Monday Update: Editing progress, Gaiman’s way, and taking a semi-hiatus

Just a quick update this week, mainly to say that I’m putting this here blog on semi-hiatus until I catch up on all this editing. I’ve also put all of my writing projects on the back burner until I clear my editing backlog.

Of course, my freelancing work is also ramping back up after basically being out of work for the last five months, so it’s still going to be a juggling act. Something’s got to give, and when my plate gets too full blogging is always the first casualty.

I’m still not quite one-third of the way through my revision of Deliverance. Like I said on Twitter last week…

Cleaning up rambley story vomit is a long and painstaking process. It’s making me wonder if slowing down and editing as I go, rather than fast-drafting and then editing this way, might actually make this whole process faster overall? I may need to rethink my process when it comes to future projects.

Over the weekend I watched an interview between Neil Gaiman and Tim Ferris in which I was reminded of Gaiman’s process, in which he writes his first drafts longhand (in a very nice journal using very nice fountain pens that probably cost more than I make in a year), which forces him to slow down and be more thoughtful as he goes (rather than vomiting the story onto a screen), and then revises as he types up his manuscript. I’ve actually emulated this process before (a few chapters of Kindred Spirits were written this way), but alas, I’ve got an undiagnosed something-or-other going on with my right wrist (it’s like carpal tunnel, I think, but on my pinky side) that would prevent me from doing an entire manuscript this way. Plus, I’m trying to turn books out faster, and I’m not sure this method would lend itself to that.

At any rate, that interview is over 90 minutes long, but it’s worth every minute if you’re fan of Neil Gaiman.


In lieu of these updates, I’m lining up some guest posts from some fellow authors you might not have heard of, but whom I think you might enjoy getting to know. Watch for the first of those, from J.K. Bovi, author of Zombies, Y’all and other Southern-fried paranormal adventures, next week.

And although none of this is especially prank-worthy, considering the date I feel like I need to say that none of this is an April Fool’s joke.

And speaking of April Fool’s Day, did you know that every year on this date, Bill Waterson and Berkely Breathed get together for a collaboration as Calvin & Hobbes take over Bloom County? That’s not a prank, it’s a gift (and if you’re too young to even know what I’m talking about or care, you seriously need to get off my lawn). Click here to see this year’s strip.

Finally, please enjoy this photo of deer grazing on our front lawn, sneakily taken through the kitchen window blinds so as not to scare them off.

NaNoWriMo, an update on my dog, and a Bound Spirits progress report

Happy National Novel Writing Month to those who are participating this year! I’m not, because I’ve still got six-and-a-alf chapters left to write on Bound Spirits, but I’m hoping to tap into the collective creative energy that’s in the air this month to make that last push to the finish line. But if you’re in it and you could use some encouragement, here’s a pep talk I wrote last year.

As for Bound Spirits, like I said, it’s nearing the end. I’ve got two-and-a-half scenes/chapters left to go in the second act, and Act 3 only consists of three chapters, at least according to the outline, but these things can change. It’s also possible that I’m not drawing my act breaks correctly in the outline and I’m already in Act 3.

At any rate, the current word count stands at 47,392, not counting an additional 1300 or so words of the half-chapter that’s currently residing on my Alphasmart Neo, which would bring it closer to 49K. It’s shaping up to be on the shorter side — about the same length as Restless Spirits — unless I discover things that need to be fleshed out more on the next pass.

It’s getting really close to done. The thing that’s making it hard is the situation with our dog. Right now he’s requiring round-the-clock care, which means my husband and I are both losing sleep because we have to check on him throughout the night. We also have to drop whatever we’re doing to give him meds and also force feed him every so often throughout the day (yes, it takes two grown adults to force food and pills down the throat of a stubborn 6-pound Chihuahua). None of which exactly makes it easy to focus on writing.

And quite frankly, neither does knowing that even if he fully recovers from the infections we’re currently treating him for, he still has a terminal lung disease. It’s a pretty heartbreaking situation. Sometimes working on my book is a therapeutic escape, but mostly when I’m writing it just feels like I’m ignoring my dog who, barring some type of miracle, won’t be with me much longer. But it’s got to get done, so I’m just going to have to suck it up and find a way to do it.

The good news is, he does seem to be improving and is even showing signs of getting his appetite back, and his breathing has been good since we brought him home from his weekend in the oxygen tank. He’s got about two more weeks of antibiotics left to go for his infections, and he seems to be a little more alert and energetic each day. We just want to get him to a place where he can actually enjoy the rest of his life, however long that may be.

