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Thursday, February 28, 2013

My New Career

Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity in my day job, with a farewell luncheon and later a small cake-and-handshake deal. Then the afternoon found me wearing my troubleshooting hat to track down errant data transmissions. By the time I got home from work, I had a throbbing headache but also a sense of relief that that sort of thing is about to be someone else's job instead of mine.

I've been alternating between proofing "Game Faces" for paperback publication and writing "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" too. I tend to think about my current novel-in-progress in bed at night (which sometimes leads to a sudden need to hop out and jot notes) and came up with a good angel (I think) for the next step toward the big showdown scene. That's still formulating, though, and I first must finish the major turning point scene I'm in the middle of. Starting tomorrow, of course, I'll be pounding out pages like nobody's business.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


A tiny bit of progress on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" yesterday--a couple of new pages added. Even as I write this, I'm thinking about undoing some of what I did because I'm not sure the scene I started is really necessary. I put it in because of timing issues. Stefanie is about to take another step in exploring her talents, but the plan is for Paul to come home from work and find her in the middle of her psychic journey. Unless I have him come home early from work, she needs to be doing something else before her experiment starts. Do I need to account for that time, either as it happens or in a summarizing statement? Or does this constitute a scene break? Once again, I remind myself that whatever I write in the first draft, I can change later, insert something later, or remove something later. There's still an old-fashioned part of me that wants to get it right the first time.

I've also been proofing "Game Faces" for the paperback edition, and so far, it's pretty clean. Sometime after that, "Dabblers" will be destined for paper, too.

As I wind down from my day job, more people have been finding out about my writing pursuits, and I have no hesitation in discussing it as part of my future plans. While employed, I tried to avoid mixing those two worlds as I did not want to give the appearance of using office time to promote my books to a captive audience. Since writing is soon to be more my real job and people are asking me what I'm going to do when I leave the company, I feel it is appropriate to tell them about it.

Leaving a job. I've done it before, but this will be the longest I've ever been at a single company -- 13 years! -- and for the first time, I do not have another traditional-type job lined up. As much as I have anticipated the scenario of not having one, the feeling as it approaches being reality is somewhat surreal. Will I miss it? Don't think so, although my hubby thinks I will. Time will tell. I have writing to do, promotion, books to read, a small business of editing I'm thinking of starting, household projects that are long overdue. No shortage of activities to fill my day.

Whatever trepidation I might feel about this transition, what I'm about to do is embark on being a "real" writer, making a living at it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Counting Down

Did not get any writing done over the weekend, but I did download the "Game Faces" print galley and started to proof it. So far, it's pretty clean with only three corrections for missing/misplaced italics in the first 50 pages or so. Maybe I have gotten better at proofing the initial manuscript.

I'm really eager to get back to "Seer, Tyro, Fiend", especially after a long break over the previous weekend. As always when I don't get to write even a little bit for a period, my mental gyroscope starts wobbling a bit. I need that outlet for my imagination to keep things spinning levelly. I've also been having other thoughts about the title and the cover. Two images play in my head for the cover, very different from each other, but both represent a significant plot line. There's the search for a missing woman on the one hand, and my early cover design would reflect that story. On the other hand, there's Stefanie's exploration of her psychic talent, also an important theme. Unfortunately, my thoughts on which one to emphasize have begun pointing to which one will attract potential buyers of the book. I feel an element of shame for being so mercenary, but all things considered, either cover will be a little work of art, perhaps my own, and will represent something important in the novel.

With only a few days left on my day job remaining, I've also started contemplating a side line in editing services. My idea is to offer to review, for a fee, the first few pages of a manuscript. I would return a mark-up copy with both simple proofreading corrections as well as a critique of sorts. Did it draw me in? Is there enough story introduced early enough? What about character development, especially for the point of view? Is there anything that might cause a publisher or agent to reject it?

Certainly, I don't see myself as an expert, but I guess having six published novels qualifies me to some degree. The idea of doing complete manuscripts seems a bit overwhelming, and I don't want to take away that much time from writing my own stuff. But perhaps ten pages for a nominal fee would be an attractive offer for new writers looking for a little guidance in the face of past rejections. I have mentioned before that I always try to take lessons away from any criticisms received with rejections, but the fact is, so many "no thank yous" arrive with nothing at all in the way of advice or reasons. Sometimes, all I got back was a strip of paper, not even a full sheet, with a formula response. Somewhere in my files, I have my own query letter returned with a handwritten note of "Not for me, thanks." I need to work out the mechanics of this idea--the exchange of payment and documents, a disclaimer of sorts, where to advertise, etc.--before I can pursue it further.

