Tag Archives: #MondayBlogs

A Lost Week

From last Monday to this, I’ve been way under the weather. It’s been a long week of cough, edit, try to sleep, stuck on repeat. I am not a person who gets sick at all and thus, am a lousy patient.

So what have I accomplished? Spiffing up previously released, soon to be released, and released for preorder works. The Oregon Trail series is very close to being done. Depending on how my “Men” go over with the romance crowd, I’ll either call them done at the Best and Worst, or add in The Very Rich Man and Very Poor Man books as well.

I think I’m due for another shot of Nyquil, so I’ll close with this.

Fall in love with the Very Worst Man. Preorder now, release date 2/28/15.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQJ290K

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-very-worst-man/id969863602?mt=11

What if I didn’t write? What would I do? #MondayBlogs

Good questions, right?

I’ve been writing fiction off and on since 1990.  I’ve submitted works to major publishing houses and received rejection form letters with a few personal rejections thrown in.  I’ve tried to be ‘normal’ all my life and obviously not well or I’d be a big name in the traditional published writer world.

Back when I first started submitting, there were independently published writers.  They sold their ‘books’ out of the back of their van, truck, or car.  Most of their works had those plastic ring binders, while the shorter works were stapled.  All of them had covers with ‘original’ artwork scribbled by the author.  Ninety nine percent of the time, these authors had to self-publish via vanity press because their subject matter was way too esoteric for a major publisher to consider.  The history of a now extinct town in West Bumfuk Egypt?  Yep, esoteric.  Publishers aren’t in it for their health or for the benefit of art and the author.  They’re in it to make money and lots of it.

So how does this history lesson apply to today’s world of literature and why writers write?

Today is very different.  With one click and a document, anyone can be an ‘author’.  This fact is both wonderful and horrific.  People who were subjectively rejected by the Big Five are now able to publish and letting readers enjoy works written outside the boundaries.  Me, personally, I’ve wallowed in this like a pig in a mud hole, enjoying the ability to read works outside of the romance formula.  There are authors I one-click who have never been traditionally published.  They’re the ones I’m sitting around like a word junkie and asking “You done with that paragraph, yet?  Can I be your alpha reader?  Don’t care about editing, just gimmie gimmie gimmie.”  You know who you are.

Traditional writers have always…how to write this…looked down their nose?  Thought less of?  Didn’t take seriously? …the self published authors and with good reason.  I’ve been through four Warrior Dashes and each was much easier than getting traditionally published, even the Dash I didn’t train for AT ALL.  Plus, there is NO instant gratification with traditional publishing, and I’ve heard one multi published author, Jodi Thomas (who is wonderful!! I’ve worked with her husband at a college and both of them are great people!), who has said you’re being paid to wait, not write.  As an impatient control freak, I more than admire the traditionally published authors.  They do what I am mentally unable to, which is wait.

Which all leads us to the bottom line and answering the question of what if I didn’t write and why continue to write, especially when considering 2014’s bust after 2011-2013’s boom.

Being personal, here are my bullet items.

I write because I must.  There are so many stories in my head, they need an outlet.  Plus, I can’t help inventing new characters and plots, and even if it’s garbage.  I truly have no choice in this.  Some of what I imagine is fit for publication, others you’ll never see because no one wants to read a Mary Sue about Data from Star Trek:TNG.  Yes, I feel shame and no, you can’t read it.

What went up and came down will go up again.  This is a certainty to me because I’ve endured many booms and busts.  From the oilfield, to the dot coms, to housing markets, and now to self-publishing, I’ve seen days of making tons of money to making just enough to keep the lights on and ramen noodles stocked.  This downturn in ebook sales doesn’t scare me.  It reminds me of what my true goals are and that is to write the best story possible, every single time.

My mother taught me a long time ago that there are no even numbers in art, so here’s a third.  What would I do if I didn’t write?  I’d keep reading and I’d be more aggressive about scheduling knitting classes to teach.  I might even go back and see what it would take to update my computer science degree from client server skills to web guru.  Not a problem because I’d already went from mainframe to client server.  I can do all this for the money, but writing? I do it for my heart and soul.  Cliche’?  Yeah, but still very true.

Now back to work!  My editor is expecting The Very Worst Man in her email on January 2nd and it’s going to be fun to deliver.

