Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG Wednesday: Crossing the River

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thank you again to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of the group. The first Wednesday of every month is dedicated to this group of supportive writers. If it's something you're not familiar with, then please click on Alex's link above for more information and to sign up!

Another month has flown by and I'm taking a moment away from my writing cave to give an update on my current manuscript. I just passed 50,000 words in Archanum Manor, which feels substantial, but it's obviously taking longer than I had hoped. So I actually averaged 500 words a day this past month, not the 1000 I was pushing for. The important thing is just to keep writing, so I won't come down on myself too hard.

One reason for my lower than expected word count was hitting a major snag in the story. I came to the edge of a river that was quite difficult to cross. I could see the opposite river bank with no idea how to get there. Building the bridge cost me time with writer's block and rewrites. But it did finally get built. I've been writing that bridge for the past week and a half, and I can successfully say that I've reached the other side of the river and ready to continue down road leading to Archanum Manor.

Now I'm getting close to the biggest scenes in the book, which is both exciting and terrifying. I need these scenes to live up to the key scenes in previous books, with the hope of actually surpassing them. This will be an important month as I bring the series to a close. I don't expect to be done by next month's IWSG's post, but I expect to be close. Here's hoping.

I'd like to leave you with a song I just added to my Archanum Manor playlist, one I've been obsessed with over the past week, listening to it repeatedly while writing the interactions between Oliver and Desiree. It has the beautifully sad tone of an Elliott Smith song. Sit back, turn down the lights, close your eyes, and let Joshua Radin pull at your heart strings for three minutes while I get back to work. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG Wednesday: Writing, Covers, and Soundtracks

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thank you again to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of the group. The first Wednesday of every month is dedicated to this group of supportive writers. If it's something you're not familiar with, then please click on Alex's link above for more information and to sign up!

I just received a rough draft of my fourth and final cover for the Lorne Family Vault series, and I’m excited with how well it fits with the others. It feels great to have them all nearly done, one more thing I can cross of my list for releasing (and rereleasing) all of the books. My biggest complaint with my current (and previous) covers is the visibility (and readability) of the titles, especially viewing them as small cover icons on Amazon. This was another live and learn experience for me since these issues with the titles were my fault. I wanted title graphics that were uniquely stylized. But the results were also hard to read. I know not to ask for that anymore. Now, I’ve asked for a bold title font that stands out even as a small icon—and my new designer fully delivered.

I’m still plugging away at the manuscript for Archanum Manor and just passed the halfway point. As I’ve previously written, I’ve been writing without an outline for most of this first half, but I’m now getting nervous. I want to bring this series home with a strong ending and that pressure is building into more frequent writer’s block. I haven’t written in a few days and I need to get myself back on track this evening because days of non-writing can be a slippery slope of losing momentum.

I enjoy creating soundtracks to my books for brainstorming and writing, and I finished the one for Archanum Manor last week (as an iTunes playlist). For Provex City, the songs I chose fit with specific scenes in the book, but now I create a soundtrack mainly for expressing the tone of the story (though some songs in the other soundtracks still coincide with certain key scenes). The difference is that for Provex City I created the soundtrack after the book was written and fit the songs accordingly. Now my soundtracks are WIPs before and while I’m writing until they feel complete.

And now I’d like to leave you with the teaser of a first song from the Archanum Manor soundtrack for your listening pleasure while I get back to writing.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Off the Cuff

I just passed the 30,000 word milestone in Archanum Manor, 19,000 of those words penned in January so far. My goal has been to do 1000 words a day, and while I haven't quite kept that average this year, I'm only 4000 words off, which isn't too bad. Even though I still have a lot to write, it feels good to be back in the swing of things. I have written at least a few new words nearly every day, which fuels my momentum to the finish line.

I had posted a few months back that I would thoroughly outline this book to maximize my writing efficiency. I've known for awhile now that I need to write faster and I wanted to experiment with comprehensive outlining to accomplish that. It was interesting how my outlining sessions became my most unproductive writing and idea producing days--turned to weeks--ever. I don't know if it was fear of digging into this final book in the series holding me back or simple distractions of the upcoming holidays, but I just had to pick a date to start writing, with or without an outline.

