segunda-feira, 8 de novembro de 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - Excerpt

The woman returned holding something small in the cup of her hand. She sat down and showed Rogério what she was holding. He picked it up carefully, running his fingers lightly over the object. It was a small statue made of soft stone or maybe bone. It was about the height of his thumb and it depicted a ample woman with large breasts, rounded hips and no facial features. He’d seen similar images before, it was some sort of primitive goddess.

“First, there was the Mother,” said Emerenciana. “She was human, but the tribes around her believed her to be a goddess for the things she could do none of them could.

“People would bring her offerings; the first meat from the hunt, the best fruits from the crops, drops of blood from the children passing into adulthood. In return, she offered them her own blood when they were sick or injured and her blood would strengthen and heal them.”

“The way Melisandra’s blood healed me.”

Emerenciana shook her head. “Melisandra’s story will come late. This one is about the Mother and her three children. The oldest and the youngest were boys and the middle child was a girl. Everyday, the mother would feed a few drops of her own blood and they grew stronger and fairer than anyone around them.

“The chieftain of one of the tribes knew of this and he decided that he would have the blood of the Mother and become a god himself, but he feared the strength and the powers of the children and so he waited and plotted. One day, when the two youngest were away, the chieftain and his men attacked the cave where the Mother lived. The Elder Son was killed and the Mother was taken away.

“When the Middle Child and the Young One returned, they found their brother’s dead body and the signs of struggle and understood what had come to pass. The Young One became mad with fury and he gave chase to the attackers of his family.

“He found them in their village. They had bled the Mother and consumed her blood, but it hadn’t made them gods. They had become the first of the ghouls; contorted creatures, not quite animals, not quite men, maddened with pain and with hunger for the flesh of the dead.

“The Young One fell upon them and slaughtered many. When he lost his weapon in battle, he continued his attack, biting them and tearing them apart with his bare hands, until there was no one alive around him.

“The Middle Child had given her older brother her blood, as she had seen the Mother do so many times, in the hope that he would be healed, but the Elder Son was dead, not merely injured. She laid her brother in a bier by the fire and prepared to watch over him until his soul had made the crossing into what lay beyond.

“The Young One returned. His mouth, his arms and his chest were stained with the blood of the changed warriors. He was ill, feverish, poisoned by the blood of the ghouls. The Middle Child made him a bed of leaves by the fire and covered him with animal pelts.

“She watched over both of them for the rest of the night, and the whole of the next day. At sunset, they both rose. The Elder son became the first of the vampires and the Young One the first of the weres.”

“Weres?” Rogério smiled. “You mean werewolves?”

“Not all of them are wolves,” said Melisandra. “You are a vampire. Why are you so surprised that werewolves exist?”

He nodded. It was silly. “ What happened to the Middle Child? She became the first of the ghosts?”

The women laughed. “No,” said Emerenciana. “She became me.”

NaNoWriMo 2010 - Soundtrack

The project is still untitled, but it already has a soundtrack. I've had to take a few breaks to figure out what happens next and I used some of the time to make a selection of songs.

How Am I Different - Aimee Mann
Dark Side of Me - Alannah Myles
Livin' on a Memory - Alannah Myles
In Debt to The Heart - Born In The Flood
Don't Need the Sunshine - Catatonia
What Makes a Man? - City and Colour
Quiet in My Town - Civil Twilight
My Lover's Gone - Dido
Burning My Soul - Dream Theater
Strange - The Feeling
Trust Me - The Fray
Off I Go - Greg Laswell
On The Sunny Side of the Street - Louis Armstrong
Goodbye Apathy - OneRepublic
Come Home - OneRepublic
Misguided Ghosts - paramore
Building a Mistery - Sarah MacLachlan
Into The Fire - Sarah MacLachlan
In My Head - Until June
Flowers For a Ghost - Thriving Ivory

NaNoWriMo 2010 - Week 1

I'm finishing Week 1 at 7792 words. I'm 3877 words behind schedule, but it's okay, I've had a lot on my mind lately, and I'm thrilled that I've still managed to write this much. I've really been enjoying this project and working without a plan, maybe I need to vary my work method more often.

domingo, 31 de outubro de 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

It's that time of the year again. I've decided this morning that I'll be taking part in this year's NaNoWriMo. Contrary to what I usually do, I'll be working without a net, or rather, without an outline. All I have are a few character ideas I noted down in my trustworthy Moleskine a couple of months ago.

