my 10 novels

Since my social media vacay apparently has catapulted me into random-abundant-blogging mode, and since I have books on the brain (HA HA BUSINESS AS USUAL AMIRITE), here are the titles and statuses? stati? of my finished…um…”finished” novels.

Egad, I bet ya’ll thought that sentence would never end.

(BUT I HAVE A MILLION OF THEM OH YES YOU CANNOT HIDE OR FLEE YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED AND YOU WILL LIKE IT)

*ahem*

*eyeroll*

My Ten Novels

1. “‘S’ Is for Survival” — a practice novel

  • completed at age 15
  • YA soft sci-fi/coming-of-age
  • not related to Sue Grafton’s mystery novels
  • inspired by The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

2. Mindsnatcher — a practice novel

  • completed at age 17
  • YA sci-fi
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

3. Tomato Electric Destroy Force 9: Writer Dearest and the Interlopers

  • a novel about one writer’s adventure through NaNoWriMo
  • 3rd or 4th draft stage
  • will see the light of Publication Day if I can firgure out how to author-pub it; it contains must-have images and would work best in color

4. Colors of Deception (Demons of Saltmarch, #1) — published by Consortium Books

5. Shadows after Midnight (Demons of Saltmarch, #2) — published by Consortium Books

6. Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch, #3) — published by Consortium Books

7. Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1) — published by Consortium Books

8. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2) — published by Consortium Books

9. The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #3) — author-published, Faeddra Books

10. The Elevator — author-published, Faeddra Books

Big ol’ FYI. 🙂

What’s next?

Next is the Legends of the Light-Walkers short story anthology I’m working on. My goal is to pub by December 31st; preferably earlier, so I can do a Christmas special and whatnot. But I’m not pressuring myself. The holidays are stressful enough as it is, and I plan to enjoy myself in any case. So we shall see what we shall see. In the meantime, my coffee cup needs a refill. Laterz, inklings!

Stains of Grace: More Music to Demon By

Novel Noveling Status Update

Oh, my dearest inklings: Stains of Grace is so, so very close to publication, I CAN TASTE ITS DONENESS.

“But alas!” you’re thinking. “Wherefore doth this much-desired tome not yet appear upon ye olde Amazon sales page?!?”

The answer, my dears, to that unhappy question is that (1) your author is pregnant and tired and (as of this writing) sleepless, and she therefore can’t write and edit and finalize as fast as she thought she could; and (2) the head of her indie publisher just yesterday completed his Master’s in Professional Writing and has been frantic to finish his studies.

We do apologize, loves. Sometimes, life just happens.

3:00pm Addendum:

Now, I am not just tasting the novel’s doneness. I HAVE CHEWED AND SWALLOWED ITS DONENESS. Stains of Grace is officially in the hands of the publisher, y’all. BANGERANG.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THIS BOOK.

So. With that out of the way, let’s move on. I anticipate our uploading the novel file to Amazon within the next 24 hours. After that, the Kindle version of Stains will hopefully go live — meaning that you can have the e-version of the book in your lovely, eager hands — no later than Monday!

In the Meantime…

You might, perhaps, recall the time I told you about the music I’ve listened to while writing the Demons of Saltmarch series. (If you don’t recall, just click on that link and check it out.) That post covered the playlists for Colors of Deception (Saltmarch #1) and Shadows after Midnight (Saltmarch #2).