Friday, February 22, 2013

One Door Closes...

Well, it's now official. I will retire from my day job on February 28th, champing at the bit to work on my writing career on a more-or-less full-time basis. I've known it was coming for a while, and I'm ecstatic about it.

Interestingly, I received an email today from Write Words that galleys are ready to proof for "Game Faces," the print edition. Perfect timing, right?

And I've got "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" to finish as well. Lots of ideas coming and the book seems to write itself. Who knows how many books I can complete in 2013 with eight hours a day to devote to it? I know there are writers out there who must force themselves to do a page or two a day, but my problem will be getting anything else done--like running a home and a couple of dozen other projects around the house.

Ah, what a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Not Above Begging

Made lots of good progress on "Seer." Now things are moving faster, which means soon I'll have to come to grips with the final big scene, what happens, and to whom. There will be a second climactic scene, but it's needed to sew up a BIG loose end. I hate loose ends and do my best to not create any.

Is it too soon to be thinking about my next endeavor? I already have a couple of candidates in mind, but neither idea is at a stage of development yet that makes me long to get into it. I think about both stories from time to time, but since I'm in the middle of a first draft of "Seer" and there will be much work to do on the book after that, I don't want to risk getting all excited about the next thing so early.

"The Changeling Kill" is slated to come out in a paperback edition, and I wish I could find a way to get some
reviews on it. I've tweeted about it, and posted on Facebook, but those venues are so fleeting, perhaps the plea gets missed. So I'm putting it out here on my blog today, hoping someone will want to read and review "Changeling" and maybe wind up with their review quoted on the back cover! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Authors Den, another blog--anyplace at all. Anybody? Please?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ongoing Learning

Finished a pivotal scene in "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" and wrote another one out of sequence. It was so on my mind I couldn't sleep, so I figured I should write it down and get it out of my head.

Once again, I find myself second-guessing the structure of "Seer" because it does not fit into established forms for fiction. With so much time between writing short passages, I start to lose the feel of the pacing, but I guess that will resolve itself when I can devote more time to it. My publisher, Arline Chase, often answers questions about structure and pacing on her blog, among many other topics, and I make it a point to read what she has to say. As a publisher, author, and former writing teacher, I can't imagine a more profound expert to tap in polishing my skills as a writer.

But back to pacing. One of the points she has emphasized is that a scene or chapter should reach the point where something changes forever and then end there. I know I break this rule far too often, and I always vow to mind it in the future. Of course, now that I've put it down in this post, I've committed myself to following advice which I have declared so valuable! I think most of the time, I tend to look at the length of a chapter more than what has happened in it as a guide to where to break it. Then again, as I edit my first draft, things change, move around, get deleted, so even those early efforts to break things up really doesn't matter. I have seen big-name authors push this rule to the max, making chapters out of scenes which are less than a page in length. The hard stop of a chapter, with the heading and all that, is like watching a movie and having the film break repeatedly. It's too much of an interruption. A customary break of white space or some
asterisks would suffice and not be so intrusive.

So I keep learning from whomever I can about this craft, and I keep hoping that even as I learn, people will like what I write and keep reading it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Characters Are People Too

Trying to be a bit more active on my posts, but . . . ah, well, life intrudes. That being said, I thought I would offer a brief profile of the main character in each of my series. I think the reason each generated a second (and even third!) book is because each is on a voyage of self discovery and maturation in some facet of who they are. Perhaps it would be simpler to explain by example.

Jack Watson -- Grew up poor but his family came into large amount of money which then vanished in the face of his mother's cancer. Raised to be proper, concerned about appearances, honest and ethical, he joined the Chicago Police Department and moved up the ranks to detective. Later events caused him to leave the CPD and become a private detective. He's good at solving mysteries although he doesn't consider his talents to be anything more than hard work mixed with good breaks. When it comes to women, however, he has problems. He doesn't understand the need for games, trickery, and subterfuge in relationships, and when he finds himself on the receiving end, it results in confusion and sometimes annoyance or anger. Once he found the love of his life, he started reevaluating his relationships and his direction in life. It's an ongoing journey.