Wish me luck and send chocolate.

terça-feira, 4 de maio de 2010


It is no secret for those following this blog that I've been having some trouble writing. These difficulties have affected not only the sequel to Dragon's Blood but my writing in general. Black Box was finished on time fueled by sheer stubbornness and a bit of desperation.

Last week, I did a writing "fast". Might sound contradictory, to deliberately not write when the problem is that you can't write, mas as they say, sometimes you are so obsessed by the problem you can't see the answer.

The pause was good for me. First because it made me ache to write (ah, humans, tell us we can't do something and away we go...), but mostly because it allowed me to gain some perspective on what was keeping me from writing: myself.

Writing is what I do, not what I am. I have no idea at what stage of the path I forgot that, but I've been attributing too much importance to the completion of my writing projects and, especially, to the world's reaction to those projects. If tomorrow I was no longer being published, I'd still write, and that says it all about what my real priority should be here.

My obsession with results was keeping me from enjoying the process. And the process is fantastic. The process is what kept me writing even when I couldn't get a publisher. And, by not enjoying the process, even the good days began to feel like a burden.

So, this month, I'll be relearning to focus on the path instead of the destination. For that, I've decided to go back to my starting point: short stories.

I've signed up for the Story-a-Day challenge at FMWriters. The goal is to write a story per day for a month. Sounds crazy, but it's what I need right now. To write, to let it flow, with no time to worry about correction, editions, publications and other concerns. Just write and enjoy the ride.

I would love to get the 31 stopries done, but even if I only manage the minimum goal of 10, it will still be great.

segunda-feira, 3 de maio de 2010


Completed three of my six goals for April which wasn't bad. For May I'm keeping it simple.

1. Do the SAD challenge over at FMWriters
2. Do Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin Programme (this was one of the goals that got left behind)

Anything else I can manage will be a bonus.

Books read - January to April

I'm reading a bit slower this year than usual, have no idea why. Last year by the end of April, I had already read 28 books; this year I've managed less than half that.

1. Hearts West - Chris Enss (4/5)
2. Jogos de Espelhos - Agatha Christie (2/5)
3. Messias - Boris Starling (3/5)
4. Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire (5/5)
5. Soulless - Gail Carriger (5/5)
6. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers - Renni Browne, Dave King (4/5)
7. The Doctor Wore Petticoats - Chris Enss (3/5)
8. 21 Day Conscious Cleanse - Debbie Ford (2/5)
9. Eu Consigo Que Você Emagreça - Paul McKenna (4/5)
10. Clockwork Heart - Dru Pagliassotti (4/5)
11. Crime no Hotel Bertrand - Agatha Christie (4/5)

I've done reviews for some of these already, but probably won't be doing any for the rest of them. I didn't have the time as soon as I finished reading them, and it's the sort of thing that becomes dificcult when some time has passed since then.

And this may be how I'll be doing it from now on: a monthly list of all the books I've read, plus a few reviews here and there, depending on how much the book as got to me and on my availability.

quarta-feira, 21 de abril de 2010

Writing Communities

"Writing is a lonely job" is one of those clichesthat have become common place because they are true. It doesn't matter if you have people helping with research and revision, the moment of writing is between you and the paper (or the screen). That isolation can occasionaly become heavy and online writing communities are a good way to overcome it.

