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NaNoWriMo… And A Bunch of Anthologies

It’s NaNo time! Time to get away from all the pressures and stresses of life, kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table and do nothing but write, all day and all night.

HAHAHA!

Never mind. I’m running around crazy and am lucky if I can get 20 minutes to work on my new novel. Not to mention I’ve got my hand in about every other pie I can stick it in. But, hey, that’s life, and that’s what makes it fun.

This year for NaNoWriMo, (Write 50,000 words in one month. Come on people, you should know this by now. :-P) I am taking a break from all the editing of my other works, and creating a brand new novel, the first in a trilogy. The novel is titled Mercy McNary, (And I have to tell you the names of the other two, because they’re so cool.) The second novel will be called No Mercy, and the third and final will be For Mercy’s Sake. It’s going to be a while before all three of them are done. They are likely to be my NaNo projects for the next 3 years, because it seems like November is the only time I ever get any actual Writing done anymore.

The trilogy, however, is about a woman named Mercy McNary, who happens to be a mercenary. One of the best, actually. When she gets sent to the rural world of Rostim to complete a long list of assassinations, she ends up meeting Jeremiah Justice… Who makes her start wondering if there’s a better life for her. But retiring from being the kind of mercenary that Mercy is, well, that’s not as simple as giving your two weeks notice.

The book is coming along well so far. I’m certainly having a lot of fun with it, and I’m looking forward to this month’s project. It’s not the only thing I’ve been involved with right now, though.

Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a reading of the Spokane County Library’s anthology, Spokane Writes. My short story, “Tipson and the Wedding,” was included in the anthology, and I had a great time reading it to the group that was gathered there.

As my life normally goes, I can’t have only one thing happening at a time, so I’m also very involved in getting the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group’s next anthology out. The title is “Get There,” and I’m involved in creating the cover again. That is due to come out later this month.

And I published my own little anthology of my own work. (I guess that’s called a collection, but hey, we’re on the topic of anthologies here.) It’s called What You Want To See, and it’s a collection of kind of creepy short stories that I put out for Halloween this year. I think it’s a great read. I’m too much of a chicken to get into anything really horror-genre, but I do love something a little creepy, so if you’re like me and don’t want blood and guts, it’s a good collection to read, (Says the Author. :D)

And that’s about it, other than being neck deep in projects, cleaning, kids lives, appointments, Snow, (yes, neck deep) and paid work, that’s all I’ve really been up to! LOL

So Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

Another thought on “perfection”

I should have a “perfection” category on my blog. I’ve had a lot of posts related to those. The reason is that I want things to be perfect in my writing, but I know I can’t have that.

I go to a monthly writer’s group where we often will write a short piece and share it with the group, get feedback on it, etc. We keep the writing under 2,000 words, so it’s a nice easy writing exercise, at least for me. I love short pieces. But in the month between when we decide what we’re going to write, and when I actually share it with the group, I probably read and edit it at least three or four times. I go to the group and share it, hoping to get lots of good feedback and suggestions on how to improve it and most often what I get is this kind of stunned silence and a general, “That’s really good” comment. It sometimes frustrates me because I look at it and see all the problems. That’s my biggest stumbling block when it comes to publishing stories. I keep reworking them because I never feel like they’re perfect.

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I recently had an incredible experience in regards to this. One of my writing friends, Julia Ward, just published her first book. Every writer talks about how their novel is their baby. Well if Julia’s novel was her baby, I was the novel’s Auntie. I was there through the writing stage of the book, the editing stage of the book, the “why did I write this? It’s awful!” stage of the book, the “Oh wait, there are a few funny parts. Actually, this is pretty good,” stage of the book and finally the, “Holy crap, I’m just about to hit the publish button!” stage of the book. Through the whole thing, I saw that endless struggle for perfection, that endless self-doubt that she would ever be able to reach it. It was the same kind of feeling I had when working on my first novel, the same kind of doubt that it would be any good.

When the novel came out, I picked up my copy and started reading. It was cute, it was fun, it was funny. It wasn’t perfect, but I really didn’t care. I enjoyed it, and I was glad I had it to read. And it made me realize that, yes, I strive to make my novel the best it can be, and that struggle makes it such a much more enjoyable read to someone else, but I will never get it perfect, and I don’t need to, because people want to be transported to some other world, some other life, and as long as the imperfections aren’t extremely distracting, they’re happy to read what has been written.

