Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Purrfectly Dumb Idea

Even though my granddaughter is a month shy of her first birthday, she's really into books. On the one hand, this makes me very proud. But on the other hand, she'll pick one or two favourites and I get to read them over and over and over and over. I've got the book, You're Purrfect to Me, by Sandra Magsamen, memorized. It has cat ears. :-D

Well ... rats. I was trying to insert a picture of the book here, but Blogger's being a jerk today.

Here's a link to the book itself: You're Purrfect to Me. If you're around a toddler at all, I highly recommend it. My granddaughter especially loves it when I roll the r's in purrfect. ;-)

Taking a look at some of these board books you'd think there'd be nothing to writing them, but you'd be wrong. Don't believe me? Give it a shot. Seriously!

About this time last year, a friend and I went to a Christmas bazaar where I found this cute little Christmas ornament that looked like a hedgehog. And then I got a brilliant idea - wouldn't it be neat to buy a different ornament each year and write a story about it to give to my (as yet unborn) grandchild? I'm a writer, after all. How hard could it be?

Plenty hard, as it turns out.

I've got this hedgehog, and it looks like a girl hedgehog because she's dressed kind of matronly and in Christmas fabric. Obviously, I need a Christmas themed story, but other than that I'm drawing a blank. Normally I write science fiction, fantasy, and romance - I'm a little out of my depth here.

She needs a name. She needs a purpose. She needs to do something other than sit there collecting dust on my shelf.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Poem For Remembrance Day

Here in Canada, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is the time and date set aside for to honour those who have fallen in armed conflicts, chosen because that was when hostilities ceased during World War I. I think there are very few families whose lives have not been touched by the loss of a grandparent, parent, child, or some other relative who has served their country. There have been so many conflicts since World War I, and so many losses.

Despite the fact this year marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic Remembrance Day poem, In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae, I felt the urge to write my own poem of remembrance and I'd like to share it with you here.


I remember my grandfather.
He liked to draw
and when I was very small
he taught me the proper way
to draw a pine tree.
He served
with the St. John's Ambulance
as a driver
in World War I and II.
I will never forget.

I remember my uncle.
He like to read
Louis L'Amour
and to work with
anything mechanical.
He served
as a tail gunner
in a British Lancaster
in World War II before
he became a POW.
I will never forget.

I remember my father.
He liked to work with his hands;
he loved power boats
and used to take me fishing
when I was a child.
He served
with the Canadian Armed Forces
as a Peace Keeper
in Egypt and Korea.
I will never forget.

I remember my brother-in-law.
He had a ready smile
and loved to play pranks.
He carved wood and leather;
he was an amazing artist.
He served
with the American Armed Forces
and fought in Korea.
I will never forget.

These men are my family.
I do not need
a single day
to remember them.
I will remember them
each and every day.

Friday, October 30, 2015

It's NaNoing Time!

Yes, it's that time of year again, when thousands (if not tens of thousands) of authors are seduced by the sweet, sweet lure of NaNoWriMo. That's National Novel Writing Month to those of you who are new, or live under a rock or something. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November. You can click on the above link for more details.

It's both exhilarating and terrifying.

When I first heard about this intriguing event called National Novel Writing Month, or as most people now call it, NaNo, I was a hard core dabbler in writing. I'd dabble in this, and dabble in that, write out character sketches and summaries, and dream of becoming a famous author.

NaNo is all about getting the story written. You can do as much prep work as you like, but come November 1st you need to buckle down and get to work. Sounded like fun to me! So I talked a writerly friend of mine into signing up too (it's always more fun with a buddy) and away we went. Pretty much the only things I remember from that first year was that I was working full time, gummi bears were my snack of choice, and coffee is my friend. :-)

I did not complete the challenge that first year. I made it to 33,000 words and ran out of story. However, I was far from disappointed. For one thing, I had a great time and met some really interesting people online. And for another, I genuinely liked the story I'd written. But the most important thing was, I finished it. I'd never finished a story before. And let me tell you, it was an awesome feeling.

Of course the story itself was one hot mess. This was before I realized that I was a pantser, not a plotter. But that's a post for another time. ;-)

Ironically, the friend I bullied browbeat coaxed to participate with me won the challenge with words to spare.

I didn't do NaNo the next year, but the year after that I did, and completed the challenge with words to spare. It was an awesome feeling. I wasn't going to do it the following year, but on November 1 a name popped into my head: Treasure Beaumont. And I was off and running with the longest novel I'd written to date. The following year I was one week and 10,000 words into the story when I realized this was not a book to be written quickly. For one thing, it required a lot of research. So I tabled it and started a brand new novel. And reached my 50,000 by the end of the month.

