Friday, November 22, 2013

The "Half Way There" mix tape

I thought it would be fun to share a selection of songs I have been listening to as I work on Book Two. 

This one is taking a lot longer than the first, but I think I am about half way there. I finally figured out the ending, so I am Snoopy dancing over here. It's hard for me to write without knowing where I am going, and this ending has been like a stake in the heart. For Hell's Belle, the last two chapters were clear in my head from page one. But this one... I just wasn't comfortable with my original ending, and it never quite fully formed in my mind.

While this new (and way more improved) ending takes me in a direction I was not expecting, I like the possibilities it opens up for the story in the future. So I am totally okay going there!

Marilyn Mason and a really tough workout got me over the hump this afternoon. And I've never been a huge Marilyn Mason fan, so go figure!

Also, I had forgotten how much I love System of a Down, so it's been great (re)discovering them. And this pic pretty much explains why I adore them (their music rocks too).

Happy weekend! I hope to get a lot of writing done. What are you planning on doing? 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Tonight's the witching night, which means sugared up kids staying up way past their bed time. My schedule has been so hectic, I haven't have a chance to do anything festive for the holiday (aka Samhain). We definitely need to put Hector out tonight. (Hector is our zombie, with added fedora because he has flair.) Since I am on campus teaching today, I have to remind the better half to do that.

Based on what I have spotted on Facebook, my friends are pumpkin carving fiends! 

This time of year always reminds me of college, for some reason, which was spent in the woods in Connecticut. The cold fall air, the vibrant colors on the leaves, the smell of mulling spice and wool sweaters. Living in the City doesn't have the same impact, and it is always this time of year that I miss living in the middle of nowhere. Maybe someday I'll go back to that…

Anyway, the update on book two is that… I am still working on it! Cue the applause. My time has been really stretched so I am fitting in writing where I can. I have a goal to get the first draft done by Christmas. Let's keep our fingers crossed on that one.

Also, got the wind under my wings to start on the YA urban fantasy. Hoping to spend tonight outlining it while I man the door for the tiny ghouls and goblins (and Power Rangers and Powder Puff Girls) who ring my bell. 

Friday, August 23, 2013


Phew. It's been a wild few months since Hell's Belle went exclusive on Amazon. A number of blog reviews landed, and they were amazing. I did a whole bunch of guest posts. And through the process I met a host of really wonderful, passionate bloggers from all over the world. It's been really fun. More promo coming in October, when Hell's Belle hits the other e-tailers. I am looking forward to the next round.

I am about 35,000 words into the Hell's Belle follow up. This one is moving a lot slower than the first, and according to my very wise Yoda-like editor, the second one moves much more glacial than the first. So I am trying to power through molasses, but every day I eek along some forward progress. I don't know that it will be ready for a June 2014 release, which is what I was hoping. But we'll see.

There are a lot fewer action sequences in this one, which I think is part of the reason why it feels so sluggish. I need to sit down soon and just write one punishing fight scene after another. Poor Nina. But she's a tough broad, she can handle it.

And I can tell you that the second book is tentatively titled Tainted Blood.

I am also working on a true horror novel. I have a few thousand words in and I am pretty happy with the characters I am creating. I am taking a horror writing class with Jack Ketchum too, so I hope to get this one sufficiently frightening by the time that one is over. 

And I finally found my YA novel idea two nights ago. I am crazy excited about this one, but feel like I have a bit of a learning curve with YA. But we'll get there.

So, all this and the work commitments with the day job have me spectacularly crazy. But I do hope to get my blogging rhythm back again. I have noticed a bunch of new traffic to the site, and want to hang out with you guys! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Someone is going to die

I've been struggling with Book 2 of my Hell's Belle saga for a few weeks now. Part of it is being too damn busy. Work exploded and the promo for the Hell's Belle release is picking up, cutting into my writing time. And when I do squeeze in the writing time, it feels like slogging through syrup.

It's frustrating, but it's also confusing. Hell's Belle felt almost effortless, especially in comparison to this. So what's my problem? I think it's because I have to kill someone off.

I don't consider myself an old softie. For the most part, I am a tough broad. By the end of Hell's Belle, I knew that someone was going to die in book two. I have a ton of other characters that want to get onto paper, and I am no George RR Martin. I can't handle character overwhelm.

But I love my characters, even the ones that I personally think are enormous pains-in-the-asses and want to punch every time I write them. So I am struggling with who's going to get it, which is keeping me from seeing my ending clearly. And I am the type of writer who needs to see the end. I need to know where I am going so I can chart my path there.

So someone is going to die in book two. Time to start mourning.

Friday, May 24, 2013

is Stephanie Meyer a "bad writer"?

