Tag Archives: writing

Monday Morning Ramblings

I started the last chapter of book three last night.  That’s staggering to me.  I’ve finished three other manuscripts, and each one is a unique experience.  When the last line is written, there’s a moment of disbelief quickly followed by a rush of euphoria.  Weeks, months, and in this case years of hard work are finished, and even though there will still be editing and polishing, the framework of the story is complete.  It’s a feeling that I can only compare to the birth of  my children.  Obviously, their births are more profound, but the feeling is similar.

So sometime either this week or after I take the kids back to Jacksonville, I will complete this book, and I will get to experience for the fourth time in my life that sensation of accomplishment.  I have a suspicion that this one will be more special than the others.  I don’t know what the emotions will be specifically, but I’m certain they will be intense and overwhelming.

My hope is that this book is better than the first two.  The overall story has reached its zenith, and I do feel more mature as a writer.  Hopefully, the book is as compelling to my readers as it seems to me, but you can never tell.  Often, when a writer feels really good about a piece, readers don’t have the same connection to it.  That’s why I’m a little leery.  I feel like it’s a strong manuscript, but I’m worried how others will take it.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday Morning Ramblings

I’m almost finished with chapter 13 of book three, which means only one more to go.  Once I’m through with 13, the final one will be much easier to write because it’s not so intense.  Last night, the enormity of finally finishing this book hit me and nearly overwhelmed me.  I was truly a different person when I began writing the first chapter.  My life revolved around being a father and provider.  Today, while being a father is still my focal point, the reality is that I live alone, and the intense roller-coaster ride of these last three years has forever changed the person I am.

In some ways, those changes are for the better.  I now see that a person cannot change no matter how much they hope for it; some wounds are too deep to heal.  I also understand more clearly that love and compatibility are too different things, and love alone is not enough to sustain a relationship.  From the separation from my kids, I have learned just how much inner strength I have.  Unless you have endured that pain, you cannot understand it, and while there have been times that I’ve wanted to lay down and quit, my inner resolve has not allowed me to.  That’s good to know about myself.

Not all of the changes are for the better.  I am a somewhat colder person than before.  My trust is damaged.  I have less patience for people’s bullshit.  I am much more angry and bitter.

When I look back at who I was 32 months ago when I started this book, the distance feels enormous, but here I am writing the climactic scene exactly as I envisioned it.  I can’t believe the fruit didn’t rot on the vine.  When I do finally finish the rough draft of this manuscript, I will celebrate, and then I will go get my kids and play with them for a couple of weeks.  No matter what else, I am a blessed man.

Friday Afternoon Ramblings

There aren’t words to express how much I love writing.  It’s fulfilling in a way that nothing else can compare to.  The only thing more fulfilling, even though it’s different, is the time I get to share with the boys.  I’ve heard others talk about their creative process in a similar light as I do.  Flannery O’Connor comes to mind.  She said that as she wrote, she smiled like the Cheshire Cat.  I’ve also heard others who felt tortured by it.  Haruki Murakami likened writing a novel to releasing a toxin into the body and only those who have the strength to suppress the toxin can complete a book.  On one level, I understand what he means.  The process from inception to completion is exhausting, but I wouldn’t compare my creative energy to anything so negative.

Instead, for me, it’s like swimming in a naturally warm spring, where the water is always 78 degrees, and each night as I sink into the spring, my body and mind relax.  I’m no longer here in this place; I’m somewhere else, barely a conscious being, and a primitive part of the universe is moving through me unchallenged.  Like most transcendental experiences, it’s hard to put into accurate words.

Chapter 11 is coming along nicely, now that I figured out the stumbling block.  The next couple of scenes will be pretty fun to write, and I hope to have this chapter completed over the weekend.  Then, I’ll just have three more chapters to finish, so the end of June looks really good for completion of the rough draft.  When it’s done, I’ll dive into the editing full throttle, but I will not cut corners.  This book will not be rushed to market, not for any reason.  I want this one to be good, much better than the first two, and the only way to achieve that end is to focus on the rewriting with painstaking attention to detail.