So Archanum Manor is my first book being written with absolutely no outline. I started with a general idea of what was going to happen, a couple major plot points, and a climax scene I dreamt up while writing SUSY Asylum. But that's it. I've been writing daily, plotting the next thousand words during my long work commutes. If I have the next thousand words figured out, then at least I can sit down at my computer each night without simply staring at the screen for extended periods of time (though some nights involve more staring than others).

The cool thing about working without a clear path to the end is coming up with ideas you weren't expecting. I came up with an idea last week that changes the whole ending of what I had planned for the series, which excited me almost as much as getting to the end. A part of me believes that if I'd written my comprehensive outline, I might not have been as open and accepting of this curve ball because it would have deviated from the plan. So maybe this was the reason my outlining wasn't working--it left me open to more possibilities. I like that idea and sounds like something Mr. Gordon would say.

I will attempt to outline my next book, but right now, writing off the cuff is rather exciting. I still have about 40,000 words to go. Who knows what other ideas will manifest just to shake things up. Anything's possible.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG Wednesday: The Start to a Great Year

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thank you again to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of the group. The first Wednesday of every month is dedicated to this group of supportive writers. If it's something you're not familiar with, then please click on Alex's link above for more information and to sign up!

I’m excited for 2015. I began this writing journey at the end of 2008 with an idea for a young adult series, and this will be the year I finally finish. I hope to have all four books released sometime this summer, hopefully early summer, but everything seems to take longer than anticipated. I won’t beat myself up over a couple of months. Mark my words: it will get done this year!

This week I received the cover for the third book, Doria Falls, and I’m very happy with how well it came out. So now there’s just one cover to go. The covers are visual representations of finished books for me, so they’ll light the necessary New Year’s fire to get this final book done. I’ve put off all promotion with the writing of these last two books just because that would have prolonged the writing process even longer, which was too hard to accept. These books are my training wheels, and at this stage in the game, it’s much more important to focus on bettering the craft than selling books. When I’m more competent and confident, I can find the more appropriate balance.

There are quite a few things that these books in the currently evolving publishing environment have taught me. Here is a short sampling of what I’ve learned:

  • Long books are not my friend: When I started writing, I was inspired by the Harry Potter books. There was something cool about having 700 page hard covers. With most books for self-published authors being sold as ebooks, that coolness factor becomes irrelevant. For me as a self-published author (and at the pace of which I write), it is better to have two shorter books available than one longer book. SUSY Asylum clocked in at 120,000 words, which is quite a bit longer than the other books in the series. Going forward, 60,000 – 70,000 words is a more appropriate length, which in turn will help me add more titles to my backlog.
  • Don’t end on cliffhangers: I will no longer write books that end on cliffhangers because I don’t write fast enough to keep readers happy (or at least I won’t while I still work fulltime). I actually like cliffhangers, but they don’t currently work for my writing. With the books in my current series having cliffhangers, I felt like I had to finish the series before moving onto something new. If I decide to write a serial at some point, then I’ll most likely use cliffhangers (but that’s another discussion entirely).
  • Don’t create a new Createspace file for a reissue: When you create a new Createspace file/page for a reissue it creates a new Amazon page for that book. I did that with Provex City. What I didn’t know at the time was I couldn’t delete the old page. So now I have one Provex City paperback Amazon page that simply says “currently unavailable.” Also, if I unlink that page from other formats of the book, I lose all the reviews originally written on that page. Amazon will not move reviews from one page to another even though they’re for the same book (just different formats). This was a frustrating lesson.
  • Don’t pay for ISBNs: This one goes along with the bullet point above. I created a new Createspace page (which in turn creates a new Amazon page) for the reissue of Provex City to give it a custom ISBN number. I wanted the option that if Provex City ever made it into libraries, then it wouldn’t need a new ISBN number. This is just a waste of money. If my future self published books make it into libraries one day, they’ll just need to be reassigned a new ISBN number. Why worry about that now (and pay $99 for it).
  • Try new genres: The digital bookstore of ebooks make an author’s expansion into multiple genres easier than ever. Why not intentionally try to reach more readers? Some genres may sell better than others for you. You may write some genres better than others. You may enjoy writing some genres better than others (which may not be the genre you started with). So why deprive yourself? Sample all the flavors.
Those are enough of my mistakes for one post, but I am thankful for the learning experiences. Though the day I stop messing up is most likely the day I quit--it's all part of the process, the journey, the adventure. Give yourself permission to screw up because at least you're trying. 2015 can be the greatest year ever or it can be a year that passes by without incident. You get to decide.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Recap

2014 has been a life changing and productive year…just not as much so for my writing. I moved into a new home, bought a new car, visited the great state of Alaska, and worked hard on transforming my health. Overall a lot to be proud of.

