Springing Along

After finishing the first draft of my latest project at the end of March, I took a few days off to reset my mind. Powering through 118,000 words in just over two months merits a mini-break. Then, I dove into what I think was my final round–or next to final round–of self edits (draft twenty-four) of Barren Devotion, the seventh novel in The Possession Chronicles.

One of the period pieces of photography that helped me set the mood for Barren Devotion.

Yesterday, I completed the first draft of a short story to submit to the next Mobile Writers Guild anthology. The deadline is May first, so I’ll be powering through edits the next few weeks. I even gave it the first round of edits last night after only a couple hours away from it–not the best thing to do, but I’m on a time crunch. Generally, the longer you’re away from a project, the easier it is to see the flaws. Fortunately, I have just enough time to submit the story to my critique group so it can have more eyes on it before submitting. That’s always a good thing–especially for writers like me with dyslexic tendencies.

It looks like the rest of April will be spent editing the short story, while waiting to hear from the editor of Haunted Remains, the 6th novel in The Possession Chronicles. The next book releases this July and several editing rounds with a professional will be happening before then. And the cover art–I always look forward to that.

I already have an idea for another project, but it’s on hold until I see to these deadline projects. I tend to get obsessive about projects and find it difficult to balance more than one at a time, so I hold back the new ideas until I get a clear creative calendar. That doesn’t work for everyone. A lot of people I know, if they don’t act on an idea, they lose it. For me, it builds up like pressure behind a dam and when I get to it, it spews out. Not a pretty visual, but first drafts are messy.

At least, that’s how it’s worked for me the past few years. Creativity has an ebb and flow, just like the rest of life. I used to not be able to fast draft. Now I can–except for last year. It took me thirteen months to draft one novel when the previous six novels took an average of two months each. But this last one put me back on my fast draft schedule. I don’t force it–I go with it. Life is too short to be overly hard on yourself, especially with creativity. Take breaks, reset, allow your output to change with life’s demands. We’re human.

Release Day–Times Two

To close out 2019, I’m happy to report that two books I had a part in release into the wild today.

First up is Finally Home: A Christmas Anthology.

The anthology is a collection of romance short stories featuring rescued animals, compiled by Bienvenue Press and proceeds benefit animal rescue charities. “Grace Shadowed” is Possession Chronicles #3.5, but can be read alone. It’s available in print and ebook.

Also out today is Finder’s Keepers. For this book, I was interviewed (along with Candice Marley Conner) about my experience with a critique partner. I also served as a beta reader for the full manuscript and recommend it for writers of all experience levels, with or without an active critique partner. Find more information about the book here.That’s it from me for 2019. There are plenty of books to keep you reading into 2020–both mine and otherwise. This Christmas, and always, please consider leaving book reviews. It’s the perfect gift for authors. Until next year…

Blog Hopping

I’ve been all over different websites lately and posting/sharing the links on my social media pages, but in case you’ve missed them, here’s the latest.

 

Book Review:

This post is a review of my historical novel, Fortitude, by MeLeesa Swann, a newcomer in the world of Middle Grade fantasy.

 

Guest Blog Spots:

This one is about seeking inspiration in the world around you, on MeLeesa’s site, including examples I find of Fortitude and Corroded in the world around me.

Then newest is a feature on some of my favorite books featuring Autism Spectrum Disorders on Stephanie Lawton’s blog. (Enjoy contemporary upper YA and New Adult novels, she’s your lady!)

 

Q&A Posts:

Steven Moore hosted me last weekend with some great questions. Check out his website while you’re there. He’s a fantastic artist (“Mr. Illustrator” from The Inscribables, who drew my “Word Rocker” avatar.) If you love fantasy books, games, etc. be sure to browse his offerings.

And I had another stop with MeLeesa Swann (she’s been great to me) to answer her burning questions.

 

Thanks for following my  blog journey and  checking out my literary friends.

P.S.

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Weeding Through It

This past week I was struck with plot problems, which coincided with both a beta reader critique as well as a Revise and Resubmit from a publishing company. One major issue was pacing and the other was that I missed the mark on a key turning point for two main characters, which in turn reflected on other issues needing to be strengthened. Yes, this is for book one in the Gothic family saga that’s possessed my time, energy, and effort the past two years. And since this issue was pointed out in the first manuscript the effects will ripple through the seven other stories in the series.

After my initial freak out—which I let simmer over night—I read through the critique/suggestions again and decided to turn to the place I go when I need to plot: the yard. Yes, it’s January but on the Gulf Coast there’s always yardwork to be done. After the last freeze, the remainder of the lantana plants were ready to be pruned for the season and the flower bed was in need of weeding.

So I took my pensive thoughts, grabbed the wheelbarrow and pruners, pulled on my gloves, and set to work. By the first half-hour I knew the problem wasn’t as big as I feared. The situations, people, and history were there already, I just hadn’t dug into that corner of the character’s past thoroughly because I didn’t want to wallow in that part of his dark life. As I worked, I allowed my mind to wander and focused on two despicable people associated with the character in question that I knew could be involved. It was easy to narrow down the right one once I gave myself permission to dig deeper.

After about an hour, I knew which minor character would be the catalyst and began forming the outline of a new character from the shadows of the past I’d kept locked away. The new character was always there, just not named or explored.

With the situation, characters, and history mapped, I processed where in the manuscript the information could be placed. As organically as the history came to me, it was clear to see that there were natural places to insert the backstory into the manuscript without jarring or taking away what was already there. Looking at the coming manuscripts, the revelation only solidifies the anguish and choices he will make in the stories as the saga unfolds. The history was there all along, I only needed to prune away the unnecessary layers hiding the base of the character’s life.

When all else fails, go to the garden.

Where do you go to think?

Decade in the Making

I’m halfway through the second round of content edits on Corroded (Surge Imprint from Anaiah Press, April 2016), which makes it at least the fiftieth revision. It’s been a learning curve, to be sure! Even though it’s coming out second, this is the oldest “book baby” of my adult life. My first born, but she had to stay in the ICU so that the second child, Fortitude, will be out in the world four months ahead of her.

Corroded has been through two different critique groups, a full manuscript critique by Laurie Halse Anderson, and a handful of beta readers. Not to mention that it went through two rounds of submissions—and rejections—in the past four years (when I thought she was mature enough) before she was accepted this year (on the “first” try.) I’ve swaddled and re-diapered this story more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. Early readers will recognize the story, but Corroded is now so much more than I thought possible when she was formed a decade ago.

In the beginning, I was too close to the main character. By separating myself from her, I was able to dig deeper. How is that? Probably the same way you can find yourself by losing yourself in service. I had to give up my own ideals to find the true complexities of the characters. And in doing that, I maneuvered through the layers of the story to find the heart. I journeyed so far that I ended up with two main characters and dual point-of-view novel.

Foritude-Corroded quote

Thought it all, I couldn’t give up on Corroded. The story needed extra nurturing and that took time off and on throughout my other projects. Even now, there’s work to be done, but I’m confident the book will be the best version of itself when it’s finally released from the nursery. Anaiah Press has given me a stellar editor to make sure that happens. It’s been a longtime coming and I’m grateful for each step of the journey.