Sunday, January 27, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #35

Lita Ford Feat. Ozzy Osbourne -- Close My Eyes Forever
Album -- Lita (1988)

I get so scared inside, and I don't really understand
Is it love that's on my mind, or is it fantasy?
Is in the palm of my hand, and it's waiting here for you
What am I supposed to do with a childhood tragedy?


If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain unchanged?
If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain the same?


It's hard to hold on
So hard to hold on to my dreams
It isn't always what it seems
When you're face to face with me


You're like a dagger
And stick me in the heart
And taste the blood from my blade
And when we sleep, would you shelter me
In your warm and darkened grave?


If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain unchanged?
If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain the same?


Will you ever take me?
No, I just can't take the pain
But would you ever trust me?
No, I'll never feel the same, Oh


I know I've been so hard on you
I know I've told you lies
If I could have just one more wish
I'd wipe the cobwebs from my eyes


If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain unchanged?
If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain the same?


Close your eyes
Close your eyes
You gotta close your eyes for me

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #34

The Righteous Brothers -- You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
Album -- You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling (1964)

You never close your eyes anymore
When I kiss your lips
And there's no tenderness like before
In your fingertips
You're trying hard not to show it baby
But baby, baby I know it

You've lost that lovin' feeling
Oh, that lovin' feeling
You've lost that lovin' feeling
Now it's gone, gone, gone

Now there's no welcome look
In your eyes when I reach for you
And girl you're starting to criticize
little things I do
It makes me just feel like crying baby
'Cause baby, something beautiful's dying

You've lost that lovin' feeling
Oh that lovin' feeling
You've lost that lovin' feeling
Now it's gone gone gone

Baby baby I get down on my knees for you
If you would only love me like you used to do, yeah
We had a love
A love a love you don't find every day
So don't, don't, don't, don't let it slip away

Baby baby I beg you please, please
I need your love, I need your love
So bring all back, bring all back
Bring back that lovin' feeling
Oh, that lovin' feeling
Bring back that lovin' feeling
Cause it's gone...gone...gone...
And I can't go on...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Draft #2 Begins

I decided it was time to begin work on the second draft of my novel today. It has been nearly two weeks since I finished the first draft, which was the time frame I gave myself to wait before I began work on draft two. I had started on book number two of my series, but came to a halt on chapter three where now I must start digging into some research before I can go much further, and since I was in no mood today for research, I began the second draft of book one.

The first thing I did was opened a second file and left off chapter one and went straight to rewriting chapter two. Chapter one could be looked at as back story, where the real story begins in chapter two. Everything that happens in chapter one is discovered throughout the book by my main character Vlad anyway, which is what had happened to him that led to him being taken in and raised by peasants. He finds the answers, sort of, when he goes back to his old man, but he is reluctant to give Vlad very much information. Later on in the book he learns even more about this past that happens in chapter one and then some, so I figured, to save on word count, the reader could just discover his past as Vlad does.

So chapter two is now chapter one, and boy does it need some rewriting, the narration is stiff and the dialogue is quite tacky. I'm seven pages into the rewrite and I've used very little of the original draft, even though the chain of events remain the same. I also added to the chapter's word count already. Doh! The writing was rather thin so it actually did need a little extra padding to give it more flavor. I just hope I don't end up doing this to every chapter. The goal is to cut the word count, not add. But! It is way too early yet, I've only just begun. So we shall see as I go.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #33

Train -- Drops Of Jupiter
Album -- Drops Of Jupiter (2001)

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's a time to change, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar
And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself out there?

Now that she's back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo
Reminds me that there's room to grow, hey

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
I'm afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol' Jane told a story about a man
Who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?

And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself out there

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you're wrong?

Can you imagine no first dance, freeze-dried romance
Five-hour phone conversation
The best soy latte that you ever had, and me?

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar
And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself?

And did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day?
And did you fall for a shooting star?
Fall for a shooting star?
And now you're lonely looking for yourself out there

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Palace of Visegrád, Hungary

I haven't done a historical post in a while, so I thought since the start of book two in my Draculești series begins here, I will talk a little about Visegrád, a town in northern Hungary that holds one of King Mátyás Corvin's palaces.

Visegrád Coat-of-Arms.