My biggest personal transformation was my health focus I began during the first quarter of the year. I hadn’t done much in the way of exercising over the past ten years due to chronic injuries. In March I became inspired to try yoga, and have been doing it 2-3 times a week ever since. It has allowed me to gain some strength that I couldn’t do with weightlifting anymore. To accompany my new exercise regime, I worked hard at transforming my diet. I went through several phases throughout the year as I read several recommended books on nutrition. Out of everything I read, my new optimal diet can be summed up simply as a whole food plant based diet. Now I’m not 100% (especially with the holidays in full swing), but I try to maintain 80-90%. I’m still caffeine free and my alcohol consumption has been greatly reduced, along with all junk food. My results for the year have been losing 30 pounds, knocking 60 points off my total cholesterol, while maintaining ideal numbers on the rest of my blood work results. I feel good and I know I’ll feel better in the long run, so I’m committed to keep this up for life.

 My writing has not fared so well this year, but I still made some progress with my young adult series. My writing New Year’s goals for this past year were to finish Book 3 and the 1st draft of Book 4. Well, I finished Book 3, but I’m only about 1/4 of the way through my first draft of Book 4. I had hoped to get much of it written over the past two months, but the holidays have really pushed back my schedule. Since I’m writing both books back to back, I now plan on releasing them at or about the same time, hopefully by early summer 2015. I’ll also be rereleasing the first two books with new covers and fresh edits. I’ve already received the new covers for Provex City and SUSY Asylum, and I absolutely love them. For 2015, I plan to have the entire Lorne family Vault released and release one new novel, along with becoming more consistent with my blog and online presence. It's going to be a busy year, but I'm determined to continue moving forward. It's time to reignite the fire for writing.

What are your goals for the new year? What are your plans for the holidays? Have a very merry Christmas and safe New Year. Each new year brings fresh opportunities and I’m excited to see what 2015 offers up.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Charter to Redemption Teaser Tour

I'm excited to host a teaser tour stop for Charter to Redemption by D.J. Blackmore. Charter to Redemption is a historical fiction novel that is now available for sale.

About Charter to Redemption by D.J. Blackmore:

At the close of 1821, the penal colony of Newcastle looks to be every bit as black as it's painted. Emma Colchester charters a ride to Australia with a promise of marriage to a man she has never met. But appearances aren't always as they seem. And with a commitment unavoidable Emma learns that shackles are not always forged from iron. Tobias Freeman longs for redemption and hope. After a rough journey to New South Wales, Tobias learns the rations, the regulations, and the reprisal. But neither Emma nor Tobias expect the repercussions.

Britain’s penal colony of Newcastle is as cruel as it is beautiful. With a pledge to marry a man she has never met, Emma sons learns that appearance can deceive, and that shackles are not always forged in iron. Tobias Freeman is anything but what his name suggests. As a convict awaiting ‘his majesty’s pleasure’, he realises he has no rights, especially concerning Emma Colchester. When the unexpected happens, neither Emma nor Tobias bargain on the repercussions.


The man she thought was the commandant led her down the garden path and clicked shut the white picket gate behind them. Emma glanced up hesitantly and her hand shot to her mouth to still her gasp of surprise.

‘You’re alive.’
‘Aye,’ he nodded, ‘for now, at least.’
‘The commandant?’
‘He is otherwise occupied with a convict who has nothing to do on a Saturday night other than hide in the bushes.’

‘What are you doing wearing his clothes?’ Emma whispered as she glanced back at the manse. Laughter tinkled through the open windows like silverware on china.

‘I am about to take the air with the landed gentry’s niece, and it was hardly fitting, miss, that I should be in the garb of a government man when one such as you appeared before me.’

Emma felt herself colour deeply at the audacious compliment. She looked up in sudden breathless nervousness. Emma saw his eyes glitter and the butterflies in her stomach fluttered madly at the consequences of being in the company of a convict; both for her and him.

‘As a gentleman you should be aware of the fact that a young lady is first asked before being led down the garden path by a perfect stranger.’

