Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Do You Want To Know A Secret?

So, Gwynne Jackson, how’s that novel-writing going for you?

Thank you for asking. It’s actually going quite well. I’m nine days in and up to 23,000 words, for those who like metrics. This is the sequel to my Pitch Wars novel, but it’s also a standalone that doesn’t require knowledge of the first book. That was an intentional decision on my part. While I love duologies and trilogies, I also love when each book in a series can be read as a distinct entity.

Writing this book has been more fun than I expected. It’s been a pleasure, and it’s easier to write to my chosen romance formula than ever before. It’s a salve for my soul at a time I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to muster a lot of creativity.

I honestly don’t know how much blogging I’ll be doing. When I was employed as a technical writer, the most difficult thing was coming home from writing user manuals all day and switching over to a more creative writing brain. It’s much the same with blogging versus novel-writing. I’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, how are all of you? Let me know in comments if you get the chance.


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Hello, life and everything

Sunrise this morning was bright red under a perfectly flat line of clouds. If it hadn’t been 5-something in the morning, I would’ve taken a picture of it for you.

Oh, my poor neglected blog, I’ve missed you. I’m always of a mind to tell you that if I have nothing to say, it’s better not to try to force a post. Like so many other people I’ve been digging my way out from the dark days of winter. Here in northern California it’s been raining pretty much non-stop, so when the sun finally peeked out a few days ago I was reminded of the time I spent at the beach sand bars as a child. When the tide went out, hermit crabs would emerge from their shells. Timidly at first, because a wave could always come crashing back down on them, but eventually they’d get brave enough to peek out and stay out, and finally to start scuttling around.

That was the Bay area this week. It was like the aftermath of an apocalyptic event: the sun was finally out, and people stepped outside for the first time in a long time, shielding their eyes against the sudden onslaught of beauty pouring down on them.

rainy-street

But I spent a long time living in Oregon, and I know winter sunshine is more of a tease than a reality. We’re getting ready for another week or more of rain now, and I’m holding my breath along with the majority of the country in hoping that dam in Sacramento holds. In other news, okay, thank you for the much-needed water, skies, but you can stop for a while now.

As far as writing goes, I started a challenge to do a personal novel writing month this month. I decided to finish the novel I started during NaNoWriMo. Every day, the writing was a struggle. I hated all the words coming out. No, not all the words, just the way the story was unraveling, so I stepped back and took a break for a few days. I know this goes against the whole “don’t self-edit, don’t second-guess, just write every day” rule that usually works so well during NaNoWriMo, but I decided that in February I ought to play by my own rules.

I’m so glad I took the break, because the introspective navel-gazing made me realize I needed a reset. If I was going to tell this story, I needed a whole new book to tell it instead of tacking it on to the end of the November one. So I pulled up my big-girl panties and decided to scrap 3/4 of the 60,000 words I wrote in November, keep the other 1/4 as a standalone novella, and begin again. Now the writing is fun! Now I’m convinced I’m telling the right story the right way. What a relief. For a while there, I thought I’d forgotten how to enjoy writing.


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I did some writing in 2016.

I’m not big on “my year in review” blog posts.

What the hell, though, right? We all do a lot of things all the time, every year. But since the point of this blog is for me to have a platform as a writer, I’m going to talk about that…mostly.

I rewrote a book for the fourth time.

Then that book made it into Pitch Wars, where I rewrote it a fifth time.

Right after that, I wrote a new book for NaNoWriMo. While I was working on my NaNo book I was also sending out requested material to Pitch Wars agents, and doing a bit of cold querying as well.

A lot of people were thrown by Election 2016. I’m usually fairly quiet about politics but ended up speaking out about it (mostly on Twitter). There are times and places to make one’s opinions known, but I can already feel myself withdrawing from public discourse on politics. It isn’t that I’ve stopped caring. Anything but. It’s just that I need to focus my efforts on other things for the time being.

Like writing. I’ve made some great new friends through Pitch Wars, and came out of that with a much better book than the one I had going in. I’ll keep working on it and with it, keep writing new things. I’m a pretty spotty writer, though: I need a bit of time to recharge. Especially if I’m going to veer away from the world I’ve been writing (and living in vicariously) to do something new. That will mean a change of pace, emotionally and mentally. It’ll probably be good for me.

But yeah, THREE BOOKS this year. The same one twice, and a brand new one. I’m pretty damn proud of that. And as I said on Twitter, that new book has some of my best writing yet. I’m proud of all of it.


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My Playlist

If you’ve been following along, you know I wrote a novel that’s been workshopped in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest. My story takes place behind the scenes on a rock band’s road tour. It features roadies! rock stars! women in the industry! managers! fans! models, Irish wolfhounds, load-in, load-out, backline techs, tour buses, hotels, extravagance, heartbreak, heartache, lies, deception, true love’s first kiss… and oh, yeah, music. Even though I can’t share the music in my mind from my pretend rock band, I can share the real-world music pivotal to the story.

