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Archive for the 'WIP' Category

Monday, June 27th, 2016
What do you think?

I’m trying to write a non-fantasy romantic suspense. Sort of a side thing for fun and relaxation. This is my current beginning. Very rough. All the same, I need to know: What do you think? Seriously, what do you think?

He was on his way home just after midnight on a Thursday night when the call came through. A disturbance at Utopia, Trinity’s new night club and restaurant. Injuries onsite, ambulances needed. Chase was only a couple miles away and tired as he was, he wasn’t in the mood to go home yet. It wasn’t as if anybody was waiting for him.

Troopers had beaten him there. Flashing emergency lights strobed across the parking lot. People stood in groups or perched on the hoods of cars, watching the action. Not that there was any action to see, as far as Chase could tell.

He parked, leaving his suit jacket in the car. He paused to avoid the ambulance that rolled through the parking lot and up to the front doors of the club side entrance. A second one turned in a few seconds later, blowing past him in a cloud of diesel.

Chase drew a tired breath and let it out. What was he doing here? He should go home and get some sleep. He had a meeting with Sloan and Rossitch at 8:30 in the morning. He grimaced at himself. Who was he kidding? Even if he went home, he’d be lucky to get three hours of sack time. He’d flip channels on the idiot box while he ate, then he’d spend an hour or two banging his head against the Shore murder. Four years and he still didn’t have the killer. Not that he was allowed to investigate it anymore, at least, not officially, anyway. He shook his head, putting his frustration aside. Things on the trafficking case were heating up. That’s what the meeting was about. Once that was cleared, he could get back to work on the murder.

Chase rubbed a hand over the stubble on his jaw, still wavering. He hadn’t been inside Utopia yet. Now was as good a time as any to check the place out. His stomach rumbled. That decided him. Maybe the kitchen was still open and he could get a burger. All his refrigerator held was beer and frozen dinners. He didn’t doubt both were better here.

“Hey, Lieutenant, what’s homicide doing here?” Jason Thomas stepped away from the woman he was interviewing and reached out a hand to Chase as he approached. He was young, maybe twenty four. He was sharp, though, and ambitious. He planned to make detective by the time he was twenty five. Probably would, too. Chase liked him, even though at thirty one he felt like the kid’s grandfather. The downfalls of working homicide. No innocence left.

“Was heading home. Heard the call and figured I’d have a look around, maybe see if they were still serving food. What’s the situation?”

Thomas shook his head. “Domestic disturbance. Husband’s drunk and shooting pool, the wife is a cocktail waitress. He decides she’s flirting with the customers and goes after her with a pool cue. The manager yanks her out of the way before he can crush his wife’s skull, though the manager took a hard hit to her shoulder. The husband gets hotter and starts throwing punches. Customers and the bouncers take him down. Hard. He’s got a busted nose and maybe a broken wing.

Chase nodded without any sympathy for the bastard. He got what he deserved, attacking his fucking wife. He was probably lucky to have her.

“Good work, Thomas. I’ll leave you to it,” he said. The Trooper grinned at the praise. God, had he ever been that young?

He left Thomas to get statements and wandered up toward the club entrance. Tall pillows held up a broad overhang. Beneath danced a fountain. Not too long ago, the place had been a car dealership. The guy who owned it decided to divorce his wife, probably trader her in a newer model. It had been ugly. Her father owned the land the dealership was on and had kicked the husband off the property. The building sat vacant for awhile before someone had bought it to turn into a restaurant and club. From the looks of it, they’d done a good job. Word was that the food was good, too.

The old showroom was now the restaurant, with the bar housed in the repair bays. The exterior had been covered in a rock façade, with lush trees and flowers sending up a sweet, rich fragrance. White firefly lights wrapped the front pillars, outlined the windows, and layered the roof in a pattern like fish scales. A six foot iron fence with spikes along the top surrounded the outside the rollup bay doors like a large, flagstone-paved corral. Within was a covered stage, picnic tables, a dance area, and a barbecue pit. The stage was dark and the pit was cold tonight. Maybe it was a weekend thing.

