Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dark Deeds Update and a New Cover for White Lies

I am still working on the second draft of Dark Deeds. That puts me a little behind schedule on my self-appointed deadlines. I'm making progress, but life got in the way. All those pesky little things like working for a living and grocery shopping. They eat away at my time for writing.

Sigh. If only I was rich and famous already. Well, maybe just the rich part. (Don't really care about being famous.) Or maybe win the lottery so I can just write all day...

I think I should still be able to get the book out in January. I'm filling in the bones and should be ready for my next round of readers by the end of next week...fingers crossed.

White Lies is getting a new cover!

Since I was going to hire Alex Storer to do the cover for Dark Deeds, I figured that White Lies could use a professional's touch. He did such a fabulous job with Lethal Seasons. And now both of the books in the Asher Blaine Mystery series will have a similar look to them.

The new cover for White Lies will be revealed at the kick off of a 99cent sale, for the ebook, starting November 2nd. A cover reveal for Dark Deeds will be coming in December, I think.

The Lethal Seasons ebook will be going on sale for 99cents for the week of Oct 26 - Nov 1. Get 'em while you can!

And honest reviews are always welcome!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Say It Three Times and It's Yours

I had a Spanish teacher in high school who used to say that. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me. My Spanish is horrendous. However, it does work in writing.

Recently I learned, again, that you need to reiterate things for the reader to absorb them. I described my character twice and still got complaints that readers didn't know what he looked like. So obviously I didn't do it well enough, or often enough for it to stick in the reader's brain.

Tagging the description of an attribute to a character seems to help.

His dark hair was tousled from sleep.
His blue eyes flashed with anger.
He lifted a beefy shoulder in a casual shrug.

My unusual looking character didn't get the same complaint. I mention the color of his eyes - pale blue - and his hair - white - repeatedly. Mostly out of the other characters' reactions to him, because he is an unknown quantity in the story.

It's hard to remember to describe characters because I know what they look like. And when I am laying down the bones of the story, plot takes priority. When I go back to fill in description, tone and world-building sometimes take priority. Then I forget to describe the characters.

Being a list-maker, I have a checklist for editing. Character description is on there. As is anything else that's important to the story. In Lethal Seasons the weather is important, so I made sure to mention it regularly.

Guess I need to pay better attention to my checklists.

Lethal Seasons will be going on sale later this month. Sign up for my newsletter to hear about sale dates and news of upcoming books.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Write Faster!

A lot of marketing advice suggests publishing books every three months, or several at the same time. I wish I could put out work that fast.

I am writing faster now than I ever have, but I can't produce a book every three months. Maybe every 6 months. I'm trying.

When I first started writing seriously, I didn't have a plan. I sat down and wrote whatever came to me. Then I tried to stitch it together in some sort of sequence. Most of the time I wasn't even sure of the ending. Needless to say, I did not produce anything publishable.

Then I started learning about the structure of a story. I  studied screenplays for awhile. Then I studied the basic formula for a mystery. The next book I attempted was charted and diagramed to pieces. Still didn't work for me.

I took a story that I really wanted to tell and tossed all the previous versions that had been tweaked into proper formulas. Then I wrote a new, fresh story with those characters. It worked.

It is surprising how much of what I learned stayed in my head. As I wrote, I could see what needed to come next - a twist here, a reversal there, climax, slow down, and voila! A publishable story was done.

My latest lesson is about timelines. I made a list of things to do prior to publication, starting with writing the book. I gave myself word count deadlines - 20,000 words by such a time, 30,000, 40,000 and then bones to the first reader. While the book is in the hands of the first reader (I give my readers 2 weeks) I start the next book. That gets me out of the story completely and helps to make it feel fresh when I come back to it with the first reader's feedback.

One of my books was rewritten so many times that I had to force myself through the final edits. I was so sick of that story, I couldn't wait to send it on it's way. This new system helps me avoid that.

I like to use 3 rounds of reading with several readers on rounds 2 and 3. The first round is to make sure the story works and where the holes are. I flesh it out and send it off to the second round of readers to see if I filled all the holes. Then I go back to the new Work In Progress again. Two weeks later I have more feedback and more rewriting.

The third round is again for content, continuity and pacing. With that feedback, I can usually call the book done and hand it off for a line edit (punctuation, grammar, etc.)

This feels like a good method for me to write quickly. What sorts of systems are you using?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Too Much Fragrance! A Rant




A different kind of air pollution.

Do you know that you can become desensitized to a smell? It is very common to become desensitized to a perfume you wear regularly. That's how people end up walking around smelling like a perfume factory. They can't smell it anymore and have no idea how much they put on. Therefore we have to just deal with it.

My bank smells like cookies baking. A whiff might be nice on occasion, but they obviously can't smell it any more. When I walked in there the other day it made my eyes water and my sinuses flinch. When I left, I could taste it. My clothes smelled like it for hours. It put me in an especially foul mood.

