Monthly Archives: January 2019

Weekly writing check-in: chapters and podcasts

As I mentioned last week, the draft of The Trouble with Necromancers was finished, minus giving it some chapters. I’m happy to report I have done just that and sent the manuscript off for editing.

Then I jumped right into organizing the expansion of the novella The Trouble with Doppelgangers into an actual novel. There are several threads I can weave into the narrative. I created a book map for the existing story, looked at where I could expand or add, and brainstormed three major plot threads.

In this coming week, I will tackle … well, I’m not really sure what I’ll tackle. Something related to the novel, I’m certain. It’s a check-in with a cliffhanger. You’ll have to come back next week to see what I accomplished.

Even though it’s 2019, I’m still rounding up some of my favorite things from last year. I didn’t discover podcasts last year, mind you, but I truly embraced them in 2018.

My favorite writing-related podcasts of 2018:

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Review: Courageous Women of the Vietnam War: Medics, Journalists, Survivors, and More

Vietnam is like a huge jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces fit.

~ Ba Rose: My Years in Vietnam, 1968 – 1971

Courageous Women of the Vietnam War: Medics, Journalists, Survivors, and More*

From the publisher:

One of just a handful of women reporting on the Vietnam War, Kate Webb was captured by North Vietnamese troops and presumed dead—until she emerged from the jungle waving a piece of white parachute material after 23 days in captivity. Le Ly Hayslip enjoyed a peaceful early childhood in a Vietnamese farming village before war changed her life forever. Brutalized by all sides, she escaped to the United States, where she eventually founded two humanitarian organizations. Lynda Van Devanter was an idealistic young nurse in 1969 when a plane carrying her and 350 men landed in South Vietnam. Her harrowing experiences working in a combat zone hospital would later serve as inspiration for the TV series China Beach.

In these pages readers meet these and other brave women and girls who served in life-threatening roles as medics, journalists, resisters, and revolutionaries in the conflict in Vietnam. Author Kathryn J. Atwood presents a clear introduction to each of five chronological sections, guiding readers through the social and political turmoil that spanned two decades and the tenure of five US presidents. Each woman’s story unfolds in a suspenseful, engaging way, incorporating plentiful original source materials, quotes, and photographs. Resources for further study, source notes and a bibliography, and a helpful map and glossary round out this exploration of one of modern history’s most divisive wars, making it an invaluable addition to any student’s or history buff’s bookshelf.

This book by Kathryn Atwood is part of the Women of Action series from Chicago Review Press.

Although I was very young at the time, I remember the Vietnam war. But I have a child’s memory of that war. We never learned about it in school because it wasn’t quite history yet. Certainly, we knew all about it, right?

Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. As I said, my view of it is filtered, just as my view of Desert Storm will always be filtered through the lens of riding in an M577 tracked vehicle, a pair of headphones on my head, as we bounced up and over the berm between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. What was everyone else doing? I have no idea.

I may never fill in those gaps, but I was amazed at how much I learned about the Vietnam war. One of the things I appreciated about this book was how it was organized into five parts. Each part covered significant events taking place during those years with corresponding stories:

  • Part 1 1945-1956: Ho Chi Minh’s Revolution
    Women’s stories: Xuan Phuong and Geneviève de Galard
  • Part II 1957-1964: Ngo Dinh Diem’s Civil War
    Women’s Stories: Le Ly Hayslip and Bobbi Hovis
  • Part III 1965-1968: Lyndon B. Johnson’s American War
    Women’s stories: Kay Wilhelmy Bauer, Jurate Kazickas, and Iris Mary Roser
  • Part IV 1969-1970: Richard M. Nixon’s “Peace”
    Women’s stories: Anne Koch, Dang Thuy Tram, and Lynda Van Devanter
  • Part V 1971-1975: Endings and Beginnings
    Women’s stories: Kate Webb, Joan Baez, Tracy Wood, and Kim Phuc

Reading the history in parts, followed by each woman’s story, allowed me to really get a sense for not only the big picture but how these big events impacted the lives of everyday women, from all walks of life and all sides of the conflict.

