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Friday, August 31, 2012

Another Scene

It's strange how I find myself repeating patterns in the process of writing. Once I start getting the story into printable words, I can't wait to get to the exciting parts, the big moments. As I reach the climax, I slow down, almost as if I don't want to get past that point because then it's almost over, but once I do write what I think is the big scene, I realize that I need another one. This usually coincides with a heightened awareness of the word count which is constantly tallying in the lower left of my computer screen.

For "Stranger Faces," I thought the big scene would begin and end with a meeting in an out-of-the-way location and a big explosion. After that, things would wind down to the conclusion. I realized I needed yet another scene, even bigger, to pull all the threads of the plot together for a showdown. This is good, because as I watched the word count, it seemed the conclusion would come too soon and too much of the resolution would wind up being part of the wrap-up, with people exchanging information about what had happened.

Downside--action scenes don't always come easily to me. I become very conscious of who is standing where and what they are looking at and what's on their minds at the crucial moment. The way people react has to be believable and reasonable without much in the way of explanation. Since "Stranger Faces" is first person POV, Tracy must be able to relate the large proportion of the set-up details and set the stage.

I'm still noodling through this last scene. I know someone who will behave heroically and save the day. Where to set the action? Tracy's home? Office? Some other neutral ground? The location means everything to the set up: how people get there, where they are positioned, etc. And it has to make sense. Why does it happen there? Who chose that place for a showdown? For what reason?

Oddly enough, while writing this post, I happened to connect some details I've been mulling over and just might have solved the location issue! If this is a hidden benefit of blogging, then I can't recommend the exercise enough.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moving On

I did not realize so much time had passed since my last post. Been dealing with some life issues in the last couple of days.

So I got past the stuck place in "Stranger Faces" and am well into the big climactic scenes. One of them has been written for the most part. I decided on a two-stage climax which might be sort of unusual. The first stage turns the tide, so to speak, by resolving one of the major puzzles that had to be figured out. The second stage will involve getting all the bad guys out into the open and brought down. This second stage is kind of a new direction from the original outline (as much as I outline anything) and is still formulating in my mind. The final chapter, as always, ties up all the loose ends, supplies details, and sets the path for the future. Once I have a full story draft, I'll go back and edit, clarify, revise, etc., etc.

For the time being, I have only "Stranger Faces" to work on. Still waiting for galleys for print edition of "Two Faces, Two Faced." Still waiting for galleys for "Dabblers." Still waiting for "Game Faces" to hit the major Internet vendors so I can lean on the advertising. I had really hoped to get "Game Faces" selling in a big way to bump up numbers for the quarter. I still hope "Dabblers" will make it to market before the end of the year.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Title; New Stuck Place

The third entry in the Tracy Wiley series has a title now: Stranger Faces. Work was progressing quite well, getting very close to the big showdown scene, but I hit a snag. As Tracy was facing a spate of nerves over a coming confrontation, she began asking herself why she was even doing it, and I realized that what she was doing ran contrary to her earlier plan of action. She had planned to stop being secretive, blow the lid off the conspiracy as quickly as possible, and damn the consequences. Then suddenly she was back to handling it all herself at her own risk. When she started asking herself why she was doing it, neither she nor I had an answer. Need to rethink things a bit. She needs a compelling reason to take on the risks.

It's sort of like in a bad horror movie when the monster/zombie/serial killer/vampire/whatever is chasing the young female star through a house and she runs upstairs. Of course, there is a motivation for such a scene, i.e., the screen writer wants to get his antagonist and protagonist together in a high place so the bad guy can go over the edge and go squish. So much drama. Who will go over the edge? Who will make it? Like we ever had any doubt from the moment the opening titles rolled.

I cannot, in good conscience, allow that in my story. For one thing, events unfold so quickly in a movie, the viewer does not have time to consider them very closely, until maybe after it's over. If a reader stops reading, however, he or she has a chance to think about what's gone before. Tracy is a smart woman, very clever, and she must have a solid motivation for her actions. Otherwise, I fear the reader will suddenly say, "Hey, why the hell would she do that?" and decide the story is stupid. Heaven knows I've done the same thing myself with books I have read in the past.

Awfully glad I caught it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Dabblers" Cover - Done!

