Monday, October 16, 2017

The Game Is...Something

All right, cats and kittens, the moment you've all been waiting for has finally arrived. Okay, so maybe it's the moment that only I have been waiting for, but regardless of who has or has not been waiting for it, that moment has finally arrived.

Second Nature's edits are sitting in my inbox right now.

They arrived last night, which means...

On. The game is on. (I may or may not be listening to Sherlock as I write this post.)

My next challenge, should I choose to accept it, is to complete said edits by the end of the month. I have absolutely no idea if this is a realistic goal, given that there are only fifteen days left in the month, but that's what I'm going to try to do.

This is the moment when the insomnia starts working for me.

In theory, anyway.

This is also the moment when I start neglecting this blog again. (Sorry, My Pet Blog, you had a good run there, what with these three whole posts and all, but edits are time consuming, and I have 800-something pages to go through.)

So if you see me lingering online anywhere, please feel free to yell at me to get back to work. Goodness knows I have plenty of it to get back to.

See you on the other side, y'all...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pieces Of Me (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group.

I'm assuming that, by now, everyone coming here will be well versed with the IWSG, but in the event that you're new (and welcome, if you are!) or would just like more information or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's co-hosts are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan. And let's not forget the group's founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?"

Sure. Well, maybe. I guess that depends on what one considers personal information. But various facets of me do leak into my writing. Some on purpose, some not.

For example, sarcasm. I am a sarcasm-based lifeform, and as such, I have a tendency to create sarcasm-based characters. Some are more sarcastic than others (I'm looking at you, Cate...), but they all have that tendency built into their DNA.

And because I am from New England, my characters also tend to be from New England (well, at least the ones not in my fantasy novels). I do that because I'm familiar with the region, and I like the authenticity it can lend to a story.

These same characters root for Boston sport teams, drink the occasional whiskey, and often love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly.

Which makes it sound like I have an entire army of sarcastic, whiskey-swilling, Red Sox fans when the truth is that there's only two such characters because (A) fantasy has been my primary focus for ages now and (B) it takes me a million years to write anything.

But in the interest of getting back on track...sometimes, these similarities aren't deliberate, or even intentional. Sometimes, they sneak in there and I don't realize it until much, much later. And occasionally, they're entirely perceived by readers who know me or, as it turns out, my family.

The Man, for example, came home from work one day and told me that his co-workers had decided that he was one of the characters in my novel, Effigy. When he told me which character, I had a good long laugh over it because he wasn't that character—or any character, for that matter—but it didn't stop anyone from finding similarities and reaching their own conclusion.

But I don't mind. Because it was hi-larious.

What about you? Have you ever written yourself or parts of yourself into a book or character? If not, do your readers think you did anyway?

Thanks for stopping by, y'all.

Monday, October 2, 2017

October Daze

You probably have noticed this already, but it's October, y'all. October.

I've mostly been slacking off the last two months. You may have guessed that because of my near total lack of blogging, but it's now October (seriously, how is it October already?), which marks the start of my (unfortunately) annual scramble to accomplish some goals before the end of the year. At this moment in time, the only goal I'm in line to actually finish before 2017 is up is my reading goal. I'd like to add to that. If I can.

Which means that the buckling down starts now. Well, in theory, anyway. I could very well decide to binge watch Battlestar Galactica or something because I'm me and that would be just like me.

The Number One item on my To-Do List is, of course, Second Nature. I'm pretty sure that the last time I brought it up on this blog, I was bemoaning my never-ending revisions and edits. But here's something I don't think I told anyone: I actually wrapped up those revisions and edits and sent Second Nature to the proofreader.

The manuscript went out at the start of August and was supposed to be back in early September but Hurricane Irma had other plans. (Whatever, Irma.) My proofreader is located down in South Florida, and between her day job in public safety and her own storm recovery efforts, my manuscript has been delayed. And then delayed some more. It happens. The new goal, the last I heard, is to have it back in my hands this week.

I haven't heard much about how it's going, but I'm guessing that despite my best efforts to eliminate as many typos/errors as possible, I've made waaaaaaaay too many mistakes. You know, the kind that will piss me off when I see them because it's the kind of thing I really should have caught earlier.

But that is why we have proofreaders, right? To find those mistakes we no longer see because we know what the manuscript should say and not always what it actually does say.

The only thing the proofreader said thus far (besides apologizing for the hurricane) is that she hopes that I'm currently hard at work on Book Three (aka, Full Circle) because she really needs to know what happens next. So at least the story itself is passing muster?

Maybe, anyway. Only time (and her notes...) will tell.

