Friday, May 29, 2015

Monthly Round-Up: May 2015

How did we get to the end of May already? I do love this time of year, when the days are long enough that I get to see my house in daylight at either end of the day, the sun starts to shine and everything comes back to life. As a hay fever sufferer I'm not so fond of the pollen flying around, though. So here's the latest report from me on what's being going on writing-wise in the last month.

COMING SOON:

 I'm pleased to say I now have two forthcoming publications to list in this section.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is being released by Kensington Gore later in Autumn this year.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN is being re-released by MuseItUp Publishing in Spring 2016.

So that's two horror novels to look forward to! Sometimes I think the universe is dropping me big hints I'm more a horror writer than a crime writer.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF:

I've been a bit lax with promoting. Nothing new to report here. I hope to get back on the case by next month.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

Work is progressing well on the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH.

I'm also in the (very) early stages of a new horror novel. No title yet, but it is about a group of urban explorers who encounter a supernatural Big Bad.

With two WIPs on the go I've got to crack on with the writing. I will report back on how it's going next month!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Measuring Milestones

Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com
My daughter graduated from high school today, except she has to return to school tomorrow to finish out the term. A classmate graduated with her.

Only two graduating seniors? How can this be? Not only that, but the official graduation ceremony is next month.

K. and T. both have autism, and it was decided that going through the major graduation ceremony would be too stressful. The principal was even on hand to give them their diplomas. I thanked him afterward, and he said that they do this for their special needs students. Peer tutors talked about K. and T. and how much they enjoyed them, and there was even a small reception with cake afterwards.

It's been a long educational road for K. The first day of kindergarten we had to pick her up at the elementary school because she became upset. It's probably hard for people who don't have children with autism to understand that a change in routine or sensory overload can trigger strong emotions.

Over the years, her outbursts became less and less. K. excelled not only in math and art, but in basketball as well, once shooting thirty-six baskets in a row in gym class. She did volunteer work at an animal shelter and a children's charity.

Through it all, she never gave up. And that inspires me to keep pushing toward my publishing dreams. Sometimes, one needs to put things in perspective, realize that no matter how difficult something seems to be, it's not impossible.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE WHISPERING DEATH Finds a Home

I am pleased to be able to announce that my new horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH, has sold to British small press horror publisher Kensington Gore. There's an exciting announcement about it over on their website.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is about a group of live action role-players who unwittingly release an ancient evil loose upon the world during a game. I am particularly fond of this novel because it is effectively about a group of geeks, and I was able to incorporate all the geeky things I love into the novel. LRP. Dungeons & Dragons. Video games. Zombie films. And it's got a kick-ass heroine who's also a geek girl. I had such a good time writing about her.

And it's a novel that at one point I lost faith in. It had gone through several rewrites when I first started subbing it, last year. After getting fairly consistent feedback along with the rejections I decided it needed rewriting. But the rewrite took it to a place where the ending I wanted wasn't going to work and I got quite depressed about it.

But it just goes to show you should never give up. Have faith and keep collecting those rejections. Eventually, acceptance will come. And sometimes you have to believe in your own writing, even when it seems no one else does.

THE WHISPERING DEATH is scheduled for release later this year, which means I am expecting edits to come my way very soon. And this one will be out in paperback as well as electronic format. Yay!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Monthly Round-up: April 2015


The more observant may notice that there was no monthly round-up last month. This was partly due to the day job keeping me a bit too busy to keep up with blog posts, and partly because there was nothing to report.

However, I am now back on track , so here is the news from my writing world.

COMING SOON/OUT NOW

No new 'coming soon' announcements since February's news about SUFFER THE CHILDREN being released by MuseItUp next year.

The anthology THE DARK HEART OF PEEPING TOM is out there, though, and it's available in paperback as well as e-book (and Kindle). It features many stories that were first published in the UK 90s horror zine PEEPING TOM, including my story "Jimi Hendrix" eyes. If you like your horror dark, brooding and disturbing, this is a collection for you.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

After a bit of a quiet period, I have kick-started my online presence and have a few guest appearances in cyberspace to report

29 March - I had a guest post on horror writer Luke Walker's blog about why a nice horror writer like me writes crime.
9 April - I wrote the inaugural post for author and editor Akaria Gale's new series on pro tips, writing about why the author needs a balance of praise and criticism.
20 April - Jan Edwards interviewed me on her blog.


WORK IN PROGRESS

I am still working on SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara book. This time last month I was quite depressed about it. Then I decided to scrap the old draft and start again. It's never an easy decision to do this. If you keep restarting a manuscript you never get to the end, and I am a big advocator of getting to the end of the draft and fixing it in the rewrite. But I got to a point when I felt the manuscript wasn't working in its current state and there was no point in continuing.