I have completed the NaNo challenge eight times, but have yet to complete one of my NaNo novels. See, with NaNo it's like that scene in Cannonball Run where the guy rips off his rear view mirrow and says, "What's behind me doesn't matter." NaNo is all about the words - good, bad, or indifferent. Just get that 50K done no matter what. You need to write 1667 words per day to complete the challenge so there's no dilly dallying to pick the right word, just put in whatever word works and fix it in January (because you'll be too exhausted in December).

This has left me with eight, count 'em, EIGHT incomplete novels. While it's true most of them have their finale where everything is nicely wrapped up with a bow, there are gaps and plot holes where I couldn't take the time to figure out what happened next so I just skipped ahead. It's not pretty.

I have two novels (not NaNos) that I want to have out before Christmas, I've already started the sequels to both of them, and I've started the first three books in a seven-book series. Not to mention the fact that my life has got a whole lot busier lately. So much so that most days I'm hard pressed to manage my daily quota of 500 words - 1667 would be out of the question. And to be perfectly honest? The last thing I need is another "not quite there yet" novel to have to fix.

Will I miss it? You betcha! There is an energy to NaNo that you will find no where else and at no other time. It can only happen in November. You become part of this world wide community of fellow writers who become friends. Even if you can't attend the write-ins or parties, you can't help but get caught up in the excitement.

But while I'll miss the sense of community, I will not miss having one more incomplete, 50,000 word novel.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Of Series and Sevens ...

For some reason, over the last couple of years, when I get a story idea it's never just for a single story, it's for a series. Or at the very least a trilogy. And apparently I'm not alone in this because I've seen a number of series crop up lately.

As a reader, there are times when I like a series and times I don't. When I find a book I really enjoy I never want it to end, and with a series it doesn't have to. At least not right away. Sometimes it's the same characters with new adventures, sometimes it's the same story with new characters. But there's no denying there's a lot of great series out there.

When you're writing a series it really does pay to plan ahead, and coming from a die-hard pantser that's saying something. But writing is nothing if not a learning experience and this is something I learned the hard way.

When I started writing An Elemental Wind I had no thoughts of taking it any further than a single novel. In fact, the working title was simply Space Opera. But it turned out that my main character, Nakeisha, was more powerful than anyone had suspected, and when the mysterious Illezie tested her, they were disappointed she wasn't "the one". But the one what? Hmm. So then I thought I should keep the main story going and started working on An Elemental Fire. At that point I knew there was going to be at least four books, one for each element, and then a fifth one that would tie them all together. But I still had no idea what that main thread was.

The breeding program introduced in Fire was originally intended to create a better, purer elemental, but the question remained, why? With An Elemental Water, which was written to be a mirror of Fire, I came up with the idea that "the One" was going to be the saviour of the Illezie home world somehow and that the breeding program had been started to create this person. But by the end of the book the story started to become more complicated and the concept of the "five who are one" was conceived. Despite there only being only four elements, I knew who the fifth one was going to be, and I finally had some inkling of why they were needed.

In An Elemental Earth we're introduced to Gra'anna, the oldest Illezie still living, and she tells us that the prophecy about "the One" had been twisted over the years, and set the ground work for An Elemental Spirit. But it wasn't until several false starts with Spirit that things finally started falling into place and I knew how my series was going to end. You have no idea what a relief that is!

Meanwhile, I had an idea for a romance trilogy I called the Wishing Star Series. It begins with three women on a getaway weekend to a cabin in the northern woods. On their way there they stop to help a little old lady getting harassed by some teenagers. Turns out the little old lady is a fairy godmother who grants them each a wish, but it has to be for something personal. While sitting around the campfire that night they see the evening star and each wish for their dream man. From there the story splits into three - one for each of them as they've each wished for very different men.

While this is a trilogy, all three stories have the same starting point which makes it much easier. And what makes it even better is that I'm working on all three of them at the same time so I can better keep track of what's going on.

However, and this is where the number seven comes in, when I started world building (because even though they're very different stories they all take place in the same mythical world), I decided that Three Realms didn't have much of a ring to it and that Five Realms sounded better. But that meant I'd have to write two more stories, one for each realm. And then somehow the Five Realms morphed into the Seven Realms, which means I'll have four more stories to write.