#MondayBlogs for the Readers

I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers in the past week and thankfully, it’s all been great.  It’s super hard for me to take compliments and I find praise both wanted and difficult.  Whenever someone is gushy over my work, I have to take a deep breath and say thank you.  Then nothing else.  No deflecting or saying I’m not worthy because doing such will dilute the compliment and who wants that?

That’s my thoughts on the past week.  Back to you, the reader.  In that ‘Fine’ voice you get from your mother when she’s been worn down by your pestering, I say, “Fine.”  There’s been enough ‘eh’ reviews about The Very Best Man’s ending that I’ve decided to add another chapter.  This last bit of the book is inspired by Kung Fu Fighting.

I think most of the readers who didn’t like the current ending are those born after 1985.  They’re too young to remember the non-endings of movies made in the early and mid seventies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did they die?  Or did they survive and live out their lives in Bolivia?  We can only guess because that movie’s end didn’t tell us, just hinted.

I’m currently mired in the thing that is National Novel Written in a Month.  The word count is good and I’m using the month to write The Very Worst Man.

In progress!

In progress!

It’s wonderful so far.  I’m having the best time ever writing it.  The dialogue is a blast.  Plus, there’s already a secondary character trying to take over and I’m having to back off from letting her do so.  Can I just drop her and go on?  Of course not!  She’s my heroine for The Very Poor Man.

Most of my readers will probably be wondering whose blog they’re reading.  Like, am I not the author of that whole Oregon Trail series?  Yes!  I am and Uncivilized is in progress.  When I hit the word count goal on The Very Worst Man, I go back to the 1850’s and hang out there.  I thought when starting the contemporary Worst Man that intense research could take a break.  Nope!  Thanks to writing Hayden and Alexandra’s love story, I know a lot more about Wyoming law, prisons, and prosecuting attorneys than I had planned.  Something else that’s been a surprise?  How much of the villain’s crime I need to know.  So much for my idea of writing a few sex scenes and calling it good.  The best thing is how all my research makes it a better book for you, the reader.

Before You Hit Publish…#MondayBlogs

I’ve been reading a lot of indie published books and short stories in the past few weeks and months.  The one thing I’ve noticed across the board is that every single author needs an editor.  Yes, even you, the English major.  You need an editor.

You know those optical illusions, the one where you pick a C out of a billion O’s?  How about the one where you count the number of ‘f’s but miss the one f in ‘of’ because it sounds like a ‘v’?  Exactly.  No matter how careful a person is, their brain will fill in the missing words or switch back the dyslexic sentences during their own proofing.  Even worse?  Spell checkers go only so far.  Otherwise, the world wouldn’t be full of your/you’re and to/too errors, never mind the beloved their/there/they’re.

If your editor becomes a friend, that’s great.  Just don’t hand over your document to a friend and expect them to edit it.  Your priorities are not their priorities.  Plus, if they’re friends, you’re probably not paying them and they’re not as serious about your deadlines as you are.  Editing is one place where you suck it up and pay the man or woman to do their job.

There are several types of editors out there.  Developmental editors, line editors, proofreaders, copy editors.  Some people offer more than one type of edits with their services.  My own editor does line editing and proofreading.  She’s invaluable to me and makes my writing so much better.

Here’s a link to more information.  The article is very much worth your time to read before publishing.  Note to Hampton Roads authors: Don’t cut the editor

THE Secret to Hitting 50K Words for NaNoWriMo. #MondayBlogs

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve heard of the National Novel Writing Month.  Every November, writers of all kinds begin typing or scribbling the Great American Novel.  Only this is worldwide and not necessarily American.  No matter, many will begin and many will finish the 50,000 words.  You’ve won when you have 50K verifiable words.  There are no rules about which words are used in a winning document, that’s up to you.

Enough of that.  What exactly is the secret to winning?  Having won NaNoWriMo three times, the secret is Planning.

That’s it.  Planning.  Plan what?  I have the answer to that, too.

1. Plan on this being a team effort. Let the people who live with you in on this endeavor.  If you live in a supportive environment, this may be all you need to do.  If they’re the sabotage type, maybe don’t tell them.  Plan on it being an anti-team effort.  Letting others know what is going on will help explain it when things slide due to you working on your word count for the day.

