Posts Tagged ‘Rose’

Life is rarely straightforward. That is a fact. People change, or their thoughts and feelings change, new paths open up in front of you, and your understanding of the world never fits in the box you want it to (that last one isn’t really relevant to what I’m going to talk about here, but I felt like stating it anyway). And my life and feelings have changed. I need a break from what I’m doing right now. I need to do something different if I’m to pursue my goals in life.

With that said, I need to shut down Rami Ungar the Writer. At least for a little while.

I’m kidding. But for a split second, you bought that. You did, and it worried you for a little bit.

No, what I really mean is that I need to take a break from Full Circle. A very long break.

You see, I’ve been working on that novel since November, eight months in total. And I’ve only taken some occasional breaks, each working on a couple of short stories, and then getting back into it. And you know what? I’m a little burnt out. Normally by this time, I’m already finished with the first draft, but I’m only a little over the halfway point. And when I think of getting into the next chapter, I’m filled with dread, because it’s likely going to be a long chapter, and I’ve been dealing with this story for eight months straight, and it has not been easy at times.

All writers get like this. Yeah, we do. There are times when we’ve devoted so much energy to a story, that we need a break if we’re to give it more and give it the energy it needs. And honestly, I’m at that point. It’s nothing I did wrong or anyone else did wrong. There’s nothing big in my life that’s making me super happy or super miserable, thus causing me to think, “I can’t work on finishing the Reborn City trilogy right now.” Nope, it’s just me needing some distance and the chance to work on something else. And I need a long something else. Because if I take on a project, and it only lasts a month at most, I won’t be ready to work on Full Circle again. I’d be ready to bang my head against a wall in frustration, but I wouldn’t be ready for FC again.

Which is why I have the perfect project:

Some of you may recall that during my last year of college, I wrote a novel called Rose as my thesis. The story was about a young woman with amnesia who starts transforming into a plant creature. And that may sound comical, but it’s actually pretty dark, exploring themes of dependence and abuse in romantic relationships, as well as how memory, truth, and falsehoods can shape not just our perceptions of others, but of ourselves. It was a challenging novel, to say the least, but I managed to get two drafts of it written between August 2014 and April 2015, and they turned out okay. I let it lie for a while when I was in Germany and during my job search, and tried working on it again after I moved into my new apartment and started my job. For a number of reasons, it didn’t go well. Mostly because I didn’t have a plan for editing it beyond, “Let’s sit down in front of the computer and see what happens.”

My new project: the third draft of Rose.

But since then, I figured out a plan to help me get along with editing in general (see my post on that on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. It has a similar opening to this blog post). I’ve also had plenty of time to think about changes I’d like to make to the story, and to the characters, and I’ve really been itching to take a crack at it again. And I’m pretty sure that, once I get another draft of Rose done, I’d be ready to send this story to an editor, and then maybe to an agent or publishing house.

So starting very soon, I’ll be taking another dive into Rose. It probably won’t happen until after I get back from Boston, but after that and I’ve done all the travelogues and checked my new digital recorder for ghost voices, you can bet that I’ll be working on my new project with gusto. Until then, Followers of Fear, wish me luck as I work on a couple new blog posts, and as I prepare myself mentally and emotionally for what will hopefully be a very successful third draft and a very refreshing break.

Pleasant nightmares!

I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. When I do, they usually don’t last longer than a month or even a week.  But this year, I decided to break from tradition and actually make a resolution: to try new methods to get people interested in my writing. This decision was partially spurred by my earlier decision to try and find a literary agent, as well as from reading a book on marketing and realizing that I needed to change my approach to how I was getting people interested in my fiction.

It’s a hard market out there. If what you’re doing isn’t working, maybe you should try something new.

So if you’re still here and you’re not thinking, “Oh, this is just one of those posts where he blathers on about what’s going on with him and his life”, then you’re probably thinking “How is he doing with that resolution, then?” and “How did he change his approach?”Well, I like to think that so far, so good. This isn’t the sort of resolution that can be objectively measured, like losing so many pounds or bringing your academic scores up. I could measure it by new followers, but not all followers read posts frequently, and only a small fraction are willing to spend money on my books. Book sales can be an indication, as can reads on Wattpad, but to base my success solely on those factors doesn’t seem the wisest course to me. And finally, building an audience is a long and arduous process. This blog took five years to gain as many followers as it has, after all. An audience of readers interested in my books might take even longer.

