Swinging at smoke…

Writing is hard.

It’s a very cyclical thing for me. It moves along in stages. What those stages are, how long they last, and whether or not I recognize them as they’re happening all vary on a case by case basis.

Right now I’m in the JFC everything is crap stage.

It happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder—like I do—trying to discern what I should be working on. Truth is, I really don’t know.

Once upon a time I went through and summarized all of my “active” projects. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been. And I’ve been trying to do an updated version of it with the current active list for…a long time. It’s an exercise in brevity and it’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to ramble incessantly, especially when it comes to talking about writing.

I want to write a brief summary of the plot, a few notes on where my brain is at on the given project, and a snippet of text from the actual story. Problem is I could go on for hours about each one when “summarizing” the plot. (I might need to lookup the actual definition of the word summarize, because clearly it doesn’t mean what I think it means.) As for where my brain is at with each one, a lot of it generally comes out as fuck if I know. And when it comes to pulling out a few lines of text…I want to take paragraphs.

And then I have a twenty-thousand word post.

Give or take.

I’ve considered doing an individual post on each one in a series. Then I could ramble all I want. But it’s supposed to be about brevity. And while that’s clearly not one of my strong suits, that’s what I want it to be.

So as it goes with everything in writing, I keep hacking and slashing until it resembles something I’m more or less okay with.

Or I shove it back in the drafts folder and forget about it for awhile.

Fair warning…this whole thing is five-thousand-some-odd words. (The last one I did was 3000+…so…)

So much for that whole brevity thing, I guess.

Hey—it’s fairly brief commentary for each story. But once you pile them all together…

Continue reading “Swinging at smoke…”

Maybe daylight won’t ask me questions…

I read an article somebody posted a link to…somewhere…recently…about how people who write are mentally healthier. I don’t know exactly how “scientific” the studies were, but it made sense to me.

When the creativity is in a drought and I’m not doing much writing, there is an obvious gaping void in my life. When the words are flowing, my brain feels like it’s operating like something that resembles a functional adult in her mid-thirties. (MID-THIRTIES—Let’s not talk about how I’ll be thirty-five in less than two months because WHAT IN THE HELL?)

The creative well has been pretty dry and barren as of late. It’s incredibly frustrating. I still put forth the effort to write everyday, but it’s not always a fruitful endeavor. As long as my computer is turned on, Word is open. I don’t dedicate a specific time frame or amount of time to writing. I do it as inspiration strikes. I tab between Word, the internet, iTunes, the home architect program, and random games all day long. How much time I spend in any given program varies greatly day to day.

I’ve been spending a lot of time staring at my writing folder, wondering if there is anything I haven’t touched in awhile that’s worth trying to work on. I’m not really having much luck. Though there are a couple projects I’ve been rolling around in my head that might be worth dedicating the brain power to. And there’s always Ben and Marina (dead horse alert) because whenever I’m thinking about writing…or anything else…Ben and Marina are right there jabbing me in the brain with sharp objects.

Or Joel and Remy. Because they were an unexpected development in the Kate and Michael story that I am surprisingly happy with the way their subplot has (so far) panned out.

“So…out of curiosity,” Michael elbowed Joel in the side as he stepped around him to the stove.

Joel looked up, waiting for him to continue, “Curiosity for what?”

Michael turned, slight smirk playing on his lips, “Is Remy moving in?”

Remy’s head shot up and he stared at Michael, hazel eyes wide as saucers.

Joel froze, unsure how to respond, “Would that be a problem?”

“Not at all,” Michael shook his head, “I’m just curious. He’s here most nights anyway, isn’t he? You guys are pretty much living together as it is. I’m just wondering when you’re going to make it official.”

“I…don’t know…” Joel shook his head slowly, “We’ve just been…we’ve talked about it. We just haven’t really…made any decisions.”

Remy shrugged, tapping the edge of his laptop, “We don’t know if we should find a place to move into together or if I should just move in here.”

“What do you want to do?” Kate rubbed his back, seeing the rising anxiety in his eyes.

“We’re kind of torn,” he said quietly.

Joel drew in a slow breath, rubbing the back of his neck, “We didn’t know if we’d be pushing our luck moving him in here. Don’t know how long before you guys get sick of us,” he jolted when Michael punched in him the shoulder.

“How many times have we been over this? We’re not going to get sick of you. We don’t even know you’re here unless you’re here with us. We had this same argument when you decided to stay after the headache of your last apartment was over.”

Joel nodded, but didn’t say anything.

