Monday, April 28, 2014

Self-Analysis and a PLAN and a Release

FIRST, today is the release date for my buddy Jade C. Jamison's latest, Be Careful What you Wish For!

Blurb for Be Careful What You Wish For (Wishes, #1)
Jade C. Jamison

Forbidden desire is just the beginning...

Jessica, a college student struggling with day-to-day bills, is given an offer she can’t refuse. A married woman who is convinced that her husband Kage is cheating on her offers Jessica enough money to repair her dying car in exchange for Jessica’s attempt to destroy the woman’s marriage.

Jessica succeeds but discovers something else—she and Kage are soulmates, destined to find each other.

But as they attempt to carve out their places in each other’s lives, Jessica finds herself plagued with doubts, and she begins to suspect that Kage is once a cheater, always a cheater. Can their relationship survive or was it doomed from the start?

And NOW...

*lays back on the couch*

I was supposed to finish all my first drafts for A Shot in the Light in January. Then in February. Then in March. In April. I think my problem is that writing and editing are different things and every time I need to change gears, I lose a couple days (not to mention the day job, which I've already been into ad nauseum).

But THIS MONTH (May, never mind that there are still three days left in April) I will FINALLY finish this and can get going on other efforts.

So what am I doing from here on out?

I STILL have What Ales Me to revise... so that's first.

And then I have enough books and ideas to put out TWO series of YA books. I think it is time to start cleaning those up. ALL my YA books (fit for consumption) are set in the Pacific Northwest.

Barely Paranormal

Kahlotus Disposal Site (narrated by a ghost, but 'real' as I think of ghosts) DONE (thinking about a contest that starts tomorrow for it)
Medium Wrong (seeing and hearing visions of the dead—again, as I think some people really perceive) This is on about draft 5 and needs the most recent revision completed, but it is pretty close to done.

Chatcolet Series

(Lake Chatcolet is a place I spent a lot of time in the summers growing up. It is the southern-most lake of Lake Coeur d'Alene and this series currently looks like several entirely independent stories that share only time spent at this special place. My MCs will LIVE in a variety of near places and though some of them include spooky stuff, all of it is bound in the real world)

Also Appearing (First Draft done)
One about a sacred burial site and 'disturbed bones'--the lake resort is on an Indian Reservation—the real text is actually about teen bullying and inclusion/exclusion stuff
One about girls 'practicing witchcraft' that is really about repressive religion

There are several more for this in my idea file. In fact I could have moved the two paranormal into the area easily, but I like having them separate because they have the paranormal elements.


I mentioned this—it is the one that won't let me go that is NEW adult. A wealthy man is intent on leaving all his wealth to his grandson, but he has a request that goes with it: undoing the very brotherhood that made it all possible.

So my PLAN is:


Enter Kahlotus in this contest this week


Edit What Ales Me


Write first book of UNDOING


Clean up Medium Wrong


Clean up Also Appearing


Query Medium Wrong/Kahlous (yes, both--to different agents)

Write a bit more on UNDOING


Address any feedback /catch up


Write Bones Book


Choose ABNA book and edit for the contest

So there. At this near 3rd of the year mark, what do YOU have planned for the rest of the year? Do you reassess now and again?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tagged Authors and Vine Reviews

So today is the day my buddies I tagged last week are posting THEIR writing process posts. Please go be super supportive, as these are some of my favorite people (as are all of you):

Helena Soister

Stacy Gail

Jade C. Jamison

And for anyone curious... I was one of the lucky people who passed into the quarter finals in the ABNA contest last week. As early career writers, feedback can be hard to come by, so we savor the chance to hear from strangers what they think of our work. This round was a review of our first 3000-5000 words and they were done by Amazon's Selected Vine Reviewers. Now this job is a TON of work. I am ever appreciative they take the time. Initially all are given 40 reviews to do (that is up to 200,000 words if you are calculating, in just... I think 3 weeks)--and not just to READ, but to provide thoughtful reviews.