Check back for more updates over the weekend.

www.thirdaxe.com

Monday Afternoon Ramblings

One of the best TV series of all time came to a close last night, and unlike shows like the Sopranos that ended with a gutless, wishy-washy, open-for-interpretation cop out or Sex and the City that went the sentimental route, or countless other series that ended on a whimper, the series finale for Lost was nearly perfect.

As a storyteller, I’ve been impressed season after season at the continuity of the show despite the immense scope of the plot lines.  A couple of years ago, I heard an interview with the man who was in charge of tracking all of the character interactions, who met when and how, likes and dislikes, the day in day out minutiae that many of us storytellers take for granted because we’re working on one project for a given amount of time and have a limited number of main characters.  For most projects, one person can keep up with everything with a minimal amount of effort.  However, Lost, with its multitude of primary characters and plethora of supporting characters spread out over a six year period, needed an archivist to keep the writers straight.  That fact alone is impressive.

Another great admiration for the show was the character development.  Each season, the characters grew, regressed, matured, changed allegiances, and suffered, and within the confines of the story, they were nearly always believable as true-to-life.  Again, as a storyteller, I’m impressed with how the writers were able to maintain that verisimilitude over an extended period.

Probably the thing I loved most about the series was that it was smart.  The creators didn’t dumb-down the show to appeal to a broader audience; they didn’t back off of planting cultural nuggets like important pieces of art or great works of literature into scenes to challenge the audience.  In fact, they seemed to relish the opportunity to make the show intellectually stimulating.  As a fan, I loved that.

Last night, the series finale made me cry more than once, and I’m not often moved to tears by a TV show.  The scene when Jin’s memory is triggered by seeing his daughter’s ultrasound was one of the most moving moments of television I’ve ever experienced.  In part, that’s because of my own memory of that first ultrasound, but also because it was so realistic to me.  Each of the “awakenings” was triggered by some connection to love, and even though he never got to meet his daughter in person, his paternal love was so strong that seeing her heartbeat on the ultrasound was enough to make him whole.  In terms of storytelling, that moment was sublime, and I reserve use of that word for only truly transcendental moments.  To me, that scene qualifies as sublime.

The other amazingly beautiful moment occurred between Benjamin Linus and John Locke at the end of the show when Ben apologizes for all he had done.  That moment of humility and penitence was sincere and moving.  The fact that Ben realized he wasn’t ready to move on and needed more time to sort through his personal issues is what kept the scene from wandering into the sentimental.  He was a deeply flawed character but was headed in the right direction.  Locke forgiving him was an encapsulation of what all spirituality is supposed to be: forgiveness and reconciliation.

I’m sad to see the series end, but I’m glad it’s closing on such a strong note.  Few TV series can claim that they ended before they grew stale and tired, but Lost can honestly make that statement.

www.thirdaxe.com

Thursday Morning Ramblings

My goal is to get back to work on book three tonight.  Last summer, I had so much good momentum before school started back, and then, duel enrollment completely derailed me.  I only have about 4 1/2 chapters to write, so the manuscript will be completed by the end of June.  Then, I’ll get to work on editing and polishing.  With any luck, the book will still be launched by Labor Day.

To my friends and readers, my apologies for taking so long with this book.  It seems as if life has gotten in the way of this one at every turn.  The story is pretty good, and a lot of the central plot points of the series begin to come into focus, so hopefully, the wait will be worth it.  For now, please believe that I’m as disappointed as anyone that this book has taken so long to complete.  I had hoped to be well into book four by now, but like I said, life has gotten in the way.

On a positive note, I will be releasing a few previews over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on the blog for that.

www.thirdaxe.com

Andy Deane Ramblings

For my readers who aren’t familiar with him, Andy Deane is the lead singer of Bella Morte and author of The Sticks.

