnects that littered the pages. Tomorrow morning I should be able to make some headway with Chapter Six which will be a Ruth-centric chapter and also help to push the story upwards towards the climax.

In other news, I have decided to shoot for 11/11/11 as my Estimated Date of Publication. Perhaps too soon but I was inspired watching 'Downton Abbey' this week. The ceasefire for the end of the first war was on 11/11 at 11:00 am. Also, I think my old numerology loving landlord would be pleased with the date. I am embracing a mentality that Steve Jobs used to make impossible things not only possible but done: reality distortion field. Not too hard since it is usually the place I call home anyway but I feel somehow validated that Jobs also inhabited it.

So, please read Chapter Five and if you can, tell me what you think. Thanks and happy reading!
Timeless, A Novel- Chapter Five

P.S. I'm on Twitter now @TiffanyMKey.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chapters Three and Four

Timeless A Novel- Chapter Three and Chapter Four

I made it to the halfway point in my word count goal this morning. It took a lot longer than I anticipated but I guess that was another rookie mistake. I still plan to have this book finished by November and up on Amazon before Thanksgiving. Crazy perhaps but constant sanity hasn't helped me finish a book. And again any feedback or editorial assistance you'd like to offer is very welcome. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chapter One and Two: Revised

I have been writing non-stop but I thought it was time to go back and smooth Chapter One and Two a little more. I managed to fill a rather thick notebook with my rough draft and I am not even done yet. It is a laborious process to transfer my handwritten work to the computer as I edit as I go. Yet the story is coming together quite well this way. It allows me to write all the time and to get the icky first thoughts out on paper so that I can shape them into something story-ish when the ideas move to the computer. This weekend I am a complete slave to the book though I will probably have to play sometime with the chicklets. You'll notice that Becky has been changed to Cassy in this revision. A few more changes but mainly in style. Okay, I must get some sleep tonight. See you tomorrow for the next chapters... and please feel free to leave any comments aka feedback you wish to make. Thanks!
Timeless- Chapter One and Chapter Two (Revisions)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Casting My Characters

I found with the other book that I am working on (known around these parts as the real book) storyboarding and casting worked wonders for helping the characters come alive. So let me introduce you to the cast of Timeless.

Here is Zoe. Thin, athletic, lovely, with a tendency towards being solemn and withdrawn. She has been through a lot in her many years but is resilient.

This is Rebecca, the sultry neighbor of Ruth and the old friend of Zoe. She is vibrant and full of life and premonitions. She is a key supporting character and brings a bit of humor to the table.

Here is Ruth, the other leading lady. She is timid and in love with a man who is no longer there, even if his body is the same. Her commitment to her vows has her trapped in an abusive relationship but she has more strength than she realizes.

This is Theron, or Ron as he goes by now. His new commitment to the Evolutionists has made him a controlling husband, uninterested in his wife except as a fixture in his life that cares for him. He is suffering psychological trauma from the war still but has turned it into fervor for the Evolutionists.

This is Cyrus, the love of Zoe's life. He disappeared without a trace forty years ago and she thought he was dead.

Here is Cyrus' son, Nick. Zoe and him are briefly involved.

This is Nick's mother, Ally.

It's funny to see them all together like this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What To Do When Your Work Threatens Your Work

This week I have fallen victim to many rookie traps of becoming too exhausted doing other things that I can't do my writing. This is a bad trend and I must overcome the losses with a lot of make-up writing. Fortunately for me, I am not attempting to write a book of high art. I want Timeless to be a popular novel so I can write a lot of content to get the story out before worrying too much about editing. Unfortunately, even this is impossible in the face of physical exhaustion led on by mental/emotional exhaustion. A lot of it comes from work, Gossiping or being involved in the nitty gritty of your workplace can drain you dry. So there is rule number one: don't worry about it. It is their deal, not yours. Remind yourself that you have greater work to worry about. That thought alone will usually pull your head out of the crazy-making trap that is like with co-workers.
Here is another trap to watch out for, especially if you get really going with your work: guilt. If you have a family, spend time with them but don't feel bad about telling it is time for bed a little earlier than usual, or no, I can't settle on the sofa and watch comedy sitcoms with you. Not right now, tell them. Promise them that later they will have your full attention, but now you are working and working in fact for the better of youur family.
Avoid unecessary actions. Those small errands, are they necessary for now? Can you delay it and combine it with other errands later? If so then do. Avoiding shopping malls and flourescent lights are two other ways to save your energy, unless you derive inspiration from them.
Have a pick me up around 6. Maybe you are lucky and eat dinner at that time but I don't. Also recharge your energy with a snack or beverage in the early evening. No amount of coffee at eleven will do as much as that six o'clock break. Trust me on this one.
Work all the time. When you used to do other things like Facebook or reading, work. Every spare moment should be filled with it so that by the time you have bigger chunks of time, you will soar instead of stumble,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chapter Two, mended and extended

Not a lot of time right now for sharing my thoughts on these revisions. I'll be back again tomorrow with the new chapter one's revisions. Before I go, I wanted to give a shout out to my beta-readers out there who are helping me with their awesome feedback. I really appreciate your attention and comments. Thank you!

