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.
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.
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.
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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mission: "Accomplished"

The other day, I accomplished something which I thought I would never do. I completed the sequel to Death Sword. Granted, my original plan went through several changes, and I finally had to concede to the fact that what I wanted to accomplish (a 3-book series) wasn't going to happen. So, Serpent Fire and Devil Inside were merged into one book. At this point, I think I'll continue using the Serpent Fire title.

Not that I ever meant to write a sequel or a series. Originally, Death Sword was a stand-alone. I'd finished the book and had started writing another one, when Samael, the antagonist from Death Sword began grumbling he wanted to tell his story. Our conversation went something like this:

Samael: "I want to tell my side of the story."

Me: "I'm done with Death Sword. I've moved on to another book."

Samael: "But you made me look like the bad guy."

Me: "Um, because you were? Now move along. I have too  many characters running around in my head, and you need to leave."

Samael: "No."

Samael was stubborn, and he continued to nag at me, so I decided fine, I would do a little more research about him, and maybe that would make him happy. Not that I hadn't researched him before, but I had some new material I'd acquired recently, and not only did I find something about him I hadn't seen before, it was something that convinced me that yes, I had to continue the story.

Now, I won't go into details about how Serpent Fire became my bete noire. I rewrote it twice, and finally ended up merging it with Devil Inside, a book that, in my humble opinion, was a bit more "together." Either way, not all is lost. I'm using material from SF in another book.

This new version of SF/DI will go through another round of revisions, but I hope to submit it this year, along with the novella, Hell on Earth, a spin-off of Exterminating Angel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cold Feet

Well, it's started again. Cold feet syndrome. Every time I enter a screenplay contest, or submit a manuscript to my agent, editor, or beta reader, I can't help but be bombarded by worries that range from "What if they hate it?" to "Maybe I'm not as good a writer as people say." Most writers will understand this anxiety, although there are those who believe their first draft is perfect and how dare anyone ask them to improve it. I'm not one of them.

I think part of it is I'm struggling with my current manuscript, Serpent Fire, the sequel to Death Sword. Yeah, I blame Samael. Death Sword was meant to be a standalone, and he kept complaining he wanted to tell his story, which became quite detailed, enough for two more books, the third one being Devil Inside. However, even though I know the story arcs for both books, and the overall story arc, have even created a story bible, truth is, I'll probably have to combine both books. Maybe. Anyway, I'm resorting to the index card technique to help me get an overall view of the story.

My goal this year is to write two to four novels, a challenge I'm doing with a fellow author and friend. I plan to write the next two angelic assassin books, although I'd like to write three, and that would complete the series, the first one which I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2015.

On an unrelated note, I got a new laptop, and was able to hook up my old laptop's HD to it, and recover my files. Yay!

Oh, yeah, and about those cold feet? My agent's supposed to call me tomorrow. I'm bracing myself for the publishers' rejections.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

February is nearly over, and it has one extra day than usual this year, with it being a leap year and all. The days are gradually getting longer and it's now still light when I leave the office at the end of the day. It's still dark by the time I get home, mind, but you can't have everything.

On with the news.
No more news on a fixed release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN, but it is meant to be coming out in Spring. Which means some time in the next three months. I'm expecting it to be around mid-May.
I've had two guest appearances this month. The first was on Amy McCorkle's blog 'Letters to Daniel'. The brief was to write a letter to a hero who has changed your life in some way. So I wrote to Stephen King, who turned me on to writing horror.
I then had a guest post on Lay Lalone's blog about why you shouldn't listen to your English teacher.
SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the new Shara Summers book, is nearly finished! I know I've said that a few times, but this time I am confident I'm on the final draft. Now I just want to get the damn thing finished and submitted, so I can get back to writing the new horror novel, which has been languishing in a 'barely started' first draft stage for ages.
I'v got a busy month coming up in March, including my first convention of the 2016 season, the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales. Join me next month for the low down on how it went!