Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Time Warp Continuum

Call Captain Kirk.

Where are those darn standing stones when you need them?

Calling H.G. Wells.

One of the frequent issues I have while writing is continuity. Sometimes, it's a simple slip of the brain. Sometimes it's a major malfunction.

While writing THE ARCHITECT, I realized my time line wasn't clear, so I went back through and marked each day to make sure it was right. When I handed it in to my editor, she called me out, telling me I was missing days. But I wasn't! I'd checked! So I went back through and clarified which day was which because -- and this happens more often than not -- my timeline wasn't clear.

I'm about halfway through with the next EPITAPH installment, and as I'm going back through and checking for details that need to carry through the story, adding details that might be missing, I stumbled on a time warp. No surprises. So I started labeling the days at the chapter heads to keep them straight. I went from Saturday, to Friday, to Sunday, to Monday, to Friday. All these days in two chapters, which only encompassed the passage of two days. Wait. WHAT? Argh.....

Some people use Scrivener (a writing program) to help with such situations, and this is the first time I'd actually wished I'd written the darn book in the program instead of my normal meanderings in Word. So now, instead of writing "new words" to reach the end of the first draft, I'm rewriting chapters to correct the mistakes I've made.

How to avoid this in the future? One of my friends puts a date and setting stamp at the head of each chapter, which is probably the easiest way. Another option is to follow your outline. Some authors have plot points and chapters mapped out ahead of time, which is also a good way to stay on track. Some use sticky notes or whiteboards to keep their timeline straight. While I do outline to a certain degree, I'm largely a pantser (write by the seat of my pants), which is where I run into trouble.

How am I going to fix this? Adding author notes to what I've written/will write - for my reference - showing what day it is for every scene change. Unfortunately for me, that means a lot of extra work that I could have avoided had I been paying attention to what I was writing! Darn those characters for carrying me off!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

I have such mixed emotions this Independence Day. We have had so many changes in the past couple of years that it boggles the mind. Some good, some bad, many disturbing.

I don't want to go into a political discourse. Instead, I'll stand

with our forefathers. I leave you with this thought today, the tenets of the United States of America which has withstood the test of time for more than 200 years:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Follow your bliss. Peace out. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ten Things You notice or do when you're stuck with your writing

1. Oh, look! I'm 16k words into the new manuscript.

2. Too many characters whose names start with the letter "G."

3. What do you call those statues on Easter Island?

4. Google, show me pictures of...

5. Hey, remember that episode of Night Gallery where... (because yes, this is a ghost series and I LOVED watching Night Gallery, and One Step Beyond, and The Twilight Zone and all those other Rod Serling things)

6. Oh. I have email.

7. Did someone say Candy Crush?

Write "what comes next" without it having to make sense (also called outlining). Oh, wait. That's productive.

8. Excuse me, I need to send an email to my best friend.

Hey, what a great day to take a walk. I think I'll invite my characters to go with me and tell me what comes next. (Oh. That's productive, too.)

9. What are my friends on Facebook doing?

10. Read.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Happy Birthday!

Hey, did you know I have a new book out? Yesterday was THE SELKIE's book birthday.

Did you also know that June is my birthday month? Something the new book and I and have in common.

You know the best gift to give an author? BUY BOOKS. Think about it. How much would you normally spend on a present? Do you realize that for less than $5 you can own a brand, spanking new book and make an author's day? What a deal! I'm willing to bet you spend more than the cost of a book on a birthday card (for those of you who still keep Hallmark in business). Where else could you get off that cheap for a birthday present? What's that you say? You usually spend more on a present? Hey, there are a bunch of other books to choose from. Buy the whole EPITAPH series, and you know the best part? The first in the series is free. BONUS! So you get 5 books for the price of 4, and you've still spent less than $20 if you're buying e-books.

So celebrate my birthday with me. Make my day. Fall in love with Jared in THE TWINS, or get swept away in Irish folktales in THE SELKIE. And if you're a World Cup fan, did you know that Liam in THE SELKIE plays professional soccer?⚽ Gooooooooooooal!

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Buy all 5 at Amazon

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The end of the series

One of the first series' that I read that I hated to see come to an end was the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis. It was a fun, quirky town filled with fun, quirky characters. No, I didn't love them all, but they were all interesting to follow, nonetheless.