A client of mine uses air fresheners. All of the papers I take from that office reek of it. And I end up smelling like it for awhile after our meetings. Enforced perfume-ation.

I was at a restaurant the other day when a waitress walked by in a cloud of fragrance I call "dryer sheets". I don't think it's a perfume. The smell was strong enough to make me sneeze. Luckily, she wasn't my waitress. However, every time she walked past my table, I was drowned in fragrance. It made for a very unpleasant dining experience.

Is this just an American fixation with smell? What are we masking? Body odor, pet odor, cooking aromas? I would rather put up with an honest smell than the artificial scents that people are constantly spritzing into the air. It fires up my allergies and makes me light-headed. I can avoid a perfume counter in a department store. It's a whole 'nuther problem when I have to wade through smells to get my errands run.

What kind of "air pollution" bugs you?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Roadtrip!


I'm off to Boston tomorrow for my nephew's wedding. Not sure how it is possible that he is old enough to get married, but apparently he is. I felt the same way when he graduated college. That's the amazing thing about kids - they keep getting older. I don't.

After the wedding, I am driving to Kingston, NY with my sister. We will reconnect with a few living relatives while I do some genealogy research. Oddly enough, all of my Irish relatives settled there after they came over. And so did a few German relatives through marriage.

My great-great-grandfather came over from County Roscommon in Ireland. His name was James Fitzgerald. And there is my "brick wall" relative, as we hobbyists like to call them. No middle name that I can find and no town of birth. I narrowed it down to 46 families in the county. I may have to wait till I can afford a trip over there to continue that research. Or spend a lot of money, which I don't have right now.

I am hoping to find a few clues in Kingston. The relatives who still live there might have pictures or documents tucked away somewhere. I've got my fingers crossed.

Dark Deeds is resting while the 1st reader is working through it. I've started outlining the 2nd book in the Changed World series. The working title for now will be Scattered Seeds. I've got a lot of ideas for it. And I think I may need to do some research for a couple parts. However, I don't think I will be doing much writing over the next week. I worked hard to get Dark Deeds done on time, so I feel that I deserve this little break. Yay! (Besides, it was on the schedule)

How is your September shaping up? Is it as busy as mine is turning out to be? School, weddings, writings, new books?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WIP - Dark Deeds Status Report

How can it be September already? Lawns are dotted with fallen leaves. The burning bush down the street is starting to change color. School is back in session. And I have so much to do!

I need deadlines to work to. I like to measure my progress. But sometimes I forget that I created those deadline out of thin air and I can change them. Whew.

Proofing Lethal Seasons took longer than I anticipated. That took away some writing time for Dark Deeds. And then I hit a wall, (figuratively speaking) about where the story was going. I recalculated the work required to catch up and it turned out to be about 2200 words a day, five days a week. Don't know what I was thinking there. Some days 500 words is my max. But I'm chugging along pretty well.

The plan was to have a finished rough draft last week. I might be able to squeak it out this week. I know how it's going to end, I just have to get there.

Sometimes I need to throw down some bad dialog just to get me through a section. Then when I go back to clean it up, very often I will have a clearer sense of where that scene needs to go. I have been stewing about the ending. It hasn't resolved completely, yet. But I have some ideas and I know the final outcome. Putting it on paper will help the characters take over and lead the way.

Today has to be a short report because I need to get writing.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garden Report - August



Pineapple tomatillos, also known as husk cherries. They are marble-sized and sweet when fully ripe. These have a slight hint of pineapple to them, hence the name. They are a very prolific plant once they start going. I don't think they like cold weather. They have put on amazing growth in the heat of August.

They are ripe when the husk turns tan and papery. Gotta love a veggie that tells you when it's ripe! I like them in salads for a contrast. They are very good with arugula. I am expecting a bumper crop, so I may need to come up with some other uses - relish? Jam?
I actually got some seeds in for fall this year. Not easy when the August Ennui hits. Here are some peapods coming up. I have tries peas in the fall, but they never seem to get enough time. Since you can eat peapods at any size, I think I'll have more luck with them.
Swiss chard is liking the cooler night temperatures. We've been going down into the 50's lately. Lovely weather for sleeping with the windows open. This struggled for a bit, then got crowded by the red mustard I planted next to it. But it looks like I've finally got a dinner's worth.
Heirloom squash. This is called Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato, from Sow True Seed. A different winter squash that caught my interest. It struggled a little because the sunflowers I planted at the corners of the bed got huge and shaded the vines. I cut off some of the lower leaves on the sunflower, and that seemed to do the trick. This looks like it's going to be a little larger than I expected!

The goldfinches are back to feast on the sunflowers. I saw a couple Carolina Wrens at the feeder, too. I put some corn out for the squirrels and chipmunk, hoping to deter them from the ripening apples, and got a surprise visitor. Apparently the bunny likes corn too. (And endive. Knew I should have fenced that sooner!)