Sunday, November 30, 2014

Post Holiday Chaos

Thanksgiving was wonderful. I'm back home after a week of no writing, no internet, no marketing, plotting, editing, and definitely no blogging. For a little while I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Not just the no writing part, but in general. My life flashed before my eyes, probably because I couldn't see anything else.

I was hauling down I-5 in the early pre-dawn hours thinking to get out of the densely populated part of the state before traffic got absolutely nuts after the holiday. It was raining. I mean pouring sheets of water. My windshield wipers were working as fast as the little flippers would go - and then they quit flipping.

That fast I couldn't see a damn thing.

This was a far more literal flying blind than I was okay with. I wiggled the controls. Nothing. I panicked and as if by magic the wiper blades moved again. I had enough to time to catch my breath before they froze again, straight across my line of vision. They were the only thing I could see. I threw my hazard lights on to a chorus of blaring horns and pulled off to the side of the freeway.

I sat there for a little while watching the wipers work as they should, speed up, and stop, only to start the process all over again. I'm not overly familiar with this side of the state. Do I call AAA? Do I limp up to the next town or is waiting out the rain an option? I sat until I couldn't take it anymore and backtracked to option two. I limped into the next town, stopped at a gas station, and asked for the name of a good garage. It wasn't open until eight. At least they were opening.

Unfortunately, they weren't sure what the problem was, but, "There's a Nissan dealership twenty miles on up the interstate." They coated my windshield with Rainex and wished me luck. It wasn't pouring rain anymore, which made the twenty to thirty second intervals of non-functioning windshield wipers do-able as long as I hung my head out the window.

I looked like a freaking Witch Hazel cartoon pulling up into the Nissan dealership one town over, which I suppose is preferable to what I'd look like if I'd been hit by a passing semi. It was only ten thirty in the morning and I was sure the potential for chaos in my day had already peaked. I was hoping it had.

That's when the guy behind the counter told me their maintenance schedules were booked for the day. Would I like to schedule an appointment for tomorrow, he asked with one of those customer service smiles.

"No, I want to hang my head out the truck window for another two hundred miles while traversing a mountain pass."

I didn't actually say that, but the words came so close  to leaving my lips that I realized I needed to get the hell out of there before I said something that would get me thrown out. I was dangerously low on polite, headed directly for snarky bitch in about two shakes and I still needed a garage, one that understood Nissan wiring and had parts.

I set up at the Holiday Inn to wait the day out. Driving was off my list of things to do, so I walked a couple blocks, bought a notebook and a set of pens, because nothing says reward like a new set of pens, and returned to the hotel room to write. I wasn't supposed to write this week, but the situation had already devolved from the original plan and my other option was the hotel bar. No good would come from that.

Within an hour the morning was forgotten. Writing takes me to my happy place faster than anything. I lost myself in that problem middle section of Deciding Lies until I fell asleep, amazed that the muscles of my hand didn't cramp after eight hours of uncustomary activity. I type. I don't typically write with a pen and paper. I watched the Lego movie. I can't believe I watched the Lego movie.

The next morning I got out of bed full of confidence. I got dressed, went for breakfast, and made my way back to the dealership knowing that life was returning to normal. I opened the notebook and mapped out the beginning of an outline for the sequel to Girl Found. Four and a half hours later my truck was ready.

"We figured out what the problem was. We can have the part in by Tuesday if you want to come back."

What! A instant wave of panic swept through me. Was this for real? Switches aren't even half the size of a credit card. How is there not a drawer of the things somewhere in the building? It's not like wipers are optional equipment. "I don't live anywhere near here," I told the man. "Is there another garage that has one?"

"No, this isn't a part we stock. It's rare they go out. At least the wipers work most of the time," he said encouragingly, like that mattered. "I'll give you the part number and you can get a local garage to order it for you."

