Hooray for To-Do Lists!

In January 2015, I felt stretched thin with all of the writing projects I was working on. So I pulled out some paper and made a list of all of them, including a to-do list for each one. It really helped to keep me focused throughout the year, and it felt so good to be able to check them off as I got them published. So I decided to make another list for this year.

Many of the novels have been works-in-progress for several years. The series I refer to as [Suzie] for example was actually the first novel I wrote back in 2010. It’s seen a great deal of improvement since then, but still has a long way to go. Others, like Beyond the Treehouse, are currently out on submission and I’m waiting to hear back on.

Traditional publishing can be very slow, I’m talking months to over a year to hear back from submitted manuscripts. Even short stories can take over a year to hear back on. I learned early that it’s a good idea to not wait around. Your best bet is to push on to your next book, your next short, or your next series. I’m putting in this disclaimer cause I don’t want people to think I’ve written all of these in a single year. These titles, of course, could change as well.

Anyway, here is my 2016 Writing To-Do list in no particular order.

With a clean list of projects, I feel like I can actually figure out what to work on next. Otherwise I flounder around trying to make a decision, and nothing gets done!

A Mid-Summer Sale

It’s been a busy summer so far, and it’s only July! I’ve got lots of new projects coming down the lines, including a whole slew of weird horror shorts.

NIGHTFEEDERS ii.iiSmashwords is running a sale for the month of July, I like to think of it as Christmas in July. Authors can opt-in to have deep discounts on their books. So for this month only you can get Night Feeders for FREE over on the Smashwords website, which means you can download it for whatever e-reader you prefer including Kindle, Nook, tablet – heck, you can even get it in PDF format.

All you have to do is go to the Smashwords listing and enter the Coupon Code on checkout: SW100. And if you’re interested in seeing what other books are on sale right now, check out the full July Summer/Winter Sale (you know, depending on what end of the globe you’re on).

And if you like it, I sure would appreciate a short comment or a quick rating on their site or elsewhere.

Fair warning though that this story has been known to give “stressmares” if read before bedtime…

The power of coffee and doughnuts

I finally finished editing my weird western novel, now with a brand spanking new title of: One Way Down. It’s still the same western adventures, still the same empathetic werewolf, and the same saucy vampire; but just a new title. Like a new wrapper color for your favorite deodorant, you won’t really notice much has changed. This is truly my final draft before I start shipping it around, and I’m excited to see where my baby goes. Here are a few statistics…

  • Total word count: 86,500 – a hefty increase from the 60,000 it had on the first draft
  • First written in Summer 2012
  • Lost track of how many editing passes I made…
  • Many werewolves were harmed in the making of this book
  • Many people too
  • …and a horse

I still have to figure out the query letter and the synopsis. Those are arguably the most daunting parts right next to deciding on character names, city names, and book titles. For now though I’m just happy to be finished. It’s amazing how coffee and doughnuts can boost your Saturday writing performance.

Oh and if you’re curious, here’s the Pitch Madness tag I used a few months back:

Werewolf and Vampire buddy cop detectives must solve a string of disappearances & murders in the Old West.


Putting Faces to Characters

Totally got tagged by Tex Thompson on this questionnaire, an amazing writer who’s about to start a blog hop for her first western. Thought it’d be a nice break from the typical NaNo updates, and let me reflect a bit on how this book came about to begin with.

What is your working title of your book?

For right now at least, it’s Smoke and Witchcraft. It’s book two in my adventure series, and it’s been a blast so far to write.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Multiple areas really. I was finishing up the edits for the fist book, Ghosts of Pikes Peak, and wondered what it would look like if the story continued. Then I started thinking about what areas would be neat to see them in, and I started remembering how much I’ve loved New Orleans. Add some zombies, some magic, and the plot started falling together. I actually had a completely different novel I had planned to tackle over NaNo, but these guys wouldn’t let me.

What genre does your book fall under?

I’m reluctant to call this series a western, simply because this book doesn’t take place in the west at all. However the characters are all plucked from there. They’re cowboys and gunslingers mostly, and some of them have supernatural powers too. Most of the trouble they find themselves in is due to their own issues, not due to a lack of ability. They’ll underestimate a situation, or assume they know what’s going on, and get thrown for a loop when everything goes crazy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh my goodness this is a tough one! I’m not usually one to look up actors for my books, mostly because I think of them based on their personality instead of appearances, but here it goes.

Main Trio:

Colton Fen – Quiet gunslinger type but with raw werewolf fury when push comes to shove. Someone like Russel Crowe probably has the look down, but I don’t know if he’s got the flexibility to take the different angles with Colton. This guy goes between being a male chauvinist to falling for Mary in the first book. He’s got good intentions, but he doesn’t always think things through. In a lot of ways he’s the most naive member of the group, even though he’s probably the most powerful.

Russell Crowe as the quiet werewolf with a gun.

Rennick Dalton – I’ll be honest, this guy is loosely inspired by Lestat from Vampire Chronicles, and he even dresses a bit like him. Tom Cruise did an excellent portrayal of him in Interview with the Vampire, so something along those lines would probably work. An actor, a half vampire, he’s pushing 80 but looks like he’s closer to 20. Someone with the look of Taylor Kitsch would be perfect for this. Again this would be a fun role, and really has room for amusing melodrama.

