[tap tap tap] Is this thing still on?

So, almost two months without an update? Yeesh, that’s terrible.

November was…not good, folks. Not good at all. At least it was terrible as far as my writing goes; on the personal front, things are fine. But November was easily the worst writing month I’ve had in all of 2016 and the worst I’ve had in several years. November was NaNoWriMo, so I should have produced at least 50,000 words. In fact, I produce only 21,262.


Why is this? Well, I cannot lie, but I also don’t want to be political on this site, so I’ll simply say that the results of the American Presidential election threw me for a serious loop that did major damage to my mood for a big chunk of the month. It took almost ten days afterwards for that hangover to wear off and for my creative brain to lurch back into motion, by which time NaNoWriMo was a lost cause. Alas.

But it wasn’t all bad. I did finish the Doomed Kayak Expedition horror novel! The draft ended up at just under 84,000 words, which is the shortest thing I’ve written yet, and I’m sure that when I edit it I’ll get it down below 80,000. For me that is positively Hemingway-esque in terms of brevity! I also gave that book a title:

The Jaws of Cerberus.

If you’re wondering to what that name refers in terms of the book, well…hopefully the book will see the light of day sometime in 2018.

What’s next? A space opera novel! No, not Forgotten Stars IV, but something new. It’s a new series, but it’s set in the Forgotten Stars universe. I’m not sure right now where it fits time-wise with that series, but I am not planning any direct overlap at all (that’s the current plan, anyway), so it might not matter. I don’t have a title yet, but I can tell you this much:

  • It’s book one of an open-ended series of space adventure books.
  • The main ship is a light freighter named Orion’s Huntress.
  • The crew is initially comprised of four women with varying degrees of trust issues.
  • The Captain and the astrogator are lovers.
  • The ship’s doctor actually owns the ship, which makes her relationship with the Captain rather tense.
  • While I don’t have a title yet, my current idea is for every book in the series to have the word Huntress in it, alluding to the ship.

This is an idea I’ve been knocking around for a while. This is nothing new: I like to let my ideas knock around for a good long while! So here I go with this one. I’m aiming for a series of shorter books, around 100,000 words each, with each book being relatively self-contained. This is more Firefly or Miles Vorkosigan than, say, Star Wars or The Song of Forgotten Stars.

So that’s what’s going on right now. Stay tuned for more posts, I hope! I have 2017 to plan, after all. I’m behind on editing and publishing, so I’ll have more to say about those things in days to come. Stay tuned!

Because in my head I'm still twelve. #AmWriting #overalls

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Hey everybody! For one week only, you can get both FORGOTTEN STARS e-books on Kindle for just $.99 each! Two fantastic* space opera novels for the grand total of $1.98! Spaceships! Princesses! Ancient galactic empires! Lost planets! Mysteries! Action! Giant six-legged cats! Enigmatic space pilots! All this and MORE!!!

Get ’em while they’re hot!

*This opinion is completely biased.


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New Book! (not by me, but really good!)



I was fortunate enough, as a perk for having backed her Kickstarter campaign, to get a preview copy of The Island by S. Usher Evans a few months ago, and I loved it! (Here’s my Goodreads review.) It’s a terrific book about two warring nations, a prince from one of them, and a pilot from the other. When they crash on the same deserted island, these two enemies are forced into an unwelcome alliance…which grows into something else, as each begins learning uncomfortable truths about the war they’re fighting.

The book launches the Madion War Trilogy, whose second volume will be available for pre-order…soon. For now, check this one out — it’s really good! (And Evans herself is awesome.)



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On Character: Groot and Lying Cat

One of the most important traits in any character is their voice: how they speak, what kinds of things they say, what phrases they like to repeat, and so on. In my Forgotten Stars books, Lieutenant Rasharri has a number of sayings she is fond of saying all the time: “Think on what you know” being a main one. A lot of the best writers are good at giving characters specific voices. This is one of the better aspects of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series: think of Tyrion’s sardonic wit, or — my favorite — Dolorous Edd’s eternal conviction that he and he alone will suffer all of the worst possible fates.

But sometimes you’ll have a character whose voice is extremely limited, for one reason or another. How do you allow them to show emotion, then? How you do make a three-dimensional character when they can’t speak, or can only speak in very limited ways? Let’s look at two such characters: Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, and Lying Cat from Saga.