Tracy Wiley - A tomboy from Fort Lee, New Jersey, she lost her mother and brother in a car accident when she was just coming into adulthood. Her father suffered a near-fatal heart attack over the same event, and Tracy gave up all her future plans to take care of him. She set up barriers against making emotional attachments so that fate could not take anyone else away from her again. She stopped making plans so those could not be taken away either. Then she met Alex Laughlin who had the determination to fight through her barriers, and she fell in love. But a decade of hiding from relationships left her a bit backward in handling them. While she can always find a quick, clean solution to other people's problems, she still has problems with her personal life.

Stefanie Durant - An artist with an eidetic memory coupled with severe learning disabilities, Stefanie is also blessed/cursed with the Ken, a precognitive talent to know about tragic events before they happen. Her childhood was pure hell, and all she really wants is to fit in and be like normal people. Her husband, Paul, is a genius and an insurance investigator, a totally practical man who finds it hard to accept the uncanny. While they both accept that they may have lived and loved in an earlier century, their powerful bond in the present gets them through the odd events that find their way to Stefanie through the Ken. After years of holding her precognitive talent in check, its reawakening launches her into a search for understanding of who she is and what the Ken can do, but she must balance that against the potential for giving up the normalcy she long sought.

Friday, February 15, 2013

If My Book Became A Movie...

Somewhat belated, I'm doing a casting piece for "Stranger Faces". Some of the entries remain unchanged from earlier volumes in the series.

Tracy Wiley - Michelle Monaghan (hope I spelled that right). She sort of reminds me of younger Stephanie Zimbalist who is really what the character looks like in my head. Think "Remington Steele."

Alex Laughlin - Simon Baker. Never thought anyone else came close.

Kevin Fox - Ryan Cartwright, who I mentioned in another post, probably for "Game Faces" as a perfect fit for Fox, originally inspired by Pierce Brosnan, also from "Remington Steele".

Chris Roosa - Bradley Cooper. It's that smile that does it, but he'd have to wear special contacts to get the amber eyes of the character.

I may do another post with some additional characters when I can find time to hunt up the talent.

Still making progress, albeit slow, on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend," but a couple of pages a day ain't too bad. I'm about to start a really exciting passage, as I mentioned a day or so ago, and I'm almost afraid to get started on it because I'd have to stop in the middle.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Plotting and What's Next

Really eager to do some heads-down writing on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" but it ain't gonna happen unless I take a day off or something untoward happens.

 I'm getting to some more action stuff -- a body! -- and long to get more done on it. I have an idea of the wrap-up scene at the end which will tie up a loose end with a black silk bow, but I'm still not sure about the BIG SCENE in which all is revealed, the bad guy goes down, etc. In fact, I haven't even tried to work that part out yet. Okay, so I know who is who and what happens to some of them, but I don't have a vision for the scene--where it happens, who is there, what they do. There should be some danger involved, now that I'm thinking about it, but to whom? By whom? 

My chief concern is to make sure it is fresh, not a rehash of what happened in volume 1. Maybe equal to that is deciding how justice is meted out. Should the bad guy live or not? All in all, though, I'm a fan of the happy ending. Life itself is full of disappointments, bad or tragic outcomes, and other downers. Part of the fun of creating fiction is that it comes out exactly the way I want it to. 

On another note, during the day, I had an idea for the plot of another Jack Watson novel. I have been wrestling for a while over whether I could continue with Tabitha as a POV character. I mean, how many times can a singer get involved in detective work, even if she is part of Jack's life? Part of the dilemma this presented was the introduction of a new POV, but for a character I know little about. But I suddenly saw the simultaneous mysteries unfolding from a slightly different angle, and I think maybe I've got it now. Guess I now know what comes after "Seer, Tyro, Fiend."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Added a few more pages to "Seer Tyro Fiend" today. I've also solidified the sequence of events going forward. And still I don't know exactly how the final scene goes. Having talked to a few authors at LIM, the term they use is "pantser" as in seat-of-the-pants writing. I was quite surprised at how many authors are in the same camp. One of them said it's more fun that way, discovering what your character will do moments before he/she does it.

My author's copy of "Two Faces, Two Faced" is on its way. "The Changeling Kill" is one step closer to being a print book too. Very exciting stuff. Now I need to find time and inspiration to do more promotional activities.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my new followers on Twitter and friends on Goodreads. It's really great to connect with readers and writers -- lovers of fiction. Since I also started putting these same posts on Authors Den, those blog entries have been getting a huge number of hits. To all you who read my blog posts, I'll try to keep the info coming and interesting, even in light of less time to devote to it for the present.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pure Invention

Did some work on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" today, moving the story forward. I also have a list of changes I want to make to earlier passages.