Also on the agenda is that possibly-ill-fated, maybe-not-a-romance novel I've mentioned a few times. Its working title is Vinnie & Ellie, and I really want to complete the draft by the end of the year. That's it. That's all I'm aiming to do. (This year, anyway...) I want to fill in the blank spaces and fill out the plot (once I figure out what that actually is...) and do whatever I need to do to just complete the draft.

I suspect my poor, unsuspecting critique partners will be instrumental in helping me do this. We were all off doing various summer-vacation-type things for the last two months, but we're all back in town now so our meetings should be resuming soon. I plan to send them as many scenes as they can tolerate. I love these two ladies, and if there's anyone who can help me figure this thing out, it'll be them.

And should there be any time left over (Ha! she scoffed), I would like to complete Part One of Full Circle. Its official storyboard is up and running, even if it only covers the first twelve chapters (I'm also rocking three other storyboards, so the wall space in my office is running out. I'm going to have to either finish some projects (Ha!) or start using the dining room walls soon.).

I have a sort of plan figured out for Part One, but because of the way Second Nature ended, (which is to say unexpectedly...) I've been pantsing things (which sounds funny. I trust that you're writers and you know what I'm actually saying). I'm just kind of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

But the writing itself is not going particularly well at the moment. And yes, that is partially because knowing anyone out there actually wants to read this book is totally stressing me out. Because I am a freak who cannot deal.

But that's another blog post for another day.

To recap, here are my goals for the month:

1. Complete edits for Second Nature. This is, of course, entirely dependent on me receiving said edits. But should they appear in my inbox, they will become my first priority (after my pets' needs, naturally. The Man can order pizza.).

2. Get in contact with the book designer/formatter and the cover artist, in the event that the edits actually arrive and I actually get them finished. Should I feel ready to move on to the next step, I want to make sure I'm in a position to actually do it.

3. Put the finishing touches on Second Nature's blurb. For the same reasons listed above.

4. In time not spend working on the above, I will work on completing the first draft of Vinnie & Ellie and send fifteen pages to the critique group for their perusal each and every time we meet.

5. In any time leftover (again, Ha!), attempt to make some headway on Full Circle. But, really, this is more a goal for the remainder of the year.

6. Walk at least 3 miles a day. Because otherwise I'll just become part of  my desk chair.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! What's on your To-Do list this month?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Missing The Mark (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group.

I'm assuming that, by now, you're all familiar with this group, but if you're looking for more information or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's co-hosts are: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?"

And true to form, I'm kind of answering this question and kind of not. Because I'm me, and this is what I do.

So I know I don't have a very deep title list, or a title list of any kind (I'm not sure one title can be counted as a list), but all five of my readers will know that I don't exactly write happy love stories. All of my characters are pretty miserable at the end of the first book, and should the second book ever see the light of day (Ha! she scoffed) those five readers will see that no one's getting any happier. It's not looking good for the third book, either (either for the characters, or me writing it...).

Because I am a horrible person who likes to do horrible things to her characters.

But that's another blog post for another day maybe.

Despite my penchant for making characters miserable, this past July, I set out to write a romance novel. Like, a real, actual romance novel with characters who like each other and aren't endlessly tortured, and who maybe have something that kind of sort of resembles a happy ending.

I hit my word count goal on this project (65,000 word) and scored myself a Camp NaNoWriMo win in the process, but the book is far from being finished. Mostly because the story is missing one vital component: THE FREAKING ROMANCE.

Which somehow surprises me. I didn't expect that first draft to be perfect, of course (not that I can really consider it a finished draft, considering that it's, you know, not finished) but I am surprised that I missed the mark so badly. I read the how-to books. I took copious notes on crafting characters and plot. I read real, actual romance novels.

And then I wrote a hot mess featuring two characters no readers would actually want to be together.

Including me.

Which makes me wonder if I'm just not cut out to write a romance novel. I may not be. I may have to take those two characters and put them in another story in another genre. Or I may need more time away from it to give me the necessary perspective to figure out where I went wrong (for example, THERE'S NO FREAKING ROMANCE IN THE ROMANCE NOVEL) and how I could fix it. Or I may need to abandon the entire damn thing in some aligator-infested swamp somewhere (those exist in Florida, right?).

Only time will tell, I suppose.

Thanks for stopping by today. Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interacting With Readers and a Camp NaNoWriMo Update

This has been mentioned on this blog before—and will certainly be mentioned again, I'm sure—but I am one of those authors who's really not all that comfortable being an author in public. (Or just being in public in general, truth be told.)