“If you want to stay here and have Remy move in with you, that is not a problem. We’re happy to have you both with us. You have been so much less stressed since you’ve been living here and even more so since you’ve been with Rem. Combining the two—you are happier than I have ever seen you. And I have known you for a long damn time. Hell—for the first time in your life you’ve admitted to being in love. We like having you here—both of you. The boys love you. And I feel so much more at ease knowing you’re around when I’m out of town so Katie isn’t alone. If you guys are happy living here, we want you to stay.”

Joel stared at Michael, teeth clamped on his bottom lip, his eyes stinging with the surprising sudden threat of tears. He looked over at Kate and Remy across the counter. She had her arm hooked around him as he leaned against her, his wide eyes locked on Joel.

“My only concern with any of this, is that you guys are going to start to feel strapped for space up in that apartment over the garage.”

Joel turned to Michael again, frowning as he walked out of the kitchen into the back hall and returned moments later with a piece of paper.

“We have space. Neither one of us has much stuff,” he shook his head, frown deepening when Michael unfolded the paper and set it on the counter in front of him, “What is this?”

“This is the basement.”

“What basement?”

This basement.”

“The hell are you talking about?”

Michael turned the paper, tracing the outline of the printed floor plan, “I had Patrick draw this up, it’s just a rough idea, we can make some changes to it if we want. But this is what the basement could look like if we turned it into an apartment.”

WHAT?” Joel stood up straight, mouth slightly agape.

“You’d have everything you’d get in a one bedroom apartment and you’d more than double the space you have right now. Pat mentioned we could use good soundproofing on the ceiling so you wouldn’t be disturbed when the kids are running amok upstairs and you’d have a private entrance with the walk-out in the back down there. You could still just come in through the house if you wanted, but the option is there. Regardless, you still have your own space, just more of it.”

“You want to turn your basement into an apartment.”

“You are correct.”

“You want to turn your basement into an apartment so Remy and I will have more space.”

“That is what I’m saying, yes.”

“Mike—you can’t do that.”

“Why not? It’s my house. I can do whatever the hell I want with it. If I want to turn my basement into an apartment and rent it out, it’s my choice. But the only way I’m going to do that, is if you are going to be the one living in it. And I’d do it even if you didn’t have a boyfriend to share it with.”

Joel stared at Michael, stunned, at a loss how to respond. He turned and looked at Kate again, shaking his head slowly, “Are you okay with this?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Kate frowned, “I like having you guys around too.”

“So you’d give up your whole basement for us.”

“It’s sitting practically empty. We’re not really giving up anything. There’s some stuff down there that we can stand to get rid of, but otherwise, it’s just wasted space. It’d be better to have someone actually living in it.”

“People are really going to think you’ve cracked, Mike.”

“Shit, people have thought that for years, Hiller,” Michael shook his head.

“This isn’t exactly…a normal arrangement.”

“Normal is highly overrated. I don’t do anything the normal way anyway. You know that. It took me seven years to get a four-year degree. I changed my major twice. I got a job that had nothing to do with that degree it took me so long to get. Then I quit to start a company nobody can seem to explain. I made the worst move anyone can make in business by hiring all my friends and then I decided to marry one of my employees. And now I want to put an apartment in my basement so my best friend and his boyfriend can live in it.”

Joel snapped his mouth shut with a quiet huff, mind spinning.

“Joel—you are one of the most important people in my life. I have known you for half my life. And we’re not exactly young anymore, my friend. You drive me absolutely crazy and there are days I consider having you committed, but I wouldn’t give you up for anything. You and Matty were my godsends when my life was in shambles and I could never fully repay you for all that you’ve done for me. But if I can provide you with a place to live where you’ll be comfortable and happy? I will do it in a heartbeat.”

In other non-news…

You know, I think one of the things I really love about this band is the rasp in Marc’s voice that hits certain lines that gets me in the gut every gaddamn time.


(O.A.R. … Heaven [live on Red Rocks])

Also…the line all I want to do is know you…GAH.

You know…if you have seven and a half minutes to kill on one song.

The first half of the song is just instrumental (even on the studio track) but damn…


(O.A.R. … Give Me Something [live])

And can we all just take a moment to appreciate Chris’ hair? That curl is fantastically ri-god-damn-diculous.

One by one they drive me crazy…

Wherein Sara babbles, at great length, about the writing projects currently burning holes in her brain.

In other words, none of it will make any sense to anyone but me, and even I probably won’t understand any of it either.



There are times I sit and stare at the projects sitting in my writing folder and find myself wondering what the hell all these code names mean. So many of them have nothing to do with the actual project, I have to wonder what I was thinking when I named them. Then again I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder that about the newest projects too.

It’s kind of sad that even I don’t understand what the hell any of it means and I’m the one who CREATED IT.

@reference… Varied and sundry reference files I’ve felt compelled to save from research I’ve done over time. I could probably delete a lot of what’s in that folder because when I look through it, I have no idea what a lot of it was even for in the first place.

