Monday, December 28, 2009

A New Beginning

Whenever I start a new story, as I did yesterday, I tell myself what I tell my students: write the map first. Plot out where you’re going, know your central conflict, understand your characters better than they understand themselves. Not once have I followed my own advice. To me, writing is like solving puzzles. I know what should happen just as I know what a Rubrics cube looks like when it’s solved, but I don’t know how I’m getting there. Stories are mazes where I can surmise what the plot/resolution will be, but it will surprise me just as much as my audience when I get there.

In Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft he writes that he intended in his book Misery to have Annie Wilks, the crazed nurse, to kill Paul Sheldon and if I remember correctly, to rewrite the death of Misery in a book stretched with his skin Memento Mori style. Ewwww…I know, but King says that Paul Sheldon was such a strong voice as he was writing the book that he wouldn’t be killed. He, the character, as he was being written figured out a way to save himself from crazed ass Annie’s axe. My characters are just as stubborn.

This new story I’m writing is called Brass and its set in the Steampunk universe of San Francisco. I’ve been thinking about writing in this genre for weeks after I read about an open call at Samhain. Me, being me, thought, gee, that’s so me! I’m like so knowledgeable about things Victorian, seeing as how I’m an ex expert from Boston in 19th century prints, and well, I also write fantasy, and gosh golly, I love the clothes. Why couldn’t I play with the genre and see what happens? I have until April for the deadline, right?

Then I started running into Steampunk EVERYWHERE. My friend Tannia in the U.K. posted a link to a site: saying that she wanted the steampunk computer featured. I want it too. Also, I’d like the flash drive, if anyone cares. I began floating through many sites, then reading books. Currently, I’m reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. He’s a bit hyper, but I’m riding through it. I also discovered much to my self-disgust that my cousin’s husband, James P. Blaylock writes Steampunk and is, well, famous for it. I think he tried to explain the genre to me at the reunion this summer but gave up because I was so obviously clueless. I have Steampunk, the new short story collection by the Vandemeers, on order. He’s featured in it. Let’s all hope that he forgives me when I tell him that I read his story.

My new story, Brass is just beginning. I wrote a plot summary, but just as Stephen King, I already know that my main character, Celia Cushing, will take the lead away from me eventually. My characters always do. This part, the beginning, is always the easiest and most exciting, when I’m fitting these personalities into a new reality, setting obstacles in their path and writing them out of the forest. The revisions will be harder, when I discover that my path was too simplistic or that I need to write new twists or even new characters into the plot. That’s another dilemma, though, and for another post. Meanwhile, I’m steaming forward. *shakes head at wisecrack self*

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 2009


I write stories that I would like read by all and sundry. A little feedback from readers is always welcome. Did the story reach out and grab my audience? Did my characters hang in their minds for awhile while they wondered what had happened after? Was there enough of a plot to capture their attention, so that they cared enough to keep on reading?

Thus, I’m blogging my thoughts about writing. My name is Theresa Wood. I’m a language arts teacher. Yes, I teach writing by day and write for my own pleasure in the off hours. I’ve had two stories published so far in a now defunct on-line magazine called E-muze. I won an award once from Writer’s Digest for a short story. I’ve written three books. One, a thriller set in the art world of Boston, something I happen to know a great deal about, given that I was a gallery director there eons ago. The book title changes frequently, but only because I still like the original, The Artful Dodge and it’s copyrighted to someone else. My second book is also set in Boston, but of the altered universe variety, with a werewolf heroine and an icky villain bent on world domination through magic. I’m still editing this one. Again, I seem to have a problem with titles. Called Mirror World, this one is an Alice through the looking glass story wherein the heroine wakes up after an attack to find that she now sees bizarre mythical creatures.

Because I can’t seem to stay away from urban fantasy tales in my writing, or my reading, my third book is set in the Northwest forest where I also happen to be living at the moment. It is also still in rewrite and called Once Fey. The main character is a kick butt girl that discovers she is a traitor to the fey realm and has been banished to live among humans until she redeems herself. Again, I’m rewriting this one to have a more romantic bent so that it’s ready for the RWoA Golden Rose this summer.

This blog is all about writing. I don’t plan to rant much about my personal life. I DO have one, but this blog is about the writing. I read quite a lot too, so I’ll probably write about that. For several years, I have been a member of a very cool group of writers known as Circle of Crones but our numbers have dwindled due to all the 'real' life stuff that interrupts writing all too frequently. I’m currently a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Portland branch. I like relationships with other writers.

I’m open to comments on writing, or getting to know fellow writers, agents, and/or publishers. Please contact me.

Cheers, Theresa Wood