Tag Archives: Writing

Weekly writing check-in: story within the story

Morning walk before the rain

I’m continuing with the exercises in The Emotional Craft of Fiction (and still loving it). Another thing I’m doing with this story is weaving in (or trying to) a story within the story.

I love books that have stories within the main story. I sort of did this with The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath, with the journal that the main character’s mother writes.

This time, I’m looking at a journal, some letters, and possibly some other documents, and the mystery of that will unfold into the overall mystery of the first couple of books (at least) in the series.

Well, in theory. Mind you, I’m still at the let’s see if I can do this phase.

So in addition to the work I’m doing with the exercises, I’ve been doing some research into World War I (or rather, more research, since I’ve read a fair amount already) and looking at how I’ll structure that story.

This also means I’ll have three points of view to handle (at least): the journal writer, the letter writer, and, of course, Poppy, the main character.

If nothing else, this gives me plenty to think about on long morning walks.

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Weekly writing check-in: Diving in

Hamilton, the (possibly magical) cat

This week, I jumped feet first into the revision. First up, I created a book map, which is essentially a list of all the chapters and scenes in the draft.

Or, in my case, just a list of scenes, since I figure out the chapters at a later point.

From there, I made another list, this one of all the big events. I looked at what might happen if I moved some of those big events around, and had a couple of Oh! That might happen! moments. Those are always nice.

As I’m looking at the big pieces, I’m also working through the exercises in Donald Maass’ The Emotional Craft of Fiction (and so far I’m really, really liking it).

Finally, I drafted a description of the story, which might not be a final description. Mind you, it might not be the description at all. Also, the story doesn’t have a title yet or the series a name. I’m kind of hoping one will magically drop from the sky as I work my way through the revision.

Five years ago, Poppy Jones left the necromancer community and all its ghosts. Now she’s back, degree in hand, homeless, jobless, and nursing an aching heart. She’s seeking the solace only a big brother can give.

When her brother vanishes—suspiciously and without a trace—only Poppy is concerned. As she pieces together clues to this current mystery, one from the past seduces her.

Jasper Riley, the sinfully sexy warlock, might hold the key to both mysteries. His professional opinion, as a private investigator, is that she doesn’t have a case, never mind a missing person’s one.

That’s before someone breaks into her home, before Poppy stops a supernatural onslaught with her bare hands, before either one of them realizes she’s a witch.

Even with the help of Jasper, his ex-girlfriend, and a (possibly magical) cat, Poppy may be too late. Because her brother has crossed a line, crossed the wrong necromancer, and may have crossed over to a place Poppy can’t reach.

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Weekly writing check-in: Switching Gears

Oscar in his natural habitat

So, here I am, working on the fairytale series. About 5,000 words in, I realize that I haven’t completed all the world building. Mind you, I thought I had. But I’m running into things that I’m not quite sure about. Is it in a pseudo-Middle Ages, Grimm brothers Germany? Or is it more like Charles Perrault’s France?

See? This is something I should know. Beyond this, as I was writing, I also realized that there are other forces in this particular fantasy world that I hadn’t accounted for either.

Decision? Let it compost a bit more.

So I’m switching gears and diving back into the Coffee and Ghosts spin-off series.

I looked structure of that this week, I reread the manuscript, and used dictation this time around to take notes.

So instead of a half a page of strange cryptic notations that I don’t understand later on, I ended up with about 2000 words of excellent story notes.

Whenever I do a read-through, I always tell myself oh I’ll remember this. Thing is? I never do. With this new way, I have lots of notes to begin with. Granted, I do have to deal with things like:

Necromancer sunsets fuel the story.

But I keep the audio files until I have a chance to review the transcription. That way, if I can’t figure something out, I can listen to it.

I made a list of things that needed expansion and additional research. I swear, three books and two documentaries landed in my lap. Just like that.

I think this is the universe’s way of telling me I’m on the right track.

 

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Filed under Coffee & Ghosts, Reading, Reading & Writing, The dog, Weekly Writing Check In, Writing

Weekly writing check-in: the one with the BookBub

So my BookBub for the first season of Coffee and Ghosts went out on Monday.

Yeah. Deep breath. I get it now. I totally get it. So worth it. I was in the black by Wednesday from sell-through from the rest of the series. It can be hard and uncomfortable casting a wider net for readership. But it has been an amazing week. I’m so excited I’ve found readers who seem equally excited about Coffee and Ghosts.