The June night was warm and one of the bay doors had been rolled up. Inside, Chase could see pool tables and red-tile floors. Customers still shot balls, uninterested in the drama outside.

The scent of cooking meet wafted out to meet him as he drew close to the entrance. His gaze continued to rove over the spectacle outside, taking in the faces and other details.

Lightning thrust through the center of his chest. What the hell was she doing here?

Chase stopped dead, hard gaze locked on her. Four years since her mother’s murder, three and a half since he’d last seen her. Then she’d been pinched and washed out, her beauty hidden under the drab blanket of hard grief. Now–

She was a wet dream walking. Sunstreaked dark hair framed her face. Tanned skin smoothed over high cheekbones, a strong nose, and narrow chin. His gaze ran greedily over her. Her curves had firmed and her body was lithe and lean except for her breasts. They rode high and full beneath her vest and shirt. The last few years had turned tempered her. She held herself with assurance and confidence, like she didn’t take shit. His chest tightened as her wide, full mouth broke into a smile as she looked up at the paramedic. What the fuck? Was she hurt?

Chase didn’t think. His legs started moving before he knew what he wanted to do. He thrust through the rubberneckers, making a beeline for her.

Behind him, someone complained in protest, but Chase didn’t slow down. He couldn’t have stopped if he’d wanted to.

 

Friday, June 24th, 2016
Research, or please don’t arrest me

In the past day or so, I’ve researched sepsis, the symptoms, how you get it, and how long it takes to kill you. (Don’t get it, by the way, it really sucks hard.) I’ve also researched breaking out side windows in trucks using your feet. I’ve researched snub nosed .38 revolvers and whether or not someone can get to their feet with their feet and hands bound with duct tape. I’ve researched switchblades, spring-assisted knives, and butterfly knives. Oh, and gravity knives. I’ve discussed knives that are spring loaded and can open out the front and put an eye out. I’ve also looked into what law agencies do what and I’ve looked into human and sex trafficking.

Writers live interesting lives.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Back in the saddle again

I came back from the writing retreat having written 32, 281 words in basically 3.5 days. I am completely stunned. I have never written that much in that little time, ever. I worked on the sequel to The Incubus Job (comes out in just six days!!). It’s what you might call a zero draft. That means that I tried to just write story and not worry about the research elements, or making up names for particular people or things, and so on. I just put and asterisk and described what should go there. I’ll be able to search asterisks and fix those, though I’ll probably just end up combing through the whole thing when it’s done and revise and catch them that way.

I never write like that. Devon Monk encouraged me to try and it was kind of freeing. I’m going to use that technique in the next couple days to write an anthology story I have due soon. I doubt I can do 10,000 words a day since I’ve got obligations here that I didn’t have in the rainforest, but I think I could get at least 4 or 5K. If I don’t get bogged down in doing stuff on the net. I’m thinking of getting the Antisocial app, but I’m wondering if there’s a free sort of thing out there that works the same way.

The writers retreat is at The Rainforest Resort Village which sounds a lot less rustic than it actually is. We got to stay in a cabin with a back sliding glass window and deck overlooking a very babbley creek and beyond that, the lake. Geese flew in and out and it was absolutely lovely, even raining most of the time. We had a fire going in the cabin and a little kitchenette, and we hunkered down and wrote like fiends. It was fabulous. I love doing this retreat and plan to go next year, crossing my fingers I register before they sell out.

Once I got back, I had to finish the copy edits on Whisper of Shadows, the next Diamond City Magic book, which will be out April 15. Got that done, then worked on the tax receipts. I always have the best intentions of inputting those receipts into my spreadsheet throughout the year, and I always have to do it right at the end. They were all in one place. I keep a file bin hanging on my wall in my office to stuff them into.

I also went out and bought some manure and worm castings for the garden, along with three plants for the rock garden we hope to put in shortly (we need to create better drainage in that location before we can.)  My peonies are all in bloom and so are some other flowers. Plus the crocuses are up and so many. The former owners had planted them and this year some came up where they hadn’t before. I guess the wet this year really helped them.

