I live in Oklahoma City. Luckily (for the time being at least), I live on the Northside of the city, in a house that's stood unmolested by tornadoes for the last 86 years. My parents, on the other hand, are not so lucky.
While they technically live in South OKC, they are actually in a weird loophole of an area where they are a mile from Norman, live in an OKC zipcode, but are part of the Moore system. They were hit by the May 20th tornado that leveled a decent portion of Moore. But, even in that regard, they got the longer straw and only had partial damage to their house, a roof leak, and some ripped out trees, while a few houses down . . . well, those houses don't exist anymore. Horse farms across the street are gone. The Elementary School I went to (Briarwood, you might know the name now) is leveled. The place where I grew up is drastically different, again. This isn't the first time. Almost fifteen years ago, Moore was hit by the May 3rd tornado. This one veered about a mile and a half from our house and missed us. We weren't there, we ran. This time, my parents were at their house with my son. When they realized they were right in its path, they took him down to the shelter and hid.
After what seemed like an eternity, at 3:26 I sent my nice glib inquiry, "What's the good word?" To which I received the simple response, "We got hit" No punctuation, no details. Two dozen calls later and thirty minutes, we finally got through. My parents had been trapped inside of their storm shelter, as we always feared. Luckily my father was able to push off the tree that had pinned them down and they were able to escape.
Graham slept through the whole thing.
Unfortunately for all this, this means I've had very little time to do any real writing. Monday morning, I spent a fair bit of time worldbuilding Convert35, then moved onto to feeling out an edit of The Crysallis. I am trying out different names for that project. Right now its new (tentative) title is The Emotion Exchange. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but anything is better than The Crysallis. What I'm finding though is that, when I originally wrote it, I was just spilling out ideas, in between matches of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I'd write 5 pages, then play a match. It was a great motivator, but I literally remember almost nothing about the story. Reading the first chapter, cool. Second, nothing. As I'm picking at those threads, some of it starts seeping in. Like a scene along side of a high-rise apartments where my two characters have to jump from balcony to balcony. Or another where my lead female ends up in a hospital where they're constantly stimulating the brain through static, though the attendees wear white death-masks and suck all individuality from the workers.
There are a lot of ideas I'm finding I like about it, but, since it was finished in sixteen days, it's a uncompromising mess. And I'm just ten pages in! I can't imagine what this project will take to clean up, but I think I will delve in. It seriously sucks to say that you have only three completed novels when you've spent the last five years revising and molding the second novel into five entirely different constructs, with vastly different motivations and end results. Maybe one of these days I'll release an e-book version of each story. They won't be perfect, but it'll be an interesting experiment in the editing process, something I'm always evangelizing to my friends and employees.
Of course, all the work I've done on The Crysallis has been circumvented since going into work at about noon on Monday. By two, things were getting bad, but after all that, my parents are temporarily staying with us. As soon as they get electricity, they're going back home, even if the house isn't in the best condition. Since they're here, I haven't been able to have my late nights of watching twisted horror movies and writing. The ideas are still there, but I just haven't had a good time to tease them.
On one last note, I recently revised my query letter. While some members of my writer's group were definitely cheerleading into the OWFI conference, once I showed them a slight variation of that letter, they started ripping it to shreds. After I'd sent out almost the exact same thing to a dozen agents. However, after the initial evisceration, I was able to get out the finer points of the story to them and we worked to give me a better idea of what I needed in the query. I went through and made an entirely new one, with about a hundred more words that fixed the problems of motivation and what the story was really about. I've sent this one out (after getting approval again) to only two agents so far and they haven't been immediate rejections. So, that must be a good thing.
I've still got three out of four partials out from the OWFI conference. One of the agents has rejected it, but he never seemed really interested in the first place, but as you've heard over and over again . . . "Leave no stone unturned."