BUT, just to keep all these realms straight, I sat down and wrote a prologue that can be used for all of the books, and then in my Desert Realm book, the hero is relating his version of the creation myth to the heroine, so I had to actually come up with a creation myth. And it's pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I might even include it as a introduction to each of the seven books. :-D

And apparently I really like the number seven, because when Gra'anna, in An Elemental Spirit is telling her group about the prophecy and how it's become perverted over the centuries, she mentions seven keys to the Shrine of Knowledge and the seven races that were pretty much in charge of everything before the humans were evolved enough to matter.

There are seven days in the week, seven notes on the musical scale, and there are seven directions - north, south, east, west, up, and down (or if you prefer: up, down, left, right, forward, back, and center). There are seven colours in the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and indigo), seven wonders of the world, and seven continents. The world was created in seven days.

Co-incidence? I think not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy First Day of Autumn!

Apparently I took the summer off from this blog, my last post was shortly after the first day of summer.

So ... did you miss me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I haven't been idle while I've been on my unintended hiatus. I've been pretty steady with the writing, and Lucky Dog is in the merciless loving hands of my editor. The cover is being designed as we speak ... I hope. I'll have to jog my cover artist's (aka the daughter) memory.

I finally figured out why I was having problems getting going on An Elemental Spirit, the final book in my Ardraci Elementals series. Every other book has featured an elemental, plus their soon to be significant other. In other words, I focused on the two main characters and everything is pretty much from their points of view. But Spirit is bringing all of these characters together, so everyone pretty much has equal billing.

However (and you knew there had to be a however coming, didn't you?) however, I finally figured out that I did have two focus figures after all: Gra'anna, the ancient Illezie who's pretty much orchestrating this all, and Kaine, the former mercenary from the as of yet unnamed race/planet who was mentioned briefly at the end of Elemental Water and who has a special role to fulfill in the upcoming events. Finally I have my focus and I can move forward.

In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies.

~ L. Sprague de Camp

Excellent advice. And it's also a good idea to take a lot of notes as you go along so you're not having to keep going back to previous books for fact checking. Too bad I didn't figure it out until the end of the series. It really does pay to have at least a sketchy idea of the story arc if you're doing a whole series. De Camp's advice is definitely something to keep in mind for future use.

In fact ... I have another space series that I began many (many, many) years ago that involves the human/Kohl-trin war mentioned in my elemental books. I have the first book in the opening trilogy, and a stand alone that takes place after the war already written. But the series itself never went anywhere because I only had a vague idea of what was going on. Once I'm done with the elementals I'll be sitting down with notes, pens, and plenty of paper and figure things out.

It occurs to me that this could be why I have an easier time with my Moonstone Chronicles than my Ardraci Elementals. To be fair to myself, I didn't start out with the intention of writing a series when I wrote my first elemental book. The intention was to write a serial for my blog. But once it was finished I figured I might as well keep going and write one for each of the elements, even though I only had a vague idea of what could possibly tie them all together.

But the Moonstone Chronicles started as a short story that kind of petered out once Jessica was magicked to the magical realm. It sat for a couple of years, and then I had an attack of "what if" and wrote a multi-page back story about the magical realm and Jessica's parents, then continued on with a sketchy outline of Jessica and her story and the final, epic, confrontation with Anakaron, the evil wizard. So even though the books have kind of wandered off track from the original story arc, the back story is still solid and I know what the ultimate goal is.

I'm a panster, I prefer to write by the seat of my pants, so you'd think I'd find knowing how a story is going to end would stifle my creativity. But just because I know the ultimate goal doesn't mean I know how we're getting there - there's still plenty of room to be surprised. As Ensign Harry Kim said on Star Trek:Voyager: maybe it's not the destination that matters. Maybe it's the journey.

Something to think about.

Don't forget to check out my newly updated progress bars to the right, and join me here Saturday when I continue to talk about writing a series and also about ... the number seven. :-D

Saturday, June 27, 2015

It's Not Easy

So ... it's Saturday as I sit here contemplating the blank screen while the coffee is brewing. Actually, it's not really a blank screen, there's a bunch of icons for folders and a picture in the back ground of ... Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so maybe I should just post it instead of wasting a thousand words trying to describe it:

I freely confess I stole it off Facebook, probably posted there by someone who also stole it from somewhere. It's of the Tatev Monastery in Armenia and currently I'm using it as the wallpaper on my lap top. Actually, you should look it up sometime, it was built in the 9th century and it's pretty cool.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the blank screen. And by blank screen I really mean the large patch of whiteness surrounded by pale blue that is a blank document in Microsoft Word. I was going to use this blank document page to make notes on the half dozen or so books I've read in the last month to make it easier to update my Goodreads, but (as usual) I got distracted.