A thought struck me about the subject of precognition, and that was how wide open it is to my imagination. I can make the experience unique to Stefanie without having to research "facts." Unlike some other paranormal themes--vampires, werewolves, etc.--I am not restricted by commonly-accepted legends.

For example, the popular lore of vampires is that they cannot go outside in daylight.. If I wanted to do a different kind of vampire novel, according to my own lights, I would have three choices: (1) stick with convention; no going out in the sun; (2) come up with a device which explains why my vampire is not subject to The Rules; or (3) hang convention and write what I wish, at the risk of reader criticism from "ain't she stupid" to "no fair!"

This would be the downside, or one of them, of choosing to write about somebody else's legends or universe. In an earlier post, I mentioned I thought choosing a vampire or zombie or other monster as an antagonist was kind of a cheap way out. The rules are set, the characterization instantaneous. No need to give them a motive for evil. It's quick and flawless. It's also tiresome. Even if a writer comes up with a fabulously creative twist on a long-established legend, he or she runs the risk of landing on the trailing edge of a wave of popularity.. Once readers have gotten their fill of bloodsuckers, they will see "vampire" in the blurb and cast the book aside as same-old-same-old.

Give 'em something new, make them think and stretch themselves. In return, my imagination gets to run free, making up new rules and creating new worlds to discover.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


"Two Faces, Two Faced" is ready for print edition. "Stranger Faces" is out on numerous vendor sites. I have a contract to complete for print edition of "Dabblers". "The Changeling Kill" print edition has been proofed. "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" is about half done. The developments keep coming so fast, I can hardly keep track of them. But it's great. I'm certainly not complaining, unless it's about not having enough hours in the day to work on it all.

One memory from Love Is Murder keeps coming back to me. Last Saturday night, between the last session and dinner, there were tables set up for authors to talk to people and sign their books. One woman came up to me and said she had bought three of my books at Barnes and Noble and asked if that had in any way "messed" me up. I assumed she meant since I had copies of "The Dreamer Gambit" in the LIM bookstore. I told her no worries. My publisher get my books out for sale at lots of places. But she bought three of my books! How cool is that?

Earlier this evening, I was talking about some serious stuff with my husband, things about our individual childhood years, and it struck me at the time that part of "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" is about that for Stefanie, and perhaps for me as well. My childhood was nothing like hers, of course. If my childhood were written up as fiction, it would probably be about as interesting as reading a telephone book from cover to cover. A Chicago telephone book. Or maybe New York. Anyway, I heard myself say something to my hubby that could have come from Stefanie just the same. Writing this now, I find myself thinking about other things I heard at LIM, particularly, authors in panel discussions of various subjects, talking about how real-life people inspired their characters. I've never done that, but I guess, in light of all the above, that my characters are somewhat based on me. Perhaps that's an inescapable fact for authors, because facets of each fictional person will come out of the writer's imagination and so must represent some part of them. I think that may be so even for characters based on real people.

Or am I the only nut case out here?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Promotion and Other Stuff

Updated blog page, Google site, Goodreads, and AuthorsDen with info about "Stranger Faces." I still need to add the cover image to my Twitter profile, but I'm wondering how useful the Facebook pages are. FB ads can get "likes" but do those translate to sales? Is it worth it? (Anybody care to chime in on this?) I did update my Goodreads ad to promote "Stranger Faces," although I need to load an image for it, so I'll see how that does once approved. And then there are the Google ads which are low on funds and may require updates.

I finished the first proof of "The Changeling Kill" for print but haven't built my corrections document yet. Mostly, the errors are "lost" italics, generally for showing someone's thoughts that are a paragraph all their own. Italics that are combined in a paragraph with regular text never go missing.. Proofing the print edition galley isn't nearly as intense as the e-edition, i.e., the first real editing pass, but it can sometimes be an eye opener. I also tend to notice things I would like to change, as a matter of artistic preference, but those changes are a no-no.