Naturally there are disadvantages to these sites. Being there can become just another way to procrastinate. The contact with other writers may leave you with the idea that you should be doing more, better or simply different. Many of these communities also tend to be very geared towards publication and the repetition of this idea may make us so obsessed with publishing that the fun will be knocked out of the writing.

Nevertheless, all these disadvantages may be avoided with some ease and there are a lot of advantages in being in contact with our peers. The first and most obvious one is access to information: about the publishing industry; about diverse settings; about language. Whatever doubts you may have, it's quite likely that you'll be able to find someone in one of these sites that can give you an answer. Then, there's the possibility of talking to people who understand what we're doing and why. It's not about us being some poor misunderstood geniuses, but think about it: at how many places could I discuss the research on whips and their effects I did for my pirate book without eliciting some very odd looks? There's also the possibility of establishing professional contacts and finally, many of these sites allow us to set goals and be accountable, which is priceless in a line of work where most of the time you answer only to yourself.

At the moment, these are the two writer's communities I'm a part of:
Forward Motion Writers
Romance Divas

They both have some rather interesting activities all year around and are an excelent support system.

quinta-feira, 15 de abril de 2010

Writing Process

I'm still amazed that so many people seem to think that what a writer does is sit in front of a computer, write "Chapter 1" and when we get to "The End", it's done. Of course the process varies from writer to writer, but I know few who don't make any preparation work, and I haven't met any who don't give their writing at least a brief revision before sending it out. And I don't think I'd like to meet such a person: they'll either be those impossibly genial creatures you can't talk to, or those impossible creatures who think they're geniuses and who you don't want to talk to.

My writing process varies a bit from project to project (diferent stories demand diferent things, depending especially from size and from how the text will be structured), but it is pretty much solidified.

1. Idea

This is the part where I don't really do much of anything and the part about which I get asked about more frequently. I blame Romantism and the excissive emphasis on inspiration.

The truth is I get ideas for stories at an annoying rate and pretty much anything can make one jump at me: a documentary, a book, a movie; someone I saw on the street, something I heard in passing, a landscape; a newspaper article or a photograph; a mix of two or more of these things that come together to make something new.

Ideas are the easy part, you just keep your brain on a diverse diet and they come on their own. Turning them into something readable is what requires some talent and a lot of work.

2. Informal Research

This stage doesn't always happen. It depends on what I'm writing. It has to do with reading things related to the context of the story I want to tell, but without great concern for details. Ultimately, it's about providing fodder for the brain to start structuring the story.

3. Fermentation

I need to have the story tossing and turning in my head for a few days (or months), before I can do anything with it. Again, this is a stage where I don't do much other than give the story the occasional twist and shake, until it's good and ready.

4. Outline/Draft Zero

I do a basic outline of the story, because I need to know where I'm going to be able to write. I rarely do it for short texts, but I can't do without it for novels and novellas.

I tend to use Zette's phase method and I generally don't worry much about plot or story arcs. I just list the events in the order I want to tell them, and that's why I prefer the term draft zero.

For example, this is an excerpt from the outline to O Anel das Estrelas (The Starlight Ring):

Chapter 1: The attack on the São José
POV: Menendez; SPACE: São José, near Mozambique; TIME: 22 & 23 July 1622

1. Menendez thinks of Cecília’s attitudes and of how they are unsettling the men. DAWN

2. The men complain about the food. Menendez is worried.

3. Menendez watches Cecília once again and thinks of the many ways the trip has been going wrong. SUNSET

4. Menendez is in his cabin when one of the crew comes to warn him that ships are approaching. The crew thinks they are pirates. NIGHT

5. The Dutch and English fleet attacks. The São José crew defends the ship as best as they can, but they are vastly outnumbered and the illness that ravages through the ship has weakened them.

That which I put in draft zero doesn't always appear in the finished product. Sometimes, while I'm writing, the story takes off in a different direction. Often, while I'm doing this work, I'm also writing pieces of text as they occur to me.