Next week I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things on this here Unblog with a post about the inspiration behind my heroine Chris Wilson and the introduction of a new regular feature in which I share my favorite ‘ships (as in relationship OTPs). But the book’s gotta come first, so we’ll have to wait and see how things go.

WIP: Bound Spirits, April 24, 2017

I want to start logging my progress on a weekly basis, even though, I’ll be honest–so far progress is lacking. There’s just a lot of LIFE happening right now, and also a lot of freelance work, and zero novel writing happened last week. Or the week before that. I’m going to do my best to make it happen this week, or else I’m going to fall too far behind to catch up. Hopefully these progress updates will help keep me accountable.

At any rate…

Words so far: 4,141

Completed scenes so far: 3

Here’s an unspoilery snippet:

Everyone looked at Gus, who sat bent over his open menu. He glanced up at the waitress. “I’m gonna need a few minutes.”

“Gus!” Chris didn’t even try to hide her exasperation. “You always do this, and you _always_ end up getting the patty melt.”

“Something else might look good to me this time.”

She reached over and grabbed his menu, eliciting a “Hey!” from him as she handed it to the waitress. “He’ll have the patty melt.”

Vanessa quirked an eyebrow at him. “You sure, sugar?”

“Yeah,” he said, sounding defeated. “It’s fine.”

“All righty, then. One patty melt, one cheeseburger with fries, and one ultimate breakfast, coming right up.”

“What’s got you so cranky?” he asked after she left.

“I’m not cranky. I’m just not in the mood for your usual nonsense.”

“See,” he pointed at her, “that’s cranky.”

“You do seem a little cranky,” Derek agreed.

Chris rolled her eyes. “I’m _not_ cranky. I’m just hungry and I don’t want to wait an extra five minutes so Gus can read the entire menu before he decides to get another frickin’ patty melt!”

“Okay, you’re right,” said Gus. “That’s not cranky. That’s actually called ‘hangry’.”

Chris took the paper tube off of her straw, crumpled it up and threw it at him. It smacked him right between the eyes.

Oh, and PS – I’m looking for advance readers for Kindred Spirits. If you’re a reviewer, book blogger or bookstagrammer who would like to read and review or otherwise feature it and you don’t mind a PDF ARC, get in touch and I’ll hook you up!

And away we go!

This morning I sat down and knocked out the first thousand words of the first draft of the third book of the Restless Spirits series, aka Bound Spirits. This entry sees sisters Ron and Chris Wilson — one a ghost, the other a medium who can see and talk to ghosts — faced with the prospect of their father’s remarriage as they, along with their ever-expanding crew of helpers, get roped into investigating the apparently haunted wedding venue and the spirit that’s throwing a spanner into the works of their step-mom-to-be’s vision of a perfect wedding.

Whew, what a mouthful. I need to work on that elevator pitch.

Today’s count: 1,014 words.

The plan: to write 1,000 words a day, more or less, minus weekends, and have the first draft finished by the end of June (the final draft is due in August).

I won’t be posting daily progress reports, but I will try to post weekly updates on how it’s coming along, so watch this space if you’re into that sort of thing. Or better yet, subscribe to have updates sent to your inbox via the link in the footer.

In a happy coincidence, I realized this weekend that my noveling goals are running concurrent with Camp Nanowrimo. I’m not participating in that event officially (for one thing, I’ve given myself three months to finish instead of two; for another my life is way too chaotic and disorganized right now), but I’ll sure be taking advantage of the general air of creativity and tapping into the Nanowrimo energy that’s floating around this time of year. And also the hashtags. And I’ll be cheering the Campers on as I go.

In other news, last night I officially signed off on the final edits for Kindred Spirits, which is still on track for its scheduled June 30th release. Yay!

Facebook Author Takeover, and Novel Progress

FB-Author-TakeoverHey guys, I’m participating in my very first Facebook author event! My friend Hannah Gray Gordon is celebrating the release of her latest novel, The Vu: Gathering (which, by the by, I edited, and I don’t mind telling you that it was one of the most fun and pleasurable book editing experiences I’ve had to date), and she decided to share the spotlight by inviting me and a couple of other fantasy authors to take over the event page for an hour or so each. There will be fun and games and giveaways and prizes. Click here to see the full line-up and when each author is scheduled to take over, or just go to the Facebook event page and click on “Going” to sign up!

(Ignore the part about finding tickets. There are no tickets. It’s Facebook.)