Visegrád (Veesh-ay-grahd) is located about twenty miles (32 kilometers) north of Budapest on the east bank on the bend of the Danube River. The area is filled with dense forests and rolling hills and mountains, and from the top of the great hill shadowing the town one can take in the beautiful views from the partially reconstructed ruins of the thirteenth century fortress. Visegrád was first settled as a Roman military camp in the 4th century in a place called Sibrik Hill, located a little north of the current upper castle. The camp was later abandoned in the 5th century and a castle was built in its place, and thus the town had formed. In 1009, Visegrád was first mentioned as a county town and the chief town of an archdeaconry. During the Mongol invasion of 1242, the castle and town was destroyed, but then rebuilt a little further south from the original site.

Sibrik Hill, enclosed by the winding road leading to the upper castle.

In the mid-13th century after the Mongol invasion, King Béla IV of Hungary and his wife rebuilt the castle in what is now the current site of the fortification. The castle consists of two parts, the upper castle and the lower castle, plus the palace which is situated in the shadow of the hill from where the upper castle was built.

Upper Castle:

The upper castle is laid out in a triangular plan and originally consisted of three towers at each of its corners connecting the curtain wall and protecting the keep within. In the 14th century, the castle had been expanded with a second curtain wall and buildings and became the royal residence of the Angevin kings of Hungary. In the early 15th century, the castle yet again saw more expansion with another curtain wall under King Sigismund and the enlargement of the existing buildings. When King Mátyás had come to rule, he renovated the castle as well. The upper castle has historically been where the most sacred of Hungary's treasures had been kept, including the crown of St. István (Stephen). Its many walls and strategic placement made for easy defense and security for such prized sacraments.

Upper Castle.

Lower Castle:

Very little remains of the lower castle today. A many-towered curtain wall extended from the upper castle down to the lower castle, ending at Solomon's Tower. A wall had once spanned the shore of the Danube and surrounded the town, lower castle, and the palace. The hexagonal Solomon's Tower, the last remains of the lower castle, was built in the 13th century and in the 14th century had curtain walls built around it. By the mid-16th century, Soloman's Tower had been partially destroyed, as well as the rest of Visegrád during the Turkish invasion. The tower is now reconstructed and serves to hold exhibits by the King Mátyás Museum of Visegrád. On a side note, Solomon's Tower is known to have held Vlad the Impaler for a portion of his imprisonment by the king, though it may just be another of the many myths surrounding the infamous 15th century Wallachian voivode. The king was known to treat his political prisoners well, and a high profile prisoner such as Vlad would have enjoyed special treatment.

Solomon's Tower.
The Palace:

First built in 1325 as a royal house by King Charles I of Hungary, the palace enjoyed many renovations by a succession of new residents, and had become the seat of Hungary before that honor had been given to Buda during King Mátyás's reign. King Louis I enlarged the house into a palace in the 14th century after succeeding his father, King Charles. During the latter part of the 14th century, King Louis, and his successor, King Sigismund, dismantled the building and rebuilt it on a different plan, expanding the palace further. Under the rule of King Mátyás, the palace enjoyed further reconstruction and expansion during the years of 1477-84 to accommodate his young Neapolitan wife, Beatrice, giving it a Gothic style and decorated with the Italian Renaissance influence. It had become their summer home. After 1544, much of the palace had been dismantled and destroyed by the Turks, and further abuse from landslides of earth from the surrounding hills buried what had remained. The palace had been an archeological site since the 1930's, but major reconstruction of the palace hadn't started until 2000, and now it is open to tourists. If you can't make it to Visegrád (like me), this site offers a 3D virtual tour of the palace. It is updated periodically and is interesting to see.

The Palace.

Aerial view of the palace.
Visegrád is where my main character, Vlad, had spent a good seven years of his life living in the upper castle as one of the king's guards dedicated to defending the castle and protecting the treasures inside. The second book begins there, but it's not long before Vlad is summoned to join in the war against the Holy Roman Emperor in Austria. I won't say how or why he is placed in Visegrád, that would only spoil the story for y'all (for if and when it gets published), but it is his home for seven years in the gap between the end of book one and the beginning of book two.

Visegrád in 1480.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Random Song Of The Week #32

Ludovico Einaudi -- Reverie
Album -- Nightbook (2009)


Friday, January 4, 2013

First Draft—Complete!

