Monday, October 16, 2017

The Game Is...Something

All right, cats and kittens, the moment you've all been waiting for has finally arrived. Okay, so maybe it's the moment that only I have been waiting for, but regardless of who has or has not been waiting for it, that moment has finally arrived.

Second Nature's edits are sitting in my inbox right now.

They arrived last night, which means...

On. The game is on. (I may or may not be listening to Sherlock as I write this post.)

My next challenge, should I choose to accept it, is to complete said edits by the end of the month. I have absolutely no idea if this is a realistic goal, given that there are only fifteen days left in the month, but that's what I'm going to try to do.

This is the moment when the insomnia starts working for me.

In theory, anyway.

This is also the moment when I start neglecting this blog again. (Sorry, My Pet Blog, you had a good run there, what with these three whole posts and all, but edits are time consuming, and I have 800-something pages to go through.)

So if you see me lingering online anywhere, please feel free to yell at me to get back to work. Goodness knows I have plenty of it to get back to.

See you on the other side, y'all...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pieces Of Me (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group.

I'm assuming that, by now, everyone coming here will be well versed with the IWSG, but in the event that you're new (and welcome, if you are!) or would just like more information or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's co-hosts are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan. And let's not forget the group's founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?"

Sure. Well, maybe. I guess that depends on what one considers personal information. But various facets of me do leak into my writing. Some on purpose, some not.

For example, sarcasm. I am a sarcasm-based lifeform, and as such, I have a tendency to create sarcasm-based characters. Some are more sarcastic than others (I'm looking at you, Cate...), but they all have that tendency built into their DNA.

And because I am from New England, my characters also tend to be from New England (well, at least the ones not in my fantasy novels). I do that because I'm familiar with the region, and I like the authenticity it can lend to a story.

These same characters root for Boston sport teams, drink the occasional whiskey, and often love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly.

Which makes it sound like I have an entire army of sarcastic, whiskey-swilling, Red Sox fans when the truth is that there's only two such characters because (A) fantasy has been my primary focus for ages now and (B) it takes me a million years to write anything.

But in the interest of getting back on track...sometimes, these similarities aren't deliberate, or even intentional. Sometimes, they sneak in there and I don't realize it until much, much later. And occasionally, they're entirely perceived by readers who know me or, as it turns out, my family.

The Man, for example, came home from work one day and told me that his co-workers had decided that he was one of the characters in my novel, Effigy. When he told me which character, I had a good long laugh over it because he wasn't that character—or any character, for that matter—but it didn't stop anyone from finding similarities and reaching their own conclusion.

But I don't mind. Because it was hi-larious.

What about you? Have you ever written yourself or parts of yourself into a book or character? If not, do your readers think you did anyway?

Thanks for stopping by, y'all.

Monday, October 2, 2017

October Daze

You probably have noticed this already, but it's October, y'all. October.

I've mostly been slacking off the last two months. You may have guessed that because of my near total lack of blogging, but it's now October (seriously, how is it October already?), which marks the start of my (unfortunately) annual scramble to accomplish some goals before the end of the year. At this moment in time, the only goal I'm in line to actually finish before 2017 is up is my reading goal. I'd like to add to that. If I can.

Which means that the buckling down starts now. Well, in theory, anyway. I could very well decide to binge watch Battlestar Galactica or something because I'm me and that would be just like me.

The Number One item on my To-Do List is, of course, Second Nature. I'm pretty sure that the last time I brought it up on this blog, I was bemoaning my never-ending revisions and edits. But here's something I don't think I told anyone: I actually wrapped up those revisions and edits and sent Second Nature to the proofreader.

The manuscript went out at the start of August and was supposed to be back in early September but Hurricane Irma had other plans. (Whatever, Irma.) My proofreader is located down in South Florida, and between her day job in public safety and her own storm recovery efforts, my manuscript has been delayed. And then delayed some more. It happens. The new goal, the last I heard, is to have it back in my hands this week.

I haven't heard much about how it's going, but I'm guessing that despite my best efforts to eliminate as many typos/errors as possible, I've made waaaaaaaay too many mistakes. You know, the kind that will piss me off when I see them because it's the kind of thing I really should have caught earlier.

But that is why we have proofreaders, right? To find those mistakes we no longer see because we know what the manuscript should say and not always what it actually does say.

The only thing the proofreader said thus far (besides apologizing for the hurricane) is that she hopes that I'm currently hard at work on Book Three (aka, Full Circle) because she really needs to know what happens next. So at least the story itself is passing muster?

Maybe, anyway. Only time (and her notes...) will tell.

Also on the agenda is that possibly-ill-fated, maybe-not-a-romance novel I've mentioned a few times. Its working title is Vinnie & Ellie, and I really want to complete the draft by the end of the year. That's it. That's all I'm aiming to do. (This year, anyway...) I want to fill in the blank spaces and fill out the plot (once I figure out what that actually is...) and do whatever I need to do to just complete the draft.

I suspect my poor, unsuspecting critique partners will be instrumental in helping me do this. We were all off doing various summer-vacation-type things for the last two months, but we're all back in town now so our meetings should be resuming soon. I plan to send them as many scenes as they can tolerate. I love these two ladies, and if there's anyone who can help me figure this thing out, it'll be them.

And should there be any time left over (Ha! she scoffed), I would like to complete Part One of Full Circle. Its official storyboard is up and running, even if it only covers the first twelve chapters (I'm also rocking three other storyboards, so the wall space in my office is running out. I'm going to have to either finish some projects (Ha!) or start using the dining room walls soon.).