The book peaked at #5 in the Amazon free store, made the top free list on Apple (when I thought to check, it was at #14, and that was the following day), as well as on Kobo. It’s the little series that could.

If I have one regret, it’s that Darcy isn’t here to see this. She loved this series so, so much. She would’ve been thrilled that it landed a BookBub.

In other news, I’ve been finishing up a Coffee and Ghosts short story as an exclusive bonus for everyone on my mailing list. I’ll be sending it out soon. It is … very silly. After all, the tagline is:

There’s no business like ghost business.

Want a copy? Just sign up for my mail list, and it will land in your inbox in the next week or so.

 

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Weekly writing check-in: reading pillows and dictation

So tomorrow is the big day. My BookBub featured deal for the first season of Coffee and Ghosts goes out the door (or through the email server) bright and early.

To say I’m nervous is an understatement. In fact, I’ve been dreaming about the featured deal. I’ve been checking obsessively to make sure that the book is still free everywhere. So far so good.

If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, you should, you really should. Because, again, it’s free everywhere.

To follow up on my cryptic note from last week about productivity, I’ve decided to try dictation.

While I am hoping it will help me write more, I’m not sure if I’m going to use it to dictate actual stories, or if I’ll just use it to brainstorm notes, outlines, and things like that. But the main reason I’m looking into this is that I want to future-proof my writing.

Last year on Mother’s Day I woke up with my upper back, my neck, and my right arm completely seized up—and it hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I could barely move. I really couldn’t write, and I could barely do my job.

We just finished up a huge software update at work, and I was starting to head down that path again, and that’s not a place I want to go. Despite doing all of my physical therapy exercises, it’s still a little iffy at this point.

I did write this week, but not as much as I wanted to. So. Dictation. I’ve been reading up on it. I’ve been practicing. I’ve also made some classic mistakes as well, like jumping into my work-in-progress and trying to dictate that.

Pro tip: don’t do this.

New reading pillow: what’s mine is hers.

I’ve discovered I can’t look at the screen when I dictate, and a lot of the advice on dictation echoes this. Looking puts you into editing mode, and I think it’s even worse than editing while you’re drafting on the keyboard.

I think my ideal set up is going to be to walk and talk. Right now I’m just trying out a recorder app on my phone. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a system that may not work for me. On the other hand, I did dictate last week’s blog, and right now I am dictating the draft to this week’s blog.

True, I need to do a little editing, but a lot less than I expected.

And now, I’m going to go reclaim my reading pillow.

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Weekly writing check-in: of fairy tales and productivity

Oscar in his mind palace

This week I started the fairytale series in earnest. The writing itself is a switch for me since I’m writing the entire series in the third person point of view and in the past tense.

Recently, most of my fiction has been in the first person point of view, in the present tense. And I know that makes some people grind their molars, but I enjoy writing this way.

But the fairytale series is different. It needs to be in the third person and in past tense because that combination gives it that fairytale feel.

I’m also writing it in multiple points of view. I’ve done this before, but it’s been a while, so I feel a little rusty.

So not only is there one overall voice for the story, but each character has their own voice as well that must be consistent. Each character has a unique worldview—how they see the world, think about it. Even word choices will be different, not to mention how they relate to all the other characters in the story.

I’m also experimenting with productivity and getting more words on the page. This is very much an experiment at this point (as in, I’m starting today). I don’t know if it’s going to work, but if it does, I will blog about it here. And if it doesn’t? We’ll just pretend this paragraph never happened.

In other news, I’ve been getting ready for my BookBub promotion on May 21st. So I’ve been running some low-level ads, and I’ve been obsessively checking to make sure that the book is free everywhere it needs to be free (which is actually everywhere).

And that’s about it for this week. If all goes well, I will let you know about my productivity experiment next week.

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Weekly writing check-in: stepping outside your comfort zone

I have a guest blog post over at Nunum this week:

Use Flash Fiction to Step Outside your Comfort Zone (and step up your craft in the process)

In other news, I started writing the new series this week (and by “started” I mean I’m not sure I’ve even hit 1,000 words yet).

My current mood is neatly summed up by the picture to the left. I always feel this way when I start a story, whether it’s a five-hundred-word flash fiction piece or a 50,000-word novel.

But if it feels new and untested, if I’m–you know–stepping outside my comfort zone, maybe that’s a good thing.

At least, I hope it is.

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