Since you dears have all been so patient with me as I’ve scrambled to get Stains ready for you, I decided to go ahead and share its playlist with you. So here we go…

Stains of Grace Playlist

“The Strangest Party” by INXS (Anne)
“Girlfriend by” Phoenix (Peter)
“Devil Inside” by INXS
“Lights Out” by Breaking Benjamin (Polednitsa)
“Prodigal” by Porcupine Tree
“Papercut” by Linkin Park (Anne)
“I Don’t Care” by Apocalyptica (Anne)
“Burn for You” by INXS
“Suicide Blonde” by INXS (Dante)
“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
“Afterglow” by INXS

As with the previous post, I’ve included characters’ names in parentheses. Each song has a particular meaning for that character — so, if you can’t stand the tease and you’re not afraid of a few teensy spoilers, you can look up the lyrics and get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of each named character.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include names for some of the songs. That’s because I didn’t want to provide you with *too* many potential spoilers. If you want to know what characters belong with these songs, you’ll just have to read the book and see if you can figure out who goes with what. If you’re really brave, you can pay close attention to the fact that the playlist follows the chronology of the story. ; )

All right, sweeties, I’m off to grab a snack and see if I can go back to sleep. It’s 5:15am, I’ve been awake since 2:30, and I think it’s time to attempt this voluntary unconsciousness thing again.

Oh, and if you just can’t stand the wait, and the playlist isn’t enough to keep you busy, pop over here for a reminder of how the Demons of Saltmarch started. It involves a vacuum cleaner.

G’night! (I hope.)

P.S. May the Fourth be with you.

Why #NaNoWriMo? (Of Plot Bunnies and Ninja Zombies)

Hello, my lovelies.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I spent November firmly and happily ensconced in this year’s National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated to NaNoWriMo for your convenience.

NaNoWriMo is the manic, overcaffeinated, unpaid, underslept, head-desking, face-palming, keyboard-hammering, plot-bunnying, ninja-zombieing, annual November endeavor of hundreds of thousands of writers world-wide, each writing their own 50,000-word novel between November 1st and 30th.

2011 marks my eighth year participating in this adventure. Because I am a crazy person.

I first stumbled across the NaNo website in January? February? of 2003 — and I knew this was my kind of party. AW yeah. With bated breath, I waited most of a year before the next November rolled around. When it did (because how could it resist?), I banged out 50,000 words of what would eventually become my high fantasy novel Triad.

In 2004, I tried it again. I got 12,000 words into Triad‘s sequel and quit. Only last year did I realize that this happened because I had no plot.

Chorus: DUH.

In 2005, I staged a comeback and got my 50k in. Bam.
In 2006, I did it again.
In 2007, I moved across the Atlantic Ocean. This is conducive to *headdesk*ing and *facepalm*ing but not to NaNoWriMo-ing.
In 2008, another successful comeback. Another win in 2009, and another in 2010.

And, as you can see, I just garnered my seventh win a couple days back (click to embiggen):

But Is This Getting Me Anywheres?

You bet your patootie it is.

Colors of Deception, my 2008 NaNo novel, came out in April 2011.
Shadows after Midnight, my 2009 NaNo novel, came out in October 2011.
Stains of Grace, my 2010 NaNo novel, is slated for release in April 2012.
Triad is on the publishing schedule for 2012 and will come out in two volumes: Legend’s Artisans: Schism and Legend’s Artisans: Triad.

NaNoWriMo works for me.

A Few Reasons Why NaNoWriMo Works for Me

1. DEADLINES!
Myers-Briggs-wise, I’m an INFP who, in some things, turns into an INFJ. It’s really kind of scary how accurately parts of both profiles describe me. I don’t want to go into detail about either right now, because that’s not what this blog post is about.
But if you click through those links and read the profiles, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I am crazy passionate about writing, and yet I have trouble setting myself writerly deadlines and actually adhering to them. Note that I’m a master at setting the deadline; I just sail past it with a wave and a wink, and the easy sailing-past doesn’t bother me one whit.
NaNoWriMo gives me a deadline I can’t ignore — because somebody else sets it. If I ignore it, I’ll feel like an abysmal failure and spend the rest of the year kicking myself for disappointing…somebody. (Myself.)
Deadlines are great for me. But only if they come from outside.