As an author, my Epitaph series is the first one I mapped out from beginning to end, and as I sit to write the last installment, I'm feeling that same nostalgia. I don't want to move away! I want to stay in Edgarville, but when I finish Book 6, I've reached "the end." I've learned a few things along the way, met new characters who will stick with me. Where do I go from here?

Part of me wants to "Return to Hoffman Grove," another series that wasn't mapped out start to finish, but where I have other characters to explore. The downside to that series is that because I didn't map it out from the start, I missed out on some opportunities. (This author gig is a learning experience!) Not that I couldn't go back and do novellas or short stories to fill in the gaps, but I'm not really a short story/novella type of gal. I don't particularly care to read them - I'd rather immerse myself for an extended period of time. With that being said, I'm not limiting myself by saying "never." Some people LIKE to read shorts now and then, and for some characters, a short is the way to go. My editor thinks I should do a short about Mrs. Sumner, the quirky woman from EPITAPH (the first in the the series). I'll admit, she would be a fun story to write...

Then the other part of me is ready to forge ahead into something new.

I heard from one of my readers (I love hearing from readers, btw!) who said she didn't care for ghost stories as a rule, but she liked mine so well she actually branched out to read other authors who wrote ghost stories. The Epitaph series was designed as an homage to the ghost stories I enjoyed when I was young, but I'm ready to move forward with something different. My niche is to add that "something extra," that unknown force that makes people wonder if there isn't more out there - a ghost, fate, a "feeling" often described as overdeveloped intuition - rather than an overt supernatural force. But maybe I'm wrong. The Epitaph ghosts have been very "in your face."

What do you think? Do you prefer the subtle innuendo of "we are not alone?" Or do you like reading about close encounters with supernatural forces?

And oh, hey, while I'm thinking about it, in celebration of next week's release of THE SELKIE - Epitaph 5, you can read EPITAPH, the first book in the series, without paying one thin dime. That's right, the first e-book at no cost to you. What are you waiting for? Go get a copy!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

After all the hard work is done

Every new book is a gift. After months of creative bursts and hard work and editor comments and more hard work, you read it through one last time, have a program read it to you one last time, you heave a sigh of relief as you wonder if it will pass muster.

The really exciting part? When the story still resonates with you, after writing and revising and editing and reading the same story over and over and over again.

I finished reading The Selkie to make sure the editor's revisions made sense, to make sure I hadn't thrown something else out of whack in the meantime, then I immediately had Word read it back to me so I could hear any errors I might have overlooked due to overexposure. Cover to cover, twice in a row, and you know what? I still loved the story. I still smiled at the McCormick family butting in, at the heroine's best friend trying to protect her.

Some stories you hate to put down, even when they're done.

But there's another story waiting to be written.

And here's a question. When I started the Epitaph series, I had pictured doing a boxed set of the first three in time for Halloween, and then I changed my mind. Now I'm considering boxing them together by family - The McCormicks and The Bensons. What do you think?

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In case I haven't mentioned it, The Selkie is available for pre-order. The best part about pre-orders is they just magically appear on your app or in your mailbox. Go get your copy so you don't forget on release day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Non-cuss word cuss words

As I work on the next book, I was looking for a word that would be unique to my heroine, something she would use for people who offended her. You know, like a jerk. Except I've used "jerk" in other books, and I wanted her to have her own special way of referring to them.

Authors tread a fine line between giving their characters a true voice and offending their audiences. I like to be true to my characters, and Wolf in MIST ON THE MEADOW is a prime example of that. When he started going rogue on me, I let him have his head. That was his personality and I'd already portrayed him as "odd," so it seemed to fit. There are some minor cuss words in my books, as a rule, but since I don't use them in regular speech unless I'm highly annoyed, I generally stay away from them. Which is why I was so amused when I looked up synonyms for "jerk" and found some very funny off color ones.

I considered schmuck, but I'd already had another character use a Yiddish term (which might justify her going with schmuck), but I wanted something "fun." My Facebook community did not disappoint. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn't use a variety of alternatives since my heroine’s nemesis tells her she’s a walking thesaurus.

Final edits are in the works for THE SELKIE, the next in the Epitaph series, and I’m on track for the scheduled June 19 release date (you can preorder the e-book now! The paperback should be available for pre-order by next week).

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