I have a sort of plan figured out for Part One, but because of the way Second Nature ended, (which is to say unexpectedly...) I've been pantsing things (which sounds funny. I trust that you're writers and you know what I'm actually saying). I'm just kind of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

But the writing itself is not going particularly well at the moment. And yes, that is partially because knowing anyone out there actually wants to read this book is totally stressing me out. Because I am a freak who cannot deal.

But that's another blog post for another day.

To recap, here are my goals for the month:

1. Complete edits for Second Nature. This is, of course, entirely dependent on me receiving said edits. But should they appear in my inbox, they will become my first priority (after my pets' needs, naturally. The Man can order pizza.).

2. Get in contact with the book designer/formatter and the cover artist, in the event that the edits actually arrive and I actually get them finished. Should I feel ready to move on to the next step, I want to make sure I'm in a position to actually do it.

3. Put the finishing touches on Second Nature's blurb. For the same reasons listed above.

4. In time not spend working on the above, I will work on completing the first draft of Vinnie & Ellie and send fifteen pages to the critique group for their perusal each and every time we meet.

5. In any time leftover (again, Ha!), attempt to make some headway on Full Circle. But, really, this is more a goal for the remainder of the year.

6. Walk at least 3 miles a day. Because otherwise I'll just become part of  my desk chair.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! What's on your To-Do list this month?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Missing The Mark (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group.

I'm assuming that, by now, you're all familiar with this group, but if you're looking for more information or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's co-hosts are: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?"

And true to form, I'm kind of answering this question and kind of not. Because I'm me, and this is what I do.

So I know I don't have a very deep title list, or a title list of any kind (I'm not sure one title can be counted as a list), but all five of my readers will know that I don't exactly write happy love stories. All of my characters are pretty miserable at the end of the first book, and should the second book ever see the light of day (Ha! she scoffed) those five readers will see that no one's getting any happier. It's not looking good for the third book, either (either for the characters, or me writing it...).

Because I am a horrible person who likes to do horrible things to her characters.

But that's another blog post for another day maybe.

Despite my penchant for making characters miserable, this past July, I set out to write a romance novel. Like, a real, actual romance novel with characters who like each other and aren't endlessly tortured, and who maybe have something that kind of sort of resembles a happy ending.

I hit my word count goal on this project (65,000 word) and scored myself a Camp NaNoWriMo win in the process, but the book is far from being finished. Mostly because the story is missing one vital component: THE FREAKING ROMANCE.

Which somehow surprises me. I didn't expect that first draft to be perfect, of course (not that I can really consider it a finished draft, considering that it's, you know, not finished) but I am surprised that I missed the mark so badly. I read the how-to books. I took copious notes on crafting characters and plot. I read real, actual romance novels.

And then I wrote a hot mess featuring two characters no readers would actually want to be together.

Including me.

Which makes me wonder if I'm just not cut out to write a romance novel. I may not be. I may have to take those two characters and put them in another story in another genre. Or I may need more time away from it to give me the necessary perspective to figure out where I went wrong (for example, THERE'S NO FREAKING ROMANCE IN THE ROMANCE NOVEL) and how I could fix it. Or I may need to abandon the entire damn thing in some aligator-infested swamp somewhere (those exist in Florida, right?).

Only time will tell, I suppose.

Thanks for stopping by today. Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interacting With Readers and a Camp NaNoWriMo Update

This has been mentioned on this blog before—and will certainly be mentioned again, I'm sure—but I am one of those authors who's really not all that comfortable being an author in public. (Or just being in public in general, truth be told.)

I pretty much live in fear of being asked about my book. Or hearing that someone is reading my book. Or hearing that someone has read my book and now can't wait to talk to me about said book.

But when these things happen (which they occasionally do), I try to act like a somewhat normal human being capable of putting words into sentence doing (Name! That! Reference!) and, occasionally, I am somewhat successful.

But most of the time, I am just a big, blithering idiot who probably leaves every reader wondering how it is I managed to write a book at all.

Anyway, I recently had a pair of reader interactions I thought I would share with you. To my credit, I neither ran away nor hid under any tables at any point during these experiences.

—A gentleman—in front of a group, mind you—provided a passionate (and mostly accurate) recap of Effigy's plot—being sure to hit all of the darkest plot points, of course—during which I imagine I turned about a million shades of red. Upon finishing, this gentleman turned to me and asked, "How did such a sweet, quiet, little thing like you write such a dark book?" To which I responded, "If you think that book was dark, you really shouldn't read its sequel." (Also, it should be noted that I am not, in any way, shape, or form, a sweet, quiet, little thing.)

—A reader told me that she recently acquired a copy of Effigy and was really enjoying it. In fact, she was finding it rather difficult to put it down, and even read until 3am one night, because she didn't want to stop reading. Which, for me and all of my gross dysfunction, is just the highest compliment. As I wrote in a blog post a few years back, one of my goals was to write a book that make people (or person, as the case may be) want to stay up all night to read. So I am incredibly humbled that she feels that way about my book, and took the time to tell me so. Even though I was my usual social doofus self when she did.

—This conversation:

Potential Reader: I should really read your book.
Me: Oh, don't. It's terrible.
Potential Reader: Huh?

—And this conversation:

—Potential Reader: What's your book about?
—Me: Uh, well...there's this girl, and she's trying know, not die.
—Potential Reader: Well...that's a good goal to have.