Groot is a walking, talking tree with enormous strength and a number of other interesting skills. He is also incapable of saying anything other than “I am Groot.”

groot 2
Groot has complex thoughts, but in terms of linguistic expression, he is completely stunted. No matter what thought he wishes to express, it comes out as “I am Groot.”

In the Guardians movie, it’s not really spelled out until later on in the film that Groot is capable of deeper, complex thoughts. He just goes along, saying “I am Groot”, and shouting it in rage when a bunch of prison guards start shooting at him. The first half of the film suggests that Groot is little more than a brainless tree-creature, but then we get some real insight into him. Half the heroes are captured by Yondu (long story), leaving Groot and Rocket Raccoon behind. Rocket wants to flee to the farthest corner of the Galaxy, but Groot has other thoughts, and begins saying “I am Groot”, over and over, but in a different tone of voice. “I am Groot!” he says, and Rocket Raccoon responds incredulously: “Save them? How are we gonna do that?”

An even more determined “I am Groot!” follows, to which Rocket responds again. This scene does more than just establish that Groot has feelings; it establishes that despite Groot’s vocabulary of three words, Rocket actually understands him.

Groot’s biggest moment comes in a moment of self-sacrifice, when he uses his own body to protect all of his companions from certain death. Rocket asks him why he is doing this, and for the first time, Groot says something else: “We are Groot.” Somehow…that is perfect. We know exactly what he means, even though his words don’t mean that at all.

So by using tone of voice, context, and a perfectly-placed change, this character with a vocabulary of three (or is it five?) words becomes one of the most expressive in the story.

groot 1
groot 3

So, what about Lying Cat? She comes from a comics series called Saga, which is an adult-themed space opera. (How adult? The opening scene is an alien woman giving birth, and her first line is, “It feels like I’m shitting!”) The comic has an immense cast, but mainly it follows two young people from different species who have fallen in love and had a baby together, despite their respective species having been at war for a long time. Saga is violent and full of sex and has as much shocking death as any George RR Martin novel, but it is also loaded with humor and heart.

The important character for my purposes here is Lying Cat, the traveling partner of a bounty hunter known as The Will. Lying Cat is just a big, nasty-looking cat who lurks about, but she can detect when anyone speaking is saying something untrue, at which point she says a single word: ”LYING.” This natural lie-detector is quite convenient for anyone in the bounty-hunting line of work.

So how do the writers make Lying Cat more than a plot device? There’s one scene where The Will lands on a “pleasure planet” (basically a giant brothel), but he is informed that Lying Cat is not allowed away from the ship. That results in this:

lying cat 2
While there, The Will rescues a young girl who has been forced to prostitution. A few issues later, this happens:

lying cat 1
Even a lie-detecting cat with one-word vocabulary has a moral compass, and she finds good ways to use it.

What does this illustrate, along with Groot? Even if you have characters whose expression is extremely limited, there are still ways to give them good character moments that stretch their expressive boundaries and allow them to be seen as characters. It’s a challenge, but worth it! These respective stories would suffer greatly without Groot and Lying Cat.

I kind of wonder if George RR Martin has some kind of moment like these in store for Hodor….

UPDATE: I originally identified Lying Cat as a male cat, when she is actually female. I have fixed this. I don’t know how I managed to get through thirty-plus issues of Saga without correctly identifying Lying Cat’s gender, but in truth, it simply isn’t a plot point in any way, and I can’t recall at all when this would have been established. I’m sure it was, though, and I missed it, so the error is mine — and it probably says something that my default assumption was male. That’s a post for another time, though.


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Updates and a Quick Trip around the Writerverse

Time to bring you up to speed on my progress, and highlight some other writers’ goings-on!

Writing at the Reinstein Library. #amwriting #overalls #vintage #Key #HickoryStripe #scarf #r2d2

One: I wanted to publish GhostCop in July, but I’m pushing that to September because I’ve been mulling things over and I realize that I want/need to tweak a few things. It’s all minor stuff, but stuff I need to address so as to make the book more resonant (I hope). I’ll tackle those revisions (shouldn’t take more than a few days) after I finish first edits on Forgotten Stars III.

Two: Hey, what about Forgotten Stars III? Well, I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be by now, but I still hope to get the book to beta-readers by mid-April. I hit a mini-slump last week (in general writing terms), and I had consecutive chapters that were, shall we say, a bit problematic. These chapters required a bit more editorial heavy lifting than I’m used to. Luckily, as I write this, I have moved past that particular obstacle! Huzzah!!