Finished the cover art for "Dabblers" yesterday and have gotten some comments from Facebook friends who liked it. It's a combination of clip art, Microsoft Paint manipulation, and -- new this time out -- my own drawing and photography. I wanted to depict Stefanie's "sleep pictures" as they are instrumental to the story. So I drew some of them. Since they are described as childish and primitive, I figured I could handle that. The view through the window of a lightning bolt was from a web search, as was the spot of blood on one of the pictures and the sketch of a forest. The last sketch was meant to show that Stefanie does possess some artistic ability beyond stick figures. I took a digital picture of the sketches and sketchbook laid out on top of my piano, then added the blood spot. Also drew in the window. See the result below.

On another front, I had a break through this morning regarding "Tracy 3" and how to get to the Big Scene. Some of it is luck and some of it is skill on Tracy's part. There'll be a big shock included, too, and the concluding chapter will leave the door open for more adventures but with a twist.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Catching Up

Still no sign of "Game Faces" on Amazon. There was an issue which might have held things up a bit. The folks at Write Words made some changes to the cover of "Game Faces" and "Two Faces, Two Faced" to reflect the fact that they are part of a series. I'm really hoping to see "Game Faces" available on a variety of vendors very soon.

"Dabblers" needs a cover, and I have finally assembled all the elements I need. Next step, I have to make some of the sketches which Stefanie does in the book. Some of them will have drops of blood on them--fake blood, of course. Then the drawings and sketch pad will be laid out on a black background and photographed. The photo will be merged with another of a lightning bolt in the sky. My thinking on a cover is that it should use elements of the book which also appear in the blurb, and that when someone reads the book, they return to the cover and say, "Aha!" And all that has to happen with a imagery which grabs attention. I know I am drawn to books with intriguing covers and then read the blurb to see if I'm interested. I'm sure I'm not the only person who book-shops this way.

I also received word today from "The Windy City Magazine" of the Chicago Writers Association that the article I submitted will be included in the next issue. It contains some advice and things I have learned about writing since I started on this journey. Perhaps it will lead to more potential readers looking me up and wanting to see what I have published.

Making great strides in the third entry of the Tracy Wiley series. It's quite a wild ride for Tracy, and as always, she is fun to write because of her smartalecky mouth and sense of humor. The Big Scene is coming up soon. An odd thing happens as I approach the climactic chapter in a book. It's almost as if I'm hesitant to write it. Maybe because once I've done that, all the questions are answered, all the mysteries solved, and then it's just wrap up time. The way things look right now, the door will be open for yet another Tracy Wiley book in the future given the way the third story works out to its conclusion.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Number 5

Received acceptance from Write Words for "Dabblers." I mailed off the contract this afternoon and sent the manuscript for formatting today as well. Now it's time for cover art. I need to buy one item--a sketchbook--and the rest should be relatively easy. I set up a background image to receive the photograph I will make once all the necessary elements are assembled. I hope the book will be out by December, but it's not up to me and I have no E.T.A. on it yet.

Just as a teaser, here is the blurb I wrote for it:

            Artist Stefanie Durant never expected trouble on her return to Windsong Lake after her Uncle Hank was killed by lightning, making his house in the small town hers. As soon as she arrives, clues indicate that Hank had feared for his life and he had developed an interest in weather and mysticism. She also learns two of her old friends have adopted a pagan religion and dabble in magic. The connection is impossible to ignore, especially in light of the Ken, the psychic ability Stefanie had suppressed for more than twenty years and kept secret from everyone. It tells her  something very wrong surrounds Hank’s death when she begins doing “sleep pictures,” crude sketches she never remembers drawing that foretell of danger.  
            Although she would rather keep her secret, the Ken becomes increasingly difficult to control as danger arises out of Stefanie’s search for answers about her uncle. Who killed Uncle Hank and why? Was it the friend who has embraced dark magic, or was it the builder of the mysterious altar-like structure in the woods behind Hank’s property? And will releasing the Ken help solve the mystery or will it drive Stefanie to the brink of madness?
Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lady In Waiting

Sometimes, it seems half of the writing life is waiting.

Waiting for "Game Faces" to show up on Amazon and B&N so that advertising can begin in earnest.

Waiting for response from book committee at Write Words regarding newest manuscript.

Waiting for galleys to proof for "Two Faces, Two Faced" paper edition.

Waiting to hear back on a request for a review of "Two Faces" from Windy City Reviews.

Waiting to find out if all those Facebook "likes" on my "Changeling Kill" page, resulting from my ad, have translated into actual book sales.