The reboot involved making some fairly major plot changes. Happily, the new draft is going quite well, and I have been able to salvage quite a lot of the earlier draft and incorporate it into the current WIP. Thus proving that it wasn't all complete rubbish after all.

I am, however, only 7,000 words into the new draft so there is rather a long way to go yet.

See you next month!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Walking in an Editor's Shoes

This past weekend saw me doing a marathon edit for a project. And I can say I'm grateful to my editors for being tough on me because I was able to take what I'd learned from them and apply it to the stories I critiqued.

Nothing is more wonderful than reading a story that needs little editing. One gets a sense the writer has studied his/her craft and respects not only the editor (and publisher) but the reader as well.

There were three major issues that were prevalent throughout the editing process. The first one was writers who used two spaces after a period rather than one. Apparently, the situation is so common-place, there's even a Facebook meme going around begging people to stop doing it. True, when I learned to type on an electric typewriter my freshmen year in high school, two spaces was the norm. But not anymore.

The second issue concerned body parts acting on their own. Things like eyes roaming over someone's body. (Okay, that's probably a bad example, but hopefully, you get the idea.) This one is a hard habit to break, and even I've caught myself doing it. But I also know my editor will beat me over the head with her digital blue pencil, so I try to catch when I do it. (Speaking of blue pencils, does anyone remember them?)

And then there's what's referred to as "author intrusion." This is a little tricky, because writers do it without thinking, and I've even seen it in books published by best-selling authors, so I don't know if all editors subscribe to the idea or not.

Basically, what this means is if you're writing in first person POV or third person deep POV, you're inside that person's head. So phrases like "He saw," "He wondered," "He thought," etc., aren't needed. For example: "He watched Carrie storm out the door." Instead, all that's needed is "Carrie stormed out the door." If he's watching Carrie, then that part's implied and the reader will understand what he's doing without needing the "He watched" part. As for phrases like "He smiled," "He grimaced," etc., my editor told me that when one is doing these things, one doesn't think about it. In other words, you don't smile and think, "I'm smiling," and if you don't, neither should your characters.

Breaking this habit can be hard, especially when you want to convey how your character is feeling. I've found The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi to be a wonderful resource.

The last issue is another one that seems to be common among writers: head-hopping. That is, the reader is in one person's POV and then, all of a sudden, s/he is in another's, with no scene break to indicate the POV has shifted. This can confuse the reader, which is why POV shifts are often indicated by scene breaks.

Being aware of the above issues and avoiding them is one way to make your editor happy. Not only that, it will make your writing stronger.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing Wrap Up

Judas Dilemma Excerpt
This past weekend, I attended the Author Fair in Madison, Indiana. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to go to ConGlomeration since both events were at the same time. This was my second year at the Author Fair. This year, I'm probably going to Indie Gathering in Ohio. Depends on if my screenplay finaled. So far, it's been a bust in two screenplay contests. I have my agent shopping it around, and I plan to enter it in a local contest. Who knows? I might get lucky.

Speaking of which, I got a shout out from a speculative fiction author for my novella The Ripper's Daughter during the horror panel at the aforementioned Author Fair. High praise from an established author? Oh, yeah, I was positively giddy. :-)

That said, though, I had no time to rest on my proverbial laurels. Last night, I finished the extended draft of The Judas Dilemma. Originally a novella at 37,427 words, it's now at 84,308, although I'll probably knock a couple thousand off when I revise it.

Next project is expanding Cathedral Girl, which will also need about 40,000 words added. After that, Sins of the Mother, which currently clocks in at 65,000 words, so I'll probably add 10,000-15,0000 words. I never thought I could write long, but having an agent means I need to adapt if I want to have a chance of my books selling to New York. (Btw, none of these three books is Christian fiction. The first two are angel paranormal suspense and the last one is a political suspense-thriller.)

Not that I plan to stop publishing with small presses or self-publishing. My small press project includes helping edit an anthology which we hope to put out next month.

I'm also planning to revise and submit Serpent Fire and Devil Inside this summer, the two books in my three-book Angels of Death series that started with Death Sword. I have a spin off from Exterminating Angel, Hell on Earth, that I'd also like to submit, but since all are paranormal romance, and publishers aren't taking PNR, I'm stuck. Hopefully, not for long, though.

And then there's con season. Fandom Fest, Indie Gathering, maybe Film-Com, the Bullitt County Library Author Fair, Imaginarium, and probably one I'm forgetting. Would love to make it to Hypericon in Nashville this June, not as an author but as a reader. Couple of authors I know will be there.

There's always a chance. Like with anything, there's always a chance.