Novels and Works in Progress

It’s been well over a year since I decided to get serious and “become an author”. Sure, I’ve written everything imaginable in my life, so I’ve always been a ‘writer’. But a little over a year ago was when I decided “author” was the title I really wanted. And in order to be an “author”, that meant I had to write books and/or short stories that were sold to ‘real’ publications and agents. (See the post about Hope’s Journey if you are curious as to how I stepped back into writing books after several years). For the last several months I’ve been plugging away at a chunk of short stories, while getting started on two different (new) novels.

While I still haven’t managed to ‘sell’ a book to a traditional publisher or agent, I’m pleased to announce that a new publication is interested in one of my short stories. This is a huge moment for me, and I’m extra excited to be a part of something new. It also gives me LOADS of hope for placing stories and publishing novels in the future. I feel like this is a moment I’ve been anticipating – I can officially say, “I’m an author!”

So what now? More writing, of course! I’ve put short stories away for awhile (aside from editing, revising, and submitting), in favor of working on two novel projects.

 

Young Adult Fantasy
This novel started as a random short story. A teenage girl named Caitlin began to tell me a story about a magical necklace. 10,000 words later, I realized it wasn’t a short story at all. Yet at 30,000 words, the ending is still a mystery. I’ve had to put this one aside for now, since my teenage daughter may be interested in co-authoring and helping me with the ending. I’d much rather work on this one with my daughter than all by myself, especially since Caitlin is only 2 years older than my daughter. I think my teenage daughter can help tremendously with the POV on this one.

 

Middle Grade Ghost Story
It’s always been my dream to write a children’s ghost story like the ones I grew up reading. I vividly remember as a child scanning our Scholastic order forms in search of ‘ghosts’ or other horror/mystery for kids. These type of stories hold a very special place in my heart, and I’ve even recently gone back to read my favorites (Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss, for example, I just read for the 100th time in 20 years). Right now, this is the WIP that I jump into every morning, excited to tell a tale about a 12-year-old who just moved into a haunted house in the middle of nowhere. This story is so serious about being written that it already gave me the start of a book-cover description and notes for a query letter. Crazy, right? The stuff you normally scramble to do after the book is finished is popping out left and right at me. I’m THRILLED!

I’ll end this post with the description of the middle grade WIP, since I’m hoping it will be done within the next few months. Here’s hoping this one reveals its ending soon, so that it does actually get finished in time.

 

The Ghost at Grandma’s House
Twelve-year-old Abigail Adams had a perfect life, until her family moved in with her grandmother. Stuck in the middle of nowhere at her grandmother’s creepy farmhouse with her mother and fifteen-year-old brother, Abby begins to realize they aren’t alone.

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Work in Progresss (WIP)

I often see authors use the term “WIP”, which I’ve learned stands for “work in progress”.

This is a funny term to me, especially because it’s often used suggested it’s the only piece they are working on. Maybe I’m misreading or maybe those authors are a whole lot more focused than me, but I almost never have a singular “WIP”. In fact, I often feel my life as an author is one big work in progress. Aren’t we all, though? Isn’t every day a new chance to work on something new and exciting? And sometimes that ‘work’ isn’t even writing.

Here’s what I would consider as my “WIP” list:

– Finding a Literary Agent
This WIP is more waiting than work. I haven’t submitted query letters for several weeks, because I’m mostly waiting to hear back from the handful of letters I’ve sent. I’m also researching additional agents and attempting to get a few short stories published. It’s one of those WIP running around in the background, yet I see it as the most important. If nothing else, it’s forcing me to learn how to be patient.

– Submitting Short Stories
There are several stories of mine I feel are ready to submit to a publication. Problem is, I don’t know where those publications are just yet. Researching publications, reading other short stories, and finally submitting takes a whole lot of time. I’m very thankful I purchased a copy of the 2018 Writer’s Market. Currently I’m reading/researching Ellery Queen and have a pretty good idea of the story I’d like to submit. (Great stories, by the way! There is a good reason Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock have been around so long. They publish really great stories.

– Editing
I have a growing stack of short stories that require my attention. I’ve lost count, even. One in particular has my immediate attention. Although it’s still a slow process, and the pile keeps growing. Sometimes days I have to actually tell myself to stop writing, else I’m never going to get through that editing pile. I don’t even want to talk about the novel I’m in the middle of editing.

