Holidaze

Happy Holidays!

There. Now that I have formally declared War on Christmas, we can proceed.

This time of year is very nearly non stop holidays for me. Birthday, Thanksgiving, another Birthday, Christmas then New Years Day all within ten to twenty days of each other. There will be a brief respite in January before the anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and then another Birthday come around in February. So I’m a little distracted.

There are a little more than a dozen scenes left to write in my current work in progress. Most of those will be short late breaking news style developments as it rolls towards the conflagration at the end. The final chapter I’ve had in mind since the story idea first hit me. I remarked at some point on Twitter, that if I had any plot holes in the WIP, I could fill them with bullets, and it would work, because it’s noir!  But I believe every question gets answered by the end. I am hopeful that it may be finished by the end of the year, but I don’t do deadlines. I mostly do touchy-feely “is this right for the story?” style check-ins with my muses. Crazy, I know.

Some more of my poems will be published this spring. When that magazine comes out, I’ll have more details. Other poems are out on submission and we’ll see what happens with those. With response times being what they are, I might not know until mid 2018. It is a goal of mine to have the collection submitted next year. There are a few presses I’ve looked into so far, but no decision has been made on that just yet. That too, will lead to more waiting. Everything always takes longer than I expect. Just the way it goes.

One fun thing we were able to do during this Holidaze season, was right after my favorite holiday (Halloween) we got to go to Tucson Comic Con, and it was on the same weekend as the Day of the Dead. So…comics and getting to see the All Souls Procession for the first time! It was the perfect weekend.

I love everything about ComicCon. The comics, the people who like them, the awesome artist’s booths that are always there, the cosplayers, you name it. The celebrity guests are cool too. This year I actually did a photo op for the first time, because it was Gates McFadden! of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In previous years, I’ve attended signings by some of my favorites like Ray Park and Nichelle Nichols, but had never taken part in one of the photo ops. So that was a bit of a different experience. She’s a nice lady. It was a much more brief interaction than the signings, once they verify that the image the photographer has taken is good, they have to move on to the next person in line. When I met Ray Park at the El Paso SciFiCon signing, we had time to chat about martial arts while he was signing my Snake Eyes print. While we were talking, I asked him about the Sleepy Hollow promotional posters he had at his table, and confessed that I had no idea he was in it. He confirmed that he was the Headless Horseman for the fight scenes, and signed one of those for me as well! Which was awesome and unexpected. He’s just a really nice guy. I mention this for a couple of reasons: one, I have been very fortunate in all the interactions I have had as a fan with actors, rock stars, and athletes. All of them have been very kind and approachable. Also, the other personal highlight of this comic con for me, related to fight scenes as well.

Just like that earlier convention, when I randomly one day picked up a copy of What’s Up magazine at a convenience store a few days before the event and the wind blew it open to the page where the first words I read were El Paso SciFi Convention, and the second thing I saw was the name Ray Park. Naturally, my first thought was Ray Park!? I. Am. There. The Force was with me. It knew I’d want to meet Ray, so it made sure that happened. I had the same feeling of serendipity when I saw this on the Tucson ComicCon schedule: The Fundamentals of Fight Scenes.  

If I had come for no other reason, it would have been perfect timing. That other project that I have sometimes mentioned in passing, will involve a lot of fight scenes. While I have (albeit around twenty years ago) taken acting classes, and even an acting for TV and Film class specifically, and I’ve been involved in numerous martial arts demonstrations over the years, both in Kung Fu and Capoeira–I had never actually worked on a choreographed fight sequence for stage or film. Sure, back when I was studying and teaching martial arts actively, we goofed off and recreated some of our favorite Kung Fu movie moments, or made up new ones to entertain ourselves–but that was just for fun.

As that workshop showed me, (it was much more of a workshop, than a panel) staging that kind of choreography to entertain other people–whether that is from the camera’s perspective, or that of where a live audience will be–is very different. There are distances and angles at which our depth perception fails us, and we will totally believe what we are seeing from our perspective. There is an art to it that is just as intricate and challenging as full contact sparring, but the distancing and timing are very different for obvious reasons. This panel answered some of the questions I was planning on asking some of my old Kung Fu and Wushu teachers about, and gave me a very good idea of how I need to be working on things as I develop this project.

After all that, the awesome comics I got (including some Snake Eyes, the Falcon mini series, a cool issue of Marvel team up with the Sons of the Tiger, and the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #19 featuring the very first appearance of the original White Tiger!), we walked down to see the All Souls Procession which was quite an experience. Even with the sullen teen and angsty tween pestering us to just go home already.

So…that was Nov. 3-5th. Meant to write about it earlier, but stuff keeps happening. Now I’m shopping for things for two weeks from now and two weeks after that, and then a month and a half after that. Oh, and everything else I have to do. If you don’t hear from me til oh…somewhere around February 27th or so, it’s the holidaze.

 

Happy Halloween

 

Writing over here gets done in between other tasks. Or after everyone else has gone to sleep. During this fall break, one of those times has been pushed back to late night hours. Progress is made. Slowly, but surely.

A few nights ago, I got word one of my poems will be appearing in the fall issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine! I’m very happy with that, as that particular poem is one of my personal favorites. That may be the only one to find a home from that last round of submissions. Waiting on word from one last literary journal, and then it will be time to pick my next shots.