I was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing and started thinking about how it's Saturday and I've done a blog post here every Saturday this month and it would be a shame to break the habit now. So I sat poised to write another wonderfully pithy post and ... nothing. My mind went as blank as the page in front of me.

This is not unusual.

Most of the time I've got tons of ideas. I've got ideas coming out the wahzoo. And they're all jockeying for space inside my head, screaming, "Me first, me first!" But all it takes is sitting down in front of the blank screen for them to bugger off to someplace else. I still have ideas, mind you. Just not the ones I need at that particular moment.

So then I'll check my email and then Facebook, and the next thing you know it's two hours later and all I have to show for my time are some Muppet videos posted to my Facebook page. And I still won't have written whatever it is I wanted to write.

Sometimes, it's not easy being a writer.

People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it.
~ Harlan Ellison

If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.
~ William Zinsser

Writing is so difficult that I feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.
~ Jessamyn West

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Working From Home

As I was having breakfast Saturday morning, I started thinking about the weekend, two whole days stretched out in front of me. One of the things working gives you is an appreciation for the weekend. But what about those of us who are self-employed? I mean let's face it, pretty much every day is like the weekend, right?

Well, yes. That's true. And therein lies the problem. When you work for yourself, especially when you work from home, every day is like the weekend. If you don't get out much (like me) you can even lose track of your days because they all blend into each other. What keeps me on track are Sunday dinners. Sunday I like to make a proper, sit-down dinner to sort of make up for all the fast and easy dinners we get the rest of the week.

It takes a lot of discipline and willpower (a lot more than most people, including me, possess) to get up in the morning and go into your workspace and work regular hours. It seems like such a little thing but slowly, as time passes and you get used to being home all day, even the best of schedules start to erode.

Say your self-imposed work hours are 9 to 5, just like a regular job. One morning you're running a little late and there's a sink full of dishes and you don't have time for breakfast. If you had a job outside of the home to go to, then you'd leave those dirty dishes to soak and grab something quick to eat on the run so you aren't late for work. But when you work for yourself you'll take a few minutes to do up those dishes, 'cause they'll only be on your mind all day if you don't, and you'll make yourself a proper breakfast because it's supposed to be the most important meal of the day. You're accountable to no one but yourself so you can afford that extra time.

And let's not forget that when you work from home people just assume you're not busy. It takes a lot of willpower to say no to going out for lunch, or even just for coffee, two and three times a week. Even a phone call can distract you for an hour or so, although I know some people who have this problem with friends/family phoning them at a regular job as well. But with a job outside the home you can justify cutting them off because "the boss is watching," whereas when you're your own boss they don't seem to understand that it's nothing personal, you really do need to get back to work.

I started to make out a pros and cons list of working from home, but most of the stuff I came up with was both a pro and a con:
You can make your own hours - but because of this, people who work from home tend to work longer hours.
You're accountable to no one but yourself - but how many of us actually listen to ourselves?
You don't have to dress up for work - but when you dress too comfortably you tend not to take yourself or your work as seriously.
You can be as flexible as you want - but you're at greater risk for burnout as you're probably juggling several jobs at once.
If you have kids, you don't have to worry about finding a babysitter for them if they come home sick from school - but you also won't get much work done when you're trying to take care of them.

Now. One of the things I promised myself with this blog is that I'd talk honestly about my writing, and here's where that promise comes back to bite me in the butt because I'm going to be honest here.

I have two jobs, really. Writing is not my main occupation. I have a home based-business that does editing, transcription, and several other related things, and I'm a writer. Sometimes these two jobs dovetail, sometimes they need to be kept separate, and when this occurs, the business takes priority. Someday I hope that I will be a full time writer, but until then I work at my business during the day and my writing during my off hours.

My two biggest issues with both writing and my business is motivation and focus, especially when business is slow. The more time I have to myself, the less I get done.

I'm fortunate, right now, because I have a big transcription project on the go. With a project like this it's easy to go into my office in the morning and get to work, breaking for lunch and then getting back to it until quitting time. The evenings are for writing and in one of those weird quirks of nature, I'm finding that with less time to waste during the day I'm motivated in the evenings to write.

I can't speak for anyone else who works from home, but here are the things I try to do to keep me on track:

I keep regular hours.
It's easier to do that with my business than my writing, but humans are creatures of habit and if you do something at the same time every day, eventually it'll become a habit. I'm hoping that once the transcription job is finished I will be in the habit of working in my office every day and perhaps I can get more writing done in there.