If you’re interested in Julia’s debut novel, go check it out It really is a great read. (And I’m not biased, being the novel’s Auntie.)

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

The Story of A Cover

I’ve mentioned a few times my involvement in the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group anthology, “It Gets Darker As You Go,” but most of my mentions have been about my story, and my excitement for our upcoming readings and signings in Spokane.

What I haven’t really mentioned is how I was involved in the cover creation.

This anthology has been a great collaboration between the authors involved. Everyone simply offered to throw in their help with whatever they were good at. When we started talking about covers, the leader of our group, Charles R. Oliver, said that anyone who wanted to try their hand at creating a cover could pick a photo from one of two stock photo sites he had an account at, and he would purchase the photos.

I love creating covers. My first couple of covers I hired someone to do for me, and after that I realized that I wasn’t bad at it myself, so since then I’ve been doing them on my own. At this chance to work on the anthology’s cover, I was pretty excited.

We didn’t have a title, didn’t really even have a theme other than we knew we wanted all the stories to have some kind of paranormal element to them, and we wanted them set in the Northwest. With that, and the few snippets I’d heard of the other people’s stories to that point, I thought, “Well, what about a nice woodsy-feeling cover with just a little bit of creep?” So here was my first submission:

Woods

I combined two images–the cabin in the woods, and the lady in the red jacket–and came up with the title, picking up the red from her jacket and the brown from the trees to create my font colors. I showed it to the group and a lot of them really liked it. Erik Schubach also created a nice looking cover idea for the story as well. To be honest, I liked his cover better than this original cover I submitted. We weren’t ready to decide on covers yet, so we kept working on the stories, swapping with each other and giving feedback.

As I started reading more and more of the stories, I realized that the couple I’d been exposed to early on were some of the lighter stories in the anthology. A few of them had a bit darker feel to them, and some were downright scary. (For me. I’m a chicken.)

I started reconsidering my design. This anthology didn’t feel like a bright woodsy with red-jacket cover type thing. I came up with the idea (and hence title) of making the stories go from lighthearted to darker, and I started looking for images that would match that up. I was so lucky to find the beautiful image I did on one of the stock websites that Charles had an account with. I wanted a great font to go with the image and theme of the story, so I went to this incredible page that shows all sorts of fonts, how they look, what genres they go well with, and so on. Funny enough, the font I chose was called DarkII. A perfect dark font for a dark cover.

From all of that came my cover design for It Gets Darker as You Go.

A woman walks in the forest at night with a lantern.

I loved the composition of the original artwork, the great lights and shadows, the kind of creepy, but kind of hopeful feel it gave. The feeling of being watched, and also being the watcher. Everything about it was spectacular, and the group apparently thought so as well. They picked it out right away, then asked me to organize the stories according to their level of “darkness.” So hopefully I did a good job, that way if you’re like me and they get “too scary” you know where to stop. (although truth be told, even though I knew I should stop, I ended up reading all of them because they were engaging and exciting. I just dealt with the nightmares later… You think I’m kidding?)

This wasn’t my first time creating a cover for a story, but it was my first time where other people had to decide between a few covers, some of my own creation, some from other people. It was exciting and gratifying to see how well-received the cover was, and how the people in the group really loved it. It’s certainly a fun thing for me to do and, I must admit, a good excuse to get distracted from the writing I really should be doing.

Speaking of which, I need to go back to pounding out my revisions on my next novel. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll let you all… Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

It Gets Darker As You Go

I’m excited to announce that the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group Paranormal Anthology is just about to hit the shelves (Virtually, and literally.)

Let me tell you a little about it, then we’ll come back to that.

A woman walks in the forest at night with a lantern.

It Gets Darker As You Go Cover

There’s nothing to fear…

This anthology features paranormal stories by the award-winning authors of the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group.