I'll keep working on that 'normal human being' thing...

Camp NaNoWriMo Update

Goal: 65,000 words

Words Written: 42,321

Words Remaining: 22,679

Days Remaining: 13

Biggest Issue: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. There are 42,000 words in this damn thing, and I have yet to write the actual romance part. Methinks I am doing this all wrong.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You Know What You Should Do (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group!

(I'm assuming that, by now, anyone coming to this blog will know all about the IWSG, but if you're new and you'd like more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's fabulous co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.

This month's question asks, "What is one valuable lesson you have learned since you started writing?"

Which I'm kind of answering. Or might be answering. I'm not sure yet. We'll have to see how the post goes.

All right, so, back in New England, I belonged to a writers group. And, for a while, there was a member of this group with whom I would constantly butt heads. If we both attended a meeting, there was a better-than-excellent chance that we would end up having an argument. There was one very simple reason for this:

He thought he knew what every writer should be doing.

Every writer, he would say, should want an agent and a big six (or is it five now? Wasn't there a merge in there somewhere?) publisher. Every writer should want to be on a bestsellers' list somewhere. Every writer should want a movie deal. Every writer should want fame and fortune.

"Otherwise," he would say, "what's the point in being a writer?"

Well, I took great offense at this. Because not every writer is the same. Not every writer wants the same things. In that particular group, we had a few members interested in publishing, but more weren't. It was just the composition of that particular group. There was a woman who composed poetry simply because she liked it, and quite a few members who were writing their memoirs and/or family histories because they wanted their children or grandchildren to have them. They weren't interested in publishing. They wrote for the joy of writing.

And that man just couldn't comprehend it. So we fought a lot. Because he would make these writers feel bad about what they wanted. He would make them feel like something was wrong with them because their goals weren't his goals.

And that pissed me off. So I told him. Loudly. And frequently.

Because I am a firm believer that all writers are different and, therefore, may want different things. And no one gets to decide what those things are but you, the writer.

Because it's your work.

Want to keep everything you've written in a box under your bed? Okay. Want to get yourself an agent and a big six (five?) publisher? Good for you. Want to self-publish your masterpiece? Great. Want to have a bunch of photocopies made at your local Staples to hand out on street corners? Wear sunscreen. Don't know what you want to do? Do the research, talk to the people who have been through it, and then decide.

But always remember that the decision belongs to you. There may be people who don't like it, wouldn't have chosen it for themselves, and think you're crazy, but who cares? As my good friend, Tina Fey, would say...

But that's my opinion. We welcome yours.

Monday, July 3, 2017

In Which I Review Books

I always mean to write a post at the start of every month reviewing the books I had read the previous month, and for a while, I actually managed to do that. For whatever reason, however, I haven't done of these in quite a while.

But that changes today! Which you probably guessed from the title.

So here now, for your reading pleasure, is a recap of what I've read recently, and what I thought of it:

Right Behind You—Lisa Gardner—I was disappointed by this novel. I like her D.D. Warren series a lot, but this...I did not like this one. It was supposed to be a Quincy and Raine story, but they felt like secondary characters to me who really didn't have a whole lot to do. Also, it was repetitive. repetitive. And dull. And repetitive. It's hot, and did you know that Cal makes cheese? I do. It was mentioned twelve hundred times in each of his POV scenes and occasionally in other scenes. But I struggled through the book, only to get to the Epilogue, which summed up everything I'd already read. At least the German shepherd survives.

Empire of Storms—Sarah J. Maas—The latest installment in her Throne of Glass series. The second book in this series, Crown of Midnight, I thought was very good, and every book since then (in this series, I mean) has failed to live up to that, in my humble opinion. But yes, despite that, I keep reading them. (I alway seem to hope that there will be a return to the heights of that second book.) Anyway, in this installment...okay, just...I felt like I was reading about a completely different set of characters that just happened to share names with characters from earlier installments. Like, Dorian? Is he still possessed? Did he have a personality transplant in between the last book and this book (one that makes him really into bondage, perhaps?) because he's not the guy that I kind of liked in the first two books. There's also the very convenient romantic pairing-off of all the characters, like Oprah stopped by and did a giveaway (YOU get a soulmate! YOU get a soulmate! EVERYBODY gets a soulmate!), which lead some kind of ridiculous sex scenes. And can I just say...when you're some kind of magical being who bursts into flames at the, you know, height of pleasure, you probably should consider refraining from having relations on a wooden boat in the middle of the ocean. But maybe that's just me. The end felt rather deus ex machina to me (Aelin can certainly coordinate a lot of things without the use of any form of instantaneous communication/transportation), and my favorite character wasn't in the book at all. But considering what happened to the other characters, this was, perhaps, for the best.

The One Memory of Flora Banks—Emily Barr—A story about a seventeen-year-old girl whose memory resets itself every hour, or couple of hours, or every few hours, or whatever was most convenient for the plot. This book was just sooooo repetitive. Yes, I understand that a large part of that was because the main character had no short-term memory (due to a supposed brain tumor—more on that in a moment), but it made for a very tedious read. Especially when the one memory she does develop is her having kissed a boy. Not only does she remember it, but she decides she's in love with the boy, and she has to do whatever it takes to be with him. (Translation: goes by herself to the Arctic Circle to find him) There's a brother we never actually get to meet and a magic email from him that explains everything, but leads to an ending that's more unbelievable than the rest of the novel.