@stalled… Projects that have been put to bed indefinitely, but still hold the potential to turn into something if I ever find new inspiration to work on them. Folders get moved in and out of this one at random depending on how I feel about them at a given time.

baylor… Darren Baylor is the newest artist signed to the Chance Records label under Will Jenkins’ tutelage. He finds himself recording his major-label debut with the famed Jenkins siblings, Kate and Marc. Inane late night conversations and romance ensue along side of familial drama.

boy nextdoor… This thing probably belongs in the “seek therapy” folder, but it hasn’t been buried there just yet. Hallie is a 33 year old former high school teacher who tutors her 18 year old neighbor Chris. All is business as usual until he professes his love for her and she finds herself seriously considering the prospect of a May December romance, while fully acknowledging she’s likely going straight to hell for even thinking about it.

She wanted to restore a little more of his confidence, even though she knew she was just packing her things into the hand basket for her one-way ticket to hell.

brother’s keeper… Alex opens her door to her delinquent stepbrother Nick, knowing full well she’s going to regret it. It doesn’t take long for him to end up in the hospital after an accidental drug overdose, followed by a 90-day stint in rehab. In the meantime, she finds an unexpected supporter in Ryan, one of Nick’s friends. Shocking, because she’s pretty much guaranteed to hate any of Nick’s friends. Romance ensues. Because it always does.

“Take a shower and burn your clothes. You smell like bong water in a dirty ashtray.”

desmond… Marissa has been Emery’s assistant for five years. He was engaged when they met, to a woman who eventually broke his heart. The pair have been dancing around the fact that they’re in love with each other, both denying the truth, until one night Emery gets drunk, calls Marissa for a ride, and ends up drunkenly professing his love for her. They find themselves toeing the line of professionally acceptable (he’s her boss after all) and what they really want.

“Alright fine. Stick with your platonic business lunches. Just know you’re not fooling anybody. Except maybe yourself.”

dreamweaver… Alison and Parker have been roommates for three years, and friends for more than twenty. A blast from the past resurfaces unexpectedly and apologizes for being a complete dick in high school. The ex-husband regrets ever asking for a divorce. The best friend ends up in her bed in the midst of a depressive slump that has everyone worried and on edge.

executive decision… Juliette and her small-time web design business get hired for a personal project for Andrew Gaynor, local self-made multimillionaire. He’s a shameless flirt and she doesn’t deal in bullshit. Personalities clash until Juliette caves and agrees to a date with Andrew, wherein she finds out he’s not the pompous ass she thought he was. Romance ensues amidst medical emergencies and a whole lot more drama.

The air of arrogant confidence that had once radiated from him had crumbled, gone completely. In its place stood a timid, broken, kid.

freelancer… There are two separate projects sitting under the Freelancer moniker and probably half a dozen other side projects exploring what if scenarios. There is a lot of crackpot drivel sitting there that should never be allowed to see the light of day, but is often way too much fun to write. The legitimate projects follow the same character Kate and the two ways she gets a job with Flammable Tech Productions…one in which she ends up with Michael and the other where she ends up with Joel. Both scenarios were spawned by bizarre dreams that had me wondering if I should stop smoking crack before bed. It’s this hodgepodge of projects that made me realize Kate’s like the office bicycle—everybody’s had a ride. Kate’s kind of a h0r. (Not really. I just make her look that way every time I concoct a new scenario of what if THIS happened?)

grammer check… Andrew Mason was the second ever Chance Records artist I created. He was somewhat of a veteran in the music business when I initially wrote him into another story, but when I decided to give him his own story, I moved him to present day Chance Records and signed him as a new artist all over again. The famed Jenkins siblings (Kate and Marc) are on board to produce his debut album and after spending twelve weeks working together, Kate finds herself in a position she always swore would never ever happen—in love with a musician, a one Andrew Mason.

“You probably think I’m a raging, insufferable bitch right about now.”

He laughed, shrugging, “I wouldn’t say that. I think you have little patience for people who clearly don’t know how to do their job—justified. But you’re still nice enough to answer their stupid questions even though it drives you crazy.”

“Out of that you concluded that I’m nice?”

“Why are you up at six in the morning for a conference call with people you have no obligation to talk to?”

She opened her mouth to respond and promptly snapped it shut.

grey matter… I have the whole timeline planned out on this thing—where it should start, where it should end, all wrapped up in a nice five-day package. But I can’t get the characters right. There have been so many changes made, I’ve lost count how many different people have been through this casting call. It might be on the way to the stalled folder until I can get this shit figured out.

missing in action… Ryan Mills is a rockstar on the rise signed to the Chance Records label. He’s on a hiatus between touring and recording his next album and returns to his tiny hometown for the first time since he left fifteen years ago. He never thought he’d return after the way things fell apart with his dad, but if his sister has her way, there will be reconciliation before he leaves town again. In the meantime he runs into Hallie—the high school crush he’s held onto all these years—and finds himself rethinking everything he thought he had planned.