There's a hot debate happening over on Goodreads about Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series about sparkly vampires and the humans that love them. It was sparked by the question, "Is Stephanie Meyer a bad writer?"

I found myself in the bizarre position of defending her (odd since I was not a fan of the book). 

Anyway, Dan says she's a bad writer. Her grammar is awful. She misuses words. She's a menace to the English language.

I contend that she could have used a better editor to fix her grammar/usage issues, but ultimately she wrote a mega-best selling novel that spawned a major film franchise and her success snowballed. Clearly, there are readers out there that think she's the bees knees. Otherwise it would have come to a screeching halt, like Beautiful Creatures (speaking of bad writers). So she cannot be classified as a "bad writer" since her success speaks otherwise.

Dan counters that it's all marketing. Meyer ain't no Oxford educated linguist a la Tolkien. 

Now I think we are getting into apples and oranges territory, but in my opinion, Tolkien could have used some judicious cutting for Lord of the Rings, a book that frustrated me with its self indulgent ramblings. 

So, the debate continues. But I stand by Stephanie Meyer. She is not a "bad writer." She knew her market and wrote something that resonated. She may not be grammatically proficient, but she can clearly tell a story that engaged readers. And isn't that the point?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

taking care of business

I just submitted the mms of the novel to the US copyright office. For 35 bucks, it's peace of mind that my work is protected. Extra thanks to my dad for bringing it up. I would have never remembered.

This is my second (!) work submitted to the copyright office. The first was submitted in 1990, by an attorney who knew someone at the RI Council on the Arts, and he did the work pro-bono.

Here's some fun facts that not too many people know. I had written a play that won a major national award, it was produced for a few performances at the Kennedy Center, and was directed by Jack Hofsiss. It was a two-hander, and one of the actors was Sabrina Le Beauf. She chewed me out for watching a bit of the "closed" rehearsal from the doorway until I explained that I was the playwright. Then she was absolutely lovely, and they invited me in to have a seat and watch rehearsal for a bit.

Anyway, the RI Council on the Arts was involved in the whole shebang, since it was a Very Big Deal (cover of the ProJo arts section, wearing horrid watermelon colored pants). The attorney did loads of pro bono for them, and was in DC for the play, and offered to do the copyright for free. They even paid the filing fee.

Of course, that was before The Interwebs were discovered, so copyright was this Big Scary Secret Process. Now you just go to a web site, fill out a bunch of pages, submit the credit card info and boom! Copyright filing done.

Of course, the DIY method was not half as glamorous. Back then, I visited a lawyer in a fancy office in a high rise building in Providence, and they had a soda machine that dispensed soda for NO MONEY WHATSOEVER! Twenty years later, surrounded by dirty dinner dishes in the kitchen, I protected my copyright without an ice cold free Diet Coke. But it's protected.

Next it's onto finishing the book cover, getting the ISBN number, formatting into the various ebook formats, and then I can send it out to bloggers. And I keep going back and forth about doing a website. Part of me is just UGH about spending the time and money developing another website that I am not so sure is necessary. But in for a penny...

And so much of this admin work is keeping me from working on Book Two, but it's work that needs to be done. Of course, now that we are getting down to it, I am getting super nervous about shoving it out into the world, so procrastination is kicking in. But I committed to doing this, and I can't chicken out.

Monday, April 8, 2013

ten thousand words

I am about 10,000 words into Book 2, and still going through Book 1's copy edits. I know I am dragging my feet on this a bit. Part of me wants to hold on, make it perfect. But I'd be perfecting it forever.

I am also working out the ebook formatting, trying to figure it all out myself before I hand it over to someone better qualified. Had my first go at InDesign. Successful? No idea yet!

If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have said I was ready to give up at Book 1, say I wrote a novel and call it a day. But I hit the 10k mark, and I started to see this follow up take shape.

I know I struggled similarly on Book 1. Some chapters felt like I was just spinning my wheels. Those were the calmer chapters, the more "introspective" ones. Frankly, I am way more comfortable writing balls-out fight scenes. Trying to balance action was a challenge. My first readers were exhausted the first time through--I didn't let up until it went through edits. So I am trying to find the balance again here.

But damn, I do love my fight scenes. The blood and the gore complete me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

greetings from typo land

The book is back from the proof reader, and I am going over his edits plus the last of the edits from the beta readers. And, man, does it take a village! My typos are simply astounding!

I have been participating in a great discussion over on Goodreads about reviews--specifically about nasty reviews. It's been great chatting about this, particularly given my job in publicity. One of the things we discussed were reviews that slammed books for what are essentially editing issues, and nothing else.