Erik Schubach
O.C. Calhoun
L.P. Masters
Lorna M. Hartman
David Jewett
Jerry Schellhammer
Patti L. Dikes
Charles R. Oliver
and R.N. Vick

As you journey into the new realities held within this anthology, you will encounter the snaggle-toothed monster under the bed. Meet a sweet, cookie-baking grandma, and discover a ghost who may not be as scary as he seems.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking there is nothing to fear because…

It gets darker as you go.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The stories are incredible. Some of them fun and lighthearted, and some of them extremely dark. That’s what I love about the layout, though, is that if you’re a scaredy-cat like me, you can decide when it’s getting too scary. (I’m probably the only one scared enough to stop partway through an anthology.)

I did swallow my fear and read the last few stories, though, and I can attest that they really are wonderful, albeit frightening.

Now, about those virtual and literal shelves…

Find the print version here, or get an ebook and read it anywhere.

But those are both virtual shelves. Didn’t I say something about literal shelves?

The Barnes and Noble at Northtown Mall in Spokane will be hosting a signing for It Gets Darker on Saturday, June 3 from 1 to 5 PM. They’ll have a big box of the books there, so come support us, come watch me at my very first signing, and come learn a little more about the anthology. UPDATE: The signing is currently up in the air and sounds like it may be pushed back a little. I’ll keep everyone posted on the date.

Okay. Plug your ears now cause I’m about to scream.

I’M SOOO EXCITED!

Whew. Thanks. I needed to let that out!

Have fun and enjoy the writing.

My Turn to Rave

I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but here’s why.

I just edited a 56,000 word novel in 10 days. Not to mention having to take care of children and do all the other amazing things I do.

I’m not saying the following things to brag about myself, more to brag about my editor. My editor had a lot of really nice things to say about my novel, Love is Death. You know, it’s great to have your family and friends read your work and tell you it’s good, but there’s just something different about having a professional look at your work and tell you this was a great story and she really enjoyed it.

And speaking of professional, that’s what my editor is. She had a chance to rave about my book in her comments and emails to me, and now it’s my turn to rave about her.

Let me tell you a little more. The “Edited By” acknowledgement of my novel will proudly hold the name Miranda Miller of Editing Realm. Their “tagline” at Editing Realm is “High-quality editing services at affordable prices!” and that’s the truth. I had been looking for an editor for a few weeks before I found Editing Realm, and I was seeing quotes of $2,000, $3,000, sometimes even $5,000 for my novel. It was simply unattainable. I have to be honest, when I stumbled upon Editing Realm’s services I was a little leery of how cheap the prices were, but I desperately wanted an editor, and I figured if I made a mistake picking them, then at least it wasn’t an extremely expensive mistake.

Now that I’m done with my edits, I can assure you it wasn’t a mistake at all.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that an editor should improve your work, but not change your voice. Miranda was brilliant at exactly that. She immediately identified several of my weaknesses: My characters looked a lot. (look, people gotta look at things worth looking at, right?) Using repetitive phrases repetitively, (see previous parenthetical.) Passive voice, (Although the passive voice was trying to be fixed by me as the author as I was doing my own edits.) Oh… And overuse of ellipses… but, I mean… they’re just so dramatic when you have ten of them in one sentence… aren’t they?

Sorry if that previous sentence was painful to read. It was a bit painful to write, and I totally got off track with it. Miranda was probably twitching as she read it.

Not only did she find my weaknesses, but she strengthened my word choice. She was like a magician. I brought in this beat up old parrot of a word, she put it in a box, waved her magic wand and out came a shinning, glorious new dove of a word. I mean, I use the thesaurus sometimes and end up pulling out a pterodactyl, but pretty much every word change she suggested I looked at and thought, That’s a perfect word for that. Why didn’t I think of that word?

As I started out this post saying, Miranda had a lot of great things to say about the story as it went on. As authors, we don’t get to hear our readers’ gasps when that love interest gets hurt or see their eye rolls when that antagonist does something stupid. Miranda put those gasps and eye rolls in the comments, as well as a lot of really great suggestions on how to improve the characters and flow.

I had a few questions and several scenes that I had changed heavily in the edits. I sent them to her and she was always quick to respond, and clear in her answers.