Now that he could see her clearly, Ryan realized he’d recognize her anywhere. He watched her curiously as she walked toward him, his heart hammering in his chest.

She looked up at him and smiled, “Can I help you find something?”

He shook his head slowly, trying to swallow past the sudden knot in his throat, “Hey, Hallie.”

So maybe there were two reasons he’d braved coming back.

reunion… Ben and Marina are spending two weeks in their tiny hometown for Lanie and Sam’s wedding. As best man and maid of honor, there’s not much getting around it—especially considering Lanie is Marina’s sister and Sam is Ben’s cousin. It should be a fun, albeit chaotic, trip home. Drama strikes when the long strained relationship between the two comes to a head, putting everyone on edge until tragedy strikes with Marina’s little brother Jake. The two week vacation gets extended while they rebound from Jake’s trip to the emergency room and Ben and Marina finally decide that they’ve had enough of the bullshit drama they’ve been shoving around for a lifetime. They focus on mending their friendship, while everyone focuses on healing after almost losing Jake. And when the trip finally comes to an end, Marina finally admits what she’s been denying was true for years.

Oh Ben and Marina…never have I loved two characters I created so very much. They’ve been stalled at 63,000 words for far too long and as I start from scratch on the timeline of events, the gears are turning on what it is I need to do to fix what’s wrong and make new progress. Much like Ben is the bane of Marina’s existence, this story is the bane of mine.

Ben let her go and bent to kiss her cheek. At the last second Marina turned her head, catching him on the lips. He froze, dark eyes wide. A slow smile spread across his lips and he shook his head, “That’s my move, Gator.”

“Then I’ve learned from the best,” she smirked.

round two… Jacey loved Austin from the time they were twelve years old. He was her first everything. When they got married they had high hopes and aspirations for a lifetime together, and everything was perfect…until one day it wasn’t. It’s been six years since they got divorced and they’re both miserable. Jacey has been looking for an apology from Austin, but despite asking her repeatedly what he’s supposed to be apologizing for, he still has no idea what it is. He wants her back and he’s determined to make things right, but she keeps pushing him away. Nobody believes her when she says she wants him gone for good. She doesn’t deny she still loves him, but refuses to admit she wants him back too. It’s not until Austin tells her he’s finally done chasing her that she admits she doesn’t want him to stop.

After six years she’d almost convinced herself she didn’t want him in her life anymore. If she didn’t have to see him, she could forgive herself easier for giving up when he decided he was finally ready to fight.

saints and sinners… Kailyn is the tour manager for rock band Subtle Definition, and questions several times a day what the hell she’s doing with her life. Dealing with groupies and girlfriends and endless drama, she has five horny twenty-somethings under her supervision, and the last thing she has time for is a relationship. A medical emergency with a member of the band brings everything to a screeching halt and has everybody reevaluating what’s really important.

seek therapy… Where the crack-laden pipe dreams congregate. The home to the ridiculous and inane fanfiction and varied and sundry projects labeled “never see the light of day.” It’s what I write when I need to purge the crazy from my brain. It makes me question my own sanity, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play with.

smoked… Lia is a writer who works from home. She finds herself fixated on the neighbor’s new roommate, the chain-smoking, unemployed younger brother. Despite his multitude of flaws and questionable life choices, Sam turns out to make an interesting friend. A whole host of family drama on both sides keeps them stressed as all hell, but that doesn’t stop the breeding of romance. Because it never does.

spoiled brat… The original idea for executive decision had Andrew Gaynor being a complete douche canoe. But as I developed the character, I realized, it just didn’t fit him. I had a lot written in that direction, so I shoved it aside for awhile, until the brain dredged up a different plan that could use that material. A chance encounter in a coffee shop lands Olivia a photography gig with Parker Investments—the biggest real estate empire in the Midwest. She also garners the attention of Christan Parker, the younger of the two Parker sons poised to one day inherit the empire. It’s unwanted attention for more reasons than she can count, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing her. Christian doesn’t know the meaning of the word commitment or the word no, but he’s fixated on getting to know Olivia. Olivia has her own life to deal with and has little patience for the spoiled rich brat who won’t leave her the hell alone. In a surprise to no one—romance ensues.

“Are you purposely trying to avoid me?”

“As much as I’d like to say yes to that question, no I’m not purposely trying to avoid you. You just happened to show up at a very inconvenient time in my life.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

She frowned, surprised by the sincerity in his question. The smoldering gaze was softening into one of concern.