I’m just about on schedule with my reading for this year. Trying to read at least six books a month, not including my own. Need to finish the one I’m reading–a British police procedural–to get my 12 for the year. I tend to let reading slip when I’m tired or really busy and just veg in front of the TV. I’m trying hard to avoid that and read, which most of the time I enjoy a lot more. A lot of them I get from Netgalley, which lets me discover a wider range of authors than I might ordinarily encounter, and a wider range of topics. So that’s been very nice.

And now, to go do some of that reading . . .

 

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016
Helpful help requested

I’ve been working on a story for awhile now. Years actually, because of many things, it got tucked away in the to-be-done-later pile. Lately it’s been poking at me and I think I’m going to try working on it. When I was getting my PhD, I’d be working on my dissertation and hit a wall. I’d switch to a novel I was working on until that hit a wall. Then I’d switch back and suddenly I could work on the diss. Back and forth like that is how I got through with some scraps of sanity intact. I am thinking of trying the same thing with two novels. I don’t know if I can do that. But I think I’m going to try. In order to do that, I’m going to have to develop outlines for both. Even thin, bare bones sorts of outlines. But that isn’t where I need help.

This story is set in Tennessee. I’m looking for things I can read or stories you can tell about specific instances in the south, experiences you’ve had or heard of, newspapers, non-fiction, fiction–really anything. I want to get a sense of the cadence of the language. I had that pretty well nailed down previously, but I’ve lost it over the years and I want to find it again. So I ask you for all the help you can give me to a feel for the language and place and people. This will also give me some fodder. Foods, too! Anything you can think of.  I have even been known to watch the wedding dress in Atlanta TV show because of the southern speech patterns for some of them. I don’t want to do that. So I beg you . . . .help!

Monday, December 14th, 2015
Wahoo!

Whisper of Shadows went back to my editor today. At long last. It took me forever to revise. It’s lucky my editor is patient with me. I do like it and I hope you will, too. There’s a lot that happens. We start right where Edge of Dreams left off and then run forward. You’ll get to see more of Riley’s dad, her family, Touray and of course Price. And then Arnow and Dalton were back. I can’t wait for you to see it!

Finishing also means that I can and *need* to dig into holiday preparations. So tomorrow I have to hit the ground running. We still have to decorate the tree and I have wrapping and baking to do. Plus I have to send some things and still shop for kidlets. I didn’t get the knitting done I’d wanted to. I just couldn’t pull it together.

I am annoyed. I tried to make an order from Teavana. They were doing a big discount, and then if you bought so much bulk tea, you got an additional discount. Only for me, the additional discount wouldn’t come through properly. So I emailed customer service with the explanation. After several days, the reply was, hey, sorry, but you should call us. We have people who can help you. Um. I emailed you because your website said you could help me. And I couldn’t seem to manage to remember to call during their open hours. I was, afterall, working. Sigh. So I was screwed out of that discount and I’m irritated. Both at the so-called customer service, and the crappy website.

 

 

 

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
Writing the sequel

One of the toughest thing to do when writing is to write a sequel to a first book, then a third, fourth or tenth. I know people who plan an entire series from the beginning–Devon Monk, for instance, planned all of her Allie Beckstrom novels before she began. Having that plan established means that a writer has a clear sense of what each book should contain before it begins and can jump into the drafting relatively smoothly. Now the problem is, just as with battle plans, plot plans don’t often stand up to actual engagement with the enemy. So to speak.

As a book develops and more creativity sparks, the next thing you know is that you’ve changed something significant and it dominoes into all the next books and you have to replot. And then you do it again. And again. It can be incredibly frustrating. Do you know what’s more frustrating? Not being able to plot at all. Plot failure. I have a very difficult time with plotting even a single book, much less a series. Especially a series that I don’t know how long will be. Diamond City Magic is one such series.

This means that I’m doing a lot of exploration. On the other hand, the deeper I get, the more complex it gets, and the more stuff I need to do, and that means that plotting on one level becomes easier, because certain bridges have to be crossed. I have a developed a nebulous idea of landmarks that need to be achieved. So if you imagine it like a journey, I know there’s a mountain there, a valley there, a river there, and so on, all of which need to be traversed and each comes with their own special troubles.