So a big THANK YOU to the Vine Reviewers who help. I think they get a nice gift certificate for it, but it has to amount to well below minimum wage for the time required. And while I've occasionally heard grumbles, I have always been treated more than fairly and believe that is a case of one or two bad-actors. MOST people do this sincerely and are doing a huge service to the writers in the contest.

Before I share my reviews, I should probably give you all the pitch, to let you know what they are reviewing:

Shot in the Light Pitch

A beach covered in dead seagulls brings Sidney Knight's quest for quiet to a halt. She's come to the Oregon coast to hammer out a few freelance deadlines but this breaks her concentration. According to her brother, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, the avian flu has reached epidemic classification. His warning not to get the flu shot, contrary to authority recommendations, scares her.

Back in Portland she begins to dig and notices a disturbing trend: the shot, rather than reducing risk, is increasing deaths. Health departments, hospitals, and news sources are silent and care providers have been warned not to "scare people". Sidney, young and inexperienced, doubts she can handle a story this big, but what if she's the only one looking? When the CDC is locked down with her brother inside and one of her closest friends dies from the vaccine, Sidney's mind is made up. Green or not, she has to figure out how this happened, who is responsible, and who can set it right.

A Shot in the Light is a new adult epidemic conspiracy thriller and will appeal to people who like a complex plot, powerful relationships and an emotional roller coaster.

This collection holds the first four books of 12 in the serially released A Shot in the Light.

And now for the Reviews:

ABNA Expert Reviewer #1
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The sense of tension is the striking aspect of the excerpt. It opens well with Sidney at the beach with the dead birds and never lets up even with the scene change from Portland to Oregon.

What aspect needs the most work?

The aspect that I found the most distracting while reading was that some of the sentences tried to do too much with not enough. An example: "They went to Mountain Sun, because Shana was a beer snob, and ordered a pitcher of something amber." When I read that, I thought, "What does Mountain Sun have to do with being a beer snob? And if she is a beer snob, wouldn't the beer that was ordered be a specific brand?" Sentence would seem more direct if it was simpler like "They went to Mountain Sun because Shana preferred the beer that was served there."

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I really like the tension in the excerpt and in spite of the awkwardness of some of the writing, the plot and interaction of characters remained intriguing that I wanted to find out more.

ABNA Expert Reviewer #2
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The excerpt is written very well: good structure, grammar, and pace. It was easy to read and flowed nicely.

I also thought the character development was strong. I like that the author didn't introduce too many characters at once and, instead, chose to focus on and really flesh out just a few.

The dialogue is believable and effortless to read, which I appreciate. It all makes sense and is easy to follow.

The story is also intriguing. A crazy outbreak that kills off a huge part of the population is definitely one of my worst fears, so this topic is scary, but also interesting and definitely engaging.

What aspect needs the most work?

Chapter 1.1 moved a little slowly for me. On the one hand, it was nice to have the author take his or her time to calmly set up the premise of the story, but I also think it dragged just a bit. I'm not sure I needed all the back-and-forth between characters while they were setting up the barrels--or at least not as much.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Overall, this excerpt was really solid. It's well-written, and I am already invested in the characters. Plus, the storyline is very engaging, in my opinion. I would love to read the rest of this book to know how this mysterious illness progresses (even though I know it would completely freak me out). :)

My thoughts? Fair reviews, and food for thought. I am flattered, but see there is a bit of work to do, which, since I've published these, is a wee bit disconcerting, but I can always tighten a bit and re-release--that is the beauty of self-pubbing, eh?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop: MY TURN!!!

This first bit may look familiar, as it is almost verbatim what I posted last week when I sent you to Megan's blog where she tagged me, but TODAY is the day I share my answers:

So I've been invited to participate in a writing process blog hop... it is a weekly 'tag-you're-it' deal, where I got tagged and MY post will come NEXT week, but THIS week is the post by my friend Megan Bostic who tagged me, so I thought I'd start the intro.