“Well I’d appreciate it if you’d dislodge your boner from my hip. But other than that—there’s not much you can do for me.”

He took a fraction of a step back, but didn’t remove his hand from her waist. She felt a drastic shift in his demeanor, from possessive lust to protective concern.

What is with this guy?

teacher’s pet… Hannah is an eleven-year veteran high school English teacher. Chris is fresh out of college starting his first year teaching at the same school. They make fast friends and the more they get to know each other, Hannah finds herself wondering what if and if only. Much to her great surprise (but not the kids playing along at home), Chris is on the same page.

teenage dream… Matt and Alison first met at six years old, started dating at fourteen, and found themselves with a baby just shy of seventeen. They split up at twenty but managed to maintain a close friendship (and then some) in all that time. Fifteen years later, their son Zach is almost ready to graduate high school, and they’re finally ready to try being together again. At the same time Zach’s relationship with Remy is ever-evolving as Remy deals with more bullshit from his family than any one person should in a lifetime.

“I’m seventeen, Mom. I know what sex is. And while I really don’t care to hear the details of my parents’ sex lives, I don’t delude myself into thinking you never have it—with each other. But if there is something actually going on between you two, and I don’t mean sex, I think I deserve to know. Being your son and all.”

Alison nodded, setting a glass of orange juice in front of him, “We’ve been doing a lot of talking lately—more so than usual, anyway. We were thinking…maybe we’d try dating again.”

“Each other I hope.”

No, we were planning on joining a singles’ group together,” she rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

“It might be a little…weird…after all this time,” Matt rubbed the back of his neck, eyes shifting between Zach and Alison, “not quite sure how people will respond to it…but…you’re the first to know.”

“I certainly hope I’m the first,” Zach snorted, “I’m the gay kid of teen parents who never got married…I think I can handle a little weird. And you know how people are going to respond? It’s about fucking time.”

the older man… Once upon a time I had a dream wherein Kiefer Sutherland propositioned me in an elementary school auditorium. The scenario played over and over in my head for far too long as I contemplated the prospect of somehow turning it into some sort of story. Eventually a usable idea manifested and Kailyn finds herself being propositioned outside of an elementary school by Alex. (Though he is not actually based on Mr. Sutherland.) Many curse words are launched, accompanied by the threat of twisting balls, and after an apology and some tense conversation, friendship develops. Adding in a health scare, a spiteful ex-wife, and an excess of varied and sundry drama, the end result is romance. Because of course it is.

I blame Kiefer Sutherland.

theatrical debut… Darren moves home to Colorado after six years living in New York and finds his long-time crush on the [older] girl next door is still going strong. Hannah is finally on the rebound after a divorce from a cheating bastard. When the adorable neighbor kid she used to babysit moves home virtually unannounced, she finds herself wondering when then hell Darren grew up on her. Friendship ensues, long held secrets are revealed, tragedy strikes, drunken confessions are made. And maybe eight years isn’t such a big age gap after all.

unconventional roommates… Jordan decides to open the door to the prospect of a roommate and ends up with a whole lot more than she bargained for in Melissa and Andrew, a mother and her adult son rebuilding their life after escaping a toxic situation on the other side of the country. Twenty-seven years of being heavily sheltered, controlled, manipulated, and abused, Andrew doesn’t trust anybody or know which end is up. Despite being absolutely terrified, he finds himself trusting Jordan as she offers support and teaches him about the world at large. The damage of his toxic upbringing is extensive, making adjusting to his new life nearly impossible, but Jordan is determined to help him heal in whatever ways she can.

This project started out as something VERY DIFFERENT, spawned from a dream that would have put it in a completely different section of a bookstore. But as I toyed with the idea, it morphed and evolved, and pretty much turned into a heavy reflection of my relationship with Bob and how we cope and deal with my mental illness. The circumstances surrounding Jordan and Andrew are so completely different than what Bob and I have experienced in life, but at the core there is a lot of personal experience poured into their interactions and emotions. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to writing about us.

Normal is highly overrated. Also—it’s a bullshit concept. It just gives people the liberty to be judgmental assholes because they wouldn’t do something the same way as somebody else. There are a lot of things about this situation that people would consider weird or wrong, but there is nothing actually wrong with any of it. The only thing wrong here is the fact that you had to go through the shit you did. Nobody deserves that. As far as weird? I don’t care, I fully embrace weird.”

actor list… A list of varied and sundry celebrity types that serves as inspiration when I’m building character lists for projects.

Chance Records… Notes on the multitude of Chance Records artists past and present. There are many that never had their own stories or were merely mentioned in somebody else’s tale. Many I remember the band name, but not the story to go with them. Chance Records is sixteen years old. There’s a lot of history in that fake record label.

name list… A simplified list compiled from hours of scanning through baby name books, whittling things down to acceptable choices to use for characters. I recycle the same names all the time, but occasionally I need something different. This is where I start.

