Writing: Not for the faint of heart

Some followers have probably been wondering where in the heck I’ve been lately. Well, life sometimes gets in the way. I’ve had some personal things come up at home this summer, I’ve been busy at my day job, and between hubby and I, we were gone/committed to events every weekend for nearly 3 months. That’s a lot of traveling. Packing and unpacking, laundry, and scheduling of dog sitters. It was fun but exhausting.

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I’ve also been in re-write limbo. That mysterious place where an author takes a finished novel, something that took months if not years to complete, and then must reconstruct it to make it better, stronger. And yes, much of this was done in a car. Thankfully, I’m one of those lucky people who can read in a moving vehicle and not puke.

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Writing a novel is hard enough, but systematically dismantling your baby, scrambling it about, and then assembling the bits and pieces into a decent product is rough. And, not for the faint of heart.

 

THE DARK SIDE, book two in the Randi Lassiter Series, is now finished and waiting for a second pass of editing. I just got the first draft of the cover art and I love it. With any luck at all, I can feed the two or three fans I have a preview of the book next month.

It’s been just over a year since the release of my debut novel and boy howdy, have I learned a lot. It has been an adventure of highs and lows. Some scream worthy, others no more than a moments distraction. From learning how to write a series (didn’t see that coming) to putting together an author platform that I actually (okay, sometimes) use, to educating myself on Indie publishing, it has been a thrilling rollercoaster ride.

Don’t get me wrong, tough as it is, I’m living the dream. I have one book published and a second on the verge of release. What have I got to complain about?

Well, perhaps it’s that I can sit and write for five hours straight and it feels like it has only been five minutes. That I go to bed frustrated, swearing I’ll never write another word again and then race to my laptop the next morning with ideas that just can’t wait to get out.

Or, that I’m obsessed with fixing _________________ (pick one: plot problems, insubordinate timelines, a random comma usage disorder (okay…that’s not a real thing), rogue red-herrings, exposition diarrhea, and dialog that digs in it’s heels, insisting on appearing stilted instead of casual), and poor daily word counts.

And, don’t even get me started on writer’s block!

Writing a book is difficult.

Considering how hard it is to string just two words together some days, its miraculous that I’ve managed to group 90,000 into an order that makes some quirky sense.

Soon I will begin a new novel. This is the first in the Becca Howell series. Becca is a special agent with the DCI (Division of Criminal Investigation) with the Department of Justice (a branch of the FBI) in the Madison office. She’s a grittier character than the protagonist in the first series and I’m looking forward to fleshing her out on the page.

I’ve also updated this blog site to  include some fun/random tidbits. There’s a section called Dead Darlings where I’ll post reader worthy snippets that dropped to the cutting room floor. Also, a section on Research where I hope to share some fascinating stuff I run across when working background on my writing. Research is one of my favorite things and so much of what I learn never makes it in the story, darn it. I hope you find it interesting.

Tell me, what kind of things do you enjoy reading about on other blogs/web pages?

 

Interview with debut author CJ Warrant

Today I welcome fellow debut author CJ Warrant to my blog.

CJ Warrant

CJ is an Award Winning Author for dark romantic suspense and thrillers that pulls at your heart, makes you shiver, and hope for a happy ending. A lover of coffee, baking and family, but not in that order–She’s a wife, a loving mother of three and a cosmetologist by trade. Drawing her experiences from her Korean Italian heritage and growing up as an Army brat, her stories stir in dark plots with addictive flawed characters you will fall in love with.
Visit CJ at www.cjwarrant.com

 

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

My nationality. People look at me and assume I’m a certain heritage but in fact I’m far from what they think. I’m half Italian and half Korean, which are equal influences in my life. So when you first meet me, I’m generally quiet, but once you get to know me you can’t shut me up.

What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Being with my family. Especially nowadays, since my kids are growing up so fast and moving out the house. I treasure them and the time we have.

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

My cell phone. Not only does it link to social media but also my family. It’s the central hub of all incoming information for both personal and professional.

Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

Wow, if you had asked me that a few years ago, I’d say I was all over the place with my writing process. I’m a total pantser, through and through. However, while writing Forgetting Jane, I realized I needed some plotting to keep my story in line.

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Perhaps the start of CJ’s new novel?