I get dressed in the morning.
It sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it? To be honest, staying in my pajamas all day has no appeal to me at all. I may dress more casually than if I was going outside of the home to work, but my clothes are clean and I never wear sweats.

I have my own office.
I think it's important that you have a room of your own to work in. I've never had to close the door to my office - it's usually just me and the cats and they sleep during the day - but the door is there if I need it. And my office has all my business "stuff" in it, which makes it easy to think of it as the place where I go to work.

I exercise.
I start and end my work day with exercise. The morning one is for health reasons because I'm diabetic, but the one at the end of the day is because it relaxes me after having sat in the chair all day. Sometimes I'll even work out with the hand weights at lunch time if my energy is flagging.

I take breaks.
I have lunch somewhere between 12 and 1 usually, and then I'll take a break mid-afternoon, even if it's only to get up and stretch or check the mail. Breaks are important, especially for your eyes if you're working in front of a computer all day.

And that's what works for me. At least right now. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Infernal Interfering Ideas

Two weeks in a row with the blog posts. Can you stand it? LOL

So ... a funny thing happened on the way to making progress with An Elemental Spirit, and I'm not talking about the increase of day job work either. Quite frankly, that doesn't really interfere with the writing time at all. It just killed my mindless gaming time. Which is a good thing, trust me. :-)

No, what's interfering with An Elemental Spirit is ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. *sigh*

It's my own fault really. I have the base of operations for my heroes of the Ardraci series set aboard the firefighter class starship Valkyrie, which is a ship that's going to have its own trilogy eventually (one of which is written) and a couple of stand alone books (another one of which is written). Anyway, I started Spirit aboard the Valkyrie and before I knew what was happening I started writing a bunch of back story about the whole freaking history of the universe.

Now that in itself isn't a bad thing, but I checked a couple of facts in the trilogy, which takes place before the Ardraci series, and things don't quite line up. And the real problem is, the facts I came up for Spirit are better than the facts I had in the first Valkyrie book. So now I'm having to re-think the beginning of Spirit, and figuring out how to re-write the Valkyrie book to include these new ideas.

So while I'm pondering all these new ideas and what to do with them, I've gone back to work on Wishing Star 1. See, I'd left it temporarily 'cause I couldn't figure out how to keep my heroine, Eva, from finding out that that lion she's traveling with is a shapeshifter and yet still have them develop a relationship.

And then I got an idea.

They could meet in dreams. A dream like this one:

Eva was walking slowly along a beach. It was night and the moon was full, its light sparkling on the water lapping at the shore. The sand was cool, tickling her toes, which made her smile. A warm breeze played with her hair and there was a scent of flowers in the air.

The moonlight picked out another figure on the beach, some distance ahead. Though too far away to be more than just a vague shape, she knew instinctively that it was a man, just as she knew she had nothing to fear from him. He was waiting for her.

As she drew nearer she could see he was tall and lean, but gave the impression of great strength. His skin was sun bronzed and his hair was long and dark. There was some kind of tribal tattoo on his left pectoral, disappearing over his shoulder but the moonlight was behind him and it was indistinct. He wore nothing but a loin cloth and it was at that moment she realized she was dressed in a sarong that fell to mid-thigh.

She stopped walking when she reached him. He was unfamiliar, and yet she knew him. "Who are you?" she asked.

"My name is Aiden."

His voice was deep and smooth, and sent a shiver right through her.

"Is this a dream?"

"Of course it is."

"I know you ... somehow I know you. How is this possible?"

"Perhaps we knew each other in another lifetime, or another dream."

Eva reached up and touched his face. "You're my jungle lord."

"Yes," he said.

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her, a kiss that coursed through her like fire, leaving no part of her unscorched. She pressed closer, needing ... needing something but she couldn't say what.

Not bad for a first encounter, eh?

"To sleep, perchance to dream ..."

Through dreams Aiden can give her important information, like what plants are safe to eat, he can show her how to use the flint and steel she was given 'cause she has no clue what they're for, and, of course, they can grow closer. Which will make it all the more shocking when they meet in person.


You gotta love them. Even if they do interfere once in awhile. ;-)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saturday Update

in the park
I think it was the 4th of July ..."

Anybody remember that song? Anybody?

Jeez, I'm getting old. :-D

Of course it's Saturday, June 6, not July 4th (at least it is as I type this), but I figured it was time for an update.

As you know - well, some of you know - I'm a woman of many talents. I'm not just a writer and editor, I also have a home-based business that includes audio transcription. And I just picked up a whopping big project. Which means a drastic reorganization of my time.

