Monday, September 1, 2014

Time to Regroup

My cousins & their families after rafting
So much for summer, eh? It flew far too fast and I resent its ending. I know. Petty of me. But since moving to Michigan I have never felt like I got the chance to get TIRED of summer. In my past I loved the beginning of EVERY season and no small part of that was that I was just ready for a change. Each on brought new, great stuff and I could get excited about it. But Michigan's winters are just SO LONG that all fall says to me now is “Winter is coming.” Damn Starks.

BUT there is something about September that IS good. It is my second “new year” of the year. I have two times of the year I am pretty good at saying , “Okay, time for a fresh start” and this is one of them. And it is TIMED well, as I FINALLY published the last installment of A Shot in the Light last week, so I really CAN take up projects without the lingering “what about this?” or the knowledge in the back of my head that I will have to take a break on what I'm working on to dive back into something that is on a deadline. I am DEADLINE FREE.

That is NOT to say I am starting a new book. On the contrary. September and October are going to focus on revisions of a few nearly dones (formerly done, but not so done as I thought?) books for traditional submission (then I will write a new story in November) and get back to revising nearly dones for submission to agents/ABNA in January/February:

What Ales Me

In August one of the main things I managed to accomplish was some READING and some THINKING about how to really strengthen this. I've decided a couple things. Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich's heroine) is WAY too silly for a role model (funny, yes, but the plot falls into campy and that isn't what I'm going for). She also needs rescuing a lot more than any of my heroine's will EVER need rescuing. I like to write rescuers, not rescuees. Damsels in distress sort of piss me off to be honest. I mean I GET the appeal of her two hot guys and I want some of that HEAT. But how much more satisfying to RESCUE the hot machismo man than to have him rescue you, yes? At least much more ME. But I CAN learn from the dysfunctional family, past mistake baggage, and a goofy sidekick or two. So I am giving my MC a more colorful backstory with more mistakes along the way and parents and siblings to occasionally cramp her style. I'm looking forward to the rewrite.

Kaholotus Disposal Site

This one went as far as formal submission previously, but I think my MC lacks spark. Most of my MCs are feisty or funny or smart... Helen (who's a ghost) is timid and scared. I need to figure out a way to infuse her with a spark in spite of it. I ALSO need to revisit my changes made when agented... they all made a lot of sense at the time, but I'm honestly not sure all of them work in retrospect—like I think some of them may be where I lost a bit of the original story. I also maybe need to be a bit more horrible. Erm. Edgy YA calls for it.

Medium Wrong

I have some feedback I need to infuse here and maybe a rethink on pieces of it. I love the concept here, but think it may need an underlying structure overhall.

Also Appearing

This only has a first draft, but I am thinking it is a cornerstone to a SERIES of YA books—each with a big issue, all set in the inland empire of the Pacific Northwest (the border between the Idaho panhandle and Washington State). The series title I've been working with is Chatcolet (a lake that comes up in a few of the stories including this one) but if I can expand it about, I can absort Kahlotus and Medium Wrong under this umbrella, as both have significant story in this area (where I grew up).

As for my November Project:

I actually plotted a lot on my vacation and have worked up a lot of details for my Cozy Lingerie series. The MC for this is based on a real (amazing) woman—she worked at the Moscow Police Department (was a cop when I was growing up—her youngest son is a friend of mine) and then she retired when I was in high school and opened up a lingerie shop. I love the complexity here—a woman who is smart and tough and still embraces the soft, sexy side. She was always no-nonsense, but also very kind and very funny. She really is a perfect heroine for a cozy. I just wish she'd lived to see this series take off—it has had to ferment for a while before I felt ready for it and she passed away about a year ago. I have Mike's blessing though, so I am going to go ahead. It will be my first story fully set in my home town, which will be a little strange, but I think a small town with a college and where any long-timers know the local names—that whole slightly incestuous feel of it all is really good for cozies.

Because this plan wasn't working...
The NON-writing Fresh Start

At the start of 2013 I was doing really good with an eating and exercise plan, but then my job changed, my location changed, and all of it went to hell. I had lost 50 pounds... I've gained back 40. I had NOT lost an additional 30 I wanted to lose... which means I REALLY have 70 pounds I need to get off to put me in a healthy weight range. That said, if I can lost 50 I will at least FEEL healthy. It will be slow, but 'new years' is the time to do it. My mind set is ready for 'fresh start'. I made a big batch of my 'all veggie' soup today (if I can supplement a small lunch with a big bowl of 'free' soup, I feel much less cheated) and I bought some La Croix water things (it said no sugar, no sugar substitutes, but flavor) to fill in for any midweek soda or wine urges—soon it will be herbal tea season, and then I am good with that, but I wanted a cold option. I loaded up on OTHER veggies and also went through the Busch's Olive bar. When I am having a savory craving (which is my weak spot) I've found olives, artichoke hearts or roasted garlic can satisfy that spot. I know all have some fat, but at least they are NOT potato chips. And all of them are the better sort of fat.