In short…I’ve got too many fucking irons in the fire and it’s really no surprise I haven’t finished a damn thing in about ten years.

The more you turn away…

… Apparently the only thing I am capable of writing here as of late are bulleted lists.

… My sinuses are revolting again. At first I thought it was allergies. Bob’s allergies were kicking in, mine probably were too. But then there was the sore throat, the fever, and the feeling that I got hit by a truck. That lasted a few days but the sinuses have held out much longer. Neither allergy nor cold drugs OR the prescription Flonase have done a damn thing but the generic Walgreens 12-hour Afrin allows me a few precious hours of being able to breathe through my nose during the day. But it most certainly does not last 12 hours. I don’t know what the hell this is, but I’m so ready for this shit to GTFO of my sinus cavity.

… Bob got me a new phone. Because I am spoiled. And in the process we found out that plugging my existing SIM card into the new phone just…works. (It’s an unlocked phone, not specific to any carrier.) I still don’t have a data plan but if there’s a wifi connection available, I don’t really actually need one. And I now have a smart phone without the $100 a month phone bill. It’s going to take some getting used to the fact that I’m not going to get a solid week out of one battery charge. In four days I’ve had to charge it twice, not including the initial out-of-the-box charge. Granted I’ve been playing with it constantly. The novelty will wain slightly eventually, but still.

… The first time the new phone rang, it took me a good thirty seconds to figure out how to answer it. As it turns out, I don’t know how the hell to use a damn touch screen.

… One little trigger sparked five different scenarios to write involving the same three characters (from an existing project) that I’ve been working on for about three weeks. Most of it is completely ridiculous (but fun to write nonetheless) but one version is a very viable addition to the actual story. Because stories can never have too many sub-plots. Even if this one doesn’t have all that much for sub-plots as it currently exists. Kate and Michael shouldn’t get to have all the fun. Joel and Remy deserve love too.

… Saturday I woke up to this happening on my nightstand.

Apparently Droid is sooper excited about the new Android device in ye olde Bear Cave. He’s been living here for months without any Android devices to be found and he’s been a little bitter about that.

Gator just doesn’t even know what’s happening there in front of him and Eeyore is pretending he doesn’t know either one of them from his perch atop the alarm clock.

… Droid’s new friend needs a name. I haven’t been struck by any inspiration yet. Tragic.

… Shut up. You’re the weird one because you don’t name all of your inanimate objects.

We make things way too clear…

Clear as mud, really.

When I open up a blank draft for a blog post, if I don’t already have a title in mind, I sit and focus on the lyrics of whatever song is playing until I hear something that could possibly represent what I had planned to write about. Sometimes I need to wait until the next song to find a fitting title. Though most of the time, regardless of what I end up using, it doesn’t actually make sense to anyone but me anyway.

I’m sure I don’t need to mention who is currently playing in iTunes right now. He shall remain nameless as the last SIX POSTS revolved around said name, and things are starting to get creepy and weird a bit excessive.

AT LEAST I ADMIT MY CRAZY.

ANYWAY.

I haven’t worked on either the Ben & Marina story or the Kate & Michael story in weeks. Things were dragging and sputtering as it was and I hadn’t put anything more than a handful of words down on the page in too long. Then I had a questionable dream that sparked a questionable writing idea that morphed into something completely different that I started cranking out dialogue for. (No, it wasn’t the Andy Grammer and a platypus dream…although…nevermind.) And then somehow that project reminded me of a character I created years ago and I had the brilliant idea to revive said character into a new storyline and now I’m sitting with two new projects that have been occupying my mind for a few weeks now.

Still writing. Just writing different things. Par for the course, I suppose. But frustrating nonetheless. I had made such significant progress on the Ben & Marina story and now…nothing.

When I wrote my “grand masterpieceChances Are…fourteen years ago…I created the Chance Records label. (And the Mountain Reel Pictures movie production company.) (Apparently there was once a real Chance Records label. But fourteen years ago I did not have internet access and had no way of Googling such things. ((Never mind that Google didn’t really exist then anyway…I suppose I could have Yahoo-ed it. But again…no internet.)) And I’m not about to change it when none of my writing will ever get published anyway.)

Where was I?

MY Chance Records.

Right.

I created the record label specifically for that story. When I was done with that project, the gears kept turning on the possibility of more CR artists. I know absolutely nothing about the music industry (as is glaringly obvious by anything I write about it) but writing about musicians fuels and feeds both my music obsession and my need to write, so it became a running theme through the past fourteen years of writing. There has been a lot of complete and utter crap produced, but there are a couple of projects that are still in the active pipeline.

