Happy Autumn

Yes, it’s that magical time of the year when the weather cools and spirits invigorate from the break of summer heat! Though months have passed since I last posted, I’ve been productive in other avenues, like writing a new manuscript and working on edits on the multi-book Gothic Horror.

Now that I’m in between projects, I’m taking a week or two to catch up on long over-due things like blogging, cleaning, and organizing. This year has been one of creativity and my living spaces showcase that artistic chaos. The next few posts will feature some highlights from this past year, like new tidbits about Fortitude and Corroded. To start things off, here’s the newest item: a photo from my recent book signing at Christmas Jubilee market hosted by Mobile’s Junior League at the Mobile Convention Center.

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Fueled by Live Music

Last week I sent out my newsletter, so for those who get that you’ll already know I completed the first few drafts of my Gothic Horror work-in-progress. It’s currently out with some beta readers and I’m trying to patiently await feedback. Trying.

First draft

First draft

 

The other highlight this month—besides finishing that behemoth draft of 882 pages—was attending a Boston concert with the whole family. It was my oldest and youngest kids’ first rock concert and I’m happy to say all enjoyed it and there were no sensory meltdowns.

Boston concert, August 4, 2016

Boston concert, August 4, 2016

 

I played it safe and did back row, but with Boston their sound guys are constantly checking things and the audio is excellent, as is their visual. Awesome show, every time! (It was my fifth Boston concert in twenty-one years.)

Me, rocking my word count.

Me, rocking my word count.

 

Now, I’m balancing to keep my work-in-progress fresh in my mind and playing with the possibility of returning to a different project I wrote two years ago (middle grade contemporary) and tinkering with a few new ideas. In other words, I’m on the verge of creative insanity. What are you up to?

The Music of Fortitude

I’ve posted about writing mood music and soundtracks for my stories before, but I thought it’d be fun to bring the official, post-published soundtrack for Fortitude to the forefront of my site for a little while.

Fast fact: I can’t listen to music with lyrics while editing—only when writing fresh scenes. “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” and “Pride & Prejudice” (2005) soundtrack albums were the most listened to during edits on Fortitude.

 

While the “Fortitude Groove” playlist has over fourteen hours of tunes (including the above albums), I narrowed down songs for specific scenes in the book. A few of the songs transcend their listed chapters like “No Stone Unturned” and “Carry On.” Those two embody the whole theme of the book while the others merely highlight certain sections. I’m including Youtube links for those two songs for three reasons: their importance, their awesomeness, and the fact that some of the other songs are so obscure they aren’t on the web/there isn’t a decent video for them. It’s important to note that the songs aren’t always from Claire’s perspective even though she’s the main character. Sometimes the music is from the point of view of one of the secondary characters or even shared by more than one person.

Obvious Fact: I’m sure you’ll notice a certain fondness of a few musicians on here. Without further ado, here’s Fortitude’s soundtrack:

 


FORTITUDE soundtrack

Chapter One: “Another Road” Mitch Malloy

 

Chapter Four: “When the Smoke Clears” Mitch Malloy

 

Chapter Six: “Right to Respect” Joey Tempest

 

Chapter Eleven: “Kick a Little” Little Texas

 

Chapter Fourteen: “If” The Cult

 

Chapter Seventeen: “For Your Love” Hanson

 

Chapter Twenty: “No Stone Unturned” Europe

 

Chapter Twenty-five: “Angels (With Broken Hearts)” Europe

 

Chapter Twenty-seven: “Reason” Europe

 

Chapter Twenty-nine: “Carry On” Mitch Malloy

 

Chapter Thirty-eight: “Roll With You” Europe

 

Chapter Forty: “Let ‘em Whirl” Blackhawk

 

Curious? Go look up the songs, listen for yourself (if you can find them), and then come back and share your thoughts.
P.S. I like to hide song titles in all my manuscripts, but unless you’re familiar with the selections in my iTunes account you’ll never catch them.

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.

Shelfies

Since I’ve been in editing mode this year—and under deadline—many things around the house have fallen into states of disarray. Some of the most noticeable cluttered spaces are my bookshelves. After turning in the first round of content edits on my second novel I took a few days to organize my wall of books.

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But before I could tackle all those, I went to my other shelves and organized them so I could relocate some of the reference collection, among other things.

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Not too shabby.
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The Shannara books are out of the cabinet.

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Some of my favorite authors—and writing reference books—are located on the side of my standing desk.

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Many of my YA (and other) books are now located on the other side of my desk.

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Besides organizing I’m donating a box of MG-YA books to a friend who’s a first year middle school English teacher.

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But rather than totally streamlining, being the bibliophile that I am, I’ve already added fourteen new books to my collection so I now have some stacks in front of the stacks…

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I tried, really I did.

What’s your (book) weakness?

 

P.S. For those who subscribe to my newsletter, I skipped September because I hope to have some exciting news to share early this month, so be on the lookout.

 

Repeats

2015 has been a year of edits. Multiple rounds of edits on my first novel, Fortitude, carried me through winter and spring. In between those, I reworked my second novel, Corroded, to be submission ready for my publisher. (I signed the contract for it in April.) Over the summer, I worked on my messy work-in-progress, as well as line edits on Fortitude.

And Fortitude is finally done! The manuscript is with the designer and cover artist. WooHoo!

Teen me.

Teen me.

Now I’m back to edits on Corroded. I’m spending my early morning hours going through life with Mary and Ben, revisiting the angst and thrill of high school. Would I go back in time if I could?

No!

But I’ll take the safe distance of fiction to reassess those emotions, whether through my own storytelling or the art of others. After all, I think we are all still “coming-of-age.” Even if you are happy where you are in life, there is always something you can do to stretch yourself to the next level.

If you could redo a section of your life, would you?

Grace and Guidance

It’s been a surreal week of reading through Fortitude’s galley (early e-version of the book.) One hundred forty days until it’s out in the world! On top of proofing the galley, I need to turn in the dedication, acknowledgements, and biography sections.

Freak out time!

This is getting real, people!

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Granted, I’ve been working notes for an acknowledge section for a couple years—probably since the first draft was complete—it feels odd to have to finalize it. The journey is getting close to the end, but at the same time, it’s just beginning. I thought I had it all worked out, but about an hour after getting into bed last night, I was up again, altering the list of thanks.

Adding to it.

Because there have been so many people along the way who have helped, inspired, and answered questions.

The dedication remains the same, but how to fit all those who’ve touched the story… that’s a difficult question. But I think I found the answer. Come January 12, 2016, you’ll be able to see for yourself.