So, when I get a spark of an idea—which can come from anything I see, hear, or even dream and that idea usually forms into movie playing in my head. Upon that, I start writing a chapter or two of a scene. In that scene, my main characters emerge. However, sometimes, it’s a character that comes forth before the storyline. After developing my characters, that is when I begin writing my first draft. Once done, I usually go three to four rounds of edits, with a full rewrite and my critique partners going through the manuscript twice.

What is your all time favorite book and why?

This is a tough question, because I have several. I’ve always been a sucker for a love story with grittier plots. I want a book with characters that have major flaws and then find redemption. But one story has always stood out of my mind since I was a kid. It was the first book I fell in love with. The book made me cry and care for the characters deeply. It was, The Pigman by Paul Zindel. It’s far from what I read now, but it’s a great story.

Goodreads

Goodreads: Paul Zindel

Pigman

Via Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project research, love it or hate it?

I love doing research. It helps me dig deeper into my characters, plot and/or the places where the dirty deeds had taken place. The more I know, the better my story is.

Is there a specific author who inspires you?

I could say numerous well known authors have inspired me, like for example Sherrilyn Kenyon. She is one of my favorites to read, but I feel that the ones who truly inspire me the most are the writers who aren’t published yet. They keep writing and pushing along to get their stories out there. Their perseverance and diligence are what I feel inspires me; not to quit and keep striving for what I want. Just like them.

You write in various genres, which is your favorite to write?

I tend to lean toward my darker side, so I would have to say romantic thrillers.

Which is your favorite to read?

It would have to depend on my mood at the time. But if I have to choose, then it would be Paranormal romance. It so outside the realm of reality, and that’s what draws me.

Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

Erotica. Just to see if I can write it.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

My first book—which by the way will never see the light of day… it me over four years to finish it with the heavy push from my wonderful husband.

Your latest book?

It took me eight months.

Like my debut novel, yours is set in Wisconsin. Tell us a little about FORGETTING JANE

Forgetting Jane is set in a small rural town in Wisconsin in current times. Some of the scenes in the novel were derived from my experiences I had when I was kid, living on a farm(which was haunted by a female ghost—no joke) for a year, and the closest town was ten miles away.

The story is about a woman found in the outskirts of town near a lake. Jane was horrifically beaten and had lost her memory. Her memory holds the key to who tried to kill her, and links her to a ghost, who haunts her until the killer’s secrets are revealed. What secrets? That’s what Chief Elias McAvoy’s intends to find out.

Small towns have buried secrets, and those secrets are about to be unearthed. With each step closer to getting Jane’s memory back, so is the truth about the killer. During the chaos of this investigation, Elias and Jane’s attraction grows and it can’t be denied.

And I do have to give a shout out to my secondary character, Harold and his hunting dog Traitor, a black Labrador. They are the ones who helped sparked this story.

What other projects are you working on?

I have three projects right now. My first project I’m currently editing is an erotic thriller called Mirror Image, which starts in Las Vegas and ends in Denver.

In my second project, I’m finishing up book one in a romantic suspense series based out of Chicago, which my lead female character, Jazz knows how to kick some a**.

And my third project is outlining a second romantic suspense series based out of Tennessee. Characters, towns and events—good and bad. A road trip will be required for this series.

CJ's book

Excerpt:

The small town of Beaver Creek, Wisconsin has never seen a horrific act of violence before. So when two hunters find a woman beaten and partially buried, but alive, recovering alcoholic Chief Elias McAvoy has to find who’s behind the attempted murder. After Jane Doe wakes up from a coma, Elias discovers she has amnesia, which makes the case nearly impossible to solve.

Jane wants to remember the horrid crime that put her near death’s door, but the only thing she can envision is the girl in the yellow dress that repeatedly visits her. Seeing ghosts is the least of her worries, however. Between the severe headaches and nightmares, the only person keeping her sane is Elias. His desperate touch gives her the strength to learn more about herself and him, as well the girl who haunts her. She unwittingly captures Elias’s heart while the killer is bent on reclaiming her for his deadly game.

Elias and Jane search for answers and find more than lost memories. When another body is discovered, Elias uncovers a killing spree that spans forty years that connect to the girl in the yellow dress. With evidence pointing to a local, the killer quickly closes in, recapturing Jane to finish what he started. As Jane’s life hangs in the balance, Elias’s sobriety is tested as he realizes he can’t live without her. It will take strength and perseverance to save the woman he loves before the killer does.

