Update on Shadows and Stars

Character from Shadows and Stars

Over the last couple weeks, I have had a bit of writer’s block on Lycanthrope, so I decided to start working again on Shadows and Stars. However, I have been stumped on where to pick up with that. As you may recall, I stopped editing Shadows and Stars, because coordinating and double-checking all the details in a 150,000+ word novel was becoming overwhelming. Meanwhile, I was getting one idea after another for Lycanthrope.

So, for a few weeks I have worked on neither and instead focused all my energy on building The Chamber Magazine, for which I have had ideas pouring in. Now, I am at a decent point with that, so I have been wanting to pick up on Shadows and Stars, which is what happened last night.

You may know from earlier posts, that I love to sit in a restaurant or coffee shop and write my manuscripts by hand in a journal or notebook. Since the start of the Pandemic, I have rarely been in a restaurant and never to simply sit and write. Yesterday, I got a haircut in Dumas. Because the pandemic restrictions are easing and I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, I decided to go to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, El Toro in Dumas, to write.

I wrote only for maybe an hour and a half, but it was so enjoyable. I felt at home and the ideas for Shadows and Stars flowed like in old times in Farmington. I made some important decisions and refined some plot elements, so that I no longer have the block I did when I took up Lycanthrope. I hope to be working more on Shadows and Stars tonight. It’s a beautiful, picture perfect day here with an absolutely perfectly comfortable temperature.

One idea I had yesterday evening for spurring creativity derived from my branding and advertising for The Chamber. You may have noticed that I love to use eye-grabbing, attention-snagging graphics in The Chamber. Most I use over and over for different tasks. You may also have noticed that I like to have a little fun and put a little fun into The Chamber as well. For that reason, I took some of the graphics I was using and created an imaginary staff with some interesting names and backgrounds suitable for a dark magazine like The Chamber. I reuse some of these graphics enough that for quick reference, I think of them by the names I gave them in the staff photos section. So, instead of thinking, “where’s that photo of the girl leaning on a door with the red tattoos running from the ends of her mouth, across her cheeks, and through her eyes, I simply think, “Where’s Orly?”

Anyway, I have been struggling with what happens when my Shadows and Stars protagonist, Daryn, wanders into an industrial city called Katliam. It has been a lot harder for me to visualize Katliam than it is for me to visualize Janhalo, the main city in the story. I have also been trying to come up with the types of characters he encounters there, but I keep drawing a blank.

Then I thought why not use Pexels and Pixabay (the two main websites I use for photos for The Chamber and elsewhere) to help stimulate some ideas.

So, I went to those and I searched for the strangest, alien-looking people I could find. Now, I can visualize some of these characters interacting with the characters I have already created to come up with new subplots and interactions. It’s already giving me some ideas. I took the images I chose and stored them on my hard drive for reference. I used one of them for the image at the top of this post. I can now look at a character and invent a background for him like Professor Tripp and his editor, Crabs, did in the bar in the movie Wonder Boys. This happens to be a game my wife and I used to play while sitting in a night club when we started dating. However, we were trying to figure out the person’s actual background from their appearance (so we were more like Holmes and Watson).

Now talking about this gives me an idea for a game which might generate more publicity for The Chamber. I can put up a photo of someone and ask people to give a quick bio. Writers like to make up characters. I think I would post in The Chamber’s blog, so that it goes out to other social media simultaneously or I might just tinker with it on Twitter first. I think I will do that and then move it to the blog if I get a good response. I will do that now..

As mentioned, I have been doing a lot with The Chamber over the last few weeks. I will have to write maybe several posts on that covering a variety of topics from being an editor to planning marketing and trying to come up with ideas for grabbing some publicity. I am not dropping that by any stretch of the imagination. I have got it to a point now that I can manage it at my leisure. One reason for this is that I now have enough submissions that I have been able to plan out and schedule the issues to mid-June. Now, I can take off for a month if I like then come back and pick up where I left off without interrupting the flow of the magazine. I am making use of Buffer.com and capabilities in WordPress and Twitter to play my posts as far in advance as possible.

Anyway, that’s all I care to write for today. Stand by for more updates in the weeks ahead.

Hasta luego.

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