– Writing
Oh, where do I begin. I have so many pieces, bits, and parts I often don’t know where to even begin for the day. There’s a single novel, the bare beginnings of another novel, and LOTS of fragmented short stories. Since the novel is over 30k words, I’ve been trying really hard to stick with it more than anything else. Yet then the “holiday season” began, and I find myself even more fragmented and lost as to what I should right. Then, of course, I look at my pile of editing and think, maybe editing is where my focus should be? It’s a daily battle, that’s for sure. After Thanksgiving, I had to dump a family story out of my head because I just couldn’t get back into the novel. But then directly after, I began immediately worrying about Christmas shopping, so there has been zero word count being added to my daily totals. Now that shopping has been put to rest (and I do think I’m done with my kids, for the most part, so it is a HUGE weight lifted off the holiday plate), maybe I can push back into some meaningful writing. And I suppose that is what this blog post is about – a sneaky way for me to unload and cleverly slip in substantial writing time.

So there you have it. When asked what my “WIP” is, I guess it’s a plethora of you know, ‘author stuff’. Writing, editing, trying to juggle all the things that make up the writing career in general. And you know, maybe making some money along the way. It would certainty help to pay the bills. 😉

NaNoWriMo 2017 – My Thoughts

If you are a writer, you’ll know it’s almost time again. That month that turns novelist and novelist wannabees into raving lunatics. Like zombies with one thought in mind – WORDSSSSSS!. Big ones, little ones, hell, they don’t even have to make sense. Progress is progress towards that end goal of 50,000, right?

Not exactly. At least, not for me.

I’ve done NaNo in the past, and one of my books is the result of one of those years. But I know I won’t join this year, and probably won’t ever join again. Why?

Lots of reasons. Here’s a few:

1. Novel already in progress (I think?)
A short story that just kept on rolling along has hit over 10,000 words. It’s not finished yet, not even close. I still don’t know what it is, exactly, but I know I’m not about to abandon it for a new project. I may let it sit for a few days, yet never for a week, and certainly not a month. It will die if I walk away from it that long. We can’t have that.

2. Short Story Season
I just came off a longer novel that took a year for me to feel satisfied with, and now I’m focused on short stories. Not just writing, but submitting them to publications as well. I enjoy being able to float in between shorter projects without being bogged down with a single story for 30 days.

3. Schedule Conflicts
Not just the short stories, the whatever-it-is story, or other writing projects. I also have a family. Sometimes they are extremely needy. I’d get serious stressed if I held myself to a word count requirement on one project. And when I don’t meet goals, I feel depressed. Just best to pass on added stress.

4. Agent Searching
Last but not least, I’m looking for a Literary Agent to represent Hope’s Journey. That’s work. It’s the nitty gritty stuff that needs some serious attention to detail if it’s to be done properly (which I am, hopefully, in the process of doing). So, no time for counting words. That’s not where my focus needs to be.

All that said, I do with those doing it this year the best of luck. I think National Novel Writing Month is a fun journey to take for any writer, as stressful and overwhelming as that journey may be at times. I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines as much as possible on Twitter. I hope your prepping is going well if you chose to do that this month, and I hope you make your 50,000 words with plenty of time to fully enjoy Thanksgiving. 🙂

Best wishes, fellow writers!

2017 Update / Hope’s Journey

Several years after disappearing from the social media scene and scrapping my last novel, it’s not that hard to guess what I’ve been doing. Yup, you guessed it – I’ve been writing another novel.

In the summer of 2016, it started with a single line.

“It’s almost time.”

That haunting line would become the first line of the novel that was to be, with only a small inkling of an idea of what adventures were to come.

“It’s almost time,” the voice of Bridget whispered in my head, pulling me out of a peaceful dream.

The stage was set, and characters already in motion. This story – or rather, the entire world the story is based – has been floating around me for more than a decade. The characters already knew who they were, and what they were suppose to do. So I began to write.

Just a few weeks after I started, I lost my dad to cancer. We didn’t have a lot of time left in the end (who ever does?), yet I was able to have an extremely rare opportunity to sit down and have a long talk with him less than 48 hours before he died. It was the kind of conversation that left me feeling complete, and that everything had been said. I told him I was writing another book, and that I was going to be an author. He told me, “you’ll be great at it”. There were other trivial things and matters discussed, yet the discussion about the book was the spark I needed to keep going.

Here we are a year later, and my hunt for a literary agent begins. I have no desire to self-publish this time around, as that requires a special skill set that I’m not prepared to venture into. I would much rather work with experts in the book marketing field and focus on writing. That’s what authors do, after all, isn’t it? Write?

Be watching for updates on Hope’s Journey soon!