I’m not sure what the other gals are planning, but I’ll be giving away some free e-copies of Dominion AND ALSO if there is time to prepare it I will be giving away copies of another thing that is a surprise. I may also debut a book trailer for Dominion, because I need to practice making book trailers, but that might be getting a might ambitious. At any rate, I would be overjoyed and also filled with gratitude if you would show up at 5 PM CST and keep me company while I hang out there for my allotted hour so I’m not just shouting and trying to give things to a bunch of crickets.


In WIP news, guess what! No, I’m not done. That would’ve been the main headline if that were so. But I’m getting close! Today I started the LAST scene of Act 2, which launches the events leading up to the book’s main climax. And as I suspected it would, the writing is going faster the closer I get to the end. Funny how they tend to snowball that way. Hopefully the next time you see a post here it will be to tell you it’s finished — or at least as finished as a first draft can be.

On the Sense Memory of Ghosts (Tuesday Word Metrics — and some healthy links!)

Here’s today’s word metrics for Ghost of a Chance:

Today’s word count: 1,174
Total word count: 23,603
Words of fiction written this year: 6,476

Today’s output wasn’t great as far as quantity goes, but I had a late start and a lot of interruptions, mostly in the form of a needy Chihuahua and a cat who doesn’t quite know how to lap kitty but has recently decided that’s no longer going to be a barrier between herself and my lap. Just goes to show you that it’s possible to make considerable progress under less-than-ideal circumstances.

I’m pretty proud of how this paragraph turned out, though, which is the main reason I paused to do an update today. Here’s an unspoilery snippet of today’s output:

They stood on the back porch, at the top of the steps. The sun shone on them. Joe couldn’t feel its warmth, of course, nor could he feel the breeze that made the trees gently sway, or breathe in the fresh air, although Ron told him that the air these days wasn’t anywhere near as fresh as he remembered. And he did remember. Though the memory was distant, if he thought real hard he could recall how it felt to be warmed by the sunshine, to breathe deeply and fill his lungs with clean air, to smell the scents that mingled in it, which in his day had included a lot of manure and other barnyard smells, but also clean hay and newly mown grass and the honeysuckle and milkweed that grew along the fence around the yard where his girl had played. And that was almost as good as feeling it.


After the writing session I ate lunch (stuffed pepper soup–good stuff!) and did the warm up and part of the first leg of this kickboxing workout. I was up to being able to do the entire first leg before my jaw would start to ache and I’d feel like passing out, but since the last time I did it I realized that I could combine podcast listening with spinning on my husband’s stationary bike, which is about a million times more motivating, so I’ve been doing that. Which apparently is not the same level of cardio because MAN that kickboxing routine kicked my hinder today.

And now it’s back to the word mines, this time for freelance stuff.

Quickie Novel Progress Update

Quick update today. This was an errand day (as will be tomorrow) so I didn’t have as much time for noveling as I would’ve liked, but I didn’t do too badly.

Here are today’s word metrics for Ghost of a Chance:

Words written today: 1236
Total words on Ghost: 21,923
Words of fiction this year: 3,317

And here’s an unspoilery snippet of today’s output:

Ron rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on. Where would you be now if I hadn’t meddled?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe actually enjoying a quiet morning all to myself?”
“You’d be sitting and stewing over that story. And Jimmy would still be on his own. And you wouldn’t have donuts.”
“You give yourself a little too much credit,” Chris said as she went to toss the used up paper towels.
“Pfft. You know I’m right. Besides, I think you like him.”
Chris halted on the way to the trash bin. “What? Who?”
“The reporter waiting in your office.”
“His name’s Doug.”
“Uh huh.”
“Shut up. I just got on non-shouting terms with the guy.”
“Uh huh. And he likes you, too.”
Chris chucked the towels and leveled a look at her sister. “Now you’re just insane.”
“Hey, I’m a romance writer, remember? I can tell about these things.”
“I think that fall down the stairs damaged your brain before it killed you.”

Back to the Word Mines

Today’s my first full day back to work, so I guess that makes it the true start of my new year. So far I’m having a pretty great day, productivity-wise. I tried out a new morning routine designed to get my butt planted in my writing chair early enough to give me a solid two hours of writing before I have to switch my focus to other things, and so far, it’s working.