2.Plan ahead on errands and appointments. You’re going to have things in November that will take you away from writing.  This will be true if you have 8 minutes a day or 8 hours a day to write.  Be aware of days where you can’t get in enough words to goal so you’re prepared and not pressured.

3.  Plan your daily word count.  With 50K divided by 30, you’ll need to write 1,666 words a day minimum.  If you’ve done step two, you’ll know what days will need 1,666 and which will need double that.  In my three times of winning, I didn’t have a laptop.  Plus, every Thanksgiving meant at least 35 hours of driving in that four day weekend.  I wrote longhand what I could in the first year.  The next two?  I adjusted my word count so I was done with NaNoWriMo by Thanksgiving weekend.

4. Plan your Plot.  Start now.  Don’t wait until November 1st to think about your story.  No, you can’t write a word until that day, but you can research, invent, and plot out the novel.  Are you a die-hard pantser?  You can still plot and pants.  Just know your beginning, know your end and have some idea of the middle.  Then pants to your heart’s content.  Have an extensive backstory and world to create?  Do it now.  When November arrives, you’ll be ready to write, not research or wonder what genre to pick.

5.  Plan to ignore your prior day’s work.  I’d read the last page of my work, maybe let myself edit it, and used that page to get into the flow for writing the next page or hopefully several.  When you’re done writing, you’re done.  No going back over to edit.  If you have the time to edit, you have the time to write. If you have the time to write, then write and get ahead of your goal. Why?  Because no matter how well you plan ahead, things will happen. You’ll get behind or be close to doing so.  Edit to your heart’s content when the clock strikes 12:00am December 1st.  Write until then.

Fun fact?  All three of my Oregon Trail novels were NaNoWriMo winners.  I started Undeniable in 2008 and when the hero’s brother kept taking over, I ‘promised’ the next NaNo book to him.  Undesirable in 2009 is his story and wouldn’t you know?  Another secondary character wouldn’t stay secondary, so I promised him his own story in 2011.  I’m still writing on it, Uncivilized.  These all started life as a 50K novel and needed another 50K each for the story.  Want to know more about them?  Click the above tab “The Oregon Trail Series” to see.

#MondayBlogs Post on Creating Cover Art

I thought it would be fun for today’s post to feature how I paint the Cover Art for my Oregon Trail series. My free prequel, Unavoidable, needs a cover so here we go!

First is a sketch.  I have my misgivings already.

Scribble

Scribble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goop

Goop

Next is getting together the paints I might need.  The  season is mid Spring, so there’s not a lot of green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Umm...

Umm…

 

I’m not feeling the love for this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yech

Yech

 

Ok, this is a no-go.  The trees are off, I don’t like the cabin.  Just no.  So I tore off the canvas and found…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voila!

Voila!

 

 

This!  An earlier reject that I can salvage.

 

 

 

 

Much better!

Much better!

I like it so much better!  I’m not totally in love with this.  It’ll either have to grow on me, or I’ll state a do over.

How bad do I think my reject is? This bad.

Out.

Out.

#MondayBlogs Post and You Want Me To What??

Howdy #Mondayblogs fans!

 

My book, Undesirable, hit Amazon on the 14th.  Since then no less than four people have asked me what’s next.  Sure, I know what’s next on my plate, but it might be a while.

Secretly?  I like the impatience and curiosity of my friends and family.  It means they like what I do well enough to want more.  That’s never a bad thing and I’m thrilled.  So while I’m writing a prequel to my Oregon Trail series, get started reading Undesirable or maybe Undeniable first if you’ve not read it yet. Out of order is fine, too, and you won’t be lost, it’s just not what I’d prefer.  Meanwhile, I’ll be planning arguments, fights, and love at first sight.  When that’s done and I get to type the last line, my next task is to paint another cover for Unavoidable, the Oregon Trail series prequel.

After that, there’s a lot more down the road. The last book in the series, The Very Worst Man, three more American West novels, some paranormal romances, and some science fiction.  There’s be mysteries, romance, and all sorts of plot twists in these.  I’m so excited at the projects hovering on my horizon and hope my readers are, too!

Book Release date set!

Available on Amazon July 14th, everywhere else October 13th.  

Want an email the second it hits the store?  Sign up for the newsletter, the link is on the right side. No spam, not now not ever.  Scroll down for more content. 

Undesirable, available July 14th!

Undesirable, available July 14th!