Right now, I haven’t completed the revisions for book 3 and I’m beginning book 4, which means I don’t entirely know how big all the changes I will have done by the end of the revision, and so I may be building this next book on air. All the same, I have to start. Of course, I might be tossing most of it all away in the end, but if I worried about that, I’d end up never writing. Plus the fact that I have trouble plotting means that in fact, I have to write to find out what’s going to happen–to fill in the details between getting to plot events. Since those are all actually character revelations, I have to build the characters and events to get there, and hope that I don’t rearrange the terrain entirely as I go. I swear, it’s like writing in a living Dali painting.

So now I’m writing what I think is going to happen in this next book. I’m not starting where I normally start, which is the beginning, since I’m not entirely sure where the beginning will be. I just know that these scenes need to be written. At least under the current plan, and I need to be writing, because of deadline.

 

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
Coolios

I just got invited to be in a really awesome anthology based on another writers oh so awesome world. I can’t give details. Sorry. But it’s going to be amazing and so I’m rereading the novels starting today.

In other news, Boy of Size got the upper rack of his braces on today. All went smoothly, thank goodness. We even got there on time, despite traffic and events conspiring against us.

I’ve been working through a revision on this WIP. It’s a little bit aggravating how slow it’s going. Mostly it’s my fault because a little tweak here becomes a serious fix later. And then I have to cut things that I really liked because they no longer fit, so then I have to go back to the tweak and see if it was worth it or could be done differently . . . Sigh. Today I cut out a scene I really really liked. It doesn’t work anymore.

I’m also trying to bolster up some of the emotional depth of one of the characters. And cut the redundancy from another. It’s just depressingly slow, and that’s to some extent because I’m distracted by life. I have to stop that. And stop being online when I’m writing. I need to focus, avoid the news and too much research.

 

 

 

Friday, September 25th, 2015
Title Announcement

The new title for the third Diamond City Book is . . . Are you ready?

Whisper of Shadows

The release will happen sometime in January, maybe February. More on that when things get definite.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a side project. I’ve been working on it for a long time in my “spare time.” I totally love it. I’m going to be self-publishing it. It’s called The Ghost Job and here’s a little bit (rough–not been revised yet) of the beginning:

 

I got the fish-eye stare from the concierge when I walked past him into the lobby. I passed through the security net, feeling it ripple across my skin like seeking fingers. My lips tightened smugly. I could go out and come back again and totally change my aural signature. It might remember this version of me forever—and it probably would—but it wouldn’t do it a damned bit of good if it never saw this me again.

Effrayant was a mashup of the Bellagio and the Bates Motel, with a little dash of old school English castle for flair. The outside was brick and tile with a few thousand windows and a mansard roof that went up six or eight stories on top. The rooms up there were probably long-term residences. The central tower was a good forty stories high, with the four wings sprouting like spokes from its shoulders. Their rooftops boasted pools, clubs, restaurants, and helipads.

I wasn’t there for the entertainment; I was on a job.

Inside was dark wood, modern furniture, soft lights, and museum quality art. Muted opera music wandered through the cavernous lobby. The staff all wore Italian wool uniforms in gray, burgundy, and navy, while customers dressed in designer glitz and blue-collar chic.

I couldn’t blame the bellman for looking at me sideways. Wearing Levi’s, a longsleeved cotton shirt from the Goodwill, a pair of knee-high leather boots that had seen better days, and a blue ball-cap, I definitely didn’t look glitzy or chic.

Add in the fact that my luggage was nothing more than a ratty backpack, I was a little surprised that the security guards inside didn’t stop me. With force. Given how obcenely expensive it was to stay at the exclusive and highly discriminating Effrayant, I figured these guys should have been all over me. Sure, the ghosts make people want to turn and head the other way and let me be someone else’s problem. Security guards ought to be better trained. They shouldn’t let the heebie-jeebies get the better of them. I get that it’s not every day that you get the ghost push-off from someone made of flesh and blood, but Effrayant liked to brag their security was the best of the best.

