Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Editing a WIP


Today I am editing my WIP (work in progress). I’m at the roundoff point: This manuscript needs a serious “Relook” before ending. Cruising into homebase, the final rough draft, this is very important.

 This WIP was not lucky enough to have a straight shot through. It had many interruptions. Because it is the second in series, it has to be balanced with the first book. That means the timelines have to be right, the places and characters matching the previous book.
One of the most important things that is sometimes skipped in how-to write sessions is the roles of the characters and their importance. Characters have a part to play or they don’t need to be in the story.
I already know some points that need to be covered. At first glance, I know that the male POV (point of view) needs to be strengthened, And one particular male’s scene diminished. With a large cast of characters it’s important to keep track of the protagonists and let the other characters wait for their own stories. I keep notes on characters that will have their own stories.
All writers have certain individual strengths.  This male point of view is very important in this story, and perhaps one of my strengths is writing male POV. Perhaps.
A second point in this WIP edit is that one of the elements needs to be fleshed out and continue more consistently in the story. In one point, the rough draft drags and needs to be tightened, allowing more room for the high points. MASSAGING THE WORK is more FEEL than anything.
In the writing of this story, there were many stop and go’s, so consistency of the theme and story line needs attention. There are parts of two quotes I like to remember when writing a story: 1. From Nora Roberts: “I can fix a bad page…” and 2. From Jayne Ann Krentz: “Don’t let anything stop you.”
I like to remember those two portions of longer quotes. Things do you stop you from writing, but you can fix a bad page and massage a story. It’s great when you can take a straight shot, but as writers, we sometimes we deal with doing our best shot in the time that we have--then editing it into our best.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring into Repurposing

Since I'm writing about small farm/small town/homey stuff today in the second book of my Basket Series, (THE BASKET MAKER'S WIFE is the first) I writing about repurposing, spring plantings, etc.

Here's a review from an Amazon buyer of THE BASKET MAKER'S WIFE: "Fantastic. I loved the characters and the special relationships. The humor with how the hero deals with the heroine was just hilarious. I can't wait for the next book and will be checking frequently to see who will be next in line with their courting basket."

Currently, I'm researching chickens, and that is a tip about one of the 2nd story's elements. :) This story has had many life-interferes and if you're a writer, you'll know I call them Novel Interruptus.

Meanwhile, I'm crocheting, planting seeds, spring housecleaning, and generally enjoying the season--except the sneezes. :)

Here's what I did this morning, on my repurposing plan:
Those are McDonald coffee cups (I think they have the best coffee ever and they are so nice when they hand it out the window, too.). I've saved them.

 I cut off some of the top part, punch holes in the bottom with a pencil so water can be absorbed, and planted basil seeds. I love fresh basil. My potted chives last all winter, but sad to say, basil does not.

They are in a plastic lettuce container, the lid beneath to add extra support. They are on a table by a window. This isn't the best place for them, so I am hoping they will sprout anyway.

I have more seeds to plant, a plastic cake container at the ready. If we can repurpose, we should.

Here are some gorgeous guys, my favorites. These are the large kind, absolutely gorgeous. If you can enlarge, look at the center daffodil, which has a red bug on it. What kind is that? Looks like a praying mantis?

There are plenty to cut, if I wished, and I may, and the choice of vase is major. There's a tall white one with blue flowers--think imitation Ming, and an all white heavy one with roses outstanding.

But for right now they are too beautiful to touch.
Then, finally, because I'm also working on a crochet story that may be a novella, but crocheting is definitely included in this 2nd THE BASKET MAKER'S WIFE  book (I think. Editing sometimes rules out too many elements) is Tunisian crocheting, which fascinates me.

One of my goals today is to learn how to finish without those loop holes. If you know, please email?

Tunisian also curls, so if you have tips, let me know?

The red object holding down the curl is the travel watch my parents gave me when I headed off to college. Times have changed, eh? :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Writer's Bridge


(That's one of my actual white-oak baskets on the cover. It will be on the back of the paper version, too. Thank you, Naj Qamber Designs.)