How are partially functional wipers viewed as nothing more than an inconvenience, like the seat warmer going out? There was just going to be a little extra water to look through, what was my problem? Not for the first time I wondered if I shouldn't rent a car and come back for the truck Tuesday. I was still in the same position I'd been in yesterday, except now it was a day later. I'd watched the weather. All I had to do was get east of the interstate and I'd be out of the rain pattern. I crossed my fingers and left the garage.

It sprinkled on me intermittently before I drove out of the rain system, but sprinkles were manageable. Those sprinkles turned to spitting snow when I hit the pass, but that was okay too, and there wasn't as much snow as there obviously had been the day before, which made me wonder. As crazy as the previous day had been, would it have been worse if I'd taken the pass yesterday? I'll never know, and I think I'm okay with that.

Tomorrow I will contact the garage in the next town over to have the part ordered. I'm crossing my fingers it doesn't rain the day it comes in.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Tour - City of Secrets by Aoife Marie Sheridan

                                                 Title: City of Secrets (Saskia Trilogy, #2)
                                                          Author: Aoife Marie Sheridan
                                                             Publisher: Synerg e-books

SaraJane finds herself in the middle of a war...a war over her. While in the City of Secrets, she must learn to use her powers that God gave her to defeat a fallen angel, who wants nothing more than to walk on earth. But will she stop Lucian, the fallen angel in time...even with Tristan and Carew at her side?

                                                            A war awaits her arrival,
                                                            A warrant for her arrest.
                                                          She must rise as a princess,
                                                             And Darkness shall fall.
                                                   But will their love survive this battle?
                                                           For Tristan and Sarajane.

                                                             Step back into Saskia.

Raised in the mortal world by a mother escaping the wrath of the queen of Saskia, Princess Sarajane has a lot to learn about the world she truly belongs in. Protected by her biological father, King Morrick, Sarajane must learn to fight, to use her magical affinities, and to navigate the politics of a world she could never have imagined existed.
City of Secrets is part two of the series begun with Eden Forest. Saskia, a parallel dimension to Earth created to imprison four fallen angels, is a world in which magic and intrigue abound. Sarajane finds herself at the center of a struggle for power inside this world and as one of great power and royal lineage, will either save a people she doesn’t quite see as hers, or fall with them.

The world build this trilogy revolves around is very interesting and imaginative. It has roots in Christianity, but delves off into the fantastic very quickly, yielding an obvious fantasy world with a great deal of plausibility. There is constant action and adventure as Sarajane is targeted by the queen Bellona and Lucian, the unrepentant demon she serves.
Purchase Links: e-Book
Purchase Links: Paperback

                                    About the Author

Aoife Marie Sheridan is twenty eight years of age. She lives in Kells, Co, Meath, a small town just outside Navan. Aoife was raised in Navan, but left with her family at the age of sixteen. Aoife has always had a passion for writing, but mostly poetry. This is her first time to write a novel.
Aoife Marie Sheridan studied Accountancy and qualified as an accountant technician. She worked this profession for several years, but with economic turndown she was made redundant.
Aoife Marie Sheridan now works in retail as well as spending endless hours reading and writing.
Author Links:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To Kill or not to Kill

I've been concentrating on the second draft of Deciding Lies, a contemporary drama, while I let the space opera rest. Deciding Lies is a departure from my typical stories as far as setting goes, but still revolves around a suspense plot filled with dysfunctional relationships and greed.

I thought I knew who the villain of this story was. Halfway through this draft I shifted a plot element and being an element, the shift rippled through the story. It didn't create an overwhelming wave, but it did force me to make a decision about the MC's mother. Upon reflection I made the wrong one.

I stretched the believability of the Mother's actions and roles too far.

My job today is to map out that characters motivations. I need to delve in to her backstory and decide where things lie against the plot. Do they follow a logical line or leave gaps, or worse, not make sense at all? Maybe the Mother's character should be dead before the story starts. Maybe she shouldn't die at all.

What if she's the true villain?

Developing that story angle will take some pretty fancy dance steps. It requires the MC to be a bit obtuse and wrapped up in herself. I'm not sure that's going to work any more successfully than killing Mom off because the whole plot revolves around the MC being older than her years. A little bit of an old soul, if you will. Maybe Mom should be the one out to lunch.