Three: Lighthouse Boy continues a-chugging along. This book is going to be enormous, so I’m leaning toward breaking it into two books anyway. The draft is currently at about 175,000 words, and there will likely be another 25-30K before the draft reaches a logical break point in the story, so I’m probably going to call BOOK ONE done and and start writing a GhostCop sequel.

Four: Oh, did I mention that I have the title for GhostCop? No? Well, I have the title for GhostCop. I’ll announce that later in the summer, when my plans for that book’s release start to ramp up.

Five: What’s after that? Well, I’m planning on a break from the Forgotten Stars series after Book III. I’m actually planning a second series of space operas that will take place in the exact same universe, but they won’t be a part of the Forgotten Stars story at all (in fact, they may not even take place at the same time as those books) and they’ll have a more adult tone. I’m thinking a mashup of James Bond and Firefly. We’ll see. I already have ideas for these, and I’ve even started character sketches (which is something I rarely do, but I thought I’d give it a shot this time).

Six: There is no six. That’s about it.

And now for some goings-on with other writers I know and love!

::  Writer Jenna Woginrich has posted an excerpt from a book she’s writing about her relationship with her horse, Merlin. Woginrich is one of my favorite online personalities, and she’s a damned fine writer. Her dream was to live on her own farm and being a part of a farm community, and she decided some years ago to do just that. If you’re in want of inspiration for tenaciously grabbing hold of the life you want, check her out.

I still remember parking it on my parents’ wrap-around porch and telling it, no, promising it, that I would write about it someday. There on the slate-blue paint leaning against a white railing I promised a bike from Kmart that I would write a book about her. So that’s what I’m going to do. Kind of.

Let’s hit the wind.

::  Ksenia Anske on being denied her brain:

Because I was born a woman, I was the second sort from the moment I got out of my mother’s womb. I was abused. I was underfed. I was neglected. I was dismissed. I was told I was wrong, no matter how hard I tried to please. But worst of all, I was denied my brain.

Powerful stuff.

::  I have to admit that I am long past the point where I find inspiration in the rejection letters of big-name writers. But hey, check out JK Rowling’s rejection letters from her Robert Galbraith novel, if you like that sort of thing.

::  All-around fab person Briana Mae Morgan wrote a play called Touch, and she posted it, one scene at a time, on her blog. Here’s Act I, Scene I. (It’s in two acts. I can’t vouch for it because I haven’t read it yet, but Briana’s awesome, so I’m sure it’s fine.)

::  Sara Letourneau on the astonishing masterpieces that are the three scores to the Lord of the Rings films, by Howard Shore. She names favorite cues and everything! Good stuff. That music is amazing and makes for great writing music as well. (That reminds me…write a post about music and writing….)

That’s all for now. See you around the Galaxy!

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Well, I got busy and then I got the flu and then…yada yada yada, I guess. However, if you recall, last month was “AuthorLifeMonth” on Instagram, so here are the rest of my entries!

Day 12 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Killed Darlings. This is how the first novel I wrote began. It was an Arthurian epic fantasy that told the story of Arthur's return to Britain in her time of need. I had a lot of nifty ideas for this story, some of which I stil

Day 12 was “Killed Darlings”. “Kill your darlings” is a common bit of advice for writers; it means that you can’t get overly attached to things in your writing, if removing them would make the writing better. It also means letting projects go, which is what this represents: my first attempt at writing a novel, an Arthurian fantasy called The Promised King. It was intended as a duology, and I actually got the first one, The Welcomer, finished and posted it online in blog form. But some stuff happened in the mid-2000s, and as way leads on to way…I doubt I’ll ever come back this way again. I did learn a lot from writing that book, though.

Next is Day 13, “Favorite Books in the Genre”.

Day 13 of #AuthorLifeMonth! Favorite books in genre. Here are two books each from SF, Fantasy, and horror/supernatural. These are all amazing books.
Here we have two books each from my preferred genres: fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I could take variants of this photo all day and still have books to use!

Day 14 was “Favorite Cover”. I figured this meant favorite cover of our own, but I only have two and I can’t possibly pick between them, so I went elsewhere: the wonderful cover for Nicholas Basbanes’s book A Gentle Madness, which is about book collecting:

Day 14 of #AuthorLifeMonth brings us to Favorite Cover. I love both of mine and they are meant to look as part of a larger set, so I'm interpreting this one as "favorite cover to someone else's book". This, the cover to Nicholas Basbanes's wonderful A GEN

Who wouldn’t want to read that!