Now that I am in the thick of editing, I can say that it's a tough slog. I get how these books can come out with so many errors. I try to be more forgiving of the indie books. It's not easy DIYing this part. And even with the pros I enlisted to help me get my book "camera ready" I am still finding issues in the copy.

Slog on, my friends. Slog on.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Moving from writing purely dialogue with some stage directions thrown in has been a challenge. A friend once described to the act of writing a novel as filling a swimming pool with a syringe. Oh yes.

I write a section, and walk away. A few days later, I'll suddenly realize that I need to go back to that section and write in a character, or even just a beat or moment. It doesn't change the course of the narrative, but adds an additional layer to the story. It's more like "local color." And this happens over and over again. Write, walk away, add layer. Rinse repeat. 

I have to constantly remind myself to stop and be fully present in my character's moment. What does the temperature feel like? What color are the walls in the room? Is there a carpet on the floor, or is hard wood, or tile? That small detail can change the sound that my character makes when she thuds, or scrapes, or shuffles across the room. 

These moments are the syringe. The white space on my computer screen is the pool I am trying to fill. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kicking some ass...

Book 1 is finally in the hands of the professional proof reader now, who is picking up all my errors, misspells and probably tearing apart my grammar. I am actually pretty excited that I am working with this guy. He's worked on a number of UF books that I have really enjoyed. I am pretty stoked to work with someone with his level of experience in the genre.

While I have downtime, I am pushing on with Book 2. Since work is pretty demanding, I can't sneak in time to write during the day. But I am committing myself to 500 words a day. Not ideal, I prefer to do 1,000. But what I learned from Book 1 was that 1000 words a day, plus full time work = burnout.

But even as I move along at a sloth's pace, I am pretty happy with the start. Chapter 1 is kicking some serious ass. Literally. I just finished Chapter 2, and I am not too happy with it, but it's just the rough and there are still a lot of holes to fill. Plus, that chapter pulled away from the action. I really enjoy writing the ass kicking scenes. They are, hands down, my favorite chapters in Book 1.

I feel like I have found my groove with the action scenes, and am really stretching my imagination. I look at everything differently now. Random household items inspire new ways to pummel vampires. Great fun!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


So, this feels like a justification post, but what the hell. I'm going to roll with it.

Part of me wants to work really really hard to land an agent and get in with the Big 6. But that's only because that's what I have been told has to happen to be successful.

There are tons of writers who have ripped this theory to shreds. There are tons of indie theater projects--projects that I have worked on--that rip this theory to shreds. There are tons of indie movies--some that I have worked on--that rip this theory to shreds.

There are thousands of reasons why I don't merit any love from an agent or a Big 6 house, and they have nothing to do with my ability to type up a decent story. I am a genre writer, and this genre is pretty crowded. And I am not turning the genre on it's head. I am sure they have a million other genre writers in their stable. Why would they add one more unproven, untested writer?

But I am not 20 years old anymore, and don't have years to spend waiting for someone else to give me a stamp of approval. And I know that stamp of approval matters to so many places--media outlets, bloggers, readers, even members of my family--but what does it mean really? How many Big 6 books have you read (or not finished) and said WTF? Exactly.

So I chose to go it alone. Like I have in my day job. I don't have to worry about making my advance, and every step (and misstep) is mine to own. It's at once all incredibly scary and frustrating and exhilarating and fun. Will I find my audience? Will they enjoy my story? Will they fall in love with my characters? Hell, I hope so. That'd be really cool.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

All those needly bits and bobs

I am giving the novel a final once-over but am on the hunt for a proofer/copy editor because I have all these needly bits and bobs to exterminate that I simply don't see anymore. I picked up a bunch, but I am certain there are plenty more there. I need some fresh eyes on this sucker.

Every time I re-read, I start changing. And changing. And adding, and subtracting, and changing some more. And every time I change, it needs a new copy edit. Vicious cycle. It'll never be "perfect" but it's impossible to stop "perfecting." Yes, time for fresh eyes.

And my typos are pretty grand. What I found both amazing and frustrating about writing something tens of thousands of words long was how my fingers suddenly go on auto pilot. I am thinking a word, and my fingers are typing something entirely different. Muscle memory, I am sure. This muscle memory typed words that I (clearly) overuse in the press releases that I write for the day job (still feels weird to say/write that). So funny how certain words can become habits.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Awk. Ward.

First blog posts are super awkward. You feel like the wall flower at the high school dance. "Hey, Hi there, wassup?"

So, this is where I will blog about my writing.

Holy Crap. I can't believe I just typed that.

I'll probably cross post a bit on my day-job blog, PR for Smarties, when it makes sense (and where I just came out of the writer closet).

This will either be awful or amazing. Possibly amazingly awful. But I am glad you are here.