I pretty much live in fear of being asked about my book. Or hearing that someone is reading my book. Or hearing that someone has read my book and now can't wait to talk to me about said book.

But when these things happen (which they occasionally do), I try to act like a somewhat normal human being capable of putting words into sentence doing (Name! That! Reference!) and, occasionally, I am somewhat successful.

But most of the time, I am just a big, blithering idiot who probably leaves every reader wondering how it is I managed to write a book at all.

Anyway, I recently had a pair of reader interactions I thought I would share with you. To my credit, I neither ran away nor hid under any tables at any point during these experiences.

—A gentleman—in front of a group, mind you—provided a passionate (and mostly accurate) recap of Effigy's plot—being sure to hit all of the darkest plot points, of course—during which I imagine I turned about a million shades of red. Upon finishing, this gentleman turned to me and asked, "How did such a sweet, quiet, little thing like you write such a dark book?" To which I responded, "If you think that book was dark, you really shouldn't read its sequel." (Also, it should be noted that I am not, in any way, shape, or form, a sweet, quiet, little thing.)

—A reader told me that she recently acquired a copy of Effigy and was really enjoying it. In fact, she was finding it rather difficult to put it down, and even read until 3am one night, because she didn't want to stop reading. Which, for me and all of my gross dysfunction, is just the highest compliment. As I wrote in a blog post a few years back, one of my goals was to write a book that make people (or person, as the case may be) want to stay up all night to read. So I am incredibly humbled that she feels that way about my book, and took the time to tell me so. Even though I was my usual social doofus self when she did.

—This conversation:

Potential Reader: I should really read your book.
Me: Oh, don't. It's terrible.
Potential Reader: Huh?

—And this conversation:

—Potential Reader: What's your book about?
—Me: Uh, well...there's this girl, and she's trying know, not die.
—Potential Reader: Well...that's a good goal to have.

I'll keep working on that 'normal human being' thing...

Camp NaNoWriMo Update

Goal: 65,000 words

Words Written: 42,321

Words Remaining: 22,679

Days Remaining: 13

Biggest Issue: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. There are 42,000 words in this damn thing, and I have yet to write the actual romance part. Methinks I am doing this all wrong.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You Know What You Should Do (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group!

(I'm assuming that, by now, anyone coming to this blog will know all about the IWSG, but if you're new and you'd like more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's fabulous co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.

This month's question asks, "What is one valuable lesson you have learned since you started writing?"

Which I'm kind of answering. Or might be answering. I'm not sure yet. We'll have to see how the post goes.

All right, so, back in New England, I belonged to a writers group. And, for a while, there was a member of this group with whom I would constantly butt heads. If we both attended a meeting, there was a better-than-excellent chance that we would end up having an argument. There was one very simple reason for this:

He thought he knew what every writer should be doing.

Every writer, he would say, should want an agent and a big six (or is it five now? Wasn't there a merge in there somewhere?) publisher. Every writer should want to be on a bestsellers' list somewhere. Every writer should want a movie deal. Every writer should want fame and fortune.

"Otherwise," he would say, "what's the point in being a writer?"

Well, I took great offense at this. Because not every writer is the same. Not every writer wants the same things. In that particular group, we had a few members interested in publishing, but more weren't. It was just the composition of that particular group. There was a woman who composed poetry simply because she liked it, and quite a few members who were writing their memoirs and/or family histories because they wanted their children or grandchildren to have them. They weren't interested in publishing. They wrote for the joy of writing.

And that man just couldn't comprehend it. So we fought a lot. Because he would make these writers feel bad about what they wanted. He would make them feel like something was wrong with them because their goals weren't his goals.

And that pissed me off. So I told him. Loudly. And frequently.

Because I am a firm believer that all writers are different and, therefore, may want different things. And no one gets to decide what those things are but you, the writer.

Because it's your work.

Want to keep everything you've written in a box under your bed? Okay. Want to get yourself an agent and a big six (five?) publisher? Good for you. Want to self-publish your masterpiece? Great. Want to have a bunch of photocopies made at your local Staples to hand out on street corners? Wear sunscreen. Don't know what you want to do? Do the research, talk to the people who have been through it, and then decide.

But always remember that the decision belongs to you. There may be people who don't like it, wouldn't have chosen it for themselves, and think you're crazy, but who cares? As my good friend, Tina Fey, would say...

But that's my opinion. We welcome yours.

Monday, July 3, 2017

In Which I Review Books

I always mean to write a post at the start of every month reviewing the books I had read the previous month, and for a while, I actually managed to do that. For whatever reason, however, I haven't done of these in quite a while.