The convict swept her a gracious bow and displayed a military bearing that looked as though it had been born to him.

‘But then, miss, I am neither perfect nor a stranger, and certainly no gentleman. I’ve no more chivalry than most of the soldiers in the barracks.’

‘You forget yourself I believe, sir. You cannot know any of the regiment, for you have been here no longer than I.’

‘I heard enough in the garden to know you were destined as the sweets course, that’s for sure.’ Emma frowned at the coarse insinuation.

‘Considering that I am betrothed to Officer Quinn, I hardly imagine that the commandant had any such thing on his mind.’

‘Aye, then perhaps it was not undisguised lust I saw on his face.’

Emma flushed with indignation at his words. ‘I wonder if your thoughts are somewhat the same sir, for the appraising eyes you fix on me have an altogether familiar stare.’

‘I beg your pardon, miss. I never realised I was staring.’ They stood silent for a moment.
‘Can you waltz?’ the convict asked.
‘You are asking me to dance?’

‘That I am,’ he said with a bow from the waist.

Emma took the hand held out to her, but glanced away from the parsonage, away from Gideon Quinn who stood at the open door. She could not see his features, but she could make out the indecision in his stance. Would he cut in on her dancing partner in displeasure? Yet he mustn’t have seen the commandant as a rival,because after a moment’s thought he retreated. Emma had feared he would surely see through this man’s disguise.As the strain of the single violin reached them, he took her in his arms and began to sway in time to the music. Emma noted that the convict’s movements were both strong and fluid.

‘I will say nothing against you,’ she said.

He nodded.
‘Aye, I know.’
‘What you are doing is folly, to say the least.’ She said. He didn’t justify his actions, so Emma continued.

‘Do you know what will happen to you if you’re caught?’

‘Aye, I do.’ For the first time Emma saw him smile. She was surprised to see that his teeth were strong and white, even as she wondered at his apparent unconcern.

‘It’s been a while since I danced,’ he admitted, and Emma stared at him, slightly open-mouthed. ‘And it’s nothing short of boring in a cottage with Kevin.’

About the Author:
D. J. Blackmore is a Hunter Valley, New South Wales author, born and raised. Her convict heritage
and love of history have seen the author explore this in 'Charter to Redemption.' Yet is is perhaps Australian dogged determination has seen this debut author as a new name in fiction. Although amazon reviews reflect her work, it is pertinent to note that the author's story is not unique, although her journey in writing has been. Numerous rejections never daunted the author, and many years after her dream was envisaged, so was the reality. Yet for all the countless doubts that niggle every writer who has lived in hope, it is humbling praise indeed when reviewer F. Stanford writes of 'Charter to Redemption' and Ms Blackmore's work: "this could very well be the benchmark for the standard of modern-day classics."

D. J. Blackmore is currently working on the sequel, 'Consider the Ravens.'

Two copies of Charter to Redemption 
Open to US, Canada, UK and Australia

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG Wednesday: November Rain

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thank you again to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of the group. The first Wednesday of every month is dedicated to this group of supportive writers. If it's something you're not familiar with, then please click on Alex's link above for more information and to sign up!

I've finally begun writing again, but it's slow going. Starting is always the hardest thing for me, getting back into the rhythm of daily writing. One week would go by...then two...then three...and I'd still have nothing written down. I can now say that is no longer the case, but I'm far from a novel length. I had hoped to finish my first draft by year's end, but my schedule is shot to hell at this point. Though I'm trying not to be discouraged. I gave myself a deadline, but it isn't an end-of-the-world deadline. As long as I keep working toward my goal, I'll eventually get there.

Which leads me to my plan for finishing my YA series. I plan on releasing the last two books in quick succession. It's important to me to get this series finished so I can begin something new. I'll do some promotion once they're both ready to come out. With my current workload, I don't have the time to write and 1-2 hours a day doesn't stretch nearly as far as I'd like. It's frustrating, and even more frustrating when that frustration creeps into my writing time and undermines my productivity. All I can do is try to do better tomorrow. Tomorrow is another chance with a clean slate.

Well, it is November and I know many of you have begun your NaNo projects. 50,000 words in a month is my Everest! One day I'll reach it. Good luck to all of you taking the challenge. I'll continue plugging away to increase my word count and trying not to get distracted by too many holiday treats.

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