When you're stumped by what happens next in your story, and you know what happens after that, some writers recommend typing the word Bridge.

That is one idea. The intention is to come back and fill in the "bridge" scene when you are ready.

However, this has previously not worked for me. I am usually a fast shot writer, which serves me best to write straight on through, and then edit. I'm a cross between a "Plotter" and a "Plunger". I usually Plot, but then I Plunge. :) Sometimes I'll find that a scene is needed and write it in in the edit.

I am trying that bridge idea for the first time today. What I usually do, when faced with a stumper of a next plot-point scene, is completely leave the work and take a drive. My car is my think-box on an open road. Usually the answer comes before I'm home and I quickly sketch it out.

I've heard of other things writers do when stumped, like putting on a cap or a black cloth, or facing a blank wall. I say, go for any trick that works for you, individually.

When I have to leave a story, just for lunch or perhaps for a time break, I try to leave of snippets about the next scene. This gives me a running jump on the next writing session. Also, when I am writing, I may leave Notes at the top of the manuscript. These might refer to names, ages, whatever. Those would be fast reference in addition to my trusty synopsis or plot. I loved PageFour Outliner (PC only) but am learning other software now.

Recently, because of Life's Novel Interruptus, I've done lots of reviewing to get back into the second of a series story. In fact, I had to re-plot. In review, I also saw that the POV of one protagonist needed to be stronger and more frequent. I also made that in my editing notes. Then one of the elements needed more research. (Chickens. Raising chickens.)

Since this book is the second in the Basket Maker series, I was also setting up a third. That included being careful of introducing The character consistently throughout the book and what writers call "Holes". It also included making certain the major characters were in play throughout.

I've sketched out the bridge scene, the necessary components before leaving my desk for today. But if I can, a straight shot works the best for me. Just this time, Life and Novel Interruptus happened.

This Bridge thing works differently for individual writers. Sometimes writing past the scene you need to "bridge" actually swings the plot in a different direction. The "Bridge", if written, may hold the plot in its intended direction. But it never hurts to try new things, like trying to dictate more. :)

As I wrote in an earlier post, a story has a beat and a pulse, and writers use action/reaction within this method. If a Bridge does not break the momentum, that's good. If it throws the pulse off, that's not so good. I already know, that at this point, the previous scene needs to be shortened to focus on the real meat this particular BRIDGE scene provides. So shaping on either side of the Bridge scene needs to be considered in the edit.

Here's a question to consider in the Shape of the Story: Is it possible to use these tactics to provide that Bridge scene?: 1.) Drop that dead body into the story. 2.) Use a different POV or 3.) Begin a new chapter and filter in whatever scene is needed in the edit.

But I am trying that Bridge deal today, determined to move forward on a story that has waited through a few bumps. I've blocked out the major points, using all caps, you know. :) NOTE TO SELF: type stuff.

Since this is a series, I also keep in mind the character holes/development in the transition to the next book. Characters do grow, like babies, you know. :) We build them.

Usually my stories wait for me to unravel them, by the way. They seem to always be there, no matter the time or life between. Is that how they are for you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Writer's Whimsy

Romantic Suspense (What Memories Remain)

With the Irish dancing around us today, I'd like a visit to Fairy Cove, Michigan where they still speak of goblins and kissing the Blarney Stone.

Which is why I feel like indulging in whimsy that I hope writers AND readers will understand:

A book is a story, and a story is living magic. It has a pulse, quickening and slowing, drawing the reader deeper into the story.

There are writers who create what my editor called "cookie cutter" stories. These lack spark, the same-old, same-old. But guess what? Sometimes these sell well. Some readers like the expected from their favorite authors.

Sometimes the magic just isn't there, no matter how much editing is done. Critiques and over-editing, a wrong editor for the piece can suck the life right out of a story. The right editor, the right critique bunch can add a few little nip and tucks to keep the story's magic pulse and on the right track.