I've heard about writers who develop an outline and follow it. No matter what, the story follows that outline. I have no clue how they manage that. Any outline I may develop is more of an operational suggestion with plenty of room for possibilities. At some point most of it will be thrown out the window.

It's not until I'm in the final editing stage, after I've got the story nailed down, that any structured plan is followed. That often takes at least four drafts. Before that anything goes. Well, almost anything. It looks like Mom is going to have to come back from the dead. She's just got a new lease on life. Wonder what she's going to do with it?

I'll have to get back to you on that.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Witch Song by Amber Argyle

It's time to get my read on. I have less than two months and I need to read ten books to meet my Goodreads goal. So I'm taking a break from solid writing and heading into solid reading mode. On to Witch Song.
Brusenna is a witch. The villagers all know that’s what she and her mother are, though they have no proof of this. That doesn’t stop the harassment. It is the witches of light that keep the seasons and the elements of the lands in balance, but lately droughts have cursed the lands - and the people of the village blame Brusenna and her mother. When Brusenna’s mother leaves to fight the Dark Witch to return balance to the elements, Brusenna is left alone, and vulnerable.

The Dark Witch is starving the lands and hunting the light. Her minions come to Brusenna’s village almost as soon as the girl’s mother leaves. She defeats them and with the help of the village sheriff who jails the men, Brusenna, or Senna, as she becomes, sets off to find her mother.

 Within days the huntsmen are out of jail and catch up. Senna is untrained in defense, but learns quickly, gets lucky, and has the help of a network that supported the light witches.


I liked the story. It’s YA, and don’t ask me how I keep ending up with young adult books - I’m not crazy about them. This book reminds me of a story, or perhaps several and I found that distracting in the beginning, as I kept trying to place the déjà vu and couldn’t. Pogg reminds me of Gollom from the Hobbit - not sure why. He’s a fish-person who helps Senna and introduces her to the creatures of the sea.

 The story was well done and flowed nicely. The sea creatures are a nice touch you don’t see (at least I haven’t) in fantasy stories often. For my tastes this story didn’t delve deeply into the character. It does read like young adult, and is appropriate for that category. I was in the mood for a gritty story I could sink my teeth into and this wasn’t that. It is a good read.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Writing: Off Track

So I've got this schedule. Saturdays are book review days. Except for yesterday, which became a writing day. I didn't notice until half an hour ago that I hadn't posted, that's how much of a writing day it became. I didn't even check my email yesterday. Oops.

It all started when I got part way through the first edit phase of Crane's War, a space opera I'm working on. I hate the first edit phase. It's my least favorite part of writing. If I didn't absolutely love the other parts, I know I'd never finish a manuscript. First edit phase is when the story comes back from the editor and all the observations are collected and organized and the story is reworked taking all those comments into mind. It's torture.

In true procrastinator fashion, I switched WIPs. I went as far from space opera as I could get and began the second draft work on a contemporary drama, Deciding Lies. It might turn out to be Romantic Suspense by the time I'm done, you never know. It has completely absorbed me this week. I'm at fifty eight thousand words. I have an ending in mind and I'm excited to get there. Kate and Brian are behaving badly and I'm totally loving it. They are imperfect, throwing caution and common sense to the wind as they let their passions take control. The theme, the destructive nature of lies, is coming together without a hitch. I have a cover in mind that doesn't feature a half naked man. I almost have a blurb. It's a little frightening how this project is coming together.

So I haven't finished reading a single thing but my own project. Thanks to the end of the year coming just around the corner and a Goodreads reading goal that I'm behind on, there will be a week that has three or four reviews in it. I'll be reading a book extolling the dangers of caffeine as I mainline coffee to stay awake into the wee hours, as if I were cramming for a college exam. I didn't even drink coffee back then. I had a well of natural energy that I've apparently used up.