Taylor Kitsch as the entertaining half-vampire.

Mary Silva – Fierce gunslinger who’s not afraid to tell you what she thinks. Used to be in a relationship with Rennick, but has recently hooked up with Colton instead. Makes for much amusing banter and awkward situations. She and Rennick are still good friends, though she’s not sure what in the world she ever saw in him. An actress who used to work under Rennick at a theater in Texas. I think I was channeling Salma Hayek quite a bit when I was writing her. I don’t really specify her origins much in the storyline, but I could easily see her being Hispanic.

Salma Hayek as the crack shot actress.

The Villain:

Solomon Matthews – Very much a mix between Anthony Hopkins and Mad Eye Moody with a calm, homicidal streak. He’s a sadist who has found a lifestyle that excuses that “personality quirk”. I could actually see Sean Bean having a blast in this role, and he could totally rock the trench coat and cowboy hat. Solomon has a disturbing calm about him, that can quickly give away to the crazy just underneath.

Sean Bean as the calm, homicidal hunter.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A werewolf, a half-vampire, and a gunslinger fight against a necromancer and a crazed hunter in the swamplands of 1890s Louisiana.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Here’s hoping I can get it represented by an agency. I don’t have an agent yet, or a publishing house, but after this NaNo I’ll be fixing up book 1 to find a home.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hehe, so far it’s been 20 days, and as of right now is unfinished. I’m thinking it’s going to be around the 80k mark. Book 1 was far shorter, closer to 60k. I wrote that one partially for NaNo and went through it like a breeze. This one has been giving me more trouble, mostly because I’m trying to keep historical New Orleans accurate. I’m hoping to do more fact-checking come editing time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh my goodness, I’ve been trying to find something that’s similar to this world. I’m leaning toward Jim Butcher simply for the action and humor. He has a solid mixture of magic, supernatural, and action that works really well. The look and feel of the world and characters is closer to the Dark Tower series I think, but it’s definitely a hard book to categorize. I’ve picked up a few supernatural westerns trying to find a good comparison for when I sit down to tackle the query letter.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My love of New Orleans, necromancy, werewolf hunters, and zombies. Plus I enjoyed writing these characters so much that I had to start another adventure with them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Though they haven’t shown up yet, zombie alligators are on the horizon. That idea alone has prompted far more interest among my friends and family than I had expected.

Rennick is an illusionist, meaning he can create solid figures out of thin air. That plus his supernatural speed might make him a bit OP for this world, but he’s kind of easily distracted, and arrogant, and childish. In short, he’s the best and worst partner to have when you’re stuck in a bind. He’s a great resource for them for all things magical, but he’s also the most likely to get them into trouble whenever possible.

So here are a bunch more writers I’m officially tagging with this post!

  • Kelley – She’s writing a Victorian horror mystery that just sounds incredible. If only she didn’t have piles of paperwork to finish. Maybe this will give her some inspiration!
  • Astrea – Who has taken the plunge to find an agent, and I’m waving as many pom-poms I can to give her luck!
  • Ruth – She’s been an amazing inspiration this NaNo! Plus I’m dying to see what her plot synopsis looks like.
  • Jessica – Who has been AFK for a bit, but I KNOW she’s got something in the works.

And done!

At a total of 58,737 words, Ghosts of Pikes Peak is finally finished!

YAAAAY! *Happy dance!*

Is it perfect? No. Do I care? Absolutely not! Having the first draft done just feels so very good. Tonight’s writing was all the epilogue. It delved into some real philosophical parts at times, but ended up on a high note which is how I prefer to end my novels. (Omg I can say novels now. With an s!)

I looked over my blog posts and realized that I started writing this piece on April 5th, or at least that’s when I first blogged about it. I hadn’t expected it to balloon up into a full length novel then, and my maximum expected length was around 10k. I guess that got thrown out the window. 😛 Took me two months to churn out the first draft, and compared to my (much more dense) Secrets of Leekston piece which has been a WIP for over a year, that’s not half bad!

I had other stuff I was planning on blogging about, like Amazon’s request for proof that I owned the rights to publish Clawbinder which was kind of weird. I have links all over that piece about where it was originally published (also where it still is listed), and describes when that happened, but I guess I have to reaffirm that for them? I don’t know, but I’ll go into that mess later.

I also wanted to talk about how I’ve been ritualistically checking Zharmae’s Twitter page to see if I placed in their contest. They’re supposed to be announcing the top five winners later on tonight and they’ve been doing a countdown of their top 27 pieces. I haven’t seen my name yet which could be good or bad. Probably a bad idea to be checking so much if I don’t get in, but oh well! Right now, I’m just tickled to have another finished draft on my table!

Project: Ghosts of Pikes Peak

Summary: The old, abandoned Davis Farm just outside the bustling city of Pikes Peak is riddled with malicious spirits. Werewolf detective Colton Fen has been assigned to a half-vampire partner, Rennick Dalton, to handle the troublesome ghosts, but even their combined strength may not be enough to dissuade the poltergeists from plucking victims from the outskirts of town. Is this a simple case of ghost infestation or is there something far more malicious going on beneath the farmhouse?

Current total words: 58,737
New words written: 2,445

Progress in Story: Finished! Isn’t that all that’s needed? 🙂

Total Words for 2012: 71,260