Here is our interview:

D. A. Adams:  How old were you when you first got involved with music?  Can you remember what the original allure was?

Andy Deane:  Well, if you want to go all the way back to me doing a shitty job of applying make-up to try and look like my favorite guy in KISS, Gene Simmons, I’ll say five or six.  My mom sang all the time when I was a kid as did the rest of the family on her side. So, I was just surrounded by it from the time I understood what music was.  Singing was natural to me, something I assumed everyone did.

DA:  Can you describe your creative process for music?

Andy:  A melody will jump into my head for no reason at all at the oddest times.  Like, an idea for a ballad will strike me while I’m walking down the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. I don’t know why the hell it happens, but I guess I’m glad it does.  Once I get back to my studio I often start by laying down some simple chords set to a loop and build on that foundation until I finish the song.  I write most of my vocal melodies by singing nonsense in a stream of conscience fashion, then apply words to what I come up with.

DA:  How was developing a solo project different from playing with your band?

Andy:  Things happen a lot faster when I’m flying solo as The Rain Within.  I write the song and add the vocals, record it as I go.  As a band, we collaborate, so sometimes I’ll wait for Tony to write his guitar line before I solidify what I’m doing vocally.  And the recording process requires a lot of coordinating schedules and such.  There are advantages to both methods.  I love being surprised by a new riff or drum beat one of the guys in Bella Morte will deliver, sometimes forcing me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve probably added an octave to my range over the years because of it.

DA:  You’ve stated that you started writing novels just to pass the time while touring with the band, but what made you choose writing as opposed to say photography or painting?

Andy:  I never started painting because I suck at it.  Really, I got to third grade and my talent as a visual artist slammed on the brakes and hasn’t budged.  Even my stick figures look like refried dogshit.  As for photography, I just never took an interest in it.  Writing was, like music, something I’ve loved since I was young.  I’ve been writing short stories for as long as I can remember, and my dad was called in to speak with the school guidance counselor in 1st, 9th and 12th grade due to their content.  I tell you, teachers do not like hearing about humans being carved up, that’s for damn sure.  My first novel, The Sticks, started as a short story and just kept growing as I’d kill time in the van traveling from city to city.

DA:  Since music is typically a collaborative effort and writing is primarily a solitary endeavor (just the writing, not the editing and publishing), can you explain the difference in your creative process for writing your novels?

Andy:  You know, writing a novel was the first artistic endeavor I ever undertook completely on my own, and I think the process is what got me wanting to record a solo album.  But yeah, the two are very different.  With writing, aside from my editor there’s no one I have to cooperate with on a tough decision.  What comes out of my head goes onto paper and that’s the end of the discussion.  Bella Morte doesn’t release a song until all the members are happy with it, so sometimes you’ll lose a battle about where a song should go or what chords should make up the chorus.

DA:  What’s it like to juggle success in such vastly different media?

Andy:  I would consider it much more of a struggle if I were only doing one or the other.  My bands give me an outlet for my books and a group of fans who want to read it based on their interest in my music.  It works the other way too.  I don’t know that The Sticks would have sold so well was it not for word spreading so quickly through the Bella Morte fanbase.  The fans read and liked it, and told their friends about it.

DA:  Whether we’re discussing music, writing, or life in general, who are your biggest influences?

Andy:  My dad has had the biggest influence on me.  He’s a great guy, and the hardest worker I’ve ever known.  He gave me a lot of freedom as a kid, let me choose my own path.  Makes you wonder what the hell he was thinking. (grins)

DA:  I can honestly say that you are one of the most friendly, most down to earth people I’ve met, yet at the same time, also one of the most vivacious and charismatic.  How do you manage that balance?

Andy:  It’s a unique concoction of exfoliating creams and crack cocaine.  Ha!  But really, I’m just myself.  I’ve never tried to be anyone I’m not, and I don’t seem to have the ability to tone down my behavior for anything.  I guess I just feel lucky.  I’m not rich, but I’m getting paid to make music and write stories.  That’s pretty damn awesome if you ask me, and I’m thankful as hell to the folks out there who’ve made it possible.

DA:  What’s your most memorable moment from your career so far?  How did that experience affect you?