Those next shots will be a cross genre combination, because as soon as I’ve typed the last words into the novel’s second draft, it will be time to query on that. Once that process begins, I’m hoping to have the time to haul out novel number one, wheel it into the operating room and try to make that Frankenstein monster live. ‘Tis the season.

In one of my other projects, there are three scripts completed, and I am beginning to break down the next three for whenever there is time to start on those story drafts. If I’m lucky, sometime this fall or winter I’ll be able to have some of my mentors look the project over and give me some feedback on it. From there, we’ll get a much better idea of where to take it.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’m now going to go do nothing but decorate, dress up and take selfies with seasonal filters on until it’s over!

Have wonderful Nightmares before Christmas, everyone.

 

 

 

7/7/17

Today is an empty box on the calendar. It’s Friday, which is great, but nothing is scheduled to happen today.

Things that are in the process of happening:

Writing the first of the final chapters in novel #2.
The Nook release of Hidden Leaves will be soon.
Ten poems are out on submission, five are ‘in progress’ in Submittable.
Three scripts are complete in another project. (Story drafts)

My first beta reader has read through all of my current manuscript and pronounced it good. She reads a lot of mysteries, and her comments were encouraging. It’s important to me that it works as a mystery, leaving aside the elements of the story that are more urban fantasy or paranormal. There will be a few more beta readers added after the manuscript is complete.

That’s it!

Time for more coffee and typing.

I hope everyone has a great Friday and an even better weekend.

Character counts

During my last read through of the manuscript for Ghosts of Autumn, I counted character names. Not just any character with a name, but those that are key to the story. They are not all “main” characters, but each moves the story forward in some crucial way.

There are of course many other characters named in the book. Some are in scenes with the primary characters that have the most dialogue, others are named but have no lines or never appear in a scene, and there has even been a couple that were given lines but were not given names. Those were crowded scenes.

As of this post, the story is about 85-90% complete, and there are 45 characters that have large parts in it, or whose parts moved the story forward in various ways.

Those are the characters that advance the plot through their words and actions consistently. At times, some of them have changed the entire trajectory of a scene because a character moment occurred that I didn’t see coming until I got there. That time Lieutenant Blanco quoted my protagonist, Detective Vincent Salvati, as saying “you can’t spell Deacon without OCD.” comes to mind. It seems an offhand comment in the scene, but it was an important character moment for all three of them. Salvati never says this in the book, he is only quoted as “always” saying it. The scene was going somewhere else up to that point, but that was too good to pass up. It has Salvati’s sarcasm, Blanco’s bluntness, and tells the reader something they might not have noticed about Detective Deacon up to that point. All in one line.

There are a lot of moments like that where scenes turned on a character’s personality. I like this cast of characters a great deal. Even when they don’t do what I tell them.

Contrast

A stately procession

of perfect silhouettes

cast in proper fashion

of shadow play etiquette

dissembling (i

t

s

da

mna

b

ly

gninedaed

Projected princes, princesses

Kings, Queens and combatants

a pantomime of yesterdays

successors and advancements

we are

tahw

we

yldetaeper

d

o,

dearie

os t’nod eb a teppup

–turn things on their heads!

–nrut sdaeh no rieht sgniht!

Why not?

© 2016 Peter Newland


Ideas. Where do they come from, anyway?

This poem is one that isn’t going to be submitted again. (It was part of one submission last year as a counterbalance to the more structured poems that I was trying to sell at the time, but no dice). It’s one of those that doesn’t fit anywhere. It may be in the collection I put out whenever there is enough of them to call it a collection. It is interesting, but was just a weird little experiment in styling with some e.e. cummings influenced word play and formatting fun.

It could have gone on, with the same contrasting verses style, but it would have been just more of the same. It’s the rare poem that holds my attention and genuine interest beyond a page length. Once you’ve got the idea across (whatever it is) it is done. Poems are odd things anyway. Even poets don’t always like poetry. I’ve written songs, stories, poems and essays, and every other form of writing is easier to access, understand and comment upon.

It depends as much on mood in the moment of reading as it does on anything else, really. In putting together recent submissions, one day I might feel a verse truly missed the mark, and on another might not see anything else that could have been done with it to convey that idea. So I can understand how someone might look at the above and think “WTF is this crap?” I have myself. At other times, it seems okay. It is just a sort of short hand Socratic dialogue in verse form. “Contrast” is point-counterpoint, call and response structured and non in the same poem.

It is just discussing the pretense we engage in when we structure expression along certain lines, which can be done beautifully, but is a contrivance. So the imagery of pomp and circumstance in some measured, precise lines and then the Jester says “yeah… screw that.

It was fun.

Some of the other poems I’ve struggled with recently are more structured. Some seem to write themselves and the expression of the idea is not terribly difficult to fit into the form I’ve selected. Other times, it’s just brutal. Yes, if we keep working at it, we can always craft the verses into something workable. If we do it well enough, we may even find a way to keep the meaning we intended clear. It’s only when we somehow surpass even that stage that our meaning might be conveyed to a reader  without too much pondering on their part. Writing evocatively becomes more challenging when you are restricted to fewer words. Everyone should try writing poetry and songs, even if that isn’t really their thing. Just making the effort can teach us a great deal.