Itching to get back to "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" as more of the scenes develop in my head. There will be much more "mystical" stuff in this one than in "Dabblers." Stefanie is learning to control her psychic ability and is learning it is an enormously powerful thing. Conflict arises as she fears what she may have to sacrifice to embrace it fully. More conflict in that she knows she's changing, becoming stronger and more different, yet how will her husband and friends feel about the changes? And there's the mystery of a missing woman to solve as well as the resurfacing of Stefanie's dark past. Should she seek revenge or offer forgiveness?

Oh, yeah, we got conflict.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Busy, Busy

Half way through my first proofreading of "The Changeling Kill" for the print edition. Since galley readings are mainly for formatting errors and the outright typos, I itch to change things that I see which hit me as needing to be said better than the original, but I must curb the urge.

I'm eager to get some new advertising out there, but I'm holding back on it until more vendors pick up "Stranger Faces." Since my time for writing pursuits has become somewhat limited, the preparation for that which I would normally do must wait a bit.

Thinking more about the contest idea. I thought I would put up a quiz with questions about "The Dreamer Gambit" that can be answered by searching various websites where there are samples of the early pages/chapters. I have the questions ready, but I need to research the cost of shipping the printed books to the winners and deciding how many there will be. This could also tie in with the print release of "Changeling" in early April, but I'm not sure how just yet.

More and more ideas about "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" keep coming into my head, and I also long for a good heads-down writing session on it. Still not certain about the final climactic scene, but it's coming. It's coming.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Eager to Create

Over the last couple of days, I haven't been able to do any writing at my computer (or not much anyway). While at Love Is Murder, sitting at the authors' signing table, I wrote out part of a key passage on paper and was almost late to dinner. I wrote some more during odd moments the rest of the weekend. So this afternoon, first thing when I got home from work, I typed it up. A whole 5 pages!

The story is really coming together, but  in my typical fashion, I still don't know how it ends! I have an idea about how to resolve one conflict, but not the other. Is the missing person at the heart of the mystery still alive? If not, what happened? And if so, who will try to prevent her from being found?

Things are getting very busy. I have a galley of "The Changeling Kill" to proof for the paper edition. I need to start into updating my websites with information about "Stranger Faces." I have a contract to fill out for a paperback edition of "Dabblers," and I think a paperback of "Game Faces" might be on its way too. Whew!

I'm also considering putting together some sort of contest or quiz where the prize is a signed paperback of "The Dreamer Gambit." Haven't quite worked that out, but I will definitely post the details on this blog when I have them.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Catching Up

Well, Love Is Murder now over for 2013. I had a good time there, talked to a lot of people, generated a few sales, and conducted myself rather well I think on the panel discussion. At first, only a handful of people showed up at my session, but the room filled out later. I managed to answer questions without sounding like a stuttering fool, and maybe even sounded knowledgeable. The biggest thing about attending LIM, though, is that being surrounded by other published authors as well as those who want to be published provides a feeling of having accomplished something. I've crossed the line since my first Con in 2009 from being an "un" (unagented and unpublished). Still don't have an agent, but I'm working on my 7th novel. Not half bad.

"Stranger Faces" showed up on the Write Words, Inc. site on Friday, as scheduled. "Two Faces, Two Faced" print edition shouldn't be far behind. I'll need to do some updating of my various websites as soon as "Stranger Faces" shows up on Amazon. I could do it earlier, but my computer time of late has been so limited. Then there will be the advertising stuff . . .

Eager to get back to work on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend." So eager, in fact, that I had some free time at LIM and began handwriting a difficult scene on paper! The imagination just will not be silenced for very long before the words have to come out.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Meetin' and Greetin'

I'll be heading out to Love Is Murder in a few more minutes after some last minute printing this morning. My panel discussion isn't until Saturday, but oddly, I don't feel nervous about it at all. Public speaking has never been my strong suit, but I'm working on it because an author needs to get out there and promote. I have copies of "The Dreamer Gambit" for the book store as well as chapbooks for "The Changeling Kill." I made up business cards and a brochure about my books as well as a one-sheet summary of my three series to hand out tomorrow.

I've checked the Write Words, Inc. site a couple of times this morning for an appearance of "Stranger Faces," but it's still early, not even 8 a.m. "Two Faces, Two Faced" should be out in print, too. "The Changeling Kill" is scheduled to go paper soon (I believe galleys are on the way), and I have contracts for a print edition on "Dabblers" to sign and send.

I still manage to make progress, in small ways, on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" and I hope following the conference here, I'll have more time to do some heads-down writing.