The prose is, as always with Kathryn’s books, accessible and a pleasure to read. Technically this is a young adult nonfiction book, but it’s such a great resource for anyone: writer, student, teacher, homeschooler, historian. Like other books in the series, this one includes extensive notes, bibliography, and one of my favorite features: the Learn More section at the end of each woman’s story.

You can purchase the book at many online retailers or directly from the publisher.

* I received a review copy of this book from Chicago Review Press.

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(Almost) Free Fiction Friday: Frozen Fairy Tales

Winter is not coming. Winter is here.

As unique and beautifully formed as a snowflake, each of these fifteen stories spins a brand new tale or offers a fresh take on an old favorite like Jack Frost, The Snow Queen, or The Frog King.

From a drafty castle to a blustery Japanese village, from a snow-packed road to the cozy hearth of a farmhouse, from an empty coffee house in Buffalo, New York, to a cold night outside a university library, these stories fully explore the perils and possibilities of the snow, wind, ice, and bone-chilling cold that traditional fairy tale characters seldom encounter.

In the bleak midwinter, heed the irresistible call of fairy tales. Just open these pages, snuggle down, and wait for an icy blast of fantasy to carry you away.

With all new stories of love, adventure, sorrow, and triumph by Tina Anton, Amanda Bergloff, Gavin Bradley, L.A. Christensen, Steven Grimm, Christina Ruth Johnson, Rowan Lindstrom, Alison McBain, Aimee Ogden, J. Patrick Pazdziora, Lissa Marie Redmond, Anna Salonen, Lissa Sloan, Charity Tahmaseb, and David Turnbull to help you dream through the cold days and nights of this most dreaded season.

On sale until January 25th! This anthology includes my story Simon the Cold, which I wrote during one of the coldest winters ever. It seems fitting that it found a home in this anthology.

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Weekly writing check-in: and that’s a (final for now) draft

I have a draft! Well, actually, I had one before. This is a draft that other people can read. Or will be as soon as I add in the chapter breaks.

But wait! Doesn’t it all ready have chapter breaks?

Um, no. About that …

This is an odd thing I do. I write in scenes. Once the story is done, I look at what I have and figure out where I want the chapter breaks to fall (usually on some sort of cliffhanger). So I need to do that, get the manuscript into the proper format, and send it off.

In other news, the Dating on the Dork Side promotion went very well. As a lovely bonus, author Allison Rhodes featured the book on her website, in a post that highlights what she loves about the first page or so. It’s a cool feature on her blog, and if you’re a writer, you might want to check it out.

And … Prolific Works saw fit to feature In a Manner of Speaking as well this week and created a spiffy graphic for it as well. If you haven’t grabbed your free copy yet, head on over. But I warn you: this is most likely the saddest story I’ve ever written.

 

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Free Fiction Friday: Dating on the Dork Side (one day left!)

One day left to grab Dating on the Dork Side for free over on Amazon.

All’s fair in love, war, and hacking …

Stung by an epic betrayal, Camy Cavanaugh relies on the sure things: her best friend, her job as peer tutor, and her safe spot on the sidelines of life. But when she hacks into a secret, trash-talking website, it ignites a war between the sexes that won’t end until the whole school is turned upside down–and Camy’s world is turned inside out.

Now the hottest girls in school refuse to date the A-List boys. But with the Homecoming dance looming, everyone from the queen bee to the girl “most likely to” pushes Camy to hook them up with guys from the nerd herd.

And then there’s quarterback, A-lister–and former crush–Gavin Madison. He hasn’t spoken to Camy in three years … but he’s talking now, begging her to pair the guys on the football team with girls from the Honor Roll.

It’s a contest of wills and everything is on the line–even Camy’s heart. Will she retreat to the sidelines, or will she find the courage to get back in the game?

This contemporary young adult novel won the 2016 International Digital Awards, in the Young Adult Novel category. Read on for a tech-savvy twist to Lysistrata.

If you haven’t grabbed your Kindle copy yet, now’s the time to do so. Just click through to Amazon US or Amazon Everywhere.