Andy:  Well, one time when the band was on tour in Salt Lake City we stopped in to Wendy’s for a bite to eat.  One of the guys went to the bathroom, came out red-faced and laughing, told me I needed to go take a look.  Long story short, what I saw in that bathroom will forever be branded on my memory. A severely obese man stood before, covered, literally, from head to toe in his own feces, wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers.  This scene will absolutely appear in one of my upcoming novels.  Absolutely.  Ahem.  Aside from that, stepping onto stage for the first time in Europe was a big deal, a true feeling of accomplishment.  Holding a Bella Morte CD in my hand for the first time.  Receiving my first printed copy of The Sticks.  And then there are the bad times that are so meaningful in retrospect, like when our van broke down in the middle of the desert and we had to scramble to find a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation to get to the next show.  It was scary, but we kept one another’s spirits up, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop laughing about it now that it’s behind us.  It’s times like that that show you who your real friends are.

DA:  What would you like your fans to know about you as a person?

Andy:  That I’m a normal dude.  That I’m approachable.

DA:  Any parting thoughts?

Andy:  Well, since we’re both Steelers fans, let’s hope for a 7th title this season!  Also, I’ve got several releases coming out this year:  Thunderstorm Books is releasing my novella The Third House this spring and my novel All the Darkness in the World in the fall.  I’ve got a solo album under the name “The Rain Within” hitting stores this summer and a new Bella Morte album coming this fall.  Everyone reading this needs all of these things. Desperately.

DA:  How can your fans find you?

Andy:  My website is AndyDeane.net, my twitter account can be found at twitter.com/Andy_Deane.  Or they can do a search for me on Facebook.  Also, I am often spotted at Taco Bell franchises around the country between noon and one, and five and six.

www.thirdaxe.com

Stephen Zimmer Ramblings

The following is an interview with author, filmmaker, and all-around good person, Stephen Zimmer.  He is the author of The Rising Dawn Saga and Fires in Eden series and contributor for Seventh Star Blog.

D. A. Adams:  What first got you into storytelling? What was the allure?

STEPHEN ZIMMER:  Storytelling has been with me since my mom first read me The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud, a chapter or so a night, when I was about 7. I’ve always tilted towards fantasy, in the movies and television that I’ve gravitated towards, as well as the books I have been drawn to.

The allure is to immerse myself in fantastical worlds, and to depart Mundania (with a nod to Piers Anthony on that word!). I’ve never thought that the world that we live in is “it”, and loads of mystics and theoretical physicists agree with me on that notion! Fantasy gives me the best chance to explore wild and wonderful worlds in this life, and storytelling provides a medium to craft some of these adventures into something that I can share with others. What are we waiting for? Let’s go!

DA: Outside of literary or film influences, what has shaped your artistic vision more than anything?

ZIMMER:  Dreams. Literally. I am fortunate to have very vivid, powerful dreams on a very regular basis, some incredibly life-like. The things that I experience and see in them often inspires me artistically, and really has had an impact on me. I look forward to adventures when I sleep, believe it or not! I’m fascinated by consciousness, and feel that it is a true unexplored frontier!

DA: Where would you like to be in five years in terms of your career?

ZIMMER:   I would like to have a nice timber A-frame high on a mountain close to the mountain where D.A. Adams’ woodland retreat is located, so we can hang out more often, go fishing, discuss the finer points of rock music, etc.!

Seriously, I would like to have the first 4 or 5 titles out in both The Rising Dawn Saga and Fires in Eden series, continuing a year-round appearance schedule. I would also like to have a release or two out in the horror genre, and perhaps some short stories in some quality anthologies, or maybe even a themed collection of short stories that I’ve done.

On the film side of things, I would like to be making modestly budgeted independent features, most hopefully in the fantasy genre. 1 feature a year would be great.  Between film and books, I hope to do just well enough that I can make a living just from my endeavors in these areas.

DA: When I was a naïve college student, my friends and I would discuss creating the literary movement of our generation. Now, as small-press and independent writers, you and I are part of a movement away from the New York epicenter. How do you see this movement evolving over the next generation or two?