It’s been a long time since Lucky’s Christmas Wish dropped into stores and I’ve forgotten how much fun this is!  I’ve also forgotten what all I need to do to get the word out about this book.  I’m a new enough author that I can’t get, or rather haven’t dared to get, the pre order option.  So I feel odd about advertising before the product is out there for purchase.  At any rate, I’ll probably make time on this blog each day for a post.  Today is nervous excitement, tomorrow may be the value of a good editor.  Who knows?  I’ll be posting things I’ve learned each day before the book drops, so that if nothing else, when Uncivilized is ready to go, I can come back.

In the meantime, and if this sounds disjointed, it’s because my mind is still back in Oregon Territory, August 1858.  There’s a rescue to choreograph, a death to mastermind, and maybe a gratuitous sex scene to write.  

 

I have a ton of them in paper form and several more bookmarked on my web browsers.  Some were hand drawn and now available via Google, while others are the latest in tourist roadmaps.  Still more are from National Geographic with infinite detail of every mountain and valley in our country.  I have more maps than those of just the United States, of course.  I’m trying to ignore them in favor of finishing the Oregon Trail series. After this project and all its intensive research, I’m totally in favor of writing something either present day or set in the far future.

“What?  That can’t happen!  You just pulled that out of your butt!”

“Why yes, yes I did.”

So back to the maps and why I have access to so many.  Well known landmarks in the 1800’s aren’t the same as the ones we take note of now.  In some places, the original trail crisscrosses highways.  In others, it runs through privately owned land.  Is every single step along the way to Portland vital to the story?  Yes, and no.  Sure, I could have a character die by falling down a steep cliff into the river below.  Could it be the Green River, or would it best to use the Snake River?

 

This is Green River.

green_river_valley_wy

 

 

 

 

 

A bad place for a cliff death. That might be a good thing.  So, the victim will have to wait until the Snake River.  Even then, the banks aren’t steep the entire way.  Landscapes like this is why I study the topography of my settings.  It’s also fun to see what surprises the terrain and weather can bring to my characters as well.

Fun fact about the Oregon Trail!  You could have left Independence, Missouri, near where I live, and maybe reach Oregon before October.  If nothing tragic happened, other than a death or two, it would be possible.  But if you waited to leave next week?  It’d be a whole lot better if you just waited until next April.  Otherwise, you’d risk a catastrophe of Donner proportions.  Read here for more information.

“You guys are being too noisy for me to hear the voices in my head.”

Yeah, I said it. Voices in the head.

It’s an occupational hazard for a writer to hear others’ conversations in your mind. Hearing these people created by an imagination, overactive or not, is something a lot of fiction writers will only admit to in closed circles. Creating a true three dimensional character is something like creating a child. After a certain point, you have no control over anything they do.

Some writers start with character. Others start with a setting or conflict and see what character best fits. I tend to be in the characters first, situations second. I also close my eyes and ‘watch’ the book in my imagination, like recalling a memorized movie. Often this movie will have deleted scenes inserted in places that just work. Like, I didn’t plan for this secondary character to be run over by a wheel. It just happened. I have to admit, accidental scenes tend to happen when I’m bored with writing description. Dialogue is my strong suit, not details. That’s ok, too. Somewhere there’s a writer needing me to read over their dialogue to see why the words aren’t flowing.  Just as much as I need someone to tell me they need to know more about what’s happening.

But, back to writers and their mentality. I can imagine living with a writer can be difficult. It’s their nature to extrapolate everything. It’s also their nature to tell you to look up extrapolate if you don’t know what it means. They also say weird things like, “I wonder what would happen if we found a dead body in there” when stopped at an interstate rest stop. Not comforting, no. Something I’m not sure my husband loves is how I can have an entire silent argument with him without us saying a word. He also doesn’t know we’re having one until I tell him, “Fine. You’re right. Whatever.” Though he likes being right, he has no idea how I had a thought, imagined his response, responded to that, and back and forth until one of us won. I know, not normal, but somewhat typical of fiction writers.

What’s the take away from all this? For me, the best part of writing is creating everything in my mind or on paper and then giving my imagination free reign. Second best part? Rereading and completely enjoying what I wrote.  No, that doesn’t happen every time.  Feeling odd because your characters have minds and voices of their own?  Don’t.  It just means you did a great job in creating them.