Timeless- Chapter Two Revisions with Ending

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In which Chapter 3 becomes Chapter 2

Last night I presented a new, much better version of Chapter One to my in-house beta reader. His response frustrated me since I have spent many, many hours working on it and it still turned out, in a word, poor.
Why are the other chapters going so well but the first one, the crucial one, is so bad? So when I was criticizing his feedback, the danger of being married to a writer I'm afraid, I said, so what, should I just throw chapter one away? I said it to provoke him into telling me how much he actually liked chapter one but instead he just turned over and went back to sleep.
So I stewed on it for a while then I went to the computer and cut out the first chapter. Just to read it without it. And you know, I realized it was time to let go of it. It just wasn't going to work. It was a ragged piece of a different puzzle.
So now it is gone.

Today, I am sharing the first part of what was chapter three but is now chapter two. It is okay despite being rather unedited. You are welcome to leave comments on this one. I'll return tomorrow with the second half of the chapter.

Chapter 2: Rough Draft

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chapter One: Oh, the horrors

I felt a little shy about sharing this unedited, first draft of chapter one with you. I am actually working revisions for chapter one right now and will post a (hopefully better) draft later today.

A few comments before you head off to read what is, I admit, crap. Usually first drafts read like unfiltered sludge because that is exactly what they are. Since I am on a self-imposed deadline, I needed to get started on the story. The final version of this chapter will look nothing like this draft but that is not to say that this first draft was not important. It was extremely important, for me. It got my writing mind cleaned out and allowed the words to flow. For you as a reader, it is like looking at before and after photos. In this draft, you can see elements that will stay with the story and you can witness the power of creative editing.

Without further ado, here is Timeless-Chapter One First Draft

Sunday, October 9, 2011

At the Dawn of the Writing Revolution: Sharing my Novel-in-Progress with the World

I am here to share my developing novel with you.

Why a novel? After all, I have always considered myself a short story writer. They are what I read the most of, especially since I am a working mother. Yet there comes a time in every dreamer's life when it is necessary to either jump in or walk away. So I am diving in but as I break the surface of the writing waters, little nagging seaweeds wrap themselves around my ankles. Health insurance, diapers, rent payments, all of these threaten to drown me in my decision to commit to my writing. Yet I may have figured out a way of cutting myself free. I am going to try and become a writer by making money writing.

Most writers do not make the money they deserve from their work. I think it is a source of pride for some, that starving artist image that is highly respected in our culture yet rarely seriously examined. Most of our successful writers and artists did not even get a living wage during their lives. In their crippling old age or death, we acclaim them. They make quotes like, "I would have never done it any other way". Yet, I think that stoicism is crap. I think it is for men, mainly, who do not have dependents, or if they do they escaped them and their child support payments. And I don't think it is necessary.

Writers and artists have been dependent on the middleman for too long. Artists have recently broke out of that prison with online shops and social networking. People have direct access to the artist and vice verse. Artists all over the world are finding they can live where they want (instead of moving to a cultural hotspot) and do their work AND eat. It is a fantastic time for them.

What about writers? Do we not deserve freedom from agents and publishing houses? Of course we do and many people are using the internet to reach readers directly. This has been scorned by traditionalists who say that ebooks will never rise above books printed on paper. The feel of the paper, they cry, cannot be replaced. I understand, to a certain extent, this sentiment. It is a emotional attachment but it has nothing to do with the actual writing. If people want to read books on a Kindle or iPad, shouldn't we writers appreciate the terms of service that we have with readers? A good story is good in any format.

This brings me to the point of this blog. I am going to post various drafts of the chapters from my novel-in-progress and open up the comments so that anyone can tell me what they think. Not only will this early exposure be good for me (as I am writing in a hurry) but it will also be good for you. It will show you the bare bones of a novel, the rough spots before they are edited away. There is a great drought of good writing in our society and the publishing industry is only partially to blame.

The other culprit is education, not just MFA programs, but public schools as well. We are taught how to analyze every single word and cross-examine the work compared to the biography of the writer. By the time we finish school, we are so good at reading we don't even like to read anymore. The flip side of the printed word is hardly touched. We are never taught how to start writing and how to stick with it, even when it gets ugly. And let me tell you, it does get ugly.

I am going to be posting the drafts in PDF forms to make it easier for you readers. If this is ever a problem, please let me know. The first chapter will be posted tomorrow. I want to thank you in advance for reading. I think too often writers are cut off from the world in more than one sense. All over the world people are realizing that we need each other to survive. It take a village to raise a child and it takes a community to complete a novel. Thank you for joining my community.