I'm going to be looking for beta readers soon. If you read my previous post, you'll know what I look for in a beta reader, should that appeal to you. If not, that's fine. Hang around, I'll get a project finished that you can sink your teeth into, whether it be the space opera or the drama. I'm impressed that I came up with a story that lacked paranormal abilities and aliens. There isn't a single witch in sight in Deciding Lies, and part of it is set in Ireland.

And that's no tall tale.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Help and Who Does What.

You need help with your manuscript, but what kind? Everyone knows about proofreading, it’s what comes before that’s a bit confusing. Depending on how long you’ve been writing or your story (some come easy and others kick and scream like a two year old being told no in the toy aisle) what kind of assistance you’re looking for can vary. So what are your options?  

Free. We like free. The problem with free is it isn’t always helpful and the terminology is confusing, and confused. Take Beta Review and Beta read. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. A beta reviewer is sent an Advanced Review Copy for a review that will be posted as soon as the book is published. The purpose of this is to get the publicity ball rolling while the book is still a new release. The copy sent is the same as the manuscript that will be published.

Beta reads are a stage in the developmental editing process of writing. It’s the review before the story is completed and the only person who sees that review is the author. The copy sent isn’t a finished product and both the reader and the author know that. A good beta read finds plot holes, problems with characters, and story inconsistencies. It tells an author what worked, what tweaked the emotions of the reader, and where the reader was lost, or worse, gave up. A beta read is all about what works and what doesn’t work.

Unless your beta reader is your cousin or a friend, the one who likes everything you do and after reading your WIP says something like it’s a great read that’s really imaginative and she loves the main character, so witty. It’s nice, but it doesn’t help. It’s good to get several beta reads, but finding good readers is hard. Writing groups are about your best bet.  

Next come the paid services. A Critique hangs between a beta read and a full developmental edit and is probably the cheapest way to get a little help. It’s a deeper look that goes beyond recording reactions and goes on to make a few suggestions. In addition to what we expect from a beta read, a critique addresses the writing process. It gets into story structure, premise, and character and world build by pointing out where there are problems and where things are really working.

If you have the resources and want/need more assistance working the kinks out, a full developmental edit goes all the way into the creative writing process to help a writer fine tune the story. A developmental edit speaks to plot, characters, world build, structure, pacing, and emotion. It will help you pinpoint and develop themes and discuss language and word usage. A developmental editor will help you polish your style and prose. What they won’t do, is correct typos and grammar. That’s a copy editors job.

A copy editor overlaps with the developmental editor in that a copy editor will also look at sentence structure and word choice, along with correcting grammar, spelling, and typographical errors. A good copy editor will also point out plot holes and story inconsistencies that they come across. Depending on how many eyes you’ve had on your story it is possible there are still some minor issues at this stage.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward

It's another J.R. Ward book. I'm slowly working my way through the Brotherhood series. Lover Revealed is book four.
Butch is a human cop who’s been brought in as a friend of the Brotherhood - and he’s tired of sitting on the sidelines. When he comes across a civilian vampire being targeted by two lessers, he moves in to stop them. He’s doing fine. He doesn’t have a blade on, but…and then three more lessers show up and Butch wakes up tied to a torture table.

He’s been recognized as the human who works with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. When torture gets them nowhere, the Omega himself decides how best to use the man against his enemies. He slips a bit of himself inside the man. Butch is left in the woods, contaminated with the evil of the Omega, for the Brotherhood to find.

And they do. Vishous recognizes that something is wrong, and then the Scribe Virgin is there to guide him. Butch is transported to Havers’ clinic, but the prognosis is bad. Vishous calls Marissa, the vampire that Butch is in love with, knowing she’s the only one with a hope to pull Butch back from the brink.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this story as Butch and Marissa aren’t two of my favorite characters from previous books. They have this star crossed lover thing going on. Both of them are down on themselves; Butch never fit in to his family and as Wrath’s shunned shellan, Marissa is an outcast with the Vampire elite she belongs to. I couldn’t have predicted the direction this story would take. It’s a good story that surprised.