Into The Woods—Tana French— A story about the murder of a young girl and the completely incompetent detective with a mysterious past assigned to solve the case. Seriously, I had this thing solved on, like, page 137, but the detectives required a few hundred pages more to get it done. And then there's this paragraph toward the end of the novel where the narrator was all, like, (to the reader), "Well, the villain fooled you, too!" Which, she didn't. You're just stupid, dude. And a note on his mysterious past...that's a mystery that's never solved in this book. I wanted it to be solved, and I kept reading, hoping it would be solved, but it never is. And yes, in real life, there are mysteries that are never solved, but this isn't real life. This is a mystery novel in which a central mystery goes unsolved. I personally would have preferred the opposite.

A Season Of Daring Greatly—Ellen Emerson White—A novel about an eighteen-year-old girl who is drafted by a major league baseball team. I really enjoyed this story. You were probably thinking that I hate everything I read, but I didn't hate this book. I liked it very much. I thought it had a great character voice. It made me laugh, and it made me worry about the main character, which I find is always the mark of a good book. She doesn't have an easy time of it, which she shouldn't, and I was sincerely concerned for her. It made it hard to put this book down. My only real quibble is that I didn't like where it ended. I wasn't ready for it to end, and I hope there's another installment in the near future.

The Hate U Give—Angie Thomas—I loved, loved, loved this book. Seriously, I loved it. And this will be my shortest review, which sounds odd, I know, given the extent of my love for it, but I don't want to give anything away. Just know that it made me feel all the things, and I spent a good amount of time wiping away tears while reading this book. I found it to be an incredibly moving story.

Camp NaNoWriMo Update:

Goal: 65,000 words

Current word count: 8062

Words remaining: 56,938

Biggest Plot Issue: My MC gets fired, but I haven't worked out the hows or whys of it all yet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Plan

As you have perhaps deduced from this post's title, I have a plan.

I know I don't exactly have the best track record with plans, or following through with them, or sometimes even starting them, but this time shall be different.

I know there's no real reason to think that this time shall be different from any other time because this blog is nothing if not a well-documented account of each and every one of my failed plans, but somehow that never seems to stop me from creating a new one.

I have only failed on the day I stop trying. Right, Nathan Fillion?


So. The Plan. Next week, maybe, I shall tell you the inspiration behind The Plan (it'll depend on my mood), but today is all about The Plan itself. It's probably going to look just like one of my monthly goal lists, but here we go:

The Plan

1. Stick Full Circle (Book #3 in my fantasy series) on the shelf.

After a fast and furious start, I've kind of stalled out on this project. I'm disappointed, but not surprised. I have to do some thinking and revising of the plot to try to reconcile a few issues I've been having with it, and I believe I shall have greater luck with this if this project is not my main focus (And if you're currently thinking, "Gee, M.J., you know you haven't published Book #2 yet, right?" the answer is yes, I do know this, and I am working on it. It may not be reflected in this particular plan, but I am working on it. I swear.). So it's going on the shelf. For now. It won't stay there indefinitely. There are two characters with whose story line I'm pretty obsessed. This book will be finished if for no other reason than those two.

2. Find an illustrator.

I've mentioned before my desire to one day publish a book of the work-themed, somewhat sarcastic haiku I wrote during my job at The Store. And I am currently inspired to try to accomplish this goal sooner rather than later. So, I have half a plan for it (a plan within the plan, if you will), and that half a plan requires an illustrator. I've started to do some preliminary research for this, and I'm excited by the prospect. I think it could be fun.

3. Write a new novel.

As I mentioned in part one of The Plan, Full Circle can't be my main focus, which means I need something else on which to focus, and that is a new novel. Well, an old half-finished project that I've been essentially ignoring since 2009. Essentially the same thing, right? Anyway, I've pulled it out of the archives and will be attempting to whip it into shape. It was supposed to be a romance novel, but it turned out that I am about as good as writing a happy love story as I am on following through with plans. One of my critique partners said she didn't want my hero and heroine to spend anymore time together, which (and correct me if I'm wrong) is probably not the feedback one wants when one is striving to write a romance. But I still really like the characters, so I'm going to give their story another go.

4. Write this new novel in a month.

Which means it's time for another action-packed installment of...

That's right—in order to help me reach my new-novel goal (or at least give it a nice kick-start), I shall be participating in next month's Camp NaNoWriMo session. It's been a while since I've done NaNoWriMo in any way, shape, or form, and it's always a good time. (Almost always...) I'm really looking forward to giving it another go.

So that's The Plan. We'll see how long it lasts. Let's just hope that this:

doesn't turn into any kind of Jessie Spano-type meltdown.

But I'm sure that'll be fun too.

So, what's going on in your neck of the woods? Any romance authors out there have any tips for me?

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. See y'all next time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You Call It Quitting, I Call It Stopping (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Once again, I am assuming that all who visit this blog are already familiar with the IWSG and all that it does, but for anyone needing or wanting for information, including a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's amazing co-hosts are: JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"

I quit a lot. Yearly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. Even hourly, on occasion.

Because there are days when I can't remember how to construct a sentence. There are days when any sentence I do construct would make a Dick and Jane story look sophisticated. Yesterday, it took me eight hours to write a single paragraph that was only two lines long. There are days when I can't even manage that much. And there are a lot of days when I can't stop thinking that I simply cannot do this writing thing.

So I quit.