Day 15 was “Swag”. All I have right now are business cards.

Day 15 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Swag! All I have right now are these business cards. I plan to have bookmarks printed later this year. Maybe buttons, too! #amwriting

Day 16 was “Where you write”. This photo is my workroom at the day job; I often use my thirty-minute lunch period as a writing session.

Day 16 of #AuthorLifeMonth! One of my main writing spaces is my worktable at The Store (home of the day job), where I've taken to using my 30-minute lunch breaks for writing. I also like cafes and libraries, along with the deck of my house. This year I'm

Yes, it’s cramped, but I do tend to do well in tight spaces. (Not that open spaces freak me out, or anything.)

Day 17 brought us “Where You Relax”. I love to kick back and read at home, but there’s also some very real spiritual revitalization to be found in the woods and forests and along the rocky streambeds of Western New York. I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but the last year or so, with the dog as my partner…it’s becoming nearly an obsession.

Day 17 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Where I relax. For me, it's all about the forests of WNY and Erie County. This is Sprague Brook Park, one of my favorite haunts, a bit farther away from Casa Jaquandor than most. Hiking in nature "regrounds" me, if that makes s

Day 18 was “Research”, so here’s a part of the background work for The Adventures of Lighthouse Boy: the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. Reading in the genre is research, for me; I like to get an idea of what kinds of tales can and have been told, as well as seeing if I can figure out various tricks of those trades.

Day 18 of #AuthorLifeMonth (which I missed): Research! I don't do a lot of direct research, in the usual sense. I look things up as I need them, or I do a lot of "grab bag" reading and let the brain do its witches' cauldron thing. I also try to read in th

That’s it for now. More to come, sooner than later!

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It’s still #AuthorLifeMonth!

So the AuthorLifeMonth thing on Instagram is still going strong, and it’s been a lot of fun, seeing what other writers are doing with their lives! Here are my posts to that hashtag since last week:

Day Five was “Comp Covers”, which a lot of folks took to mean “rough drafts of our book covers”. Here’s a comparison of the first attempt at the Stardancer cover, on left, with the final, on right.

Day 5 of #AuthorLifeMonth! I'm not sure what "comp covers" means, but it seems to be 'rough drafts' for covers. Left is the first cover design for STARDANCER, and on right is the final design. #books #amwriting

But then someone else told me that “comp covers” refers to covers of similar books in our genre, so here are a couple of those!

Day 5a of #AuthorLifeMonth! Apparently "comp covers" actually refers to books similar to our own in terms of genre, mood, and such. Here are a few for me: the amazing "Across The Universe" trilogy by @bethrevis, and the equally wondeful "These Broken Star

(Yes, I’ve read those, and they are terrific.)

Next came “Fan art”, which left me at a loss, since to my knowledge, nobody has done any “fan art” of anything I’ve written yet, alas! But hey, I’ll get there. Instead I posted this depiction of a girl reading The Fault In Our Stars, which another reader used to show her reaction to reading The Wisdomfold Path.

It's Day 6 of #AuthorLifeMonth! Today is "fan art". I don't really have any fan art yet, but @americaseditor used this little cartoon a while back to illustrate her reaction to THE WISDOMFOLD PATH while reading it. (The cartoon actually seems to refer to

(No, there is no cancer in The Wisdomfold Path, but it does get emotional in spots.)

Next up was “Writing Music”, so I did a quick collage of some CD covers from favorite film scores of mine, in the genres I write (SF, Fantasy, Horror/Supernatural Thriller).

Day 7 of #AuthorLifeMonth is Writing Music! I listen to music a lot when I write. I love movie music, and here's a smattering of filmscores for various genres in which I work. Top row: fantasy and adventure music (lots of this right now for LIGHTHOUSE BOY

For “Awesome Moment”, I went ‘throwback’ to the photo I took just after I typed the words “The End” in the first draft of Stardancer. I’d done it, folks!

Day 8 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Awesome moment! We're going throwback, to the moments after I typed the words "THE END" at the conclusion of STARDANCER. I knew, at that moment, that I was on my way. To where? I don't know, but I'm heading for the second star t

Day Nine was “Challenge Overcome”. For this I alluded to the struggle a lot of indie writers have to endure: formatting our books. Ewwww!