For those of you who don't know what audio transcription is, it's where you listen to a recording, usually notes or interviews, and type down what's being said. Sounds pretty cushy, doesn't it? Well it's not. Your ability to work quickly depends on the quality of the audio recordings, and let me tell you, there's a lot of poorly recorded audio out there. The best you can hope for is 3 to 1 - three hours of typing to one hour of audio. And that's what transcribers charge for. But the reality is it takes much longer than that.

So in other words, if my writing progress slows down for the next while, you'll know why. :-D

I've been plugging away at the first book in the Wishing Star series and seeing some progress. My heroine has met up with a friendly lion in the jungle and they've been wandering around, looking for a place to set up house. She hasn't met her jungle lord yet, there are . . . complications. All the better to make things interesting. ;-)

And I've started An Elemental Spirit, the last in the Elementals series. I sort of know what's going to happen but I'm still really vague on the details. Of course I was vague on the details with the other four, but serializing them kind of forced me to move forward. However, don't expect me to serialize this one. At least not right away, anyway.

I'll leave you with your ear worm of the day, just because I can. :-)

Happy writing!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Whole New Hell

Wow, this will make three, count 'em, THREE blog entries this month! Can you stand the excitement? LOL

Well, the good news is I've finished the last round of edits on Lucky Dog and it is even now in the hands of my editor. I'd make some flippant remark about all the different ways she could tell me how bad the book is, but I don't want to give her any idea. ;-)

So while I'm waiting to get my book back, I thought it might be a good idea to start working on the cover. When I wrote the first half of the book during NaNo I came up with a mock-up cover for it, but I've since been informed that the picture I wanted to use is unavailable. It's too bad, really, because it would have been perfect.

So now I'm perusing the stock photos for a new cover dog. Have you any idea how many dog photos there are? Thousands. And that's just on the site (Dreamstime) I'm using.

It's a tricky thing, searching for a particular picture. You can't be too specific - black dog in woods - or the search will come up empty. But 'black dog' leaves you wide open to 311 pages of dog photos.

You gotta wonder about some of these filters though. While I can understand the inclusion of puppies and poodles and dogs that only have a smidgeon of black on them, I have to wonder about the inclusion of the woman posing with a china dog. Okay, she's dressed in black and the china dog is black, but what about the guy in the hoodie holding the Pomeranian? The only thing black in that picture is the background. And although I've met a few dogs that were the size of small horses, I'm a little surprised when a horse shows up in my search for a dog. Ditto for the red rose and the cat.

But this is how I've spent my Sunday afternoon, and I've narrowed it down to two possible candidates. There's gotta be a better way of doing this, right?

Of course there is! If I had any money I could pay someone to do it for me. But I don't, so I can't.

And the solution for that is quite simple. I just need all of you out there, and your friends, to buy my books. :-D

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Editing Hell

Yes, my friends, I am in editing hell. I spent the better part of last week editing a single scene. Bearing in mind that I'm trying to reduce the word count of Lucky Dog, this scene was originally 14,600 words but I ruthlessly pared it down to a mere 3,000 words. Then I read it over and added 1,600 words back in. LOL

The scene itself involved Dominic (formerly known as Bandit the dog) and Sebastian (his friend the bard) rescuing the fair Jessica (the heroine of our tale) from the nasty witch guards. Their original plan was an intricate plot that involved a lot of window dressing and the addition of several extra characters who, once they played their part, would never be heard from again.

There was nothing wrong with the five chapter scene per se, but five chapters for a single rescue? Their plan was unnecessarily complicated and involved too many extra people. The one I came up with to replace it with was more succinct and involved only Dominic and Sebastian. And quite honestly, it made more sense too. There was some detail I regret losing, like showing how the new king's rule was affecting the land, but the important stuff can be worked back in as needed.

But the good news is, I'm over the halfway mark now with only about 100 pages left to go.

In the meantime, I've been neglecting pretty much everything else. I really want this book finished, like yesterday. So I will continue to neglect pretty much everything else until it's done. :-D

Don't forget to catch up on your serial reading, courtesy of Jamie DeBree:
Live With Me
- career girl Candace falls prey to a plot that forces her and her old high school crush to live under the same roof while he recuperates from a sports injury. Sparks are about to fly!
Dry Rain
- a seriously creepy story about a moth infestation that decimates the Earth.
And Double Blind
- a spicy tale of a woman being presented by an offer she's going to find it hard to refuse - spending a weekend on a yacht with two men, and spending the entire time blind-folded.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Man, It's May?

