Monthly Archives: December 2014

A Marriage of Land and Sea — Story Subscription excerpt!

Charlie reached down blindly and snatched a bit of driftwood, throwing it with all her might back into the water. As if she could beat it into answering her. As if she could hurt it. “Why?” she cried again, quieter this time, her voice broken by the sobs she couldn’t hold back any longer. It had already been five weeks. Every passing day made their survival less likely. She’d held herself together for so long, but she couldn’t anymore. The breaking of her heart wouldn’t let her.

She seized more wood, more rocks, anything that came to hand, and hurled it back into the water, as if she could trade these things for her parents, as if there was some balance that, if only she found it, they would be given back to her. She threw and screamed and cried until her arms ached from the strain and her head started to pound in time with her grief. She staggered on feet numbed from freezing water as her hands closed around one last piece of wood. Splinters dug into her hand, the first physical discomfort to grab her attention. Pain and blood and the weight of the wood made her stop and look. Charlie sucked in a shuddering breath and squinted in the darkness.

It wasn’t driftwood she was holding. It was debris washed ashore. The wood was flat and, except for where it was torn, smooth. It was newly wrecked. The piece in her hand was small and indistinct, and it could have come from anyone’s boat, but she knew it wasn’t anyone’s boat. She knew.

Her rage evaporated, leaving with a sucking sensation that left no room for anything but shock. Charlie pulled the small piece of flotsam to her chest, letting it bite into her skin, letting wood pierce flesh and her blood mingle with the salt water. She sank to her knees. Water rushed around her, the waves hitting her mid-chest, some water spraying over her head. She clutched the wood as if it were a talisman that could stave off the rest of the world, and allowed her shock to swallow her completely.

“I’m sorry,” someone said. Charlie blinked dazedly, trying to see though the ocean seemed a million miles away. He came up out of the water. No, the water fell back from around him. No, he gathered the water around the two of them like a cloak. No – Charlie’s mind wasn’t working and could not make sense of what she was seeing. However he did it, he was suddenly before her, pulling her to him. He plucked the last piece of her parents’ life from her arms as though it was nothing and pulled her closer until all she could see was him. Arms held tight, wrapping around her back, around her shoulders, around her legs. “I’m sorry,” he said again when she opened her mouth to protest – not for her safety, not for his invasion, but for the piece of wood that was her last connection to her parents. “There isn’t any time.”

He lowered his head to hers, touching his lips against her mouth. She thought he would kiss her, but then water poured through her mouth, into her lungs, through her whole body, cold and icy and painful and wonderful. She had an instant to think, “I’ll die with them,” and then her skin was torn from her body in pain so intense it took her awareness with it.

~*~*~*~

(A Marriage of Land and Sea is forming up to be a short novel/long novella. It’s actually shaping up to be a trilogy, and chances are really, really good that those of you subscribed to the story subscription for book one will get free copies of books two and three when they’re ready . . . just sayin’ . . . )

Well, that’s not exactly what I expected.

I cannot believe it’s almost 2015. As the last days of 2014 are counting down, I’m facing some pretty exciting — and scary — realizations. I’m sitting with a whole book sketched out, a three book series planned, and a timeline for getting the material written that I believe I can actually manage while working full time. I’m realizing/admitting/finally ready to embrace what it means that in order to do this I need to focus.

2014 was going to be my year to Write All the Things. Going in to 2014 I knew I wanted to get material churned out, with the goal of getting stuff published in 2015. I was going to get A Marriage of Land and Sea written. I thought I’d have Born of Flame written, and the next books in that series, and there was the witches coven series of novellas I wanted to write. I was going to get the material stockpiled and then spend 2015 publishing stuff while continuing to write. That was the goal. It was a good goal. I liked it.

I can’t say that 2014 was a bad writing year — you all know by now how grateful I am for the success of my story subscription, and I’ve written over 100k worth of words of new material. I want to keep the story subscription going (which is why those of you signed up for it are getting to see A Marriage of Land and Sea first) but I also want to find time for getting more material out there. I can’t find time, so I’m taking time.

I don’t want to be that person that only interacts when I’m taking about stuff I’m trying to sell . . . but until these books are done, that’s what I’m going to be, so far as social media platforms are concerned. Deadlines, you know.

My inbox will remain open, and will be the best place to reach me, though I do hope you’ll forgive if my response time is slow. I appreciate everyone’s patience, understanding, and support!

Lessons from NaNoWriMo, finding new authors, and a ‘duh’ moment . . .