It’s easier to talk about what I’m doing different. One thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped doing ads through Facebook and Twitter. Unless you have of big budget like Coca-Cola’s advertising department, ads through those sites usually don’t translate into sales. At the very least, I’m saving money, and that’s never a bad thing.

Another thing I’ve been doing is related to my goal of trying the traditional route again and finding a publisher. That is focusing more on my niche, which is horror. I know, I’ve written and published a lot of sci-fi, but I prefer horror, and what I’m trying to do now is to write more horror stories and trying to get them published in magazines and anthologies. I’m still working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series, but I’m also devoting more time to horror. The hope is that I can produce enough work and get it published in magazines, building my name as all or a writer, thereby making myself a bit more attractive to horror fans and possibly literary agents and/or publishers.

As of yet, I’ve only submitted one short story, and I’m still waiting to hear back on it. But the next time I take a break from Full Circle, I plan to do some editing and writing, and see what happens. The goal here is to at least get a couple stories published by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).

A third method I’m trying, and this is already producing results, is I’ve started publishing through Wattpad again. Last month, I published my sci-fi novelette Gynoid on that website, and so far I’ve had a positive feedback. There’s been quite a few readers, a couple of votes (which is kind of like “Likes” for that platform), and even a comment or two. One of those comments was from someone who was very relieved to see a certain outcome for one of the characters. That particular comment made me feel very happy, because it showed that the story I wrote and the characters within had people invested.

Sure, Wattpad doesn’t make me any money, but it does give me an audience. And based on Gynoid’s success, I may publish more stories through the website in future, especially for stories that might have a hard time getting placed in magazines.

So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s a multipronged approach, which is usually what is recommended for any big endeavor like this. Later this year, after I finished the first draft of Full Circle, I plan on editing Rose and shopping that around to agents. Rose really represents not only my growth as a writer, but it is a prime example of the niche I want to write for, so I feel that’s the best novel to shop around to agents and publishing companies. I’m also considering different social media platforms to try out, like Goodreads and Reddit (I know one person who is very active on one of those sites, so I may ask her for advice). If it can work, anything’s on the table.

For now though, I’m just focusing on focusing on my niche and finishing Full Circle. Any resolution that is to be successful takes time, proper planning, and patience. I want this to go well, so I’m not going to rush any of the steps I’m taking to further widen my audience. Will any of it work? Tough to say. But I’m an optimist at heart, and I like to think that this new approach will eventually yield results.

And if you are interested, I’ll give an update in a couple of months or at the end of the year, and let you know how I’m doing. In the meantime, if any of you have any tips on expanding my audience, or places I can look for an agent/publisher, or places that I could potentially publish my stories, let me know. If they work out, I’ll credit you in any post I write about it.

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, so wish me luck. And thank you, as always, for supporting me as I work hard on becoming a great horror novelist.

As many of you know, I’m cutting the number of blog posts I do every month down to two (unless I have something special to talk about, in which case we may get one or two more here), so I can use what little time I have to actually get some fiction writing done. And I thought, what better way to start this than to list all the things I’m doing?

Well, actually there are probably a lot better things I could talk about, but all writers are at least slightly narcissistic. Why else do we insist that people should read the fiction we write?

In any case, let’s start talking about me and the things going on in my life right now. This is Updates on What I’m Doing.

I’m now fully employed.

Let me guess, you thought I’d be talking books first, didn’t you? Nope, I’m doing this, because it’s so important, and the main reason I’m doing this cutback.

So, as many of you know, I started an internship here in Columbus, working in an Equal Employment Opportunity office, like I did last summer in Germany (ah, Deutschland! How I miss you so every day!). In an EEO office, we handle everything from promoting diversity and tolerance to getting employees accommodations for disabilities and handling mediation when someone is discriminated against. Within our office, everyone is expected to be able to work the full variety of these tasks, with perhaps some specialization in certain areas for some employees.