In the Chances Are story, aside from the singing group named Chances Are, there was another CR artist that played a small but notable role in the timeline. Since its creation, I’ve kept a running list of CR artists and that one singer always stood out in my mind. Probably because he was the second ever CR artist. I don’t know that I ever really planned to revisit him as a potential story all on his own…but now he’s the focus of the latest Chance Records connected story, along with a few other reoccurring CR-related characters.

Sure it gets confusing as hell, but I like the idea of so many of my projects being interconnected like that.

Of course this particular project dredges up the problem with the Name Game all over again because one of the reoccurring CR-related characters is named KATE and…well…she has been Kate longer than any of the other Kates have been Kate so she gets to keep her name. For now. Unless I finally find something I like better. Which I don’t see happening.

But I won’t say never.

Yet.

I try to convince myself all of these Kates are okay because in each project Kate is short for something different. There are a lot of choices to derive the name Kate from. I could just start referring to all of them exclusively by their full name and eliminate any confusion between stories.

Or so I tell myself.

But I like to keep things as confusing as possible.

It’s what I do.

This is just a journey…

I keep flip-flopping between the Ben & Marina story and the Kate & Michael story. I’m probably making more progress in the former than the latter…60,000 words and counting…but I go back and forth when inspiration strikes and it keeps me writing.

The more I read through what I have written on the Kate & Michael project, the more I realize, I still have a problem with one of the names. I wasn’t entirely sold on it when I decided to use it, and the more I use it…the more it bothers me. Why? Because I named him Ben. Because clearly I like to repeat myself. We’ve been over this.

It wouldn’t be such a problem if he was a minor character, but he has a pretty hefty role in this tale I’m trying to tell so the name Ben for one of the main characters starts to get a little confusing when I go back and forth with the Ben & Marina story. Even if the two Bens are wildly different characters.

I don’t know why this character is so difficult to name, but I have a new one I might be willing to try. Hell I’ve already changed his name…twice from the original. Why not try out a fourth? Maybe the fourth time will be the winning ticket.

And that brings up the chore of find/replace to swap out all of the uses of Ben/Benny/Benjamin/et al…which…I am kind of terrified to know how many uses that is at this point. Considering the first time it was replacing 138 uses and the document was probably half as long at that point.

I guess I like to torture myself.

If I make this change and later decide I don’t like it…I’ll probably have to just stab myself in the eye with a spork. Either that or call him strictly by his last name and be done with it.

In the meantime, Parachute is the latest band to infiltrate the soundtracks to both stories with multiple songs a piece.

For Ben and Marina…

The mannequins? Totally creepy. But Will Anderson is kind of adorable with his big blue eyes.

For Kate and Michael…

This was different from the start…

My writing focus has been slowly shifting from Kate & Michael back to Ben & Marina. I figure as long as I’m working on one of those two projects right now, I’m fairly content with my writing situation.

I need to come up with proper titles for these projects. They are either referred to as the Kate & Michael story and the Ben & Marina story OR Freelancer FTP and Reunion from Hell respectively. Because every project has a code name that doesn’t make any sense and it takes forever to come up with an actual title I don’t hate.

I broke 50,000 words and a hundred pages on the Ben & Marina story. And that doesn’t include all of the side story/back story/future story that I’ve written. That is just in the main story.

I’m kind of proud of that actually.

And then I found a new song for the Ben and Marina soundtrack. One line in particular stands out in reference to them (Ben mostly). It fits incredibly well.

And it seems that every time we’re eye to eye
I can find another piece of you
That I don’t want to lose

ETA: Okay two. It explains Ben’s dating history quite well.
In the past I would try, try hard
To commit to a girl, wouldn’t get too far
It always somehow seemed to fall apart

Andy Grammer is kind of adorable.

Insanity is having its way with me…

I could design a drinking game solely around my writing. And we’d all be drunk by the end of the first page.

I haven’t been doing nearly as much writing lately, but I’ve been rereading a lot of what I’ve written in the past few months. The writing itself is not all that bad. Or at least some of it is decent.

The repetition?

HOLY SWEET CHRISTMAS, BATMAN, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?

I took the Kate & Michael project and copied and pasted the first line from the beginning of every scene written so far into a text file and then read it straight through. It was ridiculous.

And now what I really want to do is a bunch of searches through the entire document looking for certain key words just to see how much I actually repeat myself beyond the first line of each scene. I’m sure the results would be terrifying.

