Sunday, January 25, 2015

On Being SO CLOSE, Vengeful Ghosts, and what's next

I'm at about 95% done with Hoodoopocalypse, my projected 60000 word book right now. I wrote two very important final scenes yesterday, one of them going really well and the other being just informative stuff that I might need to re-do because it reads a little like a Wikipedia entry. (I might go with that, on the other hand, mixing up the media sort of... which is something I really like doing.)

I'm SO CLOSE to being done that it's natural to think of what next. I mean, not as far as plot goes, but moving from this novel to the next. Which will be more self-directed, doesn't really have any specific deadlines or anyone looming over me telling me to get it moving.

I've been enjoying my writing over the last couple of months. Since I stopped teaching, I can better focus on creative writing and it flows much better. I've also become more conscious of the crafting of the story-- being careful with word choice, eliminating words I use too much (REALLY!) and hitting backspace immediately when I notice I've just typed it. When I was reading Mariposa the other day for my final run-through before letting it go to print, I noticed a difference in the way I'm writing my current work and how I wrote that. Don't get me wrong-- Mariposa is still a favorite story, and I'm pleased with it. But I can see a growth in my craft since I wrote it. I believe this will show up significantly in my next work.

ID 33411295 © Katalinks |
A critique I have heard of Mariposa's content was that a reader did not like the men in the story. And yeah, the men who are "on screen" in that book are pretty awful. Something that I didn't intend to do when I sat down to write the book that happened was that a central theme to it is domestic violence towards women. It was, I guess, a bit of an accident that comes from writing about ghosts who are women. Most women who are murdered are killed by someone they loved. Which is something we don't really like to think about. I have a lesson plan when I'm teaching about La Llorona via the Sandra Cisneros story "Woman Hollering Creek" that points out how many of the ghost stories in multiple cultures are built around vengeful spirits, and they have a VERY GOOD REASON to be angry. Ultimately, I was happy that the theme showed up, because a ghost story should not have an ultimate "good" vibe. You should dislike those guys. I did that right, then. I'll have none of a creepy vampire guy who is really a stalker but girls think is dreamy in my story. No thank you.

Ghosts are, by their very nature, in a bad situation. They should never be thought of as an ideal, a good thing.

It might be that in having the subtitle "A Love Story" people are assuming it's a romance. It's really not. Yes, there is romance in there, but the actual LOVE STORY in the novel is not that romance. I'll give a billion dollars (as soon as I get it myself, offer not applicable before then) to those who figure out the real love story. It's not what you think.

So book two in the Mariposa series will possibly redeem, re-introduce the good guys of Mariposa. There are some men who were not at all redeemable*. The murderers, the bad guy in the hotel. But the three main guys, Tony, Demetrio, and Omar, will get their stories told. And maybe the guy who drew the mural, and definitely Earl. Earl will have a series of guest appearances. He kinda gets around.

In fact, I initially had as a title the Men of Mariposa but someone pointed out that sounded like a hunk-of-the-month calendar.  So now it's called Orpheus and the Butterfly, with maybe "Men of" as the subtitle, just to make it clear. It's not a sequel, really, but a book that illustrates what is happening with the guys while the women are onstage. Sort of a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead moment in San Antonio.

The first thing that happens is Tony wakes up dead. So that should be kind of fun. Here, in fact, is a short tease of the first lines. (That link will take you to the song... I'll just wait while you listen to it.  Then come back here.) The cover art there is a maybe. I think it's what I'll be going with, but I had some critiques of the title going vertical.... so I'll play with it for a bit, too. 

Act One: Tony and the Lady
Poor Orpheus woke up with a start All amongst the rotting dead His lyre tacked safe under his arm His brains all down his head O Mamma O Mamma
“The Lyre Of Orpheus” Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
I wake up face down on cold, hard concrete, no idea where I am or what just happened. There is a gun, my gun, in my hand, and the barrel is hot. Somewhere near me, I can hear a dog, or a wolf, a coyote or something, howling. It sounds, actually, like a group of them. I wonder, for a moment, if the sound is what woke me.
I push up to my knees and look around. I’m a little panicked at this point because the last thing I actually remember is a guy pulling a gun on Meg, and me shooting him. Seriously, did I just shoot someone?
And if so, where the Hell am I now? Where are the people I was just now with?

Meg is not here. The guy I shot is not here. Here is, well. . . weird. 
I'm hoping that I can get permission from Nick Cave to use parts of their song. I am willing to pay for it, so I'll have to work that out. It's quite an inspiration, actually, in some ways.

Anyway. This is what is happening now. Downhill slope. Soon, I'll be doing edits on Hoodoopocalypse. And lots of surrounding publicity as we come close to its drop date in March.

We're having fun with this writing thing around here. Let's go with the next big thing!

I hope you'll come along on the ride with me.

*offer will be carried out in Monopoly money or Simoleons.

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