UNQUIET Update – September 29

Here is what I should be doing:

Sowing grass seed where a blow-up pool killed the grass in my backyard.
Cutting weeds out of the bushes against my house.
Vacuuming the finished section of the basement.
Clearing clutter out of my house.
Washing my car.

Here is what I’m actually doing on this cool early Fall day:

Sitting in my sunroom in my house slippers writing a story.

Progress of UNQUIET
First draft: In progress (83,670 words)
My revisions: Not started
Editing: Not started
Proofreading: Not started
Formatting: Not started
Final proofread: Not started
Cover art: Not started

The Bad, the Good, and the Extra Good

The bad: copy editing for THE OAK AND THE MOON won’t begin until mid-July. It can’t be helped. Editors are busy. The good: I have two extra months to make this book Extra Good. That’s capitalized because Extra Goodness is an actual specific thing, something TOATM will now have, something it may not have had before.

My new subterranean writing cove is finished. All my writing paraphernalia now has its very own home. I’m no longer shuffling laptop/books/papers/notebooks/cat from bedroom to living room depending on my writing site for the evening. Now, all I have to do is descend the stairs, pick up my laptop, and drop into my new super comfy chair. (Really, if someone told me they made this chair with a mold of my own body, I’d believe them.) Papers and notebooks are within reach. Power on laptop, wait for cat to squeeze his body next to mine, WRITE. I feel very grown up.IMG_2149_sm

So, TOATM’s release will be late summer/fall. I’m a one-book-a-year writer. I tried to fight it. I lost. But–I promise this book will be better because of it. I wish I could give some hints about this book because OH HOW IT’S KILLING ME NOT TO SPILL. Any hints would be spoilers, and I hate spoilers. So no hints. It might end up being a surprise, an “Oh, wait a second” then a “WAIT ONE DARN SECOND” then a “Oh” then an “Ooooh” surprise. Don’t worry though. You’ll love it. If you don’t, I’ll send TB to convince you to love it. If he’s in a good mood he might let you choose which hand, but fingers will be broken.

First Draft: In progress (138,266 words and counting)
My revisions: In progress
Professional editing: Starts mid-July
Final Draft: Almost there…
Proofreading: Not started
Formatting: Not started
Cover art: Not started

TOATM Update – February 15

IMG_9373Fifteen degrees Fahrenheit last night with 20 mph gusts of wind. Here’s where I was, working on THE OAK AND THE MOON.

It was more of a wrap-my-head-around-it session than a get-words-on-the-page session, but I got back in the forward motion of it right before I started nodding off. It should be easy to pick back up tonight and get a lot down on the page.

I bought myself a present yesterday. Sometimes you’ve just gotta splurge on the hardback.


First Draft: In progress (125,282 words and counting)
My revisions: In progress
Professional editing: Not started
Final Draft: Getting there slowly…
Proofreading: Not started
Formatting: Not started
Cover art: Not started

TOATM Update – November 21

Last night I hit page 248 in my edit of the already written 370 pages (up from 366) of THE OAK AND THE MOON.

This is the cleanest draft I’ve written. It won’t need the two hundred revisions book one needed, thank the elements. The first half of this TOATM draft was rough because I had to apply a major change (verb tenses…*shudder*), but now I’m past that nightmare so progress is moving fast.

Once I reach page 370 the fun begins: writing new material. I’ve been thinking it’ll need about 100 more manuscript pages, but now I’m thinking it needs more like 200 (which translates to about 300 in paperback form). Eek.

Who’s ready to read a 700-page book? Anyone? *tap-tap-tap* Is this on?


Hopefully my editor and I can do a LOT of cutting…

I might take tonight off from writing. 22 Jump Street is sitting in its Netflix envelope on my kitchen counter. *cough* Channing Tatum *cough*

So, Where’s Book Three?

THE OAK AND THE MOON is a hefty book. There’s a lot of story to tell, and a lot of ground to cover. I started the first draft years ago, plowed right into it after finishing the first draft of THE TWO. After over 100,000 words, I put it on pause–right in the middle of a poignant scene–to revise and publish THE ALIGNMENT, followed by THE TWO. I haven’t touched it since. I’m thrilled to return to book 3. It’s my favorite so far. It’s become something I never expected. This book is the third in the series but it’s…different. In a good way.

Book three is about 75% complete, but there’s quite a bit of work to do on that current 75%. I started (restarted) on it yesterday, at page one, reading and revising as I go. When I reach the end of what’s already written, I start writing new stuff. There will be no breaks until it’s done. Then I do a full revision. Then it goes to my editor. When, you say? I hope to give it to my editor in early 2015. Februaryish. Yes, I might be slow. But this book will be worth it. :)

First Draft: In progress, about 75% complete
My revisions: Not started
Professional editing: Not started
Formatting: Not started
Cover art: Not started

Book Two Progress as of June 24

I cut 8,276 words. You can thank me later, because it was a lot of crap NO ONE SHOULD EVER READ.