Every time someone…

…looks or glances up (typically from a computer or the TV)
…looks or glances up confused, surprised, or with a start
…walks into a room
…the doorbell “chimes” (someone usually looks up…from their computer…when this happens)
…collapses, slouches, or slumps in their seat
…pinches the bridge of their nose
…rolls their eyes
…shakes their head
…sighs (tiredly, frustrated, defeated)
…rolls their eyes while shaking their head and sighing
…pauses or freezes (mid-stride, walking into a room, looking or glancing up)
…massages their temple
…rubs their forehead
…drums their fingers absently
…props their head in their hand
…checks their phone (usually after it “buzzes” with a text message)
…eyes another person: levelly, closely, curiously, suspiciously, critically, skeptically, or concerned

And that’s probably not a complete list. That’s just some of the most common actions I consistently…obsessively…repeat all over the place in my writing. It’s like the blatant abuse of commas. It has to be some sort of psychosis.

Let me in your fascination…

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time building a soundtrack for Ben and Marina and the entire story surrounding them. I then proceeded to listen the fuck out of that playlist.

Because I’m obsessive like that.

When the gears started turning on the story of Kate and Michael, I realized a handful of the Ben and Marina songs could easily crossover. And then proceeded to start building the soundtrack of Kate and Michael. Including a few songs I stumbled across by sheer luck.

There is a list of artists in my music arsenal that are getting a hell of a lot of airplay these days.

I’m certainly not complaining.

A solid soundtrack can really make an otherwise mediocre movie fantastic. Why can’t the same be true for a book?

And then after I did my find/replace of the 138 uses of the name Joel, I decided I wasn’t happy with the current choice of character name and changed it all over again. I didn’t go back to Joel. I took a different route. And I think this one might stick.

Maybe.

If for no other reason than I’m tired of find/replacing 100-some instances of one freaking character.

Goddammit Joel whatever the hell your name is now.

Name Game…

When I’m developing a new story, I spend countless hours just naming the characters. I have multiple copies of baby name books and spend more time than I care to admit pouring over thousands of names trying to find the right fit. When all is said and done, I typically have a goto list that tends to repeat in most projects, but they’re names that I like and don’t mind using over and over again, as long as the characters of the same name aren’t essentially the same character from story to story. And even then, I end up using the names anyway because I am nothing if not a creature of habit.

I think almost every single story project I’ve worked on in my writing life has had a character named Matt. My fixation with the name Matthew and its subsequent nicknames has been long-standing. It would have been my middle name had I been born a boy. It was the name of my very favorite Mouseketeer, whom I loved so very much through my formative teen years. And it’s held by countless other celebrity crushes I’ve waxed obsessive about over the years.

Because it’s completely irrelevant: the top Matts of the list right now are Matt Hullum (hello, Rooster Teeth), Matt Nathanson (hello fucking talented…and pretty), and Matt Morris (because always).

Despite reoccurring in just about every project, the token Matt character varies greatly from story to story (as much as my characters vary…because if we’re being honest…they don’t). So even if it’s terribly repetitive to use the same name in every plot, it’s not the same character.

And then there are the other characters. Some names just click as soon as I put them down on the page. Others…go through countless renames before I find the right one. And even when I finally decide on a name, it doesn’t always fit just how I want it to. Sometimes I keep circling back to the same name because I can’t seem to picture that character with any other, even if it’s not quite right for the story. I’m running in circles with this naming dilemma right now with the current project (the Kate and Michael premise). I agonized over using the name Kate for a long time because there are at least three other projects in the pipeline with a character named Kate. And not just any character, she’s the main character. One project is inconsequential, one hasn’t been touched in…probably a year or more, and one…we’ll see yet. This one…as much as I scour name books, I keep circling back to Kate and can’t picture her with any other name. I don’t know why. There are a few other characters on the list that I’m having the same battle with, one of which is a fairly significant player in the game. And yet…when I named the character Michael…it fit and it stuck.

So where was I going with all of this? Hell if I know. But it’s not stopping me from babbling incoherently about it.

There has been one character in particular that has been giving me trouble in this current name game and, as per usual, I keep circling back to the same name even though it doesn’t quite fit. (The name in question being Joel. I landed on that name and then realized it just wasn’t going to work after writing fifty-some pages. But it’s stuck in my brain anyway. Because hello are you new???) So I’ve been racking my brain trying to find the right name for this character. I almost used Joe before I realized I had just named two important characters Mike and Joe and things just got awkward. The names on their own work fine in my head, but pairing them together gets a little weird.

I might have it figured out though. I was laying in bed trying to get to sleep (*snirt* riiiiight) and a dim light bulb went off. I’ll have to find/replace all and see how things read. Even if find/replace all isn’t going to quite work because there are nicknames involved and I’d be better off finding each instance of Joel individually and picking and chosing which name or nickname fits best in a given place. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t used the name Joel 138 times so far in this fekking project.

I am a glutton for punishment.

Clearly.

Goddammit, Joel.