Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Using Screenwriting to Revise a Book

I write screenplays. Two are adaptations of my published novellas, and have won honorable mention. Currently, I'm waiting to hear back from three contests and also waiting for the laurels for another film festival that two of my screenplays were accepted in.

So while getting ready to work on revisions of my paranormal suspense novella, Hell on Earth, I decided to write the screenplay version. Why? After all, the novella hasn't been contracted for publication, and if the Hell on Earth screenplay managed to get an option, that would make the work previously published in a publisher's eyes. No, the screenplay will remain on my hard drive with fingers crossed a publisher will offer me a contract.

One thing I did notice was in writing the screenplay, I was also revising the story. For example, dialogue. I would start writing the dialogue for the screenplay, then realize that what the character said made no sense. And I would note this on the manuscript. Or I would be forced to look at a scene I'd written and realize I'd had the wrong location. (I've since remedied that by using Scrivener to keep track of scenes.)

It's not a full-proof plan, and obviously won't work for everyone or for every book. I think what happened was writing the screenplay adaptation put my mind in a different mode, gave me a similar but different perspective.

At least writing the screenplay was a lot more fun than going through the manuscript and finding those "garbage" words.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Reel Dark (v. 2) Releases

Cover for Reel Dark
In 2014, fellow author L. Andrew Cooper asked me if I wanted to help him co-edit an anthology to be published by BlackWyrm Publishing. The book was released in paperback in May 2015. Shortly after, BlackWyrm closed its doors. Authors' rights were returned, and Andrew told me he had plans for Reel Dark. Later, I learned he had talked with Seventh Star Press, a Kentucky-based publisher, and the anthology would be published as a second edition with a new cover and two new stories.

This past Friday, May 13, the anthology, which made its debut at StokerCon, was officially released. I love the cover, and I'm excited the book has a second chance.

Reel Dark Synopsis:

Welcome to a macabre cinema for the imagination, to twisted tales projected not on a movie screen but on the page. In Reel Dark you'll find suspense, horror, science fiction, and fantasy in fiction and poetry by authors ranging from new voices to bestsellers. From the battle for recognition between a child actress and a vengeful, long-forgotten film star in "Whatever Happened to Peggy...Who?" to a hapless artist whose talent propels him into a nightmare of jealousy and revenge in "The Dreamist," the authors have created worlds filled with madness and twisted desires. Where the lines between reality and fantasy blur, where films flicker at 24 frames per second, we catch a glimpse of strangers' dreams and nightmares. As David Lynch puts it, "This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top." As Karen Head writes in her poem "Amnesia," responding to Lynch, "In the movies / everything is illusion." But with cameras everywhere, how do you know whether you're in a movie?

Available from:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/27xjOxy
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1Nxueq9
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1XkWE8D







Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Monthly Round-Up: April 2016

I am once more a week late with my monthly round-up. Life is a bit hectic. But there is news to report, so on with it.
COMING SOON
Final edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are done! I still have no confirmed release date, or a cover, but I think we're looking at a summer release.
And in case you missed it last month, the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, has been contracted to MuseItUp and will be out in 2017 - likely Autumn.
PUBLICITY
I only had one guest appearance this month, but it was a rather interesting one. Susan A Royal interviewed my amateur sleuth Shara Summers on her blog on 11 April.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I'm about 7000 words into the new horror novel, but I'm not happy with what I've got so far. I've only recently realised how to fix it, and it's going to need a reboot. Scrap and start over. Oh well. With any luck, some of the words already written will be salvageable.
I've also got the muse whispering in my ear at the moment with the plot of the fourth Shara Summers book, demanding to be written. I'm trying to write only one book at a time, so thus far I've been attempting to resist the urge to succumb to this one. But she is whispering quite loudly. All I can really say at this stage is that this book will take Shara to New York. I feel another visit there might be required. You know, just for inspiration. 
That's it for now, so go off and enjoy the spring sunshine, and I'll catch you next month.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April Writing Challenge

Many authors are familiar with National Novel Writing Month, that 30 days in November when writers set a goal of writing a 50,000-word book. I've participated in it for several years, and two novellas, Death Sword and The Ripper's Daughter, went on to become published.

The objective of such a writing challenge isn't necessarily publication, but for a writer to keep writing, to lock away the inner editor, and get words on paper. Because, as the saying goes, you can't edit a blank page.

April and October are also two months where I participate in a writing challenge based on the Write a Book in a Month series. Unlike NaNoWriMo, there is no word length minimum and one doesn't have to write a new book. I've used those months to revise a book, but usually I try to write a new one. This year, a writer friend and I have challenged ourselves to write 2-4 new books. Since I take writing challenges seriously, I'm adamant about reaching my goal, even on days I don't want to write.