I plan to run away and join the circus (even though I have absolutely no skills that could be useful in a circus environment). I plan to be a tap dancer (even though I can't dance). I plan to go back to retail. I plan to do anything other than be a writer (even if my only even remotely marketable skill involves precision folding).

But then—and this is the most important part, I think—I pick up my pen and go back to work.

Because, love it or hate it, writing is what I do.

For anyone who wondered, the title of today's post came from an episode of Survivor. I don't remember the season, but there was this one contestant who decided to quit the game. I think he was the first contestant to just outright quit the game. When pressed by Jeff Probst about his decision, the contestant replied, "You call it quitting, I call it stopping." Which, for some reason, became an oft-quoted line in our household. It just seemed to fit this post.

Of course, it's possible that no one wondered where the title of today's post came from. If that's the case, sorry—my bad.

So what about you? Are you a quitter (or a stopper)? What do you do afterward?

Thanks for stopping by today!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Curious Case of the Missing Character

I mentioned this on social media a while ago—because apparently, this is Stuff I've Already Posted On Social Media week on My Pet Blog—so some of you may already be aware of this, but I seem to have lost a character.

Somewhere in between the end of Second Nature and the start of Full Circle, this character just...disappeared.

And not some random, background player, either, but a POV character. A character who has played a pretty significant role in the first two books.

It's weird.

I'm just under 50k in Full Circle's word count (I was over 50k, but deleted a bunch of stuff because I'm me, and that's what I do), and while scrolling through the document, it occurred to me that in those nearly 50k words that this character just...wasn't there.

No scenes. No lines. He's barely even mentioned. I think he's only mentioned once. In the first chapter. Oh no—twice. He's mentioned twice. The second time, in a later chapter, because two other characters are wondering where he went, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that he's gone missing, but missing he is.

And it worries me. I don't quite know what it means. If anything. Maybe it means absolutely nothing. I honestly don't know. I just find it strange that he's gone.

I would be less concerned with his absence if I had any idea at all about where he went and what he was doing there. I had such a careful(ish) plan for Full Circle way back when before I actually had finished writing Second Nature. And when the ending of that book obliterated said plan, I developed a new plan for Full Circle, or at the very least, part of a new plan (I admit Act Three is currently lacking), but here's the thing about those plans— my missing character didn't figure in to either one.

The character the plot forgot.

So where did he go? Did he take a look at the plot I have figured out and decide it was time for an extended vacation? Did I kill him off and just forget (which, as it was pointed out, would be a total MJ thing to do)? Is he off working behind the scenes in this book and just hasn't yet revealed to me there wheres and whys of it all?

I'm hoping for Door #3.

Of course, Full Circle is deep within First Draft territory, and will be languishing there for a good long while, so all this worry and fussing may be for nothing. Hell, because I'm talking about it here, I'll probably realize right where that character is and then have to kick myself repeatedly because it was so obvious.

Which, I would totally be okay with.

In the meantime, however, let's just hope no other characters decide to join him.

Have you ever lost a character? If so, how did you go about finding him/her/it?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Goal Post

Happy Monday, all!

You may have already seen this on various social media sites, but in case you missed it, I had one of those mythical, magical mornings over the weekend where ideas for both of my current projects were flowing fast and furious, leaving my hand cramping in my attempt to record them all.

It was amazing. It's been a good long while since I've have such an experience, and I owe it all to two people: one of my critique partners and my brother. They were gracious enough to spend some time talking story with me, and in doing so helped me get unstuck on that one remaining trouble scene in Second Nature, and gave me a potential solution for a problem scene in Full Circle.

Which made me feel a little bit like this:

But that's not all...I even had this...moment where a potentially not-awful hook for Second Nature's blurb popped into my head. Just...boom. There it was, and I wrote the first draft of a blurb just like that.

I still can't believe it. It's just so crazy that it could happen so quickly—especially when you know how damn long it took me to write a blurb for Effigy—but it did, and I have this workable blurb that I'm actually willing to show to other people. Sure, those people will tear it to shreds (and I will thank them for it), but it's nice to have something to show them in the first place.

So, in light of my moderately-productive weekend, here are my goals for the week:

1. Finish that page of Second Nature edits you found tucked into your notebook.

Yep. That's right. I found another set of editing notes. I don't think it's a particularly difficult set of revisions—mostly questions of word choice and frequency of word usage—so I think it's entirely possible that I'll finish this week. Of course, I say that all the time, so who knows?

2. Prep submission for critique group...including, but not limited to, the dreaded blurb.

We submit about 10-15 pages in our group, and right now my plan is to submit the blurb and possibly my first completed scene for Full Circle. Of course, at the moment there are no completed Full Circle scenes, so part of this goal will be to complete said scene. If I don't get it finished, I'll just submit the blurb. My critique partners will think it's Christmas.

3. Read a damn book already.

My reading progress has slowed dramatically as the year has progressed. I've only managed to read one book thus far this month. I'm currently working my way through two books: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas and The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. I'd like to be finished with at least one of them by the end of the week.

4. Complete at least three thirty minute work-outs.

I used to do this religiously. Yoga, strength training, and aerobics, at least three times a week. And then I fell out of the habit. Strangely, I miss it, so this week, I will be attempting to reestablish that habit.

What's on your To-Do List this week?

Thanks for stopping by today. See y'all next time!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Coming Full Circle

In my last post, I talked about my new-ish computer set-up. Part of this set-up was a brand-spankin' new word processing program, which was one of the reasons why I had held out for so long.