5. Draft Zero Revision

Before I start writing I always take a look at draft zero to try and identify plot holes and to organize some information: space, time, POV... It depends on the project. For Um Vale Entre as Nuvens (A Valley Among the Clouds), an epistolary novel the draft zero of which I recently completed, I used this stage to determine through which journals, letters and newspaper articles the information of each point would be transmitted.

6. First Draft

This is the hard part for me. It implies keeping my tush in the chair long enough to write and ignore the fact that half of what I'm producing in this stage is utter rubish.

The best for me is to write the first draft as quickly as possible so my internal editors don't have time to start bugging me. Usually, my first draft is covered in annotations such as: [BATTLE SCENE]; [MORE DESCRIPTION]; [TRIP] and [CHECK].

Recently, I've started doing my first drafts longhand. Odd as it may seem, it increases my productivity, perhaps because I write faster than I type and I can keep a mores satisfactory rhythm. Or maybe because, since I'm not working at the computer, I can avoid certain distractions.

7. First Revision

I read through the whole text and make notes on what needs to be added or removed. Then I type it up, fill gaps, make the changes I've noted down plus others as they come to mind. Generally it is in this stage and, if necessary, the next, that I do a deeper research to ensure I've got my details right.

8. Second Revision

New reading. This time I worry more about incongruences in the story and with the flow of language.

9. Final Revision

I fix the formatting, look for typos and for any other small mistakes that have slipped me the first two times around.

Usually, after this, the book is finished. Of course, some projects need a couple more revisions before I'm pleased with the results, and also, when a project is rejected, I always make sure to doi a quick revision before sending out again, since I tend to assume the problem may be in the text and not the rejecter.

domingo, 4 de abril de 2010


Well, March turned out better than I expected. I finished the first draft for the Black Box pilot and I think I managed to work out the kinks out of Coração de Lobo, so things should proceed more smoothly from here on.

Goals for April:

1. Edit and submit Black Box
2. Work on Coração de Lobo
3. Do Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin Programme (his sleep programme helped, let's see how this one does)
4. Review March books
5. Do at least 2 writing-related updates to the blog
6. Attend German classes

quarta-feira, 17 de março de 2010

Soulless - Gail Carriger


Gail Carriger
Orbit Books

373 pages

In an alternative Victorian age, vampires, werewolves and ghosts have risen out of obscurity and are duely integrated in London's society. Alexia Tarabotti, spinster by way of a too dark complexion and an Italian father, is atacked by a vampire who seems to ignore she is a pretenatural, one of the rare soulless humans who are immune both to vampires and werewolves. Accidently, Alexia kills the vampire and temperamental Lord Maccon of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) is forced to intervene.

the dead (or is it re-dead?) vampire wasn't created by any of the local hives and vampires and werewolves unassociated to any hive or pack are disappearing throughout England. The Supernaturals seem to believe Alexia is somehow to blame; after all, pretenaturals have in the past used their immunity to exterminate their kind. Against the will of Lord Maccon, Alexia takes it upon herself to find out what's happening.

Alexia Tarabotti is a fascinating character: independent, inteligent and sarcastic; perfectly comfortable in her role as someone who is slightly aside from society, but also insecure, marked by too many years of having her insuficiencies constantly blisted. Lord Maccon e Lord Akeldama, werewolf and vampire, rough Scotsman and frenchified dandy, are perfect counterpoints, framing Alexia's conflicting facets. Then there's Professor Lyall, Lord Maccon's Beta, serene and competent and probably ruthless. I suspect I'm a bit infatuated with Professor Lyall, which is rather disconcerting.