Personally, I love the job. The work is good work, the people are nice and laugh at most of my jokes, and the pay allows me to live on my own, which is a godsend (seriously, I love my family, but at this point in my life it’s better for me to be on my own and independent). And as of last Monday, I’m no longer an intern, but a full employee. Yeah, they decided to keep me! I’m so very grateful, and I’m looking forward to working in such a great office for ages to come, getting experience and getting settled into this weird thing called adulthood.

I’m also grateful for a morning cup of tea that’s s good as Starbucks but five times cheaper. Gotta love that.

The one thing I would complain about is that I don’t have as much time to write as I used to. Not surprising, I was unemployed prior to this, and that meant a slightly freer schedule. But the silver lining is, I actually can write knowing I have an income. So maybe I’ll write more slowly, but at least I won’t be doing the whole starving artist routine (seriously overrated).

Which brings me to my next point:

Reestablishing a writing routine

I used to say that I had no writing process, that I just wrote where I could and when I could. Turns out, that’s not really the case. I actually had a pretty established routine during the job search: after a full day of job-searching, I’d stop around five o’clock, have dinner, and write the evening away, watching TV and getting words in during the commercial break. I actually got through two drafts of Video Rage this way.

Well, I moved. And I don’t have a TV, so I stream mostly. And I have an earlier bedtime, which means less time to write. So there goes that routine out the window.

And since then, I’ve been trying to reestablish a routine, though I haven’t had as much success as I would like. I think I just sat down in front of the computer and hoped that something magical would happen. Obviously, magic didn’t occur, despite my prayers to all gods and demons within the vicinity. However, my friend Pat Bertram gave me an idea that’s been helpful: she recently joined a writer’s group where people try to write 250 words a day. Now, I can’t do it every day, but I try to do it as often as possible, and so far it seems to be working. Is it the writing routine I would like? No, but it’s baby steps, and that’s a good enough start if you ask me. Perhaps later on I’ll get to the point where I can write like I used to, even without a TV.

We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

The Reborn City series

As many of you know, I have a final book planned for this series, which I intend to call Full Circle.  Well, as November is National Novel Writing Month and I wanted to do FC for that month (even though I doubt I’ll even get near ten thousand words), I’m doing some preliminary work on the novel this month. I’ve written a bit of the outline, I’ve come up with a list of names and traits for the group of villains, as well as a travel route for the main characters to take, and I’m working on a family tree for a certain character.

The one thing I’m worried about is the number of plot lines I’ve got going in this final novel. Some of these plot lines were set up in the first book, like some things Rip saw in his soul sage hallucinations, so I need to resolve them in the final novel or attentive readers will get angry and point out stuff about them on the Internet. When I put them in the first and second books, I thought they were great and it would be no problem to wrap them up in the final book. Now that I’m actually there, though…well, I have to wrap them all up. And I’m worried that people will find them letdowns or extraneous.

Oh well. I dug myself into this whole. I can dig myself out again. I must’ve thought those plot lines belonged the whole time I was writing/editing/publishing the first two books, so I’ll work them into the third book and see what happens. Who knows? Some people may not like them, but others might, and it’ll be true to my vision, which is what writing is all about, right?

Rose

So if I’m working on FC right now, does that mean I finished the latest draft of Rose? Well, no I haven’t. The thing is, this draft is proving much more difficult than the first two. I changed an important aspect of the story early in the draft, which ended up changing the entire story at a fundamental level, and I’m kept busy just trying to get the story to match that change. Not to mention that I’m adding a lot of material every time I sit in front of the computer to work on it, and that slows me down a bit too. Add in all the other stuff you do while editing–rephrasing sentences, taking out unneeded material, etc–and I took three months to get to Chapter Six.

Yeah, I’m not happy about that. So I’m taking a break to work on other stuff and maybe get my mind into a better place so that when I return to Rose, I can give it the right sort of treatment. I don’t know when this will be, as FC will be given priority so I can get it out and finish the RC series once and for all, and perhaps after FC I’d like to work on stories other than Rose.