I liked my old word processor. Sure, it was from the late 1990's (Yes, you read that correctly), but I actually knew how to use it, and I didn't want to exchange it for something new because I hate change.

I am Sheldon. Sheldon is me.

But technology seems to love it (Whatever, technology), so with the new-ish faster computer came the new word processor and my idea to transcribe Book Three.

For those who may not know, Book Three, otherwise known as Full Circle, is my new project, the third intended installment in my fantasy series. Not that I can do anything with it until I actually do something with Second Nature, but sitting around and not writing anything makes me crazier than I already am. Besides, given how long it takes me to actually write a novel, I really should have started years ago.

Anyway, I've been working on Full Circle. My original plan for it fell by the wayside, as my plans often do, so I've been building a new plan, with varying degrees of success. Thus far, this novel has been a combination of plotting and pantsing. Mostly, I've been writing down everything that pops into my head. I have no idea how much of it I'll actually keep (I'm thinking not much), but the new plan is to throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.

I'm getting off track again, as I often do. The point is, at the time I converted to the new computer, I had nearly 60,000 words. No completed chapters—hell, there aren't even any completed scenes. It's just 60,000 words worth of possible plot.

When I get stuck on a scene, one of the ways I attempt to get unstuck is to rewrite it. Meaning, I break out my spiral-bound notebook, choose a pen, and physically write it out, and then as soon as any change (no matter how minor) pops into my head, I write it down and follow it to the end. Often, it ends up some place pretty damn good.

Which is why I thought I'd try it with all of Full Circle.

It didn't work out the way I had hoped it would—with me adding a ton more words to the story. Mostly, I just second guessed every plot point I've come up with and went from "I'm so excited to be writing this story at last!" to "How did I manage to screw it all up so quickly?!?"

Doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I know.
I'm just in love with Baby Groot.

Good thing it's a first draft.

So I may not know what it's supposed to be yet, or how to go about writing it, but somewhere in there must be the start of the story I want to tell, right?

Plus, I have plenty of time to figure it out. I still (technically) haven't finished the second book yet.

But that's another post for another day.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all. I'm pretty sure this will end up being my last post for the week, but perhaps I'll be back next week.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and your weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 15, 2017

What's Up

This has been my Sunday night routine of late:

Me: I'm going to write a blog post!

Me: *boots up computer and logs into Blogger*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: Ugh. Never mind. I'm not going to write a blog post.

And this is my attempt to break that pattern. I don't exactly know what to write about because I don't exactly live a super exciting existence (and thank goodness for that!) and I seem to have forgotten how to write a blog. So here in bullet point format (because full and complete paragraphs are beyond me) are the highlights (or, what passes for them, anyway) of what's .

—Last month, I flew home to Maine only to get into a car and drive back to Florida with my sister and niece. Highlights of our road trip included our traditional Les Miserables sing-along and our inaugural Hamilton sing-along, both of which delighted my niece to no end. (Translation: she was not delighted to any end.)

—On our way back to Maine from Florida, there was the super fun moment in North Carolina when I received a text from The Man saying that one of those super fun Florida wildfires had started super near our house (Seriously, it was so close), and the neighbors were preparing to evacuate. Which is exactly the text one wants to receive when one is an OCD-ridden control freak who has no confidence that anyone other than her can properly prepare a go-bag for her pets. Fortunately, the fire department, with an assist from the army reserve people, got things under control, so no evacuation was ultimately necessary. Thank you, Fire Department and Army Reservists! We salute you!

—After my road trip/vacation, I did the unthinkable: I told The Man it was time to upgrade my computer system. He's been pushing for that for a while now—something about my old laptop needing a good thirty minutes to actually boot up?—so he was delighted (perhaps actually so). I am now working on an older laptop of his. It's newer than mine (every computer, with the exception of the one on which George R.R. Martin does his writing is newer than mine) and much faster. I no longer have time to do my best Cave Buffy impression in between pushing the power button and actually being able to use the damn thing.

—Which leads us to writing. Second Nature has more or less stalled. I submitted what I believe to be my last problem scene (of course, I say that about every scene I submit) to my critique partners to get their take on it. We meet tomorrow, and I hope they can help me shed a little light on what's bugging me so very much about it. Fingers crossed.

—I'm also using my shiny, newish laptop to work on my new novel, Full Circle (aka, Book Three in my fantasy series). I'm not going to say too much about it at this point in time because I'm planning to  make it the feature of my next post (maybe on Wednesday, maybe never if my current blogging patterns hold), but I at least wanted to mention that I am writing and working—even if it's not the book on which I should be working.

On that note, I'm outta here. Thanks for stopping by today! And I hope that the mothers among you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

And, also because I love him more than life itself, I will be ending this post with Baby Groot:

See you Wednesday. Probably.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Lost Hero...Or Two?

Today on My Pet Blog, we're (is it weird how I'm always referring to myself as 'we' in these intros?) welcoming author Sarah Foster, one of the amazing contributors to the latest anthology from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Take it away, Sarah!

One Lost Hero…or Two?
by Sarah Foster

When I first approached the idea of a lost hero, I always had it in my head that this hero was someone being looked for. As the characters and plot became more concrete in my mind, it was clear to me that the actual “hero” I had created wasn’t the protagonist of my story. The narrator, Raynor, was the one telling the tale. He and his twin sister Illy are searching for their long-lost uncle in order to stop an evil group known as the Black Cloaks from kidnapping people with special powers.