Funny thing about time, it stands still for no one. Least of all for struggling authors.

Given my lack of posts here, one might get the impression that I've been slacking off on the writing or something, but that's not true at all. I've actually been doing okay in the writing department, it's the editing I've been slacking off on. My own editing that is. Give me someone else's book to work on and I'm a happy camper. My own, well . . . not so much. :-D

I will admit that I've been a little low on motivation these last few weeks, but I take heart in the fact that I'm not alone. Several other authors I keep tabs on through their blogs or Facebook are also rather unmotivated. Maybe it's something in the air, like pollen?

Because author cannot live by editing alone, I've started a new story, the first of a trilogy. I'm not quite sure how to categorize them, they start out contemporary and then kind of segue into fantasy/paranormal. They're connected by a common prologue, but each should be able to stand alone as well.

My focus for the month of May is going to be to finish up with Lucky Dog. I've really been dragging my heals with this one, and there's no good reason for it. I had the draft finished before Christmas, so it should have been released into the wilds by now. My only excuse is that I'm intimidated by its sheer length - 300 pages and over 100,000 words. I would really like to pare it down to a respectable 80,000 words, but . . .

I've had my mind set on getting it out there first, not just because I finished the draft in November, but because I've had so many people asking about it. Give the people what they want, eh? However, I have to admit that it would have been smarter to do the edits on An Elemental Earth first, because it's a cleaner draft to work with and if I'd timed it right, I could have released it on Earth Day. Now wouldn't that have been cool?

Yes, it would have been the smarter thing to do, but no one's ever accused me of being overly smart. :-D

So here's the plan, such as it is:
Finish up the edits Lucky Dog so I can get it to my betas this month and hopefully publish it in June
Edit and publish An Elemental Earth by July
Finish writing Wandering Wizards, the third in the Moonstone Chronicles
Start writing An Elemental Spirit, the fifth, and final book in the Ardraci Elementals series
And at the same time I'll also be working on the first in my Wishing Star trilogy, simply because I've already started the first book. Yes, I can write more than one book at a time. ;-)

You notice Guardian isn't on the list? While I'm glad I took the time to actually finish one of my NaNo novels, I'm not in a big hurry to get it out there. It's the start of a new series and I already have two series on the go. Three if you count the Wishing Star. So no rush for it.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Anybody out there like serials? Personally, I love them. I read so fast normally that sometimes it's refreshing to read a story that stretches out for a long period of time.

My bestie Jamie has started not one, not two, but THREE new on-line stories that will be updated each Friday. Now the installments are only up for a week and they started last week, but if you email her nicely, she send you the installment you missed.

On The Variety Pages we have Live With Me the sequel to Sleep With Me
Her alter-ego Alex Westhaven has a story guaranteed to make your skin crawl called Dry Rain. Having been plagued by a moth problem in the past, this is really hitting home for me.
And her alter-ego Trinity Marlow has started a story called Sailing Blind that is sure to heat things up on those chilly spring nights. ;-)

And if that weren't enough, you can also sign up for newsletters from Jamie and her alter-egos and have installments from three entirely different stories sent to your inbox each month. Romance, thrilling suspense, steam - there's something for everyone. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I posted this story a few years ago on a different blog, but I thought it would be fun to post it again to help celebrate St. Paddy's Day. Hope you enjoy!

What the Leprechaun Said

Fiona sat in her favourite spot under the whitethorn tree, her back resting against its gnarled trunk. The tree grew from the center of what her Gran considered the wild garden, the part of the garden reserved for the wee folk.

It was going to break her heart to have to say goodbye to the place. The letter from the bank had been a total shock; this property had been in the family for generations. She was just glad Gran wasn't around to see it come to this.

"Fee? You out here?"

"Over here," she called back, hastily wiping away her tears.

She was joined by her friends Tammy and Gillian, who sat down, one on either side of her. They'd been friends forever. Even after they grew up and went their separate ways in college - Gillian into finance, Tammy into teaching, and Fiona into art - they'd stayed close.

"I don't know why you love this old tree so much," Tammy said. "It's so scraggly looking."

"Gran's Gran planted this tree the day she arrived from the old country. Gran told me she used to meet the wee man under this tree."

"Your Gran met him, or your Gran's Gran?"

"Both of them," Fiona said with a ghost of a smile. "The 'sight' skips every other generation. Apparently you need the 'sight' to see them."

Tammy and Gillian looked at each other over her head.

Nobody spoke for a few moments until Fiona couldn't stand it any longer. "Well?"