It's Day 9 of #AuthorLifeMonth! Today the theme is "Challenge Overcome". I write writr write, then I edit edit edit, and through all this, I'm OK. Then it's time to format, and I want to set my computer on fire. #amwriting

Day Ten brought us to “Non-author Photo”. This was a fun tag to peruse. I just picked a few of mine and collaged them. I doubt I’ll ever appear pie-faced on one of my own book covers.

Day 10 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Non-author photo(s)! I couldn't pick just one, so here are a few. Featuring overalls and pies, of course.

Finally, we come to yesterday’s category, “Favorite Review”. I couldn’t pick one, so I went my own xkcd route:

Day 11 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Fave review! I can't possibly pick one. I am grateful if every good review I've been lucky enough to receive, and I'm lucky to have enjoyed good beta and proof reading to this point. Everybody is awesome! (But I do need more re

More to come next week! And just for good measure, here are a couple of recent writing-related photos of mine that are not a part of the AuthorLifeMonth tag.

The Angry-looking Purple Writer #amwriting #overalls

Blunt self-honesty is crucial when editing. #amwriting

When readers say they miss my characters! 😍😭 #swoon #amwriting #indiebooksbeseen

Another 5-star review for THE WISDOMFOLD PATH! Why not find out what the fuss is about? Go to forgottenstars.net for more info! #books #sciencefiction #spaceopera #indiebooks #amwriting

Moments like this make it ALL worthwhile. Thanks, @flightofthelionheart! #amwriting

Red Pen Time may be my favorite part of this process. #editing #amwriting

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“We don’t have time to do one thing at a time!”

In a comments thread on another writer’s Instagram feed the other day, the question of how to multi-task as a writer came up. Here is my approach:

Sooner or later in anything written by Aaron Sorkin, somebody will say: “We don’t have time to do one thing at a time!” It’s always uttered in a time of a big flurry of activity, usually by one of Our Heroes, as they gear up for several conflicts at once.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, I have first drafts to write and I have existing drafts to edit. I don’t have time to do one thing at a time!

I used to try, of course. I’ve been drafting an Alexandre Dumas-inspired fantasy novel for nearly three years now, which I code-name (for lack of an actual title) The Adventures of Lighthouse Boy (because it deals with the adventures of a young man who, at the beginning of the book, helps his father maintain a lighthouse). I ran into problems with it, because it was taking a long time to write, and I ran into the point when I really needed to work on edits for Stardancer.

So I shelved Lighthouse Boy (also in part because at the time I was having trouble with its story). Then I edited Stardancer and wrote the first draft of Ghostcop (again, not the actual title). Then I returned to Lighthouse Boy. Then I put Lighthouse Boy aside again because I needed to edit The Wisdomfold Path and start writing Forgotten Stars III and edit Ghostcop and so on. Now, I’m back to drafting Lighthouse Boy.

Oh, and another problem: all those times I shelved Lighthouse Boy, I lost touch with the story, so that both times I returned to it, I ended up starting it over.

Now it’s time to edit Forgotten Stars III, do final revisions on Ghostcop, and…well, it doesn’t really matter.

I don’t have time to do one thing at a time.

So, do I shelve Lighthouse Boy yet again? Knowing that I’m going to have to probably restart it yet again if I return to it? Knowing also that the book is my Big Doorstop Fantasy (seriously, this thing is going to be in excess of 200,000 words), my choices are to either keep on drafting it even while I work on other projects, or let all those other projects sit on the back burner until I get this one job done.

Neither of those appeals to me, because I’m also thinking in terms of my career here. I want to release at least one book a year for a while, which means continuing the Forgotten Stars series (with a probable break of two years between Books III and IV), launch the Ghostcop series, launch another space opera series that I haven’t even started yet, and eventually, release Lighthouse Boy, in what format, I’m not sure. (I’ve been thinking about serializing, but that’s for a much later time.)

I simply do not have time to one thing at a time!

So, then: since I have to multitask by working on projects at the same time, how do I do it? Well, I’ve set up a few rules:

1. Only ONE first-draft book at any time.

This is important because I don’t want any co-mingling of voices from one book to the other. The Forgotten Stars books have a tone that’s different from Ghostcop, and I fear that if I try writing a first draft of two books at once, it will be hard to maintain voice. (It may also be hard to maintain consistency, as I think I would almost certainly wind up favoring one book over the other, and that will simply not do.)