So the hero of my story is literally lost, and the main characters are trying to find him. Mikah is a lost hero because he does not want to be found. He no longer wants to be the hero he once was. A big part of the story is learning about his backstory and what happened to him that made him decide to stop fighting evil and disappear. It was always obvious to me that Mikah was my “lost hero.” But was he the only one?

Finding their uncle is the main goal for Raynor and Illy; they and the reader don’t know what will happen once they do. For Raynor, his priority is protecting his sister. She’s the one determined to locate their uncle and defeat the Black Cloaks. Raynor, on the other hand, is reluctant to go on this journey, but he knows there is no arguing with his twin and so he must go with her.

Raynor spends most of the story worrying about what could happen, and revealing to the reader how truly frightened he is of the results of this journey. At some point it occurred to me, isn’t Raynor a bit of a lost hero as well? Not in the sense that he is literally lost, but that he is reluctant to become a hero. He seems to know that he must become one, but wants no part of it. It’s only when things are at their worst and he is forced to protect his sister that his own truth is revealed to him and he can accept his role as a hero.

It was funny to suddenly realize that my narrator was also a lost hero in this story. The fact that Raynor and his uncle have a particular trait in common (something revealed at the very end of the story) ties this idea together. So while I thought I was creating one lost hero, another one was telling the story the entire time. But as with most things I write, my characters are usually the ones in control.

Sarah Foster is a blogger and an aspiring novelist and poet. She lives with her stand-up comedian husband and an overweight cat in a studio apartment above a movie theater just south of Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not obsessing over Broadway musicals or baking cupcakes, she is usually working on finishing—and hopefully someday publishing—her debut novel. You can read about her writing adventures (and the love/hate relationships with her characters) on her blog, The Faux Fountain Pen.

Blog | Twitter | Instagram 

The Last Dragon

In a land free from dragons, a new evil rises to take their place. The Gifted—those with special powers—are being collected by a mysterious group with a sinister purpose. With little hope in sight, Raynor and his twin sister, Irillya, seek out their long-lost uncle—a once great warrior who disappeared without a trace or a reason.

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I'm A Writer (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means that it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

(Once again, I'm assuming any visitors today are already familiar with the IWSG, but if you want for instruction, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's co-hosts are: Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone.

As my writing has completely come to a stand-still (Yay!), I'm taking advantage of the optional question of the month, which asks...

"What's the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for a story?"

So, as you may know, I primarily (though these days I feel as though I should say 'theoretically') write fantasy. Medieval-esque, and occasionally a little dark. And occasionally a lot dark because I am a horrible person who enjoys torturing her characters. Which means that, like many writers, my research is a little...odd. And possibly has me on some government watch lists.


I mean, yeah, sure, I routinely research topics such (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!) as "the best places to stab people" or "burning people alive" but it's not like I'm actually planning to do any of those things to anyone other than the aforementioned characters.

I'm not. I swear.

So let's focus on what I personally think is the coolest:

I like weapons. And weaponry. A lot. Possibly more than I should. And by weaponry, I mean swords and daggers and double-bladed battle axes, and bows and arrows and the like. (Note: while I think this is totally cool, I do recognize the fact that not everyone will share in this opinion. For example, my sister, who once exclaimed, "What is wrong with you?" when I expressed interest in visiting a sword shop (or what at least looked like a sword shop. I suppose it could have just been some other kind of shop that just happened to have swords in the window.) we came across while on a trip.)

So, to recap, I like weapons. And weaponry. Any time I get to research weapons or weaponry, or their use, I am a happy camper.

And because I am a method writer, I actually want to hold these weapons in my hand and really understand their use (As best I can anyway. I honestly have very little talent for these things, as evidenced by all those lamps I have killed and walls I have stabbed in my many attempts to master these tools.) My most recent acquisitions were a set of throwing knives and a book on how to throw said throwing knives. Y'all, they are just so cool. Look!

My greatest achievement with these knives and this new hobby thus far is that I, and all those around me, still have all our fingers, toes, and eyes.

Sure, I may have accidentally stabbed myself that one time when I may have flipped the knife in the air (all cool like Buffy would) and may have caught the wrong end, but how else am I suppose to learn, right?

I'm certain that with just a little more practice, I will fully master this sport.

(Pauses for laughter.)

All right, so that's gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. See y'all again next week. (There's no way I'll get another post written this week.)

Unless I forget.


Monday, April 10, 2017

How It Went

In my last post, I told you about my upcoming author forum, at which I was one of the five featured authors/speakers. Today, I thought I might tell you how it went because I know you're just dying to know.

So, I had planned to talk about inspiration—places where I have found it, and how it helped to shape my one, lonely, little novel. And I practiced my talk a few times beforehand in hopes that I would more or less memorize it and be able to deliver it somewhat smoothly. I did the same thing before my first talk, but I practice-delivered that speech a lot more. This time, I just lacked the time. And the focus. (I am living for Book Three right now. Which may or may not be a good thing.)

Anyway, there were eleven people in the audience (not including the other authors), and I was scheduled to speak fourth. By the time my turn came around, a few people had left, but there were still a lot more people than the no one to whom I had been practicing all week long.

So I get up there and begin talking. In my practice runs, my talk went approximately twelve minutes. It was supposed to last around fifteen, so I figured twelve was good because it would allow for a few minutes of me getting off track and rambling about some completely unrelated subject. (Not that I ever do that.) In my practice runs, I had proper transitions and pace and...other things I can't think of at the moment.