And that’s after I added a whole new scene of about 500 words. So I actually cut more than that. Like, closer to 9,000. WHAT. Just what.

I’m doing some final polishing. Easy stuff. I should be done with it in less than a week and be able to send this thing off to my editor for her final pass. Yep, you heard that right. We’re almost there.

Oh! And I saw some shots from the photographer and they are gorgeous. He’s going to reshoot with a slightly different setup and some updated props I made. If the new shots are better than the initial ones I think I just might die. The cover is going to be amazing.

Progress of THE TWO
First Draft: Complete (121,006 words)
My revisions: Complete
Professional editing: Prepping for editor’s final pass
Formatting: Not started
Cover art: Photography for cover art in progress

Four Q&As about my WIP

Janna G. Noelle has requested I participate in her four-question quiz about my current work-in-progress, THE TWO, which will be published in a couple months. Like most of her blog, these questions require a degree of thought my poor brain might not be suited for right now after being abused by revisions for the past few months. But it’s worth a shot. Let’s hope what comes isn’t pure gibberish, or words crossed out and replaced by synonyms then crossed out and replaced by another synonym then crossed out and replaced by the original word. What? Yeah. Exactly.

1. What are you currently working on?

THE TWO, the second book in The Alignment Series. I wrote the first draft in 2009 and it’s had little attention since then. I knew it would be rough going in, but it’s proven me wrong. It’s not rough. It’s downright terrifying. Come-out-of-the-mirror-Carol-Anne terrifying. Someone please get me out of this mirror.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

Well, for a fantasy, it’s very real. Approachable. Easy to digest. I think a lot of people stay away from fantasy because the entry into the world is jarring. Too many strange names, strange places…you won’t find anyone with an unpronounceable name in my books. Sometimes I think it falls closer to magical realism for this reason. And for a romance? It doesn’t follow the formula. I usually call it a love story to save my fragile human bones from sledgehammers wielded by hardcore romance readers. There’s no sugary sweet happily ever after here. Strap yourselves in, people. There are twists in this road and lots of bodies to roll over. And be sure to duck when the gunner takes aim.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I have no idea. It’s like taking in a stray animal. I didn’t choose this book. It chose me. And then it had kittens under my porch. (This happened to me with real kittens, too. Real kittens and metaphorical kittens seem to agree that my brain and my house are nice places to live.)

4. How does your writing process work?

I’m a pantser who has a hard time keeping up with the seat of her pants. So I take a lot of notes. Pages and pages of notes in files I review periodically to refresh them in my head. I email myself things when I can’t get to my manuscript. Lines of dialogue, scenes, ideas, anything. It’s all clear in my head but very unorganized outside of it. That dichotomy has me feeling a bit crazy sometimes. A bit unglued.

Many thanks to Janna, for prompting me to do this Q&A. Every time I do something like this I learn more about my books. She’s working on her own fantasy(ish) novel, set in 13th century England. You can read her Q&A here. I wish she’d hurry up and publish. I feel like I’ve been waiting for it since the Middle Ages.

On My Birthday

I had the day off work. My three-year-old let me sleep past nine. We didn’t get dressed ’til 10:30. We watched almost an entire season of Adventure Time then wrestled on the floor. He did a cannonball off the couch, straight onto my shin. Tomorrow, I’ll have the bruise to prove it.

After picking my kindergartner up from school, we sat outside on the patio under billowing cumulonimbus and ate barbecue chips and drank lemonade. A hawk circled above. I told my son it wanted to eat his brain.

“Mom, would you be sad if it ate my brain?”

“What do you think?”

“I think yes.”

“Would you be sad if it ate my brain?”

Big smile. “Yes.”

Oh, the love between mother and child.

At some point, I got a call on our land line, from THE LAND LINE’S OWN NUMBER. No one on the other end. Thank god for that.

Because I was afraid it was going to be my future self, telling me I have a lot of editing to do. And it’s sitting on the kitchen table, waiting for me, and I shouldn’t be watching so much Adventure Time.
I knew book two would need a ton of editing but I wasn’t prepared for the depth of hell I’ve descended to. I’ve switched to editing hard copy by hand, if that’s any indication. I can’t estimate my progress at this point. I can’t even see an end ahead.

I’m still aiming for summer publication, but it’s going to be late summer. To those of you waiting, yeah, I feel rotten this is taking so long. But be VERY GLAD for my red pen. I wouldn’t wish this draft on my worst enemy.

Oh, and I got a great review today. Thank you, Morgan.

I couldn’t have planned a better birthday.

Tonight, I edit until the witching hour.

Draft of THE TWO Finished, Off to Editor

After a vacation day from work which had my butt in a chair writing from 8:00 AM until 4:42 PM (only stopping to do one load of laundry and eat an apple and a microwave burrito) this draft of THE TWO is finished. I’m not sure which draft it is—somewhere between 5 and 10,000. I lost count along the way.

It’s in my editor’s inbox now. Yes, that inhuman squealing you hear just possibly could be me.

The word count has changed, so I’ll update that in the status.