Each of the primary characters have their own theme songs. My main characters get two each, just because. Continue reading


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Giving Up on a Book

This has nothing to do with Pitch Wars. I want to set that straight right off the bat. I love my PW manuscript with the fiery passion of a thousand supernovas, even though I’ve read it and rewritten it so many times I’ve lost track. No, this is the story of another book I wrote, and it’s about self-analysis and having reasonable expectations. Continue reading


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It’s not over until it’s over

Hi! I remember blogging! I remember having time to sit down and compose well-planned and thoughtful blog posts! I knew one day I’d have the time to do it again.

Today is not that day. Fooled you! I’ve been more than knee-deep in Pitch Wars revision passes, refining, fine-tuning. Eradicating crutch words, erasing bad habits, spit-shining and polishing my manuscript. Writing the supplemental material: query letter, synopsis, pitch, and as one of my mentors put it, taking a chisel to my first page so that despite the fact there’s an entire novel to follow, it’s compelling all by itself.

Not too much to ask!

During the course of Pitch Wars I’ve learned:

  • how to survive on almost no sleep
  • potato chips are really not a great substitute for real food
  • the more you use “just a cup of coffee at Starbucks” as a reward for writing, the faster you qualify for more free drinks than you want
  • I can rewrite an entire novel in a very short period of time if I have to
  • When given the secret formula for supplemental material, I can take off my “I’m no good at marketing” hat and write those too
  • why scene maps are important
  • why outlining is a great idea
  • genre-specific story arcs exist for a reason and sure, I can be a rebel, but then I won’t have the type of book I want
  • this year’s mentees are a wonderful group of people and I’m so thankful to have taken this roller coaster ride with them
  • this year’s mentors are a wonderful group of people. I lucked out having two (thanks, Mary Ann and Jaime!)
  • It’s a real kick to find that people like my characters and stories and want more

GROUP HUG!

I could go on with haphazard lists, but I have to say that this has been an outstanding experience. Yes, my house isn’t as organized as it was two months ago and sure, I ate some of (okay, a lot of) the Halloween candy out of nerves and no, the agent showcase hasn’t started yet, but no matter what happens when the Adult/NA entries go up tomorrow, I’ve already “won” Pitch Wars. Just ask the friends I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the people I’m still planning on meeting. Look at the book I’ve written. This contest makes for great common ground. Whether my co-mentees have been writing Adult manuscripts like me, or New Adult or Young Adult or Middle Grade, we all have this shared experience. It’s humbled and enlightened me. It’s rejuvenated my love of writing. It’s taught me so much… you get the idea.

There will be a playlist post soon. In the meantime, I’ll be quiet.


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My Very Pitch Wars Month

So… it’s been a month now, give or take, since the Pitch Wars results were announced and I started kicking into gear. I’m going to wait until it’s over to give you my overview of the whole experience, but I thought a check-in was in order.

It’s important to say right up front I’m convinced I have one helluva mentoring team. We seem to have similar perspectives on what we want for my story (hugely important) and similar taste in so many things unrelated to the story. Pitch Wars is stressful enough, so I feel extremely fortunate to have mentors who are a good fit with my temperament and personality. They’re making it easy, and they’re making it fun. That stated…

…oh man, what a lot of work this contest is! I’m learning to love parts of the book-writing process I never loved (and in some cases, never heard of) before. For someone who’s always been a confirmed pantser, I can now see the value of putting in time planning and organizing. Because I only had a month to rework my novel, incorporating feedback from my mentors and moving it into its shiny newly-outlined direction. (Oh, I also beefed it up by 20,000 words or so.) I don’t know if I’ll be able to face NaNoWriMo this year without an outline in hand!

One of my first thoughts after we got started was that despite my initial attitude last year when my manuscript wasn’t chosen, I’m glad I didn’t make it in then. I wouldn’t have been ready, either as a writer or as a recipient of critique and suggestion. I’ve never been one to write THE END and ship a book off for querying immediately. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that all the advice about letting a manuscript sit for a while before querying was right. (Also, I’m terribly shy about my writing and have a hard time sending it out… or at least, I used to.) I’ve never been in a rush to get something out the door.

That’s proved incredibly useful during this whole process. Last year I wouldn’t have had the patience to make the necessary changes. I might have fought them tooth and nail. Instead, I sat on the manuscript for most of a year, rewrote it with all the drastic changes I could muster, and guess what? I’ve rewritten it again with even more drastic changes.

Now I wait for feedback. Will it be good? Will it be horrible? Will I have to rewrite it again? I don’t know, but I’ll find out. For me, one of the joys of Pitch Wars is that it’s unpredictably predictable. I have to be on my toes. I have to be ready and willing to write, rewrite, finesse. I also have to cast off the shackles of claiming I detest the “other” pieces of writing (pitch, synopsis, query) and delve into those with an open mind and open heart.

I might have been quiet here this past month, but it’s because I’ve been busy. I’m ready for PW Part II. Whatever happens in the end will happen, but I can already say I’ve learned more about being a writer since August 25 than I had the past few years trying to work out this whole novelist thing on my own. And another unexpected bonus? I know how to use gif files with reckless abandon now. See?

starbuck-grinning