Soulless is one of those books you end up reading in one go because you simply must find out what happens next. The writting is light and witty, but by no means inconsequential or vacuous. the characters are rich and well-structured and the details, especially where it comes to the steaampunk aspects of the story, are visually stimulating. I can't say the resolution of the mistery came as a complete surprise, but the book is more comedy of manners than crime novel. There was only one thing I didn't like: No one explained the octopi.

terça-feira, 16 de março de 2010

Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire


Rosemary and Rue
Seanan McGuire

Urban Fantasy
358 pages

October Daye had enough problems as it was: not only is she a changeling (her mother is a Daoine Sidhe), which makes her a second-class citizen in the Faerie world and forces her to all sort of concealments in the human world, but her ex-husband and her daughter refuse any kind of contact with her (that will happen when you can't explain to your loved one taht you were missing for 14 years because someone turned you into a koi). When her friend Eve is murdered and curses her to find her killers under penance of death, Toby is forced to put on her investigator's shoes and to reenter a world she had sworn off when her enchantment had been broken. She will come upon such an elaborate web of intrigue, secret agendas and lies that the only people she seems able to trust are old oponents.

I loved this book. I was a little hesitant at first. From the blurbs I read, I knew the book must be a mixture of fantasy and hard-boiled, two genres I enjoy a lot but that seemed to have the potential to make a big mess when put together. I couldn't be more wrong. The narrative is consistent and concise, the characters are well-rounded and believable and the story is intriguing.

I was especially fascinated by the excellent job the author did of building a realistic main character. Let's face it, the woman's name is October Daye, she's half-fairy, she has a certain air of Legolas about her and she behaves like Humphrey Bogart minus the Y chromosome; it's a cocktail that you'd expect to turn out strange at least, or most likely awful. But McGuire shows such skill in handling her ingredients that the result is someone so believable you wouldn't be surprised to find her on the street.

That said, the next two books in the series are already on my shopping list.

Messiah - Boris Sterling


Messias (Messiah)
Boris Starling

637 pages

It's the summer of 1998 and superintendent Red Metcalfe has a lot to deal with. Not only is he hunting a serial killer who appears to select his victims randomly, he still has to cope with his failing marriage and his own hauting past.

The narrative is constructed in three lines: the investigation, the events surrounding Metcalfe's brother arrest and the serial-killers musings. These are woven quite skillfully, maintaining a good level of suspense throughout the book, until they come together in a rather gruesome but satisfying finale.

I mostly enjoyed the book, it was an entertaining read and I appreciated the author's handling of the multiple narratives. Nevertheless, the suspense of it was a bit spoiled for me because I figured out who the killer was half-way through it. Unfortunately, this wasn't due to my superb reasoning but to a lack of judgement on the author's part. If you spend most of the book paying attention to no one but the investigator and suddenly take a great interest in the actions and thoughts of a secondary character, you've pretty much spelled it out for the reader.

sexta-feira, 12 de março de 2010

The faces of Khaila's world

There were too many problems with Coração de Lobo. I decided to take a break to gain some perspective on it.

I've been revising the outline to try and work out the kinks and I've also been thinking of actors I can see playing my characters to get a stronger notion of them. I'm done "casting" most of the major characters, and am really pleased with the results. Apparently, so are the characters, because the ones that are in Coração de Lobo are talking to me again.




I'm especially pleased with Ightryn and Ember. And Skarsgard ended up being an unexpectadly good match for Lorean.

segunda-feira, 1 de março de 2010


I want to send Coração de Lobo to the publisher by the end of this month, which means the blog will be neglected for a while. It'll be a hard-work month.

segunda-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2010

They Do It With Mirrors - Agatha Christie


Jogo de Espelhos (They do It With Mirrors)
Agatha Christie

176 pages

I generally love Agatha Christie, and I tend to read her books in one sitting, but that didn't happen with this one.

It's a Marple novel, and I generally do prefer other detectives (it just frustrates me that part of the solution is based on those comparisons with someone on St. Mary Mead), but I don't think that's enough to explain why this book failed to captivate me the way others have.

I think part of it was that I just didn't care about the characters all that much. I especially didn't care at all about the victim, since he practically just walked in and got killed, and there was very little to know about him. I also didn't especially care for the person they were supposedly all trying to protect: she's one of those older ladies Christie writes somethimes, very nice and very vague and very ethereal.