The IDEA: So far as my degrees of connection in this process began, this originated with Maya Rock, though as I understand it, this blog allows it to be traced back further...

The Nearer Ancestry: I was invited by my buddy Megan Bostic, who was invited by Stephanie Feuer.

Megan and I have been friends since my first ABNA and interact most commonly on Facebook. Of my writer friends, her YA and mine probably have the greatest similarity in approach and content... not sure if that is Pacific Northwest roots or a common temperament or both, but I find her writing familiar and comfortable, even in the difficult topics she writes about.

So NOW for the QUESTIONS...

1. What am I working on?

I am finishing up A Shot in the Light, a serially published, flu conspiracy thriller thing that is the biggest bite I have ever taken and I feel like I may NEVER be done chewing. I am about ¾ done with the 11th book of 12.

But can I tell you a secret? I've been cheating on it. Not a lot, but I have an idea that has taken root and I worry if I don't get the plot down as it comes, I will miss it.

I am also meant to be EDITING What Ales Me...

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This applies to both Shot and Undoing (the new one). I like a pretty twisted tale—lots going on--Complicated. I've had reviews say I try to do too much, but I have others who love my stuff, and since this is the kind of tale I prefer to read... (none of that 'keep it simple for me--9 times out of 10, I find simple boring). I ALSO like relationships (friendships, family relationships) and focus more on those than most mystery, thriller or suspense books. To balance, I am probably light on description. I feel most engaged in reading a book when my imagination is pulled in, so I just give the basics and let the reader imagine character appearances and scenery.

3. Why do I write what I do?

To keep the darkness at bay? Because I'm mysterious and edgy? No? I write a subset of what I love to read, but I tend to write mystery and suspense involving young adult or new adult, mostly because I like people to do stupid things without being stupid people, and I think youth buys a bit of leeway there... they are the right age for learning life lessons. And maybe for discovering how to be the person they WANT to be by the end, but without having to start out as an asshat.

And also because I can't seem to write fantasy. The books I love very most—dive into and live in and read over and over again are fantasy, but I mentioned that low-description thing? Coming up with whole entire worlds, completely from scratch is just not currently in my skill set. I am more a puzzle-master than I am a maker-upper. I pull together characters, settings and plots in fresh ways and write them as they would happen. (even when I include paranormal elements, which I sometimes do)

4. How does your writing process work?

I have periods that ideas bombard me. I will have three new book ideas in a week. I diligently write them down and then close my notebook. At some later time I add them to a computer file which currently has 45 books I intend to write some day. (some of those are series).

Once they are written, I leave them there, but inevitably one of them will nag at me. Sometimes just a little—enough to take a few notes, start it's own file in my computer. But eventually one will nag me so badly I can't help but get more serious about it and I know it is the next one I'll write. I sort of think of that as the time when an book idea has adequately fermented. It tends to be well over a year after the idea first came to me. I just need things to jumble around in my head a while.

I tend to do my first drafts FAST—I do two WriMos a year and usually a third month of speed first drafting, but when I am prepping, I go through that file of ideas and SOMETIMES one of my small ideas can be merged into the thing that's bugging me—helps me round out the plot and give it some texture.

I don't outline, exactly—but I DO do a timeline. My Undoing timeline currently has 3 books, each written in 3 'Acts' and I know what each of those acts focuses on, broadly. I have noted where main characters come in and what their role in the overall plot is, so there is some detail, but I like to leave a lot of it open for later—I impose structure on the rewrite if necessary.

Like I said... zoom through the first draft, often leaving holes that just give a sentence or two as to what goes there, so I end up with a 60K first draft of what will be a 75K book. My reasoning here is simple. If I write slower, I will go on every tangent EVER and end up with a 200k MESS. If I have to go fast I get a good skeleton and what I fill in later is actually important to the story.