2. In a day’s work, the first-draft book gets precedence.

So far, I’ve been pretty good about drafting every day and also editing every day. But if the choice comes up — and occasionally it does, because this is Life and not just Writing — then I have to do the first-draft work first, before I write anything else. This means that my early-morning writing sessions — the 40 minutes or so I write before I get ready for work, from 6:10 to 6:50 am — are exclusively for drafting.

3. When I have to work on two projects per day, I lower the quota on the drafting project to 500 words a day.

This may sound like too much, but for me, it isn’t. Maintaining a daily quota is very important to me. Without one, I end up slacking too much. Usually my quota is 1500 words a day, if I don’t have anything else going on. But for me, 1500 words takes up a nice chunk of time, and it’s too much time if I also need to do some serious editing. Thus I lower it to 500 words, which hey, isn’t that bad anyway! It’s about one page of text in a mass-market paperback, so if you keep that pace for long enough, you can write an entire novel in a year. (Depending on how long your novel is, of course.)

4. Once I achieve the drafting project’s quota for the day, I don’t touch it again until the next day.

I like doing this because it really guards against burnout and keeps me energized on this book. I find that by not allowing myself to go very far beyond the quota (I often wind up around 650-700 words), it’s easier to jump back in the next day. It’s the “keep plugging away” approach: “Slow and steady wins the race”, or should I say, “gets the book written”.

I do raise the quota on weekends to 1000 words each day, and when I get to a point when I’m still drafting this book but the other projects are either caught up or on hold, I’ll up the quota again until things change.

5. Try not to have both projects be in the same genre.

This is important to me. I firmly believe in genre-hopping to keep fresh and interested and engaged, which is why I will never edit one Forgotten Stars book while drafting another.

6. Do first-round edits on a hard copy of the manuscript.

This is because I think it’s good to get the writing away from the computer and the same desk as always and everything. Whenever I finish a first draft, I print it out and put it in a binder; when it’s time to edit (at least three months later), out comes the red pen and I edit the thing. I do this because I think it’s good to get away from the screen once in a while, and there’s still nice tactile senses to working on paper. Now, I don’t know for how many more years this particular approach will be feasible, but we’ll see.

I can probably come up with more rules, but these are my big ones for when I have to maximize the time I have for the more-than-one-job that I have. It’s all about breaking the jobs down, so I can keep moving the ball forward, and it’s about keeping my writing-brain fresh and not tired from all the work I’m doing. Writing can be very tiring on the mental front, but there are hacks to get around that, and these are mine. I firmly believe that you can work on multiple projects at once (well, not exactly at once, but you take my meaning), so long as you plan things out and take a consistent approach.

What do you think, folks? Any other multi-taskers out there?


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It’s #AuthorLifeMonth!

There’s quite a wonderful thing going on in the Instagram world this month! It’s one of those daily photo challenges, but this one — hashtagged #AuthorLifeMonth — is geared specifically to writers, as a way of showing off a little of who they are and what they do. And of course I’m participating! I’ll feature my photos for that tag here, throughout the month.

Day 1: Your Books. Here are mine, on my own shelf! How cool is that.

Day 1, #AuthorLifeMonth: My books! If all goes according to plan, there will be four this time next year!

Day 2: Author Pic. I’ve used a different author pic on each book thus far; this is the one I used on the back of The Wisdomfold Path.

Day 2: My author photo. #AuthorLifeMonth (This is my second author photo, used most recently on THE WISDOMFOLD PATH. Thus far I've chickened out on using a pie-in-the-face photo as an author pic!)

Day 3: Your Last Five-Star Read. This one was a little trouble, because I don’t give five stars very often at all. (I’m talking Goodreads ratings here.) For me, five stars is for those few, rare books that are life-changers; books that would be on the list for books I hope I have with me when my ship crashes on that lonely island. I only have a few five-star entries on my Goodreads roster, and of those, none are ones that I’ve read recently. So I went with my most recent addition of a five-star book:

Day 3 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Last 5-star read. I reserve 5 stars for those books that become part of me. I read this many years ago, but I return to it often. Richard Halliburton was an adventurer and writer from the first decades of the 20th century, and h

That is a wonderful book! It’s perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon of reading.

Day Four: Your WIP. Heh! I have two WIPs right now, one that I’m editing (Forgotten Stars III), and one I’m drafting (Lighthouse Boy). One’s a physical copy, and the other exists as a Scrivener project.