I used up most of my two hours this morning transferring my outline and what I’ve got written so far of Ghost of a Chance into Scrivener. Normally I start projects out there in the first place, but for NaNoWriMo I just kept everything in a Google Doc because it was simpler and faster. But now everything is neatly organized in its proper home, which makes me happy, and I still had time left to get in 466 new words. I expect that tomorrow’s word count will be much larger.

That brings Ghost to a total-so-far of 19,084 (I’d reported earlier that it was over 20K, but as I moved to Scrivener I cleaned up a lot of notes that were figuring into my word count and did some editing), and of course total words of fiction this year is 466.

After my writing time was up I took an hour-long break to eat lunch (leftover homemade chicken and rice soup, made by yours truly instead of Mr. B for a change; it was yum, if I do say so myself) and vacuum up (with the help of Mr. B) pine needles and other Christmas detritus (we took the tree down and packed away all the decorations yesterday). And now, with some e-mail and client communication out of the way, I’m commencing the start of BloPoWriMo–that’s Blog Post Writing Month. I don’t have a specific goal for this. I just hope to write and stockpile as many posts as I can for both blogs to cover times when I’m either too busy to blog or just don’t have anything to say. Currently I have lots of things to say on many subjects, and not a lot of freelance work in my queue, so I might as well take advantage of it.

And that’s my year so far. How is yours going?

Before I leave you, here’s an unspoilery snippet of today’s output:

Something crashed behind him. He spun around to see a stack of games from Jimmy’s bookshelf spilled all over the floor. Monopoly money scattered everywhere, mixed with Risk soldiers and Scrabble tiles. Out of reflex more than anything else, Doug knelt to pick up the mess. But as he reached for a handful of the letter tiles, they each started to flip over of their own accord, arranging themselves face up.

Doug sat back on his heels and watched in a dreamlike haze of surreality as the tiles gathered themselves into a neat pile on the floor. Then, one by one, they rearranged themselves into a message:


Doug’s throat tightened. He put his hand over his mouth to hold in the tidal wave of mixed emotions that welled up. When he was able to speak again, his voice came out in a shaky whisper. “Jimmy? Is it really you?”

The tiles spelled out, “YES.” Then, after a moment, added, “YOU DOOF.”

NaNoWriMo Mid-point Progress Report

We’re just slightly more than halfway through NaNoWriMo. If I were actually going for the 50K mark, then I should have at least 25,000 words by now. Good thing I’m not, then, because as of this writing I’ve got just slightly over 16,000 words on the mystery draft. My aim for the month is at least 35K (roughly the half-way mark for this draft), which means I’m still about a 1500 words behind. I’m hoping to be able to make up ground this week.

Of course, if I were able to add freelance articles, e-mails and blog posts to my word count, I’d be well ahead. Oh well.

I was hoping to be able to reveal what the mystery novel is by this point, but that announcement’s still a little way off. But it’s coming. *knock on wood*

Back to the salt mines…

A Tiny Glimmer of Hope


Project: Radium Town, the Steampunk Weird West adventure set in my hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma at the dawn of statehood and featuring Will Rogers and Tom Mix.

Writing stage: First Draft

Today’s Word Count: 485. It came really close to being zilch, so I’ll take it.

Total Word Count: 5,030

What happened: Betty met Mary Bayless, the richest woman in town, who invited her and the professor to dinner.

Favorite line(s):

Still smiling, she extended her hand. “I’m Mary Bayless. My husband John was a great admirer of the professor’s.”

“Was?” Betty asked as she shook the woman’s hand. “Did the professor do something to sour Mr. Bayless’s admiration?”

“Not at all.” Her smile wavered only an instant as she said, “Mr. Bayless passed away earlier this year.”

“Oh.” Brilliant deduction there, Agent Blake. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

C25K/UFYH: Not a durn thing, on either count. But I was right about yesterday’s Pilates workout leaving me sore, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

Other: Took Sasha back to the vet for a checkup. The vet told us that she attended a seminar the other day and learned about an experimental treatment that might help. She ran tests and Sasha’s blood count’s not quite high enough to qualify her for it, but the vet is going to do some more research to see if we can do anything to build up her red cell count enough that we can go through with the treatment. It won’t necessarily save her life, but it sounds like it has a good chance of slowing things down and buying her some time and relieving her pain.

Otherwise, I finished the development stage of my client’s website, and now we just need to load in the content. I don’t know how close she is to having all of the copy written, but I’m hoping it’ll be ready to launch by the end of the week. I also got a call from my husband’s cousin, who had a new client lead for me, which if it pans out will shore up the rest of this month for us, so my fingers are crossed that that’ll work out.