Forgetting Jane releases June 29th, but it’s available to pre-order now!

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Please join CJ and several other authors on June 29th from 3 – 10pm for her FORGETTING JANE Launch Party on Facebook.  CJ will start us out and I’ll be there at 3:30! It promises to be loads of fun with lots of giveaways!

Riding the editing roller coaster without hurling.

Samhain Publishing is celebrating their 10th Anniversary and as a new author I wanted to join in the fun by sharing my first ever edit experience.

My initial contact with Samhain Publishing editor, Noah Chinn, was by email when he notified me of his interest in my debut novel, STILL LIFE. What an incredible feeling it was to have someone recognize the voice within my writing. I’ll admit I tried to play it cool as I waited for my contract but ended up hounding him for the paperwork. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get a chance to sign it before he’d change his mind.

Once signed, it was just a matter of waiting for my manuscript to get to the top of Noah’s schedule. In the meantime he suggested specific reading/notes to prep for the upcoming edit, which filled my time. This educational material was helpful, but suffice it to say…nothing could have prepared me for the first round of edits.

The day had finally come when my baby, STILL LIFE—the result of so much of my time and effort—was about to be made, perfect. However, before sending me his edit notes Noah instructed me not to panic.

What the hell? What did he mean don’t panic?

Anxious to get going I blindly promised I wouldn’t.

What follows is a paraphrased version of the conversation that Saturday, which I kept for posterity. (For those who know him, note Noah’s signature green font 🙂  )

Noah: “ How’s it going? You might feel overwhelmed with the edits you see, as well as all the feedback I’ve given.  Don’t worry. But feel free to contact me as you go through it. My door’s always open :)” 

Me: “I find it easier to go through simple deletes and changes first, kind of clearing the crap so to speak, then I’ll go back over your more detailed comments and take my time. I want this to be a learning experience after all.” (Note my naïve enthusiasm)

Noah: “So, what do you think of the editing suggestions so far, and the process we’re using together?  Feel free to ask me anything along the way.” 

Me: “It’s going great. I think our left/right brain thing is compatible. Enjoy the suggestions and changes. Nice to know I’m on track.”

Later…

Me: “I will admit seeing the solid color (multitude of stacked comment bubbles) has me freaked out.”

Noah: “Yes, I can imagine it seemed intimidating at first, but I can already see from your pruning down of the easy stuff that what you’ll be left with is going to be easy enough to handle. Have fun!  This stage of the editing process is fun, in my opinion, because you can feel the story get stronger and more cohesive as a result.  It’s when you’re beating yourself up over commas and that one word that just doesn’t feel right no how matter how you play with it that it can get frustrating ;)” 

Much later…

I was drowning myself in microbrews from the back of the fridge with my hubby in the background urging me to contact Noah every time I started a fresh round of sobs and cracked a new bottle open. Somewhere around 8:30 pm I finally took his advise and emailed Noah.

Me: “Hit a low point today. 😦   Editing has been painful and mortifying. Feeling like a fraud. I had no idea the story was this ridiculous. I know I can correct some problems easily. Others, I’m not so sure. What I need to know is how much turn around time do I have for revision?”  

Noah: “We’ve got time.  Don’t worry.  The story is there. I wouldn’t have accepted it if it wasn’t!  Relax.  You’re no fraud.  That’s why we go through this a couple of times before the Final Line Edit.  The story isn’t ridiculous, it’s fun.  Embracing the humor will allow a lot of things to slide that might otherwise be scrutinized to death if it was meant to be a more serious deadpan novel.  Again. Relax. You’re going to do fine :)” 

The next day…

Me: “I’m feeling better today. I freaked out. Sorry about that. Got my big girl panties on now and am dealing with issues one at a time. Thanks for propping me up. (Several beers didn’t hurt either).”  

Noah: “This comic pretty much sums up the process for ALL of us writers ;)”

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Thank you, Noah Chinn, editor extraordinaire and word slayer, for keeping me sane and educating me in the process.

Happy Anniversary, Samhain!!

Check out the 20% off sale on ebooks site wide until November 15th.  #Samhain10