Day 4 of #AuthorLifeMonth: My WIPs. Top is the manuscript to FORGOTTEN STARS III, which I'm editing. Bottom is the Scrivener corkboard view of THE ADVENTURES OF LIGHTHOUSE BOY (not the actual title), which I am still drafting (and likely will be for years

More of these to come throughout the month!

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Updates and a Quick Stroll Around the Writing Neighborhood!

Hey all! I hope that 2016 is starting to settle into some good of good groove for you all, now that the bustle of the Holiday season is over. I’m always bummed out, a little, when the Holidays end; for all the hectic activity and commercialism, the Holidays always do seem to me like a time when we all try to make the world feel (and look) a bit better. Plus, this year my family had a truly wonderful Holiday season, starting with a trip to New York City at Thanksgiving and culminating in a Christmas with my entire family (it’s a small family, but my sister lives in Colorado and doesn’t get out here more than a few times a year, so that’s that).

The Holiday season was not particularly helpful to me on the writing front, however, and I suspect that many writers find themselves in the same boat. It’s hard enough to carve out writing time during the standard work-and-life routine of, say, March or September; throw in the Holidays, and yeesh! One has to become some kind of beast akin to a wounded, rabid, female grizzly bear whose young are being threatened in order to protect the writing time.

(And this year, it didn’t help that an 800-pound gorilla going by the name of The Force Awakens showed up.)

So, I’m now back in some kind of writing groove. What’s happening?

Well, I’m working on two projects at once. This may prove to be…unwise, but we’ll see.

First up is that I’m still plugging away on The Adventures of Lighthouse Boy. This book has stalled a few times when I put it aside in order to delve into serious editing work on other books (mainly the Forgotten Stars books), but I don’t want that to happen again, so I’ve dropped my quota down to 500 words a day on it, with the caveat that I have to get those 500 words before I do anything else.

Second up are the revisions to The Song of Forgotten Stars III. This has been tough going thus far, because the first few chapters are an absolute mess that I’ve been working to untangle.

I wrote Stardancer entirely from Princess Tariana’s point of view. In The Wisdomfold Path, I added Princess Margeth’s POV. Now, in this one, we add the third important viewpoint character: Lieutenant Rasharri. Problem was, I did a lot of POV-hopping in the first few chapters, as opposed to just doing what George RR Martin does with his Song of Ice and Fire novels, giving each chapter a single viewpoint. So that’s what I’m doing, but I have to rework those messy first chapters. I suspect that the revisions will go much more smoothly one I’m past the first few chapters.

(And here’s a tidbit: It occurred to me, halfway through drafting Book III, that in this series, every single viewpoint character will be female. I don’t know that this means anything, but I found it an interesting angle.)

So, that’s where we are right now! What are other writers up to? Let’s take a quick stroll around the Writing World!

Nicole Crucial on Following Your Gut in a First Draft. Her post is a response to this post of mine, and she has some interesting thoughts!

Brianna Da Silva has a list: 10 Traits of an Epic Villain. Villains are hard to get right, and Brianna has some great thoughts. For me, it’s important to remind myself that there is an alt-universe version of all of my stories in which the villain is the protagonist. Except for the most mustache-twirling of villains, they think of themselves as heroes of their own story, and I like it best when the villain is — just a little, just a teensy-weensy bit — actually right about things, even if their actions are awful. Good post here!

Joe Hill dismantles the cliche of the “crazy artist”. I’m reminded of Stephen King’s knockdown of the idea that writers and artists need to be substance abusers: “We all look pretty much the same when we’re puking in the gutter.” It’s apt that Hill’s piece would remind me of this, as King is Hill’s father. (I didn’t even know this until recently.)

Katherine Dell had some struggles with getting back into her routine. I can relate to this. Sometimes, after the weeks-long spectacle that is the Holidays, I find myself having trouble even remembering what the “routine” is.

Ilana Teitelbaum on self-promotion. I have improved my skills of self-promotion, going from awful to pretty bad. I’m hoping to reach Meh by the time Forgotten Stars III comes out.

Finally, Brett Michael Orr’s novel The Bureau of Time is now available! I haven’t read it yet, but it’s safely ensconced on my mobile devices and on my TBR List for this year. Orr’s one of the good guys, and I can’t wait to see what he’s come up with. Apparently it’s a YA science fiction/time travel adventure, and we can always use more of those!

See you next time, folks!

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