Once written, I need to set it aside. Shot sat for 10 months before I started revising. Many have sat much longer. I am more objective when they aren't so fresh and revising is easier. I am slower at revision by a lot, have to do it more than once, and like it less, so I have a lot of first drafts waiting for attention. I've written 16 books and only published 4 (if I count Shot at one).

And NOW, it's my turn to tag three writer friends and add them to the game... they will all share THEIR writing processes with you next Monday!!!

Helena Soister works in an office and spends her free time fencing, reading, running around Colorado, and practicing the action skills of Layla Daltry, the heroine in her thriller, The Compass Master. This means that both author and fictional character can get physically bashed up. Helena has also been known to sit down at her desk and write other novels. Her first decent book (she doesn't count the bad early ones) was the historical Prophecies and published years ago by Bantam, The Compass Master is self-published, and she's currently polishing two historical novels. 

[Tart Note: Doesn't that rock—learning all the skills her action heroine needed? I find it amazing. I ALSO want all of you to note Helena is one of the best kept secrets I know—she has AMAZING skill. Her book The Compass Master was my favorite book I read in 2012—like the DiVinci Code only with more accurate history and stronger writing—and a WOMAN solving everything. Seriously—you should buy it.]

A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.

[Tart Disclaimer: Stacy and I share a brain. She has it more often than I do, but it's because I got to be the bendy one. Stacy and I have been friends since 2005 and she was one of my earliest encouragers to 'write real books.']

Jade C. Jamison was born and raised in Colorado and has decided she likes it enough to stay forever. Jade's day job is teaching Creative Writing, but teaching doesn't stop her from doing a little writing herself.

Unfortunately, there's no one genre that quite fits her writing. Her work has been labeled romance, erotica, suspense, and women's fiction, and the latter is probably the safest and closest description. But you'll see that her writing doesn't quite fit any of those genres.
You'll have to discover Jade's writing for yourself to decide if you like it.

[Tart Note: I have known Jade less long—I really got to spending time with her through Writing Sprints R Us, a Facebook group where I spend a lot of time, but she is AMAZING. Super supportive and she has been an INCREDIBLE beta reader for Shot, which is a ginormous commitment. She ALSO is an excellent person to look to for how you get an Indie career to really take off—if that is your goal, you should pay attention. Jade ALSO, generally goes incognito, as her writing is spicy and some of her family gets heartburn]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wait... Indie What?

So 2nd Wednesday was Indie Wednesday for ages, but I could swear I saw that wasn't happening anymore. Am I making stuff up?  I DO do that?

But because I might be, I am going to give it a brief shot ANYWAY...

I've decided solidly and completely that DONE RIGHT Indie is a hella lot more work than traditional. So there. I said it.

I don't mind hard work.
My trouble is hard work takes a LOT of TIME. And time I don't have.

That said, Book 9 is with my copyeditor. I made progress editing book 10, and I've decided I am then going to SPRINT the rest of 11 and all (read: most) of 12 before I go on my conference for work April 30.  Look at it as the delayed ending of March Madness when I had a lot of madness and no TIME.

Then while GONE, I will work on What Ales Me, which I have lots of revision notes for, and THEN, I have hopes life may get back to normal. Whatever that is.

What are you working on? Are you ahead or behind for the first 3rd of the year winding to a close?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

So I've been invited to participate in a writing process blog hop... it is a weekly 'tag-you're-it' deal, where I got tagged and MY post will come NEXT week, but THIS week is the post by my friend Megan Bostic who tagged me, so I thought I'd start the intro.

The IDEA: So far as my degrees of connection in this process began, this originated with Maya Rock, though as I understand it, this blog allows it to be traced back further...

The Nearer Ancestry: I was invited by my buddy Megan Bostic, who was invited by Stephanie Feuer.

Megan and I have been friends since my first ABNA and interact most commonly on Facebook. Of my writer friends, her YA and mine probably have the greatest similarity in approach and content... not sure if that is Pacific Northwest roots or a common temperament or both, but I find her writing familiar and comfortable, even in the difficult topics she writes about.