(He's Irish, he's charming and just the match for money shark Taylor.)

A story is like a child: it is created from a spark/idea, nurtured and born onto pages. And then, somewhere in the process, the writer, like a mother, must accept that the umbilical cord should be cut. Our lovely little child, so beloved, is sent off into the cruel world to be loved or not.

And that is how I see writer's stories, as living piece with a pulse to delight, terrify, love or not loved. A writer learns a craft, but somehow I believe the stories are within the writer already; they just need special handling to be born. It's a fact that some writers are more gifted than others, but if they are writers, they will write. If life interferes, the story will wait and return to the writer.

Because it's magic.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day



Quinn Donovan wants one thing: To raise his little daughter amid his loving family in the quiet safety of picturesque Blarney Flats, AR. But when Taylor Hart, female business shark, arrives to sell her property to developers, Quinn’s senses ignite. Enchanted by the town, Taylor has her hands full of the hunky handyman, who’s set to woo her and the race is on….


RETURN TO FAIRY COVE, a romantic suspense filled with Irish lore in Michigan is also on sale for a limited time.

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I'm preparing a few giveaways for a Springfield MO writers group called Sleuths Ink. Based in mystery, the members enjoy program presentations such as Medical Examiner's and Coroner's reports, crime scenes, etc. Sleuths sponsors JANO which is the same as NANO, but in January. (January writing 50k words is much easier than writing through the holidays :)) 

With other prizes, here's my St. Patrick's Day dishcloths that will be offered to Sleuths. That's as close as I could come to a shamrock. :)

I hope you enjoy the Irish in Blarney Flats, AR (fictional town), and

Just .99 for a limited time.

 RETURN TO FAIRY COVE (What Memories Remain)
On sale for 2.99, limited time

 "Riveting romantic suspense!"
Since childhood, Cyd Callahan has been haunted by an attacker whose identity has never been discovered. Whatever happened to her when she was six years old (and was called Molly Claire) has roots so deep that she can't forget. She's unable to recall the man's face, but she remembers hearing "I'm the Night Man and I'll be back for you..."

Ewan Lochlain has returned to Fairy Cove to clear is family's name and uncover the mystery of his parents' boating accident. He must prove his father did not try to murder his mother. Yet somehow, on that fateful day, both his parents died. Ewan has to ease his pain and find some peace before the bitterness of the past eats away his future.

Just as Ewan held little Molly Claire as a child, 21 years later he's holding Cyd, comforting her with gentle words and dreams of gnomes and fairies. The key to unlocking their demons also unlocks their hearts. With passion, combined with strength and gentleness, they find the love and peace in each other they so richly deserve.

WHAT MEMORIES REMAIN is riveting. This romantic suspense thriller is embedded with so many questions, so much drama and intrigue, it makes us yearn for answers. As it captivates all our senses with an utterly sensuous love story, it weaves a story so compelling, so mysterious, it leaves one breathless. And the ending will leave you speechless. I'm reading it again just to make sure I didn't miss anything. It's a masterpiece.
Reviewed by The Best Reviews Suzanne Tucker


Friday, March 06, 2015

Speaking Out: Writer Services


 Review:  "London is back with an edgy thriller that's sharp and taut. Cyd and Ewan are very complex individuals with loads of baggage, and tension is rife in this gripping read." Romantic Times Magazine
When Ewan Lochlain returns to Fairy Cove on Lake Michigan, his plans clash with fiery Cyd Callahan’s. Determined to stake his claim on what’s his, including flame-haired Cyd, Ewan is haunted by his parents’ deaths— which are somehow linked to Cyd’s terrifying, hidden memories, and to deadly secrets.
Now people are dying in Fairy Cove and a killer is stalking the night…

Like many traditionally published who are heading for Indie publishing, I am struggling with time for writing, time for promotion (big Essential here), and leading a flesh and blood life.

With a number of reverted books in my pocket, I’ve learned bits about graphics and promotion. REPEAT: Bits. Graphic artists already have a jump in the cover business, but as an Indie publisher, like the covers I create, either in ideas for a graphic artist, or buying premades.