But hey, sometimes that’s how writers work. At times we’re able to work on a story, at other times we aren’t. And sometimes those gaps between periods of work on a manuscript can be very long. Stephen King tried to write Under the Dome twice in the 70’s and 80’s before getting it out in 2009. I’m not saying something similar will happen with Rose, but it might be quite the gap before I get to work on the third draft again.

Other Projects

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll just give a quick update on everything else that I’m working on:

  • Teenage Wasteland: I think after FC, this might also get a higher priority than other books. As a collection of short stories, it should take less time and effort than one big novel, so I’ll be working on this in-between drafts of FC most likely, or whenever I need a break and want to clear my mind. I’ve got about seven or eight stories already prepped for that book, and I’d like somewhere between thirteen and twenty-two in that collection, so I think I can get it done sooner rather than later. If so, I’ll make sure to let you guys know.
  • Laura Horn: Like Rose, LH had a major aspect of it changed in a previous draft. Unlike Rose, it didn’t give me this much grief. So I think I could get Laura Horn done very quickly as well, perhaps as soon as FC and TW are done.
  • A replacement for #FirstLineFriday: got something in the works, and it could be ready by October. That’s all I’m saying right now.
  • 5K Likes: We are so close, I can almost smell it! Make it happen, folks! Make it happen!

 

And that’s basically it at the moment. And I think after I finish with the Reborn City series and all this other stuff, I’ll try to limit the number of projects I have going on to two at a time. Because this is ridiculous.

Expect a blog post from me later this month, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got something planned I’ve been looking forward to talking about for a while. Until next time!

Big news, my Followers of Fear! On August 2nd, I will have reached five years of blogging! Yeah, five years. This blog (and the wonderful people who follow it, thank you very much for sticking with me through thick and thin) has been with me through four years of college, numerous articles on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, two visits to Europe, one-and-a-half internships, a very long period of unemployment, four published books (plus three at various stages of the editing/compilation process), too many short stories to count, a couple of which were published in some magazines and two anthologies, and a weird period of my life where I hunted down a serial killer while consulting with and developing an unusual relationship with another serial killer.

Oh wait, that’s the plot of Silence of the Lambs. Never mind.

Anyway, in honor of the big day, I will be doing a few things differently (and I don’t mean buying myself a cake in honor of the day, though that might happen as well). For one, I will be doing a Q&A, with questions provided by you, the readers. If there are any burning questions you’ve wanted to ask me, you can ask those in the comments up until July 31st, and I will answer them.

However, if you ask me to tell you where I live, or if I will marry you, I will have to decline on both counts. Sorry obsessives, I don’t want to end up in a real life version of Misery or Yandere Simulator.

Also, if you want to know what scares me, I’ll tell you right now: the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon from the 1980’s. I’m pretty sure the chipmunks from that show are actually the result of a strange genetic mutation, either from nuclear fallout or genetic engineering, and the males in that species all have some deformity in their middles that prevent them from wearing anything but long muumuus. Why else do the Chipettes get actual clothes but the title characters don’t?

I’m also terrified of large spiders. Tiny ones, I can deal with. However, if I can make out individual features on its face or it looks like it could easily stretch across the palm of my hand, I will scream like a little girl. It’s happened before.

I also want to hear feedback from you, dear readers. What do you think I’m doing right as a writer and a blogger? Anything I can improve upon? What posts do you prefer from me? Tell me in the comments below, so I can make Rami Ungar the Writer an even better blog.

Another reason to look forward to the big day, I’m going to be doing a giveaway on August 2nd in honor of the big occasion. I will be giving away an autographed copy one of my books (your choice of which one), that I will send to the winner after winning. I’ll give the full details on the day of the anniversary, so if you want to participate, check in on August 2nd. I’ll announce the winner in a subsequent blog post.

