Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Listening to Your First Instinct

Death Sword Cover
Last time I mentioned returning to work on Serpent Fire, the sequel to Death Sword. Initially, Death Sword was meant to be a stand alone, until Samael demanded I tell his story. Don't ask. Anyway, Samael's story continued, not only in Serpent Fire, but in a third book, Devil Inside. Unfortunately, Serpent Fire kept giving me fits, and Devil Inside came together faster, although that meant nothing if I didn't get Serpent Fire in shape.

What to do? Considering I wasn't contracted for a series, I had to submit each book on its own and hope the publisher would pick it up. Except Serpent Fire wasn't working the way I hoped, and any hopes of submission were quickly becoming unlikely. I even tried combining Serpent Fire and Devil Inside, given Serpent Fire was a novella and Devil Inside novel-length. But that's only because I cut out a significant subplot from SF.

Know how they say to listen to your first instinct? Yeah. Good idea, in this case.

I was smart. When I decided I wanted to write each book separately again, I wrote down the chapters and scenes from both Serpent Fire and Devil Inside, and used a different process, particularly "Chapter 1, Scene 1" for SF, and "Ch. 2, Sc. 2" for DI. Then a bit of info about what the scene was about and any corresponding plot point. All this done on index cards, which I then transcribed on Scrivener's index cards.

An extra bonus? Pulling out all the folders I had on the latter two manuscripts, I found detailed notes and character descriptions. Granted, some of the plot had changed, but it was enough to work with. Even better? I had the manuscripts available, too. Now all that remained was to reverse engineer the stories, making any necessary revisions, adding in the subplot, and hopefully getting them ready by Spring.

Why wait this long? Why not work on Serpent Fire and Devil Inside years before? Not that I hadn't tried, but I couldn't make the stories work then. Since that time, I've written five angel paranormal suspense novels and one novella. Not to mention, parts of another angel novel and an outline. Perhaps I wasn't ready to work on Serpent Fire until now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

No Plot? No Story?

I'm at that crossroads of revising a novel and trying to think of an idea for a full-length screenplay, as well as plotting my next book and getting ready to go through a major revision of Serpent Fire. The latter has been my bete noire for years, and I'm determined to produce a polished manuscript this year.

Usually in situations where I'm writing a new book, I often have a character in search of a story. I've used tarot cards to help me plot an idea, often using the Hero's Journey. Other times, it might be a snippet of a song or a piece of art that inspires me. As more and more of the plot unfolds, I try to weave it into a comprehensive whole using Dramatica Pro, a story engineering program.

The hardest thing is writing the first draft and realizing the plot isn't quite going as planned, no matter how carefully thought out. Unfortunately, like many writers, I have stories like that. It's not easy to look at a story that isn't working and part ways. If possible, I try to salvage what I can to use in another story. Of course, that requires organization and (for me) extensive notes.  Currently, I've been using Scrivener so organization is a bit easier than the binder I used for a previous novel.

Then there are those stories that aren't quite ready to be given up on, but still aren't quite up to par. Ones that I'll keep, but probably will end up taking space on my hard drive. Of course, since it's 1 TB, no worries.  :-)

It can be frustrating putting one's energy into a book that isn't working and having to back away from it. It's easy to feel one has no talent and that one's plots are weak. I think it's important to remember that even if a plot isn't working, perhaps a better one is waiting around the proverbial corner. I've had times when writing when I realized I could improve the plot. So even though I'm a plotter, it doesn't mean I've written my outline in stone. Adaptability is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Monthly Round-up: January 2017

I'm a bit late with this round-up since it's now 1 February. So how have I been doing in the first month of this year? Let's see...


Nothing new out, but I'll take this opportunity to pimp the existing works.

The Whispering Death
Suffer The Children

Crime (Contemporary Amateur Sleuth)
Death Scene
Dead Cool

Short Story Collection
Soul Screams


No guest blog posts to report. However, I am running a Goodreads Giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH for February, with two free paperback copies of the book to giveaway. You can enter here. Please note this is for UK entrants only, due to postage costs. Please promote the giveaway if you are able to - I am hoping to raise awareness of the book and perhaps get a few more reviews. There will be more giveaways over the next few months so watch this space.


Work has started on a new horror novel. Since this one is to be delivered to KGHH Publishing this year I am pressing on with it, and I have achieved nearly 10,000 words in the first month of the year. It is set in the Arctic, and it has the title OUTPOST H311.

Meanwhile the fourth Shara Summers novel is also a work in progress.

Plenty to keep me busy, then. See you at the end of February!