A writer may not always be happy with their traditional/legacy publisher covers, and if you’re lucky there, you can have cover input. “Input” only means you can share ideas with traditional, which may use or not use them, or adapt as they see fit. If you’re lucky, you get a great cover, and well, flip that over…

Time management is critical, and many writers simply do not have time, and/or to create their own covers and handle the social media required. Highlight SOCIAL MEDIA TIME.

Tips abound out there to share posts and many businesses charge for the services. And this is where value comes in…

It’s like every other business. Value for product.

Through my Indie publishing time, a few years now, (my publishers at HQ and HarperCollins have my books, too) I have tried freelance editors, formatters, graphic artists, etc. and have settled into what works for me. This landscape is changing, with more developments upping the competition while making Indie publishing easier.

If you read my earlier blogs, you’ll see that I firmly believe writers need a “cold eye” on their work, or beta readers, or some reference, other than themselves. Few writers can see the holes in their work or catch every copyedit error. Many writers trade services to help what could be a significant $ editing charge.

Here’s an example in which contracted services was not up to par:
I tried a recommended “editor,” who charged high and whose work was less than mine, a long-term career writer. We settled her charges and she apologized. She had a number of excuses. I have no idea if she is still representing herself as an editor or not. It was quite the discussion. :)

There are lots of services representing themselves as professional—they are either not qualified, or qualified but doing shoddy work. This is a Buyer Beware situation where even recommended services are not up to sales-competition par.

Some Indies have one big plus: Skilled family members/friends who chip in to help. Repeat: Skilled/and or Trained.

On the other hand, you might like friend Joe, and he may say he will edit/create graphics/format/publish/promote, but is he does he lay down an effective product for you?

If you are an Indie, you have advantages in moving to better services easily. But if you are truly dissatisfied, try to either work with the service, or to get your $ back, or in some proportion.

Be sure to read this article on Vanity Publishers.

If you hire of service of any kind, it’s tricky until the Proof is in the Pudding and you actually experience what you get: You get what you agree to pay for, what is specifically included in your contract with the service. Be very careful as you mine through the contract points.

Just 2.99 for a Limited Time. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Handling Novel Interruptus


It was the coldest of times. It was the darkest of times. It was the snowiest of times.
So naturally, I picked up a cold. Also with a lot of drama in our family, I found myself in Novel Interruptus. A writer does not cope well in Novel Interruptus as the stream of consistent story creativity is constantly interrupted. If you haven't read my thoughts on Novel Interruptus, they are big and important, because we do have to cope with life issues.

So, as a productive person who needs some creative project, I’m learning how to crochet. I started with dishcloths, a simple stitch. Then moved up to beanies courtesy of YouTube. I only want the simple projects, something to sit by the fire on really cold winter days/nights and stay busy.

How did all this start? you ask. It started with a crochet hook someone forgot in a waiting room. My mother was a crochet artist and it brought back memories. Then while visiting Goodwill thrift store, I found a giant bag of yarn and needles of all kinds. Some of these are Tunisian crochet hooks, and I learned a couple stitches using them. So one trail leads to another, just as in writing a story.

What you see are some beanies for grandkids. I don’t know if they will fit or not, as I am only estimating and going by YouTube instructions. They have many mistakes. The large green circle is my first beret. It’s going to be for a giant. But I learned how to decrease stitches, use markers of yarn and I also found out it’s taking a tremendous amount of yarn. From this first one, whenever it is finished (need to do stage 3, the headband), I’ll have more of an idea size, etc. Berets are so classy, don’t you think?

The yellow cap is my first attempt at chunky yarn. I learned how to decrease to make that cap hold closer to the face.

Sometimes creative people have to switch modes from what they would rather be doing.  And they can always use the information in the story, which I will do. I'm heading back to story land now, if this coldest of Midwest Winter times lets me. (I do enjoy a warm fire while watching snowfall. :)