Oh, and one more note: I’ve got a couple of interviews coming up. One is with a blog I discovered through my friend Joleene Naylor, who will be releasing an interview soon. The other is actually a podcast. I’ll be rejoining my friend and colleague Dellani Oakes on her podcast, Red River Online Radio (links to follow soon) to talk books, authors, and maybe reading an excerpt from Video Rage. Get excited!

Alright, gotta go. I’m looking forward to hearing your questions and feedback, and I’m especially looking forward to celebrating this big milestone with you. Let’s have a good time on the second, shall we?

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

My writing space

My writing space

As many of you know, I’ve been living in my own space for a little over a month, and I’ve been working at my new job for about the same amount of time. I’d been wanting to move into my own place for ages after I moved back in with my dad, but it took a paying job to finally make it happen (hopefully the job keeps going for quite a while). And I love it here. I can do my own thing (which is actually pretty weird, truth be told) without having to hold back for other people; I can cook my own meals, including some fun meat recipes (my dad’s a vegetarian, so I’m having a blast expanding my chicken recipes); and I finally have my own spot where I write my stories, something I haven’t had in years. Plus the neighbors are quiet and I’m in a pretty nice partof the neighborhood, so it’s pleasant to live here. And close to work, too. I’m happy about that.

There are only three things I can really complain about:

  • Laundry is almost as expensive as it was in my college dorm. Maybe more.
  • I don’t have a dishwasher, so I have to hand-wash everything. That’s not so bad, but when you’re sure you’ve scrubbed something as hard as possible, and then you find there’s some grease left…
  • As far as I know, my building isn’t haunted in any way, shape, or form. Yes, I consider that a con. It’s a minor con, but it’s a con, nonetheless.

On a somewhat related tangent, I took an AP Psychology course in my last year of high school, and I actually remember quite a bit from that class. One was that some very interesting things happen when you move house or change jobs, mentally. You are better able to break bad habits (though I can’t seem to lose my sweet tooth, no matter what I do), and something in your brain frees up, allowing for the easy formation of new habits and routines, and even heightened creativity.

Well, I’m definitely doing that heightened creativity thing pretty well. In fact, I haven’t been this creative since my first time in Europe! Since I moved into my new apartment, I’ve had a multitude of new ideas, and I’ve gotten even more ideas since I started working at my job. They’ve mostly been short stories, which are the most common ideas I have (and the ones I struggle with the most to get right, weirdly enough), but I’ve had a couple of novel ideas as well, really good ones. Like, really good. Like, the kind that I think people will compare to Stephen King novels someday, really good. I had one of those the other day while putting away my groceries. I was pulling Dr. Pepper out of a box and onto the top shelf (I think I formed a new bad habit, over consuming caffeinated sodas. What can I say? I need caffeine to get through work some days), and I had this idea for a story involving an actress and reincarnation. And I was like, “That’s a good idea. It could work.”

Ouroboros, a symbol of reincarnation to some. I may try to integrate it into that story idea I had.

Of course, with the many ideas I’ve had over the past six weeks or so, I’ve had less time for actually writing and editing. I’ve been working on Rose for a couple of weeks, but I’ve only gotten through Chapter 2 so far. I think that’s partly because I’m rewriting a lot of the first couple chapters based on the suggestions I got from my advisor and second reader after the second draft (and that’s a lot of material to work with), but on most weekdays I only have a couple of hours to write. Once I get home, I check my email and everything else I didn’t have access to while at work, I make and eat my dinner, I make a lunch for tomorrow, I shower. Anytime left over is for writing, editing, or blogging before I go to bed (unless I have to make a midweek shopping trip to the grocery store or something. Then I have even less time).

Honestly, I wish I could divide myself in two during the day. One Rami stays home and works on the stories, the other goes to work and gets the assignments done.

Yeah, I know. Bad idea. One Rami Ungar is a sign of the Apocalypse. Two of me would surely cause calamity and discord just by our very existence (kind of like a certain American presidential candidate I could name).

But I digress. The point is, these new environments re getting my brain going, giving me all sorts of ideas for stories that I hope to write as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’ll keep working, and I’ll keep riding this creativity wave for as long as possible.

