My Blogging Lapse, RT2014 People-Watching, and Stuff

Nancy Brant asked me to participate in a writing process blog hop and I saw it as an opportunity to post something. I haven’t blogged in a while. It sucks, but there’s a reason for it that’s relevant to my writing process. For me, writing takes one road, and reading/reviewing/blogging/promoting take another. I am working on strategy to manage both at the same time, but I’m not there yet.

There are a few, very exciting things happening with my writing career. A few years ago, I would have found one of them greatly disappointing. The benefit of time, and rapid progress in the industry, is that what might have been a setback only three years ago is now a blessing, and not even a disguised one. I apologize for being vague. I’d love to tell the story, because I think it’s an interesting one, but I neither can nor should. Truly, it doesn’t provide much value for other writers, not even for those in a similar situation.

RT2014

Marie Sexton, Me, and Alanna Coco

I attended RT 2014 in New Orleans this year. I met great people, spent a lot of time with my childhood friend, Marie Sexton, and sat in on some insightful panels. However, the most valuable thing I took away from the conference is something I observed while people watching among the indie authors. The ones that are successful–which I will define as having name recognition with strangers (think Lilliana Hart)—had two things in common that most of the authors in NOLA lacked. One, they referred to themselves as “indie publishers”, and two, they don’t sit still. Their books are the sellable component of their personal businesses, which is kept afloat with various entrepreneurial requirements. Whereas many self-published authors are fighting to connect with readers to sell a book, these few are reading trade publications, making connections, and building brands. Their books are marketing them, rather than the other way round.

Clearly, it’s not a model for success that can be implemented overnight by a working mom with a daily 50-mile round trip commute, but it’s nice to have an attainable goal.

Right now, the bulk of my focus is on Glitch, book one of a YA Sci-fi series. As of this morning, Glitch is a working title, because a book with that title was released in the same genre back in February. The idea for “The Winter Son” trilogy came about from a desire to dabble in the war between angels, but make angels the bad guys. It was originally called “The Choir Boys,” and it was intended to be a paranormal romance featuring an immortal paramilitary operative, but my main character argued that he wasn’t old enough to vote, so changes had to be made. I finish books, but they’re never the ones I start.

I’ve been asked how my work is different from others in its genre. I think that’s a question better left to readers. There’s a literary concept called “suspension of disbelief” and basically, readers cannot relate to something perfect. The more incredible something is–wealthy, beautiful, and/or powerful—the more flawed it has to be. Take any superhero you like and weigh his/her strengths against weaknesses. You’ll find they balance each other out.

It might be a cop out, but I try to make my characters on the average side, more representable of the young adult population. I avoid hot heroes and girls with red hair and green eyes. I have smart kids who make dumb, and sometimes selfish decisions. My world building is largely contemporary, but as the story progresses and the surface is scratched, evidence of richer, darker, even alien worlds can be found beneath.

I never set about writing this way. It evolved over time. I’m half-Japanese, and having been raised in Wyoming, I have come to self-identify as a white woman. For half of my life, I was a practicing Mormon, but in my 20s, I discovered an atheist within. I’m Pro-Gun, Pro-Choice, Pro-Fiscal Responsibility, Pro-Diversity, and a straight ally of the LGBT community. My writing, I believe, is a reflection of me, and written for my 16-year-old self…a girl whose life was shaped by reading books that were over her head.

My writing process is one that needs to change the more I think about it. I work out ideas in notebooks, write scenes in Scrivener, edit on hard copy, and I get done when I get done. It worked well when I was writing for myself, but my goals have changed. One day, I hope to quit my job and write full-time, and spending two years to complete one book isn’t going to get me there.

I was supposed to tag in three other writers to post next Monday, but like I said…I have two roads at the moment. Finding authors to participate turned out to be on the other one. Instead, please check out these great new releases.

Summoned, by Rainy Kaye

The Devil Made Me Do It  (Book 2, Speak of the Devil Series), by Shawna Romkey

Endured (Book 3, Shadowed Love Series), by Kinley Baker

DDYA Tuesday Teaser: Micah’s First Scene #Glitch

On the spectrum of authors, I’m what is commonly referred to as a “plotter.” At the other end are the “pantsers.” I used to be one, and today I envy their word counts with my every breath. Years ago, I could spit out epic length novels in ten months. Now, I spend that much time writing down notes about characters and fragments of scenes to be stitched together later. Finally, after a year, I have the first 10,000 words complete on my current work-in-progress “Glitch,” the first book of a paranormal series. I hope to have a complete first draft by this summer.

Micah’s scenes are told in 1st person POV, and present tense. Check out the scene at this link!

I Found Old Story Notes!

I’m out of town on a work-related thing and I brought this little notebook with me to take notes. It was in the bag that once functioned as both purse and diaper bag; I haven’t seen this notebook since 2009. So, it was a pleasure to find notes in it from when I just started January Black. Because the story idea evolved, there’s no spoilers, so I thought I’d share.

Stargazing

I’ve mentioned before that JB started with a still frame of a boy looking at the stars.

First Chapter ==> Teenage boy stands in an overgrown garden. Storm is coming in. He needs to make a decision.

or

==> Is he hacking away at the overgrowth, to the confusion/horror of his servants?

The question here…what does the “Heysu” story have to do with the garden and the need to rip it out?

  1. The Heysu story is about a man who chooses “right.” It is not in his best interest, but it benefits mankind.
  2. The garden is a metaphor for the Regency. His action is his desire to rip it out.

This opening scene is the climax of the story. The rest will explain the scene and what he’s doing.

The man to tells him the Heysu Story is Eric Redstar, the former king, the night before he left Kelmarin.

Maybe intersperse this with scenes of Redstar having to make a decision elsewhere?

I have to keep things simple. This story is about the immediate consequences of a decision for a 12 year old boy. There are far reaching ones for the people around him.

So, what was retained in the final draft of January Black?

There’s a boy in a garden. There’s a story that influences him to rip that garden apart. And the name Red Star appears in the second chapter.

Sometimes notes are building blocks. Sometimes they’re tools. The trick is figuring out which is which.

Short Story: Dreams Awake

Dreams Awake began as a novel idea, but became a story of awkward length. At 17,000 words, it’s far too long to be a short story, but too small to be a novella. I’ve been sitting on it for a couple of months. One of these days, I plan to take a fresh look at it. It needs a major structural edit, for one. I’ll also examine the scenes to try to find the slow spots.  If I think I can pull off removing 10,000 words, next I’ll try to pump up the tension with the rewrite. It’s Psychological Suspense, technically Horror, but right now I feel like a poser just thinking the word.

An excerpt for Dreams Awake is here. Happy Monday!

Dreams Awake/Illness Update

So…cold turned out to be something else entirely. It’s actually one of those 72-hour of a viruses…and the bitch is overstaying her welcome. I spent all day Friday, most of Saturday, and most of Sunday in bed. And you’d think with all that time stuck in one place that I could write…yeah, no. When I wasn’t shivering to death, I had no concentration at all. I did manage to complete an edit of Dreams Awake late yesterday, though.

Actually, I’m still in bed today. I’m drinking coffee and water, and trying not to open my mouth unnecessarily. Opening my mouth causes air to come in, dries my throat, and then I start coughing which upsets my diaphragm and causes pain in my chest. But…husband is at work and son is at school…so I don’t have to talk out loud.

I’ve created a new page for Dreams Awake and posted the opening scene, for those of you who might be interested in reading it.

Gossamer is sitting at 4400 words. I like what’s down so far, but not sure where I want to go next. I hate that. I may have to skip forward and work my way back.