In actuality, I didn't deliver the talk anywhere close to how I had wanted to do it. I blew every transition and dumped an entire section. I have no idea for how long I actually spoke, but I'm pretty convinced I sounded a lot more like the Micro Machine Guy than I should have. In the event that you do not know to whom I am referring, I refer you to this video:

On one of those completely unrelated side notes in which I never indulge, if you've never heard the Micro Machine Guy's album "Ten Classics In Ten Minutes", you should really look it up. It's funny as hell. (His real name is John Moschitta, by the way, but I am an 80's child, so to me, he will forever be the Micro Machine Man.)

Getting back on topic...

But other than the aforementioned issues, I guess the talk went...not entirely horribly. People laughed. Possibly because I said a funny thing, but given how the rest of it went, I can't be too sure.

And then came the question and answer period.

Some of you know how this went because you saw it on Twitter, or even on this blog, because look—there it is on the left, but things went fine until this happened:

Audience Member: What's your book about?
Audience Member: Hello?

I. Couldn't. Answer. The. Question.

One of the other authors (who had read my book) had to answer for me. (And did so very well, might I add. I should really just hire her to be my official spokesperson.)

Such a proud, proud moment.

(Note to self: Next time, practice answering questions, too...)

But despite all of that, I did manage to sell a book, which was one more than I had expected to sell, and there was even talk of having me on yet another panel. I suspect they were either just being polite, or super desperate. Or maybe the certain comic relief provided by a walking human disaster is just too good to pass up?

Time will time, I suppose.

So, this will probably end up being my last post until May. You know, because I really need a break from blogging. And because there's some travel in my not-too-distant future, and I just won't be around. But have a great week, and rest of the month.

Thanks for stopping by—see y'all in May.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Have A Lot Of Feelings (An IWSG Post)

Hello, everyone.

It's the first Wednesday of the month (at least I think it is. I haven't really slept in a while, so I suppose it might not be.), which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (unless it isn't actually the first Wednesday of the month after all, in which case, let's just pretend it is, okay?) ( you know how many times it took me to type that close parenthesis correctly...or how many tries it took me to spell 'parenthesis' correctly? I don't even know if I did spell it correctly either time. Feel free to let me know in the comments.)

For more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's fantastic co-hosts are: Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?"

I haven't done that. Not really. Well, maybe. I don't know. (Seriously, I am so tired right now.) Last year, my theme was the music I listen to when I'm writing. Like, songs that remind me of specific scenes or characters. Which I suppose could seem like it was marketing or publicity. Just not particularly good marketing or publicity.

Because I am an utter failure when it comes to marketing and publicity.

That said (again. It's not like it's a secret or anything.), this Saturday, I shall be participating in an author forum where I will be expected to stand up in front of people (gasp!), and speak (double gasp!) intelligibly (triple gasp!) on some subject for, like, fifteen minutes. (now I'm hyperventilating.)

It's true. Here's the flyer:

There are actually two flyers, but I chose the one
that doesn't actually have my face on it.

I think I've made my feelings on public speaking (or simply interacting with the human race) pretty well-known over the years, but in the event that you're new here, they can be summed up with one simple gif:

I have no idea what this is from, but it terrifies me
almost as much as public speaking does.

Regardless of the terror, when I am asked to participate in one of these forums, I say yes. Because it's good to get out of our comfort zones once in a while, right? It's good to challenge ourselves, and it's probably good that I at least make an attempt at promotion.

But I hate doing them. I hate promotion. I don't know how to do it without feeling all boastful and braggy. I feel horrible going into them, and I feel horrible coming out. And I carry around this horrible weight for a good week following each event.

This will be my third since moving to the first circle of hell Florida. My talks must be going reasonably all right, given that they keep asking me to come back, but it doesn't make me any less terrified. (I know I keep using that word. It fits and I'm too tired to think of another. And you have no idea how many tries it took me to spell 'another' correctly. I really need to go to bed.)

I suppose they could be asking me to come back each time because they've placed bets on when, exactly, I'll pass out, run away, or just projectile vomit all over the audience (first three rows may get wet...) and they all want to be there to record it for YouTube.

But let's hope it's the other thing.

Sorry...that Stephen Colbert gif has made me laugh and lose my train of thought, so I have no idea what I had originally intended to type in this space. Probably something about feelings, as the title of the post is "I have a lot of feelings", and the only feelings mentioned thus far have been terrified and tired. (Is tired a feeling? My goodness, I need to sleep.)

Oh! I remember! I was going to say something about how the terrible, horrible feelings there make me feel (see...feelings) like I can't do this writing thing. Well, maybe not the writing thing. I can write (kind of anyway...just don't use this blog post as an example). The author thing—that's what I meant. I don't always feel like I can do the author thing.

And I have no idea what to do about that except to finish writing my talk on inspiration (yeah, I'm talking about inspiration, which I feel kind of ironic), get up and deliver it, and then go right back to writing. And say 'yes' to the next opportunity.

For you, Patricia Lynne!

And maybe take a nap in there somewhere.

Have I mentioned that I'm tired? (I'm kidding. I know I have.)

So, yeah. I'm going to stop here. I'm going to sleep for a bit, and then feel horrible because I wrote this post and told you these things.

Because I have a lot of issues. And feelings. Let's not forget the feelings.

Thanks for stopping by today—See y'all next time (provided I survive the forum and I haven't scared you off...)!