And I hope that you all get to enjoy the ideas I come up with during this period someday. I would very much like that indeed.

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

So if you’re unfamiliar with what #FirstLineFriday is, let me lay it down for you. On Fridays, you:

  1. Write up a post on your blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback, and encourage them to try #FirstLineFriday themselves (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

This week, I’m doing things a little different. Because I have more ideas than time to write them into stories, I usually write the potential first couple of lines of  potential story. This week though, I finished editing the first chapter of Rose, and I think I’d like to post that. Speaking of which, I think after I get a bit further into the third draft, I’ll post more about the editing process. This draft is going to be radically different from previous ones, that’s for sure.

Anyway, enjoy:

I open my eyes, feeling as if I’ve been asleep for a long time. Light stings my eyes, and I close them again until the pain subsides.

This is the sort of story where the whole first paragraph is needed to be an effective hook (or maybe the first two), but whatever. Rules are rules (though really they can be changed if so desired. I just choose not to).

Anyway, what did you think? Anything you’d change? Does it sound like an interesting story? Let’s discuss.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday yourself? It’s easy, it’s fun, and for novelists it’s great practice on openings, no matter what your level o experience is. In fact, I’m going to tag some. I choose Kat Impossible from Life and Other Disasters, who recently intimated to me that she could use some #FirstLineFriday tags these days. Hope this helps, Kat.

That’s all for now. I have a lot of blog posts I want to write over the weekend so I can release them later. Let’s all have a nice, relaxing weekend, shall we? Have a nice day, my Followers of Fear!

A screenshot of "A Project in Western Ideals."

A screenshot of “A Project in Western Ideals.”

Life’s been going very good for me. I moved into my new apartment (the kitchen’s still a work-in-progress and I still need to take out all the boxes to the dumpsters behind the parking lot, but I’m working on it), I put out a new book (and so far, I think it’s doing well), my birthday’s coming up (yay me!), and I start my new job a week from Monday (I’m planning on making a very good impression). And to top it all off, I’m editing again!

Yeah, remember when I was like, “I’ve just finished a novel and I just don’t feel like doing any work?” Well, a couple days ago I started doing something I hadn’t done in about a month or so: editing. To be specific, I began editing “A Project in Western Ideals”, the short story I wrote last summer about a girl being turned into a human Barbie doll. As of last night, I’mabout three-fourths of the way through the story, though an ending that satisfies me still alludes me (you’d think after having an ending with witchcraft, and then two endings involving an alien-like organism, I’d find something that worked! Apparently not). I’m going to try to finish the story tonight, though I’ll need an ending that works. I wonder if I change the beginning…

Anyway, after that I plan to get right back into my novel-as-a-thesis, Rose. As you well know, I started on the third draft of that story a couple of months ago, after almost a year of not working on that story (I was busy in-between drafts). but I couldn’t get through the first chapter before I had to work on Video Rage again. Now that that’s out and I’m out of the funk that settled over me after I completed the final draft of VR, I’m looking forward to getting back into that book and doing all the work that needs to be done. A lot needs to be changed, and quite a bit needs to be added, but I think I’m up to it.

The writing space in my new apartment. Pretty sweet, huh?

The writing space in my new apartment. Pretty sweet, huh?

You know, I think writing is a lot like every other skill or profession: there are times when you are in love with it, and times when you just don’t want to deal with it. There are times when you are amazing at it, where everything you write is worthy of publication and awards, and times when everything you write is dreck. I had my phase, where I just couldn’t write anything besides a blog post. But now it’s over, and I’m ready to start something new. Maybe that’s because so many new things are happening in my life. I moved into a new apartment, complete with my own little writing space (you can see it on the right). I’m starting a new job a week from tomorrow. And my birthday is coming up later this week, among other things. Basically, with so much energy of the new in me and around me, how can that funk not be lifted?

So expect a bunch of updates on the writing life in the weeks and months to come. I’m going to definitely try and get Rose done before it’s time to get ready for National Novel Writing Month. Wish me luck in the meantime, my Followers of Fear. I’m definitely going to need a little bit of luck in the weeks and months to come.