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Free Fiction Monday: Dating on the Dork Side (five days only)

Surprise! It’s Free Fiction Friday Monday! Between today and Friday, January 11th, Dating on the Dork Side will be absolutely free over on Amazon.

All’s fair in love, war, and hacking …

Stung by an epic betrayal, Camy Cavanaugh relies on the sure things: her best friend, her job as peer tutor, and her safe spot on the sidelines of life. But when she hacks into a secret, trash-talking website, it ignites a war between the sexes that won’t end until the whole school is turned upside down–and Camy’s world is turned inside out.

Now the hottest girls in school refuse to date the A-List boys. But with the Homecoming dance looming, everyone from the queen bee to the girl “most likely to” pushes Camy to hook them up with guys from the nerd herd.

And then there’s quarterback, A-lister–and former crush–Gavin Madison. He hasn’t spoken to Camy in three years … but he’s talking now, begging her to pair the guys on the football team with girls from the Honor Roll.

It’s a contest of wills and everything is on the line–even Camy’s heart. Will she retreat to the sidelines, or will she find the courage to get back in the game?

This contemporary young adult novel won the 2016 International Digital Awards, in the Young Adult Novel category. Read on for a tech-savvy twist to Lysistrata.

If you haven’t grabbed your Kindle copy yet, now’s the time to do so. Just click through to Amazon US or Amazon Everywhere.

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Weekly writing check-in: 2018 in review

I am charging through the read-through of The Trouble with Necromancers. Once that’s done, and I do a quick check for grammar and typos, I’ll send it out for editing.

That makes now a good time to review 2018.

2018, by the numbers:

2018 was a strange year, for so many reasons. For me, one of the main ones was losing my good friend and writing BFF, Darcy Vance (you can read my tribute to her here). She died about a year ago, and navigating my creative life without her has been difficult. For a bit, I thought I would stop writing altogether.

I didn’t, obviously. Darcy wouldn’t want me to. Still, this year was full of me trying to find my way again, on my own.

Writing. Eh. Not as much as I wanted to or would have liked. That being said, I started the year with an unfinished, very thin draft of The Trouble with Necromancers, and I ended up with something I think/hope works as a series starter, along with ~six books planned.

I switched gears early in the year. I was thinking of focusing on a fairy tale series, but the world building wasn’t there. I switched to a contemporary story because that would be “easier” (ha, ha). What I think happened is I learned a lot about building a series and world from scratch.

I do plan to return to the fairy tale series, but probably not this year. (Then again, when it comes to writing, I never say never.)

I also wrote a novella (soon to be a full-fledged novel) in the Tea & Sorcery series. I also had the chance to write a story that takes place in one of my favorite series. The author extended the invitation, so essentially, it was fan fiction. It was also a lot of fun to do (and necessitated rereading the entire series, of course). I’ll let you know if/when it’s published.

Submissions. I sent out 25 submissions this year. I didn’t write any new stories for the short fiction market, so most of those were either stories I haven’t sold yet or reprints.

I made two sales:

I’m still waiting on a handful of 2018 submissions as well.

Books. I published one book, Straying from the Path. This is my fairy tale compilation, and I was so certain I’d follow it up with more fairy tales. And … someday I will.

What I did do this year is rebrand all my offerings. In doing so, I managed to snag a BookBub Featured Deal for Coffee & Ghosts 1: Must Love Ghosts. That was a big deal. That was a very big deal.

I’m pleased I took the time and effort to re-do all the covers. It really made a difference in the next category.

Money. I’m from the midwest. We don’t talk about money, at least not willingly. But in full transparency mode, how is this indie publish thing working out for me?

Pretty okay. This is the second year in a row that I’ve made five figures. Not living-wage five figures, mind you. Still. Enough that this is certainly worth my while. Plus? It’s fun.

But this whole money thing brings me to my goals for 2019:

More books, new books, new formats (audio, large print, and so on). But especially new series and new things for people to read. That’s really been my goal all along: things for people to read.

Let’s see if I’m up to the task in 2019.

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