But that changes today! Which you probably guessed from the title.

So here now, for your reading pleasure, is a recap of what I've read recently, and what I thought of it:

Right Behind You—Lisa Gardner—I was disappointed by this novel. I like her D.D. Warren series a lot, but this...I did not like this one. It was supposed to be a Quincy and Raine story, but they felt like secondary characters to me who really didn't have a whole lot to do. Also, it was repetitive. repetitive. And dull. And repetitive. It's hot, and did you know that Cal makes cheese? I do. It was mentioned twelve hundred times in each of his POV scenes and occasionally in other scenes. But I struggled through the book, only to get to the Epilogue, which summed up everything I'd already read. At least the German shepherd survives.

Empire of Storms—Sarah J. Maas—The latest installment in her Throne of Glass series. The second book in this series, Crown of Midnight, I thought was very good, and every book since then (in this series, I mean) has failed to live up to that, in my humble opinion. But yes, despite that, I keep reading them. (I alway seem to hope that there will be a return to the heights of that second book.) Anyway, in this installment...okay, just...I felt like I was reading about a completely different set of characters that just happened to share names with characters from earlier installments. Like, Dorian? Is he still possessed? Did he have a personality transplant in between the last book and this book (one that makes him really into bondage, perhaps?) because he's not the guy that I kind of liked in the first two books. There's also the very convenient romantic pairing-off of all the characters, like Oprah stopped by and did a giveaway (YOU get a soulmate! YOU get a soulmate! EVERYBODY gets a soulmate!), which lead some kind of ridiculous sex scenes. And can I just say...when you're some kind of magical being who bursts into flames at the, you know, height of pleasure, you probably should consider refraining from having relations on a wooden boat in the middle of the ocean. But maybe that's just me. The end felt rather deus ex machina to me (Aelin can certainly coordinate a lot of things without the use of any form of instantaneous communication/transportation), and my favorite character wasn't in the book at all. But considering what happened to the other characters, this was, perhaps, for the best.

The One Memory of Flora Banks—Emily Barr—A story about a seventeen-year-old girl whose memory resets itself every hour, or couple of hours, or every few hours, or whatever was most convenient for the plot. This book was just sooooo repetitive. Yes, I understand that a large part of that was because the main character had no short-term memory (due to a supposed brain tumor—more on that in a moment), but it made for a very tedious read. Especially when the one memory she does develop is her having kissed a boy. Not only does she remember it, but she decides she's in love with the boy, and she has to do whatever it takes to be with him. (Translation: goes by herself to the Arctic Circle to find him) There's a brother we never actually get to meet and a magic email from him that explains everything, but leads to an ending that's more unbelievable than the rest of the novel.

Into The Woods—Tana French— A story about the murder of a young girl and the completely incompetent detective with a mysterious past assigned to solve the case. Seriously, I had this thing solved on, like, page 137, but the detectives required a few hundred pages more to get it done. And then there's this paragraph toward the end of the novel where the narrator was all, like, (to the reader), "Well, the villain fooled you, too!" Which, she didn't. You're just stupid, dude. And a note on his mysterious past...that's a mystery that's never solved in this book. I wanted it to be solved, and I kept reading, hoping it would be solved, but it never is. And yes, in real life, there are mysteries that are never solved, but this isn't real life. This is a mystery novel in which a central mystery goes unsolved. I personally would have preferred the opposite.

A Season Of Daring Greatly—Ellen Emerson White—A novel about an eighteen-year-old girl who is drafted by a major league baseball team. I really enjoyed this story. You were probably thinking that I hate everything I read, but I didn't hate this book. I liked it very much. I thought it had a great character voice. It made me laugh, and it made me worry about the main character, which I find is always the mark of a good book. She doesn't have an easy time of it, which she shouldn't, and I was sincerely concerned for her. It made it hard to put this book down. My only real quibble is that I didn't like where it ended. I wasn't ready for it to end, and I hope there's another installment in the near future.

The Hate U Give—Angie Thomas—I loved, loved, loved this book. Seriously, I loved it. And this will be my shortest review, which sounds odd, I know, given the extent of my love for it, but I don't want to give anything away. Just know that it made me feel all the things, and I spent a good amount of time wiping away tears while reading this book. I found it to be an incredibly moving story.

Camp NaNoWriMo Update:

Goal: 65,000 words

Current word count: 8062

Words remaining: 56,938

Biggest Plot Issue: My MC gets fired, but I haven't worked out the hows or whys of it all yet.