Forgotten Spirits of Halloween (Short Story)

This story was written years ago, the prompt being “an unlikely character POV”. It was always one of my favorites and will eventually be part of a short story collection. Since the collection won’t be out until long after Halloween, I felt it necessary to share the story now. Enjoy!

Forgotten Spirits of Halloween

Halloween night, 7:30 PM.

I watch the parade of trouble makers filing past me in search of perfect sugary treats. Silently chuckling to myself at the sight of these little people dressed in odd clothing with several layers of make-up, I wonder how anyone could mistake them for real spirits. I know any self-respecting pumpkin such as myself would not. Silly humans, anyway. It’s like they don’t even try. As if this night is just a joke to them.

They also don’t even know it’s not late enough. The real spirits don’t appear to me for another few hours, once all the children have put themselves into sugar-induced comas and all their care-givers have retired to their beds. Once all is quiet on the street again, I know they’ll come.

When 11pm comes around, I see the first one. She is a beautiful flowing light, with smoke trailing her like a long transparent dress. Alone and looking distraught, I know she is lost.

“Hello there miss, need some direction?” I ask, hoping she can see my form in the dark. I only wish my creators would have left the candle inside burning. Although sometimes that scares them a bit when they are new, and I wonder if she may be.

“Who said that?” she whispers in tones only we can hear, even on Halloween night.

“Over here. The pumpkin. I’m here to help guide you.”

“You can hear me? See me?” She looks at me with a puzzled look, not quite understanding how a pumpkin could communicate with her when no one else can. Now I know she is a new spirit, having very little interaction with the others. She needs to be with her own.

“Yes, and yes. Have a seat beside me, and I’m sure others will arrive soon,” I would smile sweetly, but my face has been carved in a fixed evil grin. I assure her I am not evil, but rather created to look it. She accepts this information, still bound by her former knowledge of the forgotten holiday.

We sit and chat awhile, as I explain to her the ways of the ghostly world. I am not like her, and have never been human. Instead, I only exist around the holiday, fading in and out of existence. My only purpose is to guide, similar in the way the sun gives off heat.

It isn’t long before more travelers appear. An aged gentleman and younger woman, both standing similar to that of my new girl. I call out to them. “Hello travelers! Might you come here for a moment?” They look to me, seeing the new girl. The older man nods. He knows what favor I seek.

This newly deceased girl has been taken care of, but more come tonight. Resting on the front porch of the living, I wait in the darkness under the moon for more travelers to arrive.

NaNoWriMo 2014

Usually this time of year is an exciting one for an author. Nature is changing, begging for new stories. Weather gets colder, forcing us inside to write. There is a distinct buzz in the air about the infamous “National Novel Writing Month”.

This year, however, it will be different. There will be no NaNoWriMo. At least, not for me.

Why No NaNoWriMo?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of NaNo. I love that it kicks authors into gear and has the ability to crank out some wonderful fiction (and sometimes non-fiction) novels. I love the “do or die” writing that comes from being held accountable for so many words a day, week, and for the month.

What I don’t love is the drama and stress that it brings into my household. While my family has no problems with me writing (and a few even enjoy my stories), they do have problems with me being locked in a room for an entire month. Our family unit simply falls apart if my attention is solely devoted to writing. I have tried in the past to prepare them for my November disappearance, but it flat out doesn’t work.

So, with a heavy heart I have to decline participation in NaNo this year. Not because I don’t want to, or even because my family doesn’t want me to. But because there is only one of me, and this one has other obligations that prevent cranking out x-number of words per day. It stresses me out, but more importantly it stresses my family out. Badly.

Still Writing?

Even though I won’t be smack in the middle of the hype, I will still be writing. Just not 1,700+ words per day or 50,000 in a month. Maybe a few hundred, may none at all, but I WILL still be writing. I HAVE been writing, even if lately it’s been nothing but crap (we all have those days/months/years).

The beauty of skipping the challenge this year is that I will be able to work on multiple works instead of just one. I actually have several ideas in the making – a short story collection, a new fiction novel in a different genre than fantasy (not too different, just hopping over to paranormal for a moment!), and there’s even some ideas in the back of my head for a type of book rarely seen anymore. Make no mistakes – I AM WRITING! Just not for NaNoWriMo.

Not only will I still be writing, but I’ll be sitting on the sidelines cheering others who will be giving it a go. Seasoned vets and newbies, too, will have my total support. Just because I won’t be participating doesn’t mean I won’t be supporting others. Quite the opposite! Be sure to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be pushing you along in between writing, editing, and family obligations. 😉