"I'm sorry, hon," Gillian said, voice laced with regret. "It looks like your Uncle Sean started siphoning off funds from the trust account about ten years before he died. Between the falling interest rates and the rising taxes, the trust fund just couldn't keep up."

"So that's it," Fiona said duly. "I'm broke."

"Maybe Gillian and I--"

"No. Absolutely not." Fiona was adamant. "I'm not taking money from my friends to pay the back taxes. There's got to be another way."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

That night, Fiona dreamed of her Gran in the garden. "Remember the wee man," she said, and then walked right into the whitethorn tree. Fiona woke with a start.

From her bedroom window she could see the whitethorn tree bathed in moonlight. Tammy was right, it did look a little scraggly. She was really going to miss that tree, and the garden. She remembered that Gran used to keep Guinness around to water the tree with once a month. And didn't she leave oat cakes or soda bread or something like that as well? For the wee man who lived there, she'd said.

Before Fiona could stop to think about it, she'd pulled on her jeans and a sweat shirt and was checking the cupboard under the stairs where Gran used to keep her liquor. There was no Guinness, but she found a bottle of Jameson's that was three-quarters full. Shrugging, she carried it into the kitchen and snagged a box of oatmeal cookies on her way out the back door.

Midnight found her sitting under the whitethorn tree, the moonlight streaming down on her.

"Here's to you, Gran," she said, waving the bottle in the air before taking a sip. She choked and coughed as the liquor burned its way down. "And here's to your wee man - I hope whoever ends up living here next will treat him right."

"Now ye would'na be thinking of pouring that good whiskey on the ground now, would ye?"

Fiona yelped, and almost dropped the bottle as a tiny man dressed in green appeared beside her. "You--where--what--"

"'Tis a good thing yer an artist instead of a writer. Now just pour a wee drop in here." He held out a tiny cup.

"You . . . you're a leprechaun!"

"Aye, it's observant she is." He tipped back the cup and then held it out again. "Did your Gran ne'er tell ye the story of how I came over on the boat with her Gran? 'Twas more than eighty years ago an' I been guarding her treasure ever since."

"What? Wait. What treasure?"

"Why the treasure the first Fiona O'Shea brought with her from the Green Isle," he said, polishing off another cupful of whiskey. "She saved me life, you know, from that flea bitten ship's cat. And in return I promised to guard her gold until she had need of it."

"Tell me more about my great-great-Grandmother and her gold." Fiona settled back against the tree. "And would you like a cookie to go with your whiskey?"

"Thank ye kindly," the leprechaun said. "But would ye happen to have any pipe tobacco on ye?"

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

"I can't believe your great-Grandmother buried a fortune in gold in the garden," Gillian said as they sat on the patio enjoying a glass of wine. "And your Gran knew about it and never said a word?"

"It was my great-great-Grandmother, and Gran never said anything because as far as she knew there was no need, she had plenty of money already."

"Until your Uncle Sean got his hands on it," Tammy said darkly. "But how did you know exactly where to dig?"

Fiona smiled as she looked over to the base of the whitethorn tree where she'd left a pint of Guinness an ounce of the finest pipe tobacco she could find. "I just followed what the leprechaun said."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi Day!

Bless me readers for I have sinned. It's been many weeks since my last update . . .

If it's any consolation, I haven't been updating my regular journal either. After NaNo was finished I caught a series case of the winter blahs, and while I was able to get some writing done, I didn't have the energy left for anything else.

But here's the weird thing. Last weekend was the time change and I don't know if it's because I've gone back to drinking coffee in the afternoon or what, but it's like somebody turned a switch or something, I've suddenly starting to get things done.

Since we last spoke I have finished the draft of Lucky Dog, finished the draft for An Elemental Earth (which is still being serialized on my main blog), and finally finished Guardian of the Sea (my NaNo novel). As well, I've done some editing on a couple of books for other people, and written a 25 page (roughly 10,000 words) Valentine's Day story that was not finished in time for Valentine's day.

Now I have to buckle down and get to work on those second drafts. *sigh*

I think I have seconddraftitis. How else would you explain my avoidance of Lucky Dog, which was finished before NaNno started? I'm sure it has nothing to do with its length (over 100k), or the plot holes from it being a NaNo book originally so when I'd get stuck I'd just skip ahead, or the fact I got really, really wordy towards the end so there's a lot to be cut out. :-D

So the next couple of weeks will be all about the re-writing and editing, I think. These books aren't doing anyone any good just sitting on my hard drive, especially me.

Here's where the real work starts.