And in between, I keep writing, because I can't help it. "Faces 3" is around halfway through the book now. And I keep finding small things to correct/tweak in "Dabblers"--adding or changing a word or two here or there. I hope Write Words will accept it for publication because I think it could be a good seller with its paranormal aspects. I had an idea for a sequel to this one too, and after the most recent rewrite, the door to a whole series is now open. If they accept it and it gets published before the end of the year, I'll have three books for the year.

Having joined the Chicago Writers Association, I have also been planning an article to write for them about things I have learned on the road to getting published. Need to start organizing my ideas and see what sort of article it works out to be. Maybe more than one depending on how much stuff I can pull together.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Game Faces" - The Dream Cast

If someone were to make "Game Faces" into a movie and I got to pick the cast and every one of them agreed to take the part and was available and money was no object . . . (sigh). Anyway, here are the actors I would choose for each role.

Tracy Wiley - As mentioned for "Two Faces, Two Faced", Michelle Monaghan

Alex Laughlin - Simon Baker still the first choice.

Chris Roosa - Bradley Cooper. It was his image I saw as I was writing it.

Norah Cavendish - Tilda Swinton. I've admired her work in a number of movies.

Leonard McAvoy - I needed someone who could play the evil doctor, and I searched the IMDB lists for best movie villains. Jason Isaacs came up a number of times, and he's about the right age and has the look.

I haven't yet found anyone to play Pappy, but I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Game Faces - Soundtrack - Addendum

Forgot one of the tunes for the "Game Faces" soundtrack. "Self Control" by Laura Brannigan.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ever Onward

Today I drafted a query letter for "Dabblers" and plan to send it tomorrow. I still find things to tinker with in the manuscript, but they are small things, a word or two here or there. The story itself is solid and all the loose ends tie up nicely at the end. I think it's ready.

Created a Face Book ad today for "The Changeling Kill." The page has 9 likes so far, so I'm hoping to see a lot more.

As soon as "Game Faces" shows up at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, I'll do an ad for that one too.

Also have an idea for a new Google ad. And of course, there'll be stuff to do on Goodreads and Authors Den.

Then back to Tracy 3 (still untitled, although it will have the word "faces" in it somewhere). I've pretty well worked out who did what and how it ends, along with the final "big scene" and the wrap up. Eager to get back to real writing.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Game Faces" - Soundtrack

I really look forward to doing the soundtrack post for a new book and sharing with visitors the music that either inspired me or would be ideal if the book became a movie. "Game Faces" has quite a bit, and I want to thank my friend, Ellen, for giving me a CD by Enigma, "Sleep" which contributed mightily to it. I first listened to it while I was editing the manuscript, and I kept hearing songs I'd never heard before that seemed absolutely perfect.

Sleep - from the above mentioned Enigma CD. This one goes with Chapter 8, I think, or maybe 10.

Make a Wish - Also Enigma. Chapter 5 at the end for a scene that's left to the reader's imagination.

Tears from the Moon - Same collection. Start of Chapter 5.

Pandora - For the big scene in Chapter 16.

Heartbreaker - from Pat Benatar. Perfect for the sexy cop who gets Tracy involved.

Next up, the dream cast.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Game Faces Published!

Today was the big day for "Game Faces," officially published by Write Words, Inc. It will only be available through them for a few days until the other vendors load it into their systems. I have added a page to this blog as well as to my Google site, Kathryn Flatt, Writer. Once Amazon picks it up, I can do some advertising on Google, Goodreads, Authors Den, and Facebook. In posts to come, I'll be doing my dream cast and soundtrack entries.

On to "Dabblers." The experiment I mentioned trying, i.e., making a copy of the manuscript in proportional font and single spaced, proved to be an eye-opener. I also made it an RTF file instead of a Word document. I found formatting problems like missing paragraph changes. I saw repetitions since there was more text in front of me at a time. I re-read the entire thing in that format, and also found some other changes to make. However, I think it may be really ready now.

I also did the dreaded synopsis. How to boil 80,000 words into two double-spaced pages? It's a task that always seems daunting at first, and then, once I get it started, it seems to develop rather easily. The trick is to try to capture the main plot line first and then see if any subplots still fit. The blurb was easier, but it always is. It's just a teaser and doesn't have to show that much.

Got a solid idea for cover art, but I'm going to hold off until I actually send a query and hopefully get an acceptance. One does not want to assume too much.

Then it's back to "Faces 3" as yet without a final title. I've already converted the manuscript to single space, TNR font, and I think that may be how I work from now on. If nobody actually wants to see Courier 12 in double spacing and I spot so many more things to tweak in the other format, it no longer makes sense to stick with the old fashioned format. The times they are a changing.