ZIMMER:  It is a brave new world in many respects. The barriers are falling down in some ways, especially with eBooks. However, as with music, it could result in a deluge of releases, and make it a little more difficult to get your work noticed, reviewed, or seen. I take it one day at a time, as there are so many unpredictable factors that have yet to play out fully. Will eBooks really overtake print, or will they co-exist? What effect will piracy have on eBooks? Without bookstores, who is going to be hosting reading clubs, advocating new authors, exposing new authors via readings, etc.  in a digital world? The word of mouth that occurs between people at bookstores, browsing the fantasy sections, etc. can’t be underestimated.

Overall, I would have to say that there is going to be an upswing in credibility regarding small press and independent authors, and the accessibility is going to increase in a digital world, but exposure and promotion are going to be very, very difficult if the music and film worlds indicate anything. My heart goes out to talented, seriously-minded independent rock bands that are in an ocean of bands putting out mp3’s everywhere, who have declining options for live clubs, radio, independent music stores etc. It is harder than ever to be heard and talked about, and I hope that it doesn’t become similarly difficult for authors to be read/reviewed/exposed.

DA: What would like your readers to know about you?

ZIMMER:  I wish they could see just how immensely dedicated I am to my work and to them. From the time spent writing and researching, to setting up as active of an appearance schedule as possible, so that the folks that enjoy my work can visit with me in person easier, I really value my readers and want to give them the best work and support that I possibly can. They are my friends, as they enable me to do what I love to do. If they commit to reading my series, I must return that commitment 10 fold on my end to give every aspect of being an author a 150% effort, as they deserve nothing less. Without readers, authors are pretty useless!

DA: We’ve discussed in private conversations the financial strain of being a “new” writer.  Do feel like this struggle has had a positive or a negative effect on your creativity?

ZIMMER:  I have to say that financial strain is mostly not a positive thing, but it does have its uses. Having to pull a late night drive after an event so that you can save on a hotel room is something that I wish I didn’t have to do, for one example of a negative. I wish I could take advantage of every promotional opportunity I encounter. But having thin resources does discipline you and makes you a better planner, I believe. I can see improvement in my planning in just the past couple of years, and am getting more out of the money I allocate out of my pocket to sustain my activities, appearances, etc.

DA: You and I met on the Con-circuit. Do you enjoy Con weekends?  If so, what do you find most fascinating about fandom?

ZIMMER:  I really do enjoy Con weekends! It’s my kind of crowd for sure! I love everything about it, the atmosphere, the new friends you meet (like you), the unpredictability, the learning (even when you are on a panel, you learn from the audience!), and so much more. I always hate that melancholy feeling that hits at the end of a con, when dealers are breaking their tables down, and attendees are rolling their luggage out.  It is really its own world, and it’s a wonderful one. The thing that fascinates me the most is that there is a real sense of community and “we’re in this together” mentality that resonates through fantasy/sci-fi/horror related Cons.

Also, I do not see the provincialism that plagues other writing circles, in other genres. The fantasy/sci-fi/horror writers really do help each other out and pull for each other, at least from what I’ve seen. (and in doing so, they push everyone higher, as JFK said, “a rising tide lifts all ships”)

DA: Any parting thoughts?

ZIMMER:  I really encourage people to give small press/independent authors and publishers a chance. Obviously, I’m a little biased, being a small press author myself, but there is a very logical and objective reason as well. The major publishers are shrinking and paring down their rosters, a trend that has resulted in many mid-list authors that are now working with small press outlets. Additionally, as the big publisher’s rosters are smaller and their schedules tighten, they are not as likely to take big chances with releases unless they can really project some success according to an established model. This means that small press is where a lot of the risk-taking and ground-breaking in the genre is truly occurring nowadays. The quality of writing is most certainly there in the small press world, as anyone who has read, to name just a few examples, Jackie Gamber, Lettie Prell, Elizabeth Donald, H. David Blalock, TammyJo Eckart, or D.A. Adams can attest!