So I encourage you TODAY to go over to HER blog and read about her writing process.

NEXT WEEK, I will share about mine, and I will be inviting a few of MY writing friends to keep this going...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Newses you can Uses!!!

Or something...

Seriously. I am finally finding my feet again after grant hell. Today is only my 3rd day off in 3 weeks and between Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I put in 35 hours. I WILL say the team we've assembled (my boss and I—she brought me with her for the new Department and we've hired about 15 people in the last year) is AWESOME. We are brilliant. Seriously. We were there until after midnight Tuesday (frantically trying to find a service to get the damn thing to DC by the next day, because it wasn't assembled until about 11:38... and I work with a GREAT GROUP. The volume was just too much in too short a time.

But it's done. Hopefully we can convince the Grand Poobah we don't need to do another until at least October, and when we DO another that we have more lead time and it isn't quite so large.

But what I am here to do TODAY is share a bit of book news.

FIRST, our Blog Buddy Sean McLachlan is offering his book FREE from today until April 8. Hear that? FREE!!! So if you could BOTH go get it AND share the news THAT would be fabulous!!!

The Scavenger – A Toxic World Novelette

And don't forget to review if you like it!!!

And Now... It's all about ME!

*cough *

Should I reiterate my miserable last couple months because of the overworked day job? No?

I am a month later than I intended with Book 8 of my Shot in the Light Serial, but Belly of the Beast went up YESTERDAY!!! Nine and ten shouldn't be NEARLY as long in between, and hopefully 11 and 12 will ALSO be in line, though for the 3rd time I got diverted WRITING 11 with work... But once May gets here, I should be able to take a little time off.

March Madness went BRILLIANTLY for me for the first 18 days and then got shot all to hell... work. AGAIN. I'd like to have a goal of just continuing into April Madness, but as it's the 4th and I've only managed a little... and I have to work Sunday...

See, I'm a big whiny baby right now. I really should not be made to work so hard or I will complain you all to death and NOBODY wants THAT.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Breaks of Breaks, and Helping Host IWSG!!!

I know, can you imagine Our Fearless leader ALEX entrusting such a thing to a nut like me? But he DID!!!

So WELCOME Insecure Sweetie Pies!!! The Insecure Writer’s Support Group WELCOMES you and The Watery Tart, oh silliest of Digressionists welcomes you, too!

Please, if you have time, visit fellow monthly hosts, Chemist Ken, Candilynn Fite, Terri Rochenski , Eva Solar, and Clare Dugmore, and of course Alex The Super Ninja.

April is a wonky month because MOST of us are blogging A to Z. In fact this is the first year I have missed it since it began, but between CRAZY day job deadlines and being behind of a writing project I really want to get done, I just decided it wasn’t fair to sign up, as I wouldn’t have time to get around…. And you KNOW how I like to get around *shifty*

My Current Insecurity though, is NOT unrelated. I have had a day job promotion this year and have had to take a fair number of breaks. Not huge breaks… more baby breaks… like cutting back to blogging twice a week. But I notice when I’m not around as much, people don’t show up as much. I try not to take it personally. I KNOW people can’t be expected to show up when I might not even BE HERE (though I really do blog a few times a week still)… but when I take REAL BREAKS, my blog traffic takes a hit and then doesn’t bounce back…

Anybody have any advice on how to bounce back? How to get the excitement going again? Because I could sure use it!

Best of luck to any of you doing A to Z this month!  Here are some of my favorite B things for Encouragement:

I could use a Bahama vacation about now...
Or at least a beer (only microbrews need apply)

No Tart list is complete without a man-butt

And if you want to keep up around here, my plan is just once a week through April, but part of it is tied to an author process and promotion thing... stop in next Monday and get the scoop...

And NOW, go visit some insecure friends!!!