It's not always easy to get started each day. I look at my daily word count, which resets to "0" after midnight, and sometimes think, "I don't know what to write." But I start typing. Soon I have 100 words, then 200, then 500. "Keep going," I tell myself. Soon I've reached a 1,000 words. I take a break, eat, check email, then go back to the writing. The graph shows 50% of the daily goal completed, along with the overall goal. Then 60%, 75%, 100%. If events continue to unfold, I keep writing, not wanting to lose the momentum.

If I don't make my daily goal, I don't worry about it. Nor do I worry if a scene doesn't quite work, because this is a first draft. As my friend and I joke, I'll fix it in post.

Before NaNoWriMo, I was the author who never finished writing a book. Then one day, I decided I was going to write a 40,000-50,000 word novella. My goal: write without going back and editing what I'd written. I could read the previous page to refresh my memory, but no critiquing.

And I did it. True, the story needs a lot of work, and I doubt I'll ever dust it off, but I did it. When I told another author friend, she referred me to NaNoWriMo, thinking I would enjoy the challenge.

Writing a book isn't easy, but there's nothing as satisfying as watching the word count go up, until you reach the magical moment when you can type "The End." Even better? When you crawl out of your writing cave, and your SO still remembers you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Monthly Round-up: March 2016

I'm a week late posting the round-up for March. But life keeps getting away from me, and I was also in the midst of confirming some news I wanted to report on.
COMING SOON
Edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are more or less done, and we're on track for a late spring release. I'm hoping to be able to confirm a release date soon. I'm expecting late May.
And now on to the Big News. I've just signed the contract for the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, and am pleased to be able to say that this novel has moved from the WIP section to 'coming soon'. Although 'coming soon' is a bit of a relative term. Publication is estimated at Summer/Autumn 2017. So about 18 months away. I am looking forward to working with my editor at MuseItUp on this one. I have a feeling there'll be lots of edits on this one, but between the two of us I am confident we can get it into shape.
PUBLICITY
I appeared on Eric Price's blog on 7 March as part of a blog swap sharing writing tips. I was talking about what I learned during the process of writing my first published novel.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I am now working in earnest on the new horror novel, which still doesn't have a title. I'm referring to it as the 'urban explorers novel' because this is who it features as main characters.
There's plenty to keep me busy here for a while. Catch you at the end of April!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Quiet Friday Morning

Crime Scene Tape
Usually, on this blog, I write about my publishing and writing experiences. But something happened this past Friday that put our cul-de-sac in our subdivision in the local news, and not for a good reason.

I never heard the gunshot. And the presence of police cruisers and an ambulance in our cul-de-sac normally didn't raise any undue concern.

But the yellow crime scene tape promised a different story, one that would involve someone I knew.

The ambulance slipped away, sans sirens and flashing lights.

For the first time, a murder had occurred on our street. Supposedly, a young man had shot and killed his girlfriend. (I'm only saying this because although there's been an arrest, the young man has not yet gone to trial.)

My husband knew the suspect, and we both knew another man who also lived in the house where the shooting took place a few doors down from us. This is the closest I've been to knowing someone who's been directly or indirectly involved in a murder.

The police had put crime scene tape up at the end of our street. This was where the reporters had set up cameras and interviewed neighbors, including a woman who claimed the suspect had sped through the stop sign. I can believe it.

Our driveway wasn't blocked, but police had put up crime scene tape across the street close to the crime scene, using mail boxes to tie the tape around. I counted four or five police cruisers on our end of the cul-de-sac, with one cruiser at the end of our street. Occasionally, another cruiser joined the latter, effectively cutting off access to our street.

We'd experienced the same thing last summer when the SWAT team had been summoned the next street over.

Quiet neighborhood? Yeah, right. Since I've lived here, we've had a field set on fire, a break-in next door, a break-in in a local church, and a self-inflicted gun shooting. Before that? My husband told me a fire had broken out in the woods nearby, and a bullet had nearly hit his daughter during deer hunting season.

But this was the first time we'd experienced a murder.

That day was the first time I met a homicide detective working a case. We gave him some information we had, but I'll say no more here. If it helps the investigation, so much the better.

Now I know what the back interior of a CSU vehicle looks like (at least here), and I watched crime scene investigators, homicide detectives, and the deputy coroner as they worked the crime scene.

Eight hours later, they took down the yellow tape.

Crime scene investigation fascinates me, but I prefer to watch it on a station like the Justice Network. Because when it hits close to home, it has a profound effect, not only on the victim and suspect and their friends and family, but also on those who live in the area.

Before the murder, I wondered how many people even knew this street existed. Now we do, in infamy. Yes, the memory will fade as other people resume their lives. But for those of us involved in some way, however small, the memory will linger much longer.