Also, it seemed to me that Christie's tendency to write mostly dialogue was taken a bit too far on this one, and instead of a fast-paced but rich reading, which is her usual, we're definitely entering "talking head" territory.

So, this one might actually be a rarity among my Christie collection: a book that I won't be rereading.

quarta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2010

Hearts West - Chris Enss


Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier
Chris Enss

115 pages

I really enjoyed this book. I bought it as research for a future project, but ended up losing myself completely in its pages.

As the subtitle states, the book is composed of several stories of women and men who met through correspondance during the second half of the XIXth century and the first two decades of the XXth. Each chapter tells a different story with a few of them dedicated not to specific couples, but to people or institutions that helped bring those couples together. There's a good selection of stories, they cover people in different situations and not all of them have happy outcomes.

I loved that the book includes a lot of material from the time: journal and letters excerpts; personal ads; newspaper articles; photographs and prints. It also includes a rather detailed bibliography (which non-fiction books don't always seem to do anymore) that I think will be of good use to me when I'm in full research mode for the project I mentioned.

Also, the book really opened my eyes to how many preconceived ideas I still held about life in the West and the role of women in the expansion.
Book Depository

segunda-feira, 1 de fevereiro de 2010


January didn't go as well as planned, but I did manage to start writting more consistently, and I did figure out some adjustments I need to make to increase my productivity.

The first draft to Coração de Lobo still needs some work. There are still a lot of places that read something like [BATTLE SCENE] or [MORE DESCRIPTION] that I'll need to fill out.

Anyway, February will be a busy, busy month for me.

1. Write 25/28 days
2. Chant gongyo every morning - 28 tasks
3. Complete the first edit pass of CDL
4. Do one Japanese lesson per week - 4 tasks
5. Exercise once a week - 4 tasks
6. Listen to Sleep CD every night - 28 tasks
7. Lose 2 Kg

quinta-feira, 21 de janeiro de 2010


One of the questions people ask me more frequently when they find out I write (aside from "Oh, really?!") is where I get ideas from. My usual answer is that ideas come from everywhere, from all I see, from all I read, from whatever new things I learn.

It's a good answer, but I realised today that it's not the right one, or at least not the whole answer.

The bank of data that I've been collecting certainly has an important part in the creation of ideas and in the writing process itself. After all, nothing comes from nothing and I think all of those who like to read know that author with little diversified knowledge tend to produice hollow and repetitive books.

However, there has to be something other to trigger the process, something that binds notions and pieces of information hitherto distinct to form what may be the seed of a story.

In my case, I am now firmly convinced, that thing is boredom. Which explains why so many of the ideas I've had over the years have come to me in waiting rooms, or during long trips or dull classes...

The brain becomes bored and starts playing with what it's storing, overlapping things, cutting them and shuflling them. Many times, the result is nonsense, but there are useful things coming from these moments: the resolution to a flaw in our current project, a detail that will add another dimension to the story, a turn of phrase that charms us.

And, on occasion, that idea comes: the one that excites us and makes us want to drop whatever we're doing and write until we're forced to stop.

sábado, 2 de janeiro de 2010



1. Writing: 25/31 days
2. Gongyo: 62 times
3. Complete first draft of CDL
4. Lose 2 Kg
5. 2 blog updates

Plans for 2010

2009 wasn't a very productive year writing-wise, I was pretty much all over the place: worked on a lot of projects, made little progress on most of them. I'll need more structure for 2010.

1. Write a minimum of 25 days per month
2. Chant daimoku or do gongyo twice a day
3. Exercise regularly (and that doesn't mean twice a year! )
4. Eat better


1. Complete Coração de Lobo and send it to my publisher (deadline: end of March)
2. Complete Black Box and submit it to Scriptapalooza TV (deadline: April 15th)
3. Complete at least one other project
4. Do a SAD challenge
5. Update blog twice a month

1. Lose 15 Kg
2. Get one item from my Things To Learn list done