The editing stage is a multi-step process. My editor will go through the whole thing, then I’ll get it back and do another revision based on her edits, then she goes through it again, etc. I’ll try to keep the status updated with which step we’re in.

Progress of THE TWO
First Draft: Complete (129,282 words)
My revisions: Complete!
Professional editing: Starting soon (less than a week)
Formatting: Not started
Cover art: Not started

EDIT: And I almost forgot! THE ALIGNMENT is today’s Book of the Day on Indie Author News!


Deleted Scene: Prologue of THE ALIGNMENT

I wrote a prologue for THE ALIGNMENT at some point during my years of querying. It gave a tense opening to the book I hoped would be a better hook. It also introduced Trey from an outsider’s perspective, which I liked, because it set you up with a bit of warning about the guy.

I cut it before the book went to my editor for several reasons:

– it opened the book too much like a thriller (which it isn’t)
– it added another first person point of view (two are enough, three might be confusing)
– it cut Liv from being the first character you meet (she needs to be first)
– nobody likes prologues (get to the story already!)

I still like it though, for that glimpse of Trey through someone’s eyes other than his own and Liv’s. Because we all know they’re both a bit biased. :)

Fun facts: The mess Trey sees in his kitchen in chapter two and cleans up in chapter four is a result of this scene. The gash he gets above his eye in this scene is the one Liv fixes for him when they meet at the clinic in chapter two. (She thinks it’s from the car crash. He knows it’s not.)

Here it is. It’s raw and unedited, so please don’t yell if you find some mistakes. If you haven’t yet read THE ALIGNMENT, what are you waiting for? Buy it!

* * * * *


(unedited deleted scene)

As soon as he steps down from his truck, I know today is the day. Yesterday was wrong, and I’m glad I waited. The dirt covering him from head to toe tells of a long day of physical labor. The slump of his shoulders proves it. The brown paper bag doing little to mask the bottle of alcohol he grips by the neck makes me chuckle out loud. Fatigue and alcohol. Today is my lucky day.

He plods into the house, and I move to the backyard to gain a better view. I need that alcohol in his system before I make my move. The more the better. From behind the house, I see the kitchen light blink on. It’s a beacon from his wide-open window, calling me in. We know he’s bold, but I refuse to acknowledge his careless indifference. He must fear us. He has to.

The first glass goes down quickly. To my satisfaction, he fills it again. He’s slower to consume the second glass, but I can be patient. All who came before me must have been missing this key ingredient. Patience. And they are all dead because of it.

The moon rises above the mountains while I wait, reducing my cover of darkness. When every light in the house has been off for a while, I move in. The howl of a nearby wolf cuts the air. I pause. It takes a long time for the stillness to return, but once it does, I continue my approach. The sliding glass door is unlocked. Without a need to pick a lock, this feels like cheating. My fingers graze my gun, but I remember we were taught not to rely on weapons. The old wooden floor in the kitchen remains silent under my careful tread. My eyes dart to a sliver of moonlight reflecting off the blade of a large knife on the counter. I could use his own knife on him. What a story that would be when I return. But it won’t be better than my reward.

The handle of the knife slides into my hand. A shadow crosses my peripheral vision, and I eat the floor without warning. Blood seeps into my mouth. I leap up and twist. He comes at me again. The knife catches him above his eye, but then it’s out of my hand and I’m on the floor again. My head pounds. I don’t even know where I’ve been hit. I roll under the table as it’s thrown sideways. Pulses of pain jar my body with such rapid precision all I can do is curl and protect my head.

My ribs collapse. Shallow breaths aren’t enough, and I swing my elbow into the open air that suddenly surrounds me. I recognize the break in his offense and move, grabbing the handle of a drawer to pull myself upward. Knives scatter at my feet, and I raise my head, swallowing my surprise at the large, calm space between us. We make eye contact in the dim room. He’s big, but not as big as I imagined. With the number he’s killed, you’d think he was a mammoth.

I blink away the clouds rolling into my vision. Light angling through the window settles on his face, reflecting off the dark stream of blood running from the cut above his eye. Other than that, he doesn’t have a scratch on him. Yet I’m working off one lung and struggling to remain standing. He takes a step backward and cocks his head, studying me like the exhausted parent of a mischievous child.

Something sinister drives this guy. Something unbeatable. We are sent as sacrifices, simply to shake him up. Nothing more. With all the training I’ve had, I still walked into this blind. Blind and stupid. Is he really their enemy, or is he one of them? I may not make it back with what they want, but I can make it back alive. And I know he’s not going to let me go without a fight.

My hand goes for my gun, but it’s missing. I snatch the closest knife from the floor and swing my leg at his ankles. He dodges, but it’s enough to open his side to me. I blast upward and jab the knife toward his kidney. The snap of my wrist then my elbow buckle my knees. His arm wraps around my shoulders from behind. His free hand grips my head at the temple. He grumbles something under his breath. When my first vertebra breaks, I know his words are the last I have failed to hear.