I haven’t written about it any real depth, but 2014’s NaNoWriMo.org provided me with a very valuable lesson, one that I (think I have) finished processing enough to get  some actual useful knowledge out of. What I have written about, since about week three into November, is that I utterly could not stand the way the pace makes me dread sitting down and writing.

At this point in my writing career I know a decent amount of information about how I am, as a writer. (Rule 1: Know Thyself). I know the types of stories I love to tell. I know what times of the day I write best in. I know that if I’m starting a new series that I need to be alone in the house while I’m starting, and that distraction utterly destroys me, but if the story is well along its way then commotion around me isn’t a big deal, so long as I have music on and ear-buds in. I have a pretty good idea of the length of the story based on how complicated the plot seems, and I know that my ideal length is long short story to novella rather than novel length — and I know that that’s based on industry length, and not so much the new, more relaxed e-book length, in which case some of my material is more novel length than novella length.

I know that, for the last few years that I’ve been paying attention and trying to make the push from amateur writer to professional writer (primarily in attitude and approach, with the goal of my writing becoming my full time job) I’ve carried forward the idea that plotting out the story kills my desire to write it. In a world of pantsers and plotters  I have settled down in the  land between the two, but certainly a bit more toward the pantser side. I rarely ever write down the plans for my stories, but I do have a “steeping” process they all go through, when I work out the bigger details — in my head. Sometimes dialoguing out loud to see how that plays out. (Yes, I essentially talk to myself. In public. “You can’t just expect to throw this at my feet and think everything is going to be just fine. You grew up knowing all about this, but I’ve thought I was human my whole life. In my mind, I still am human — all this greenfolk blood aside. I don’t know how to be what you want me to be!” “I want you to be you, Charlie. Nothing more, nothing less. I won’t pretend that I understand what it is to be human, but I do know that I need you, now. The whole world needs you, now. This cannot wait until you are comfortable with it. We’re dying.”)

I know that I have a ton of stories — many of which are the beginnings of serials — that I want to get going on. I know that more writing time isn’t going to come before I figure out how to push material out, because my aim is that my having material out and available is going to allow me to increase my writing time by allowing me to work full time on the writing. Horse before the cart and all that.  And I know that for the last year I have been lamenting about how I don’t — I can’t — waste the writing time that I do have. I’m not downplaying the process I have made in the last three years. I’ve gone from writing ~20k words in 2011 to writing 80k in 2012, to writing over 100k both in 2013 and 2014. I’ve gotten myself out of my “write for a month solid, take three to six months off to recover” habit. I write when everything is miserable. I’ve learned that writing 4-5k in a weekend is just as good as writing 1k every day, 4-5 days a week, and that sometimes it’s even better when I’m burned out on words from the day job. I’ve learned to relax about the word count while also striving to always up the word count. And, I’ve made writing a part time job that pays one of my bills regularly. This is nothing to sneeze at.

But, NaNo came around, and  I spent October steeping my brain in the book I thought I was going to write . . . . and then on October 30th I realized that no, I’d be working on Poseidon: A Narrative instead. I had a vague, vague concept of what I wanted to do with that book, but that was it, and I went into November scrambling to deal with this surprise.

The first few weeks went well enough, but by the third week in I had reached the end of what I knew was going to happen. While I realize that the point of NaNo is to hit Dec 1st with 50k words worth of material, and a rough draft finished, that’s not good enough for me. I work full time, I have a house full of needy critters, I have two part time jobs going on right now, and I still want to do things like knit and read  — I cannot waste time while writing, which means I have to figure out how to write efficiently.

I came out of NaNo deciding that I wasn’t going to do it again, because the pace is just too much. I also came out deciding I was going to allow myself to have December off – I haven’t had a “vacation” since I started Born of Flame in 2013 — just to read to my heart’s content. (Two weeks in, and I’ve devoured a ton of books, and I’m also chomping at the bit to get back to writing). During this reading spree I discovered Lindsay Buroker’s Rust and Relics series — and, more to the point today, her blog.

Finder her blog allowed to find her post on writing faster, which in turn lead me to Rachel Aaron’s book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. Discovering that book lead me to confront what in hindsight should have been a no-brainer.

If I want to write more efficiently, if I want to stop wasting time at the keyboard, I need a better idea of what I’m writing when I fire up OpenOffice. Every time I wind up with a writing day of 1-3k words, when I know I’m going to toss half of them, I am frustrated. I keep chalking it up to being a writer, but I’m not getting any younger, and the stories-to-be-writing pile keeps expanding. I need to get these stories out. I’m not going to miraculously suddenly cease needing to sleep and so far my plea for more hours in the day have yielded no change in our orbit, so something else has to happen.