A couple of my ABNA buddies are doing it, too, and then my exercise buddy wants to start Couch to 5K again (we've only been successful at this once, but we are DETERMINED).

And FINALLY... I've been blurg with the blog for TOO long—this schedule for publishing the serial has really taken it out of me, but I am vowing here and now to START FRESH, enthusiam for it returned... I've got some topics... gunna shake things up a bit, get back to SILLY me sometimes and a few times a month may do a bit of analytical reading discussion (Game of Thrones is currently in my sights)--my reason is I feel like I LEARN a lot about plotting and character when I do that, and the blog is probably the best spot for it. Always best to reengage the brain, eh

So there we have it. Fresh start for fall 2014...

Any of you make new plans with the new school year? What are you writing this fall?


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a great fresh start for you, Hart! Good updates, too...glad the writing is going well.

Being deadline-free is a good thing! I'm deadline-free right now, too...just handed in my last quilting book. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The Fall always feels like a chance for a new start to me, too. (My Monday post is all about this!)

Good luck with everything! You can do it! :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Fall has always seemed a time of sadness to me, but I guess that's just because of what's happened in my life during the fall.

Deadline free - now you can focus on other projects and your health. I'd gained a little weight this past spring and started back on a regular eating and exercise program mid-May. When I weighed 117 at the doctor's office last week, I almost cheered!

Hart Johnson said...

Elizabeth-WOW--an end to the quilting? Does that put you entirely into self-publishing, or do you have another series lingering? That sounds liberating to me.

Madeline--I figured I couldn't be the only one!!!

Diane--those memories have a huge impact, don't they? I lost my dad mid-summer, so I always have a bit of melancholy in July, but summer has so much to redeem it that it doesn't last. And I haven't weighed 117 since I was 12. Seriously.

CA Heaven said...

I can tell you that our summers are short too (this year the summer has been unusually good). I enjoy winter, spring and summer, but I think the dark and rainy fall is somewhat boring. When winter comes with snow, I'm in paradise.

The fall can be good for reading books though

Cold As Heaven

Arlee Bird said...

So ambitious! Good for you. I've read more books this summer than usual, but not many by the standards of real readers. I'll do a post about the books I've read this summer in a couple weeks.

I'm hoping to lose some weight, but not really trying to do it. On the upside my weight has stayed about the same for the past 10 years or so. No gain, can't complain--not too much at least.

Have a great Fall and Winter!

Tossing It Out

Andrew Leon said...

That is a lot of stuff.
I think it made my brain hurt.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Hart! That is quit a load. So little time, so many projects! I'm not even sure yet. I've been squandering my time by onlining, but I need to get OFF and start writing more and editing. *sigh*


Donna Hole said...

Awesome new starts. Fall is my favorite season. Love the weather, and the colors, and the warm earth between my bare toes.

At least you are starting with a plan. And I like that poster about eating what you like. All it needs is a Frog :)

Helena said...

As usual, Hart darling, your writing plans and expectations exhaust me! I need to lie down for a moment...

Seriously, it sounds like you've really got things under control (writing first, then your weight will follow), and I really LOVE that Russian lady-cop-turned-lingerie-shop-owner. She's definitely an inspiration for a whole series.

My summer seemed to last a day and half. Where the heck did it go? But as bad as Colorado winters can be, I can't imagine your Michigan ones. Only the tough can survive them!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your series is finished - awesome!! Bet it feels liberating.
Hope you can get back on the health track.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Oh that is hard about the edits. I'm mid book right now myself and its difficult to know if what you did is okay or not. Good luck!
Edge of Your Seat Stories

Jan Morrison said...

So much to comment on! Yay for finishing your series! I'm thinking of you so much these days as I'm doing the revision based on your feedback, so even though you don't know it, I'm talking to you every day. And yay for getting at all your clamoring manuscripts. I might have to think about that.
And yay to the clean page that September is. It is always my beginning and I wrote about that in both blogs.
And yay to getting back on the health kick. I started a ten day cleanse (Dr. Mark Hyman) - no wheat or ANY grains, no starches, no sugars of any kind, no dairy, no beans. I'm on my fifth day and I've dropped five or six pounds and I feel good. He makes good sense, none of it new, but good. We got one of those soda makers and it totally feels like a treat with a bit of lemon juice in it. Five more days and then I have to decide what I'm willing to add back in. Not sugar and not wheat though...