My point is that I want to tell the world, (or at least, anyone who reads my blog) all about Miranda Miller of Editing Realm. I will definitely be using her for my future novels, and have already recommended her to a friend who is planning to publish soon as well. She has erased one of the major concerns I had about self-publishing, and that was having a book that I didn’t feel was truly “polished.” It’s less than a month until my novel hits the virtual shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited.

So have fun, and enjoy the writing, (or editing as the case may be.)

Love Is Death-Blurb Reveal

It’s like dreams are coming true all over the place.

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(I wanted a picture to put in the post, and what better than a dog dreaming? Perfectly adorable.)

I’ve been working with my designer the last few days to get my cover just right. We’re not quite ready for a cover reveal yet, but it’s getting close.

Today I splurged, and spent a whopping seventy-five cents to get my cover printed. I had some running around to do this evening, and I spent some time with friends as well. I carried that piece of paper around with me everywhere.

I showed it to my friends who were all excited, and already fighting over who gets to buy the first book. They kept asking me if I knew the girl who posed for it. (I do. She’s my friend’s daughter.) and one woman tonight said, “Everyone keeps asking if you know her because she’s just so pretty.” I’ll have to pass that message on.

At one point I went to get back in my car and I saw the cover in the dim light from a street lamp and thought, “That’s a nice looking cover. What book is that?”

“Oh right. It’s mine!”

I’m not trying to brag, (although, really, any bragging I would do would be all about my cover designer because he’s incredible.) All I’m trying to say is, that dreams are coming true. The count down is on to November 16th when my novel will be released. And although we’re not quite ready for that cover reveal just yet, I decided I would give you all a break and do a blurb reveal. So here it is.

Rest in Peace?

What a joke. Ghosts rarely rest, and when we do, it’s never in peace.

Gina’s plan for her afterlife is simple: survive as long as possible. The afterlife is a ghost-kill-ghost kind of place. When she meets newly-dead Alec, she can’t help her desire to protect him. Before she knows it, she finds herself falling for him, despite the little voice in her head telling her it’s a bad idea.

Alec’s goals don’t mesh well with Gina’s plans. Determined to save his living sister from a murderer, he’s willing to disobey the laws of a well-established cult in the afterlife. If the cult finds out, they’ll kill him. Again. He’s hesitant to accept Gina’s help and threaten her afterlife, but he’s guaranteed to fail without her.

Together they embark on a perilous mission, but the most dangerous aspect of all is the threat of falling in love. Because in the afterlife…love is death.

Cover reveal coming soon. Be sure to check back, or to make life easier on you, follow my blog. (Just click one of the options to the right…)

So have fun. And enjoy the writing. (And have some dreams come true.)

Groupies!

There’s something about belonging to a writer’s group that is incredible. I belong to several writing groups. I have a fiction writer’s group that meets once a month on Wednesdays, a women’s writer’s group that meets once a month on Saturdays, and a bunch of NaNoWriMo friends who just never quit holding write-ins every other week when November ended…like, three years ago.

So every month, (If I’m lucky and don’t miss a group because of children or schedules, or anything else) I get to attend some sort of writers’ group four times per month.

To be honest, I need it.

This evening, when I met with the “Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group” at the fire station, we all stood outside in the foyer for about fifteen minutes because no one was at the fire station to let us inside. It’s summertime, though, and our usually large group was fairly small. There were only six of us who were close enough to “on time” to realize that we were locked out for the first part of the meeting.

We started talking about publishing. I am sitting there, right on the edge of getting published, and one of my friends at this meeting has been so supportive of me just getting out and doing it. We all started talking about publishing and as I listened to everyone talk, I realized that four of the six of us there tonight had been published.

Four of the six! I thought that was incredible. Over half of that little group had been published, and I have the opportunity to meet with them each month and discuss writing, pick their brains about what to do and what not to do when getting published.

How inspiring for me as a writer who is so close to getting my own work published. I love the friendship, the sense of belonging one can get from a group like that. Every month when I get home from that meeting, I sit at my computer and feel so focused and excited about writing. It’s something I look forward to for the next four weeks. If I could give any writer, published or unpublished, a suggestion of what to do if they’re not feeling that Love for Writing anymore, it would be to find a good, supportive writer’s group.

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.