As of last night, I could finally say, I had completed the first draft of the rewrite of my novel! Pretty exciting stuff for me. Even though the original intent was to rewrite the entirety of the ancient first draft, it just isn't going to happen in one book. It is going to have to be split into two. Which is okay. As long as the first sells. But I'm getting way ahead of myself here.

At 189,600 words, the story is too long according to publishing standards for a first time author. There are those, like Elizabeth Kostova (I'll use her as an example since her novel is also based on Vlad the Impaler), whose first time novel—The Historian—clocked out at over 200,000 words and got a pretty good chunk of change for an advance, say, the seven figure range. That doesn't mean it'll happen to me. I'm pretty sure it won't, no matter how much I fantasize over it. My chances of getting published only increase with a smaller word count. Even at 150,000 words, which is my initial goal, it may be tough, but within the genre which word counts usually run high, I may be able to get away with it, but if I can go lower without losing the voice of the work, the better. Besides, it is in need of tightening and I can see where the fat can be trimmed, once I get into the editing stage. For now I'm going to let it simmer for a couple of weeks and start working on the second book, and possibly get in a few more character sketches so Izsák isn't so lonely on my blog.

Word count isn't my only concern. Of course I want the story to be good, I want to make sure there are no grammar mistakes, continuity errors, the dialogue is realistic, so on and so forth. Luckily for me I didn't just go on writing this draft with the mindset that it's okay to write crap which is so often thrown out there as advice, but I did try to tell myself it does not need to be perfect. That's what the edits are for. I can't imagine if I had let myself write complete dreck and then go back to fix it all. I couldn't anyway. I'm too much of a perfectionist. Perhaps that's why it had taken me so long to write it. The first chapters, though, may need a complete rewrite, because skimming over them I can see how much my writing and voice has changed from when I first started a few years ago up until now. Most of the first draft, about 70%, as a guess, was written this past year alone, which is good because the voice wouldn't have changed much, but those earlier chapters kind of make me cringe. Makes me wonder, as I continue the series over the years, as my writing improves how much more differently the voice between books will change? Hopefully not so much to be noticeable.

 And of course, as I sit here finishing up my post, Biggie has decided he needs my attention and is doing everything in his power to get it. Kind of reminds me of this The Oatmeal cartoon. Only, I wish he would throw me a party for my attention instead of chewing on things he shouldn't. Ah well!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So Long 2012 — Hello 2013!

With the passing of the craptastic year that was 2012, I'm going into this year with a more optimistic outlook. Yeah, I was like that last year, had plans to finish the first draft of my novel by summer, have it edited by the end of the year and ready for querying by this time. Having my novel finished was my one big goal and I was positive I could accomplish it. Then shit happened, as it always does, and for much of the year I had dealt with a bout of depression. I didn't finish the first draft (though I am one chapter away from finishing it), I certainly didn't edit it, and querying for representation, well, you know.

But this year, gosh darn it, I will have this book finished. I will have it edited and read by Betas, and I will start querying. And I will begin work on the second book of the series as well. I have chunks of it written already because I had thought I would be able to merge the two halves together into one. Nope. Not gonna happen. By the time I finish the draft of book one it'll top off at around 190,000 words, and yes, I will have to do some cutting. I already have ideas where I can cut to get the word count down, and I am certain there are areas of wordiness scattered all over the place that could use tightening. I don't know how far I can get it cut down, but if i can get it down to 150,000 words we'll be better off, though from everything I have read on the intertubes, that's still a pretty high word count for a brand new author, even for historicals or fantasies, of which mine is the combination of both. If I can get it down further, all the better.

So with that, I am going to keep this post short, but I will share with you a snippet from my book:

I see what you are trying to do, Vlad. You will not get me to tell you what you think you want to hear. It is my past, not yours. You don't need to know any of it.”
I thought, since you've helped me so much with my melancholy, the least I could do is try to help you.”
Spare me your lies, Vlad. I know what this is. You and Miklós made some sort of bet to get me to tell you my deep, dark past, correct? And to win this bet, you need to get me to tell you by the time we reach Buda. Am I right?”
No.” Damn, the woman knew too much. How did she—
Lie. For a man whose father punished people for lying, his son is a perpetual one. A bad perpetual liar at that.”
I am not a liar. Sometimes I stretch the truth or don't speak it at all, but I am not a liar.”
Anna raised a brow. “This is a jape, right?”
You are an impossible woman to get to laugh.”

Happy New Year, everyone, and may this year bring you many great things and prosperity!