Knowing what I’m going to write before I sit down — not in any abstract, ephemeral way, but knowing what I’m going to write for that writing session is something that needs to happen. And this concept — to sit down for five minutes or however long it takes, prior to starting that days writing to figure out what I’m going to cover, that is, to micro-plot each day as it comes up — is the concept that feels revolutionary to me. Maybe it shouldn’t, maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but plotting out the story never translated into knowing as I’m sitting down what I’m going to write, in enough detail that I don’t have strain for ‘what scene is this that I’m covering.’

So, today, after our doctor’s appointment, once Beth heads into work, I’m going to sit down and start my outline for the trilogy of which A Marriage of Land and Sea is book 1 for. I’ve been aggressively “steeping” it in my head since I realized I’m going to try this approach (so, for two days, three counting today) and I’ve already sketched out some of the details. Mainly, the connections between by three heroines and also the over-arching plot. I’m going to spend today writing down everything that I know about this story, creating a timeline of events. I’m going to plot the shit of this series, and I’m hoping that this will be the key to getting the material out faster, with fewer wasted word.

I’m not expecting no snags along the way. I’m not expecting perfect writing days. But I want to get rid of the idling time, and I want to cut down on the “wasted words”. I want to increase my efficiency. So, this is the next experiment. Wish me luck, and stay tuned!

Nine By Night — an awesome book bundle you need to have!

ninebynight

So, I had this sitting on my Kindle for ages. Months, even. I purchased it specifically for the Annie Bellet novel, but the problem I have with Kindle books is the lack of a physical TBR pile. I forget about books if I don’t jump on them right away. To celebrate finished (and finished) NaNoWriMo, I decided to reward myself with reading for December (and it says something that I’m two weeks in and plotting out the next series I’m writing, right?). I bought a bunch of books — and I’ll write about them, in the future, because I found some gems I wasn’t expecting. But I also rediscovered this bundle, and I decided to leap in.

Now, I’ll be honest — there are some books that I didn’t care for enough to continue, and that I might go back to. I’m not overly found of New Adult as a category, and I’ll readily admit that disliking that new-fangled genre descriptor is making me reluctant to read much with that label on it. Someday I’ll get tired of this snobbery and force myself to deal with it, but December is/was going to be a no-responsibilities/no-guilt reading spree, so opting to not read books was acceptable.

That said? This bundle — oh this bundle! I’ve already purchased second books in a number of the series that this bundle introduced me to, and reading so many entertaining books with new-to-me voices has rekindled my love for urban fantasy. Many of the books herein are available individually for more than what this bundle costs. Do yourself a favor and buy this.

Any fans of Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, C.E. Murphy or Seannan McGuire will find something to enjoy in this bundle. Seriously. Go. Buy. Do it, thank me later.

A Marriage of Land and Sea

Cheating McCheating Pants! New story coming.

Strip Me Back To The Bone

We’re coming upon the close of the year, and my mind is turned toward the upcoming projects for 2015. The support my Story Subscription received in six short months has been incredible and, to be honest, a bit unexpected. I knew there were a small number of people I was pretty sure I could count on to be interested in the material I offered. I was expecting the story subscription project to take a bit of the sting off this unexpected dental bill. I wasn’t really expecting for there to be enough interest that my bill would be covered. Instead, I have seen enough interest that my dental bill payments have been covered every month entirely by this project and your generosity has helped ease the sting of Corbie’s medical expenses.

There are no words to express my gratitude. ‘Thank you’ does not seem strong enough, but I’ve got nothing…

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Keeping it Real — Proofreading? Sometimes I suck at it.

Strip Me Back To The Bone

All in all I think I do pretty well. My proofreading habits are: write the thing. Read the thing. Make changes. Read the thing out loud for story time. Make the changes. Read the thing again. Submit/release/whatnot.

This month’s installment of my Story Subscription made it out of my inbox to yours with way more typos than I’d’ve liked. I’m embarrassed, but mostly, I’m sorry that I inflicted this upon my readers. There was a bunch of things that went wrong as I was getting this ready to go, and I really ought to have stepped back and waited, and sent it out a day late instead of being stubborn about it. Ah, lessons.

Sometimes, my proofreading just isn’t. Thank you to my readers who contacted me about the issues. When Spirit Touched gets released into the wider world, those typos will be fixed, and everyone who received this installment…

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