I walked in and all six of thick-necked best of the best got busy picking lint off their coats, making me the check-in clerk’s problem.

Poor thing. I could tell she wanted to be anywhere else. That’s Tabitha’s fault. She can put the fear of Jesus into just about anyone without hardly trying.

Tonight she was trying.

She didn’t want to come into Effrayant. She thought it was too dangerous. She was right, but that didn’t change the job. I wanted to tell her to suck it up and settle down, but she was only a thirteen year old girl and dead or not, her hormones were raging. She wasn’t going to listen to me, of all people. Plus she still had a lot of PTSD issues from how she got killed. Or so I assumed. I had no idea how it had actually gone down. I only knew she was pissed as hell and she had nightmares that occasionally leaked into my dreams. If any of what happened in those nightmares had actually happened to her, she had a right to her attitude. Hell, she had a right to have gone right over the edge into insanity-land. I didn’t think she had, but it’s not like she talked to me. Another issue she had going on was that she didn’t trust anybody and when she got scared, she killed first and asked questions later.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
Sometimes you kick yourself

I have this book that’s been poking at me for a long time. It’s not anything to do with anything else. I read a bit of it at Miscon a couple years back and folks there have been asking for more. Haven’t had time to work on it and I’m not sure when I will. But that’s not the only reason I haven’t touched it. The fact is that I don’t know where it’s going. I don’t know what’s happening with some of the things. I wrote three chapters and stopped, and the second chapter doesn’t fit.

I realized, just now, a few seconds before starting that post, that I don’t actually HAVE to know where it’s going to write it. I mean, I could try just exploring and seeing. These days, that’s not a waste, because I can always self-pub if no one wants it. The thing is, I like these characters and this story. A lot. It’s definitely romantic, and more of a lighter, dreamier urban fantasy. I wanted to get at the sense of wonder of magic in the real world, rather than the grittiness and danger.

But it does have spiders. Lots and lots of spiders.

So I’ve decided that in the little spaces between projects and such, I’m going to write on it. I’m going to explore and have fun and see where it takes me. And enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Relearning an old writing lesson

Jake Lake once said that he liked to write a book over a period of no more than 3 months. For that long, he said, he could hold the whole plot in his head and he didn’t lose things. Longer than that, and bit and pieces started to fall away and he had to work a lot harder to get the story down. At that time, the idea of writing a 3 month book was absolutely crazy to me. I couldn’t imagine ever succeeding at that.

But then I did. I learned he was right. For about three months, maybe four, I didn’t have to worry about taking a ton of notes on where I was going or what the characters were up to. I could hold the story in my head. In writing that speed, I kept the pacing sharp and I also had a lot of fun. I never felt bogged down in a scene, because the scenes went by too quickly for quagmire. If they didn’t, that meant the scene had a problem.

I learned this lesson. It’s hard, because writing that fast means discipline and sticking to a schedule. It also means the words damned well better flow. One truth for me is that the words tend to flow better when I stick to a schedule, get sleep and exercise, and I eat reasonably health. I feel energized and creative.

However.

My son got sick and that took a lot more out of me than I ever expected. Part of it was having to go to the neverending doctor appointments. Part of it was having to watch him suffer and being helpless. Part of it was trying to be strong for everybody in the family, and especially my daughter. And it kept going on and on. Still is, really, but at least he’s improving.

Anyhow, my creativity grew thick and dense and unwilling. Writing was more miss than hit and I did fewer and fewer words as my schedule fragmented. I have no regrets–I was and am spectacularly happy to be available to the kids when they need me. Not everyone, not even most, can do that and I can and I have had no problems making them my priority.

I ended up having to reschedule my books and give myself much longer to finish them. That meant that I was going to plan for six months rather than three months per book. While that has been necessary, it has also made a difficult creative process even more difficult. Because I feel like scenes lag because I spend more time on them. I feel like I lose the character voices. I feel like I lose track of what I wanted the story to be. It’s infuriating.

In the fall the kids (both!) go back to school. I hope to regain my routine and hopefully my production. I hope to dive deeper into the creative ocean and live in it more so that the story will flow better. I have a lot of things I still want to write.