2. PEOPLE! PEOPLE DOING THE SAME THING I’M DOING! AT THE SAME TIME!
I cannot count how many exercise videos I’ve purchased and tried to do at home. It never works out. I get bored with them. I talk back to them. They don’t talk back. I hate not getting a reply. I move on.
I’m an introvert, which means I get my energy from my alone time. But I also crave interaction. I crave the meeting-of-minds that happens on a deeper level. I crave that instant in which the other person gets me.
NaNoWriMo is like 300,000 people getting me all at once, sustained for a whole month.
I swear I don’t mean that as dirty as it sounds.
Fortunately, I don’t have to talk to all 300,000 of them. I get to interact with a choice few, and they meet my mind in a big way. They keep me going, and I keep them going, because we grok. When I talk, they talk back. To an INFP like me, that’s water in the desert, y’all.

3. PLOT BUNNIES AND NINJA ZOMBIES!
Honestly, I don’t know what plot bunnies and zombie ninjas are all about. They have something to do with getting unstuck when you get stuck during NaNoWriMo. I think.
If I were to make up my own connections: Bunnies proliferate; it’s great when plots keep going and spawn new ideas. Ninja zombies…mindlessly…kill people…in interesting ways.
And eat them.
Yeah. I got nothin’.

4. COFFEE!
Moving right along! Coffee is a writing elixir. It is a writing balm. (Please note, that’s “balm,” not “bomb.”) It is a salve unto the writer’s wounded, weary spirit during the Dreaded Week Two (during which many NaNo-ers tend to give up). I take my joe with stevia and almond milk.

5. #WORDWAR AND #NANOWORDSPRINTS ON TWITTER!
This year, I participated in these for the first time ever. The idea is to meet up with other WriMos on Twitter via these hashtags and challenge each other to meet a certain wordcount goal in a certain number of minutes. I might tweet, “#wordwar for 10 at :20! Who’s in?” which would be my invitation for others to join me in writing like chimpanzees on meth for 10 minutes straight, starting at 20 minutes past the hour.
These meet-ups worked okay for me. They worked because of everything I nattered on about in point #2 above.
They didn’t work, because if I did too many of them on any given night, I burned out fast. Some writers can pound out 1500 words in 30 minutes and turn right around and do another 1000 during the next 30. Me, I struggle to get 600 or 700 in half an hour. There’s something about my attention span and stamina that requires me to take frequent, brain-resting breaks. Anytime I ignored this, I burned out on #wordwar and #nanowordsprints.
But still, there is point #2, which is why point #5 is worth including.

6. EXCLAMATION MARKS!
Don’t mind this. It’s nothing but gratuitous silliness.

7. NO INNER EDITOR!
The last time I completed the first draft of a novel separate from NaNoWriMo was in 1999. (It was my final project for my bachelor’s degree; I had a deadline; see point #1.) Since then, every time I’ve tried to finish a non-November novel, my Inner Editor has tied my hands to the back of my chair and refused to let me finish the story. She has to tinker with it, and she is never satisfied.

The hussy gets in my way.

Every November, I banish my Inner Editor to the deepest mental dungeon I’ve got. She rails at me from behind those bars. She weeps and gnashes her teeth. She pleads. She wheedles.
She sucks.
Happily hammering away at my keyboard, I ignore her and get my first draft out. Once I purge it from my system, I’ve got something to work with. (See Inner Editor licking her bloody lips even as I type this paragraph? She knows what’s coming, and she is hungry for it.)
When I have something to work with, I let Inner Editor out of her prison. She is up the stairs in a flash, pretty much rabid with desire to get her hands on my story.
By this time, you see, she is hungry.
Me, I meander upstairs and make myself another cup of coffee. I can already hear her in there, crowing with delight as she highlights, deletes, and backspaces. Every so often, I peek over her shoulder to watch her progress. She might even ask me a question or two about plot arc or character development. For a manic, starving thing, she can be disturbingly generous.

But mostly, I just stay out of her way and let her work.
She’s gonna craft and hone me a story that will knock your socks off.

_____________________

Inklings, fellow WriMos, writer friends, and coffee lovers: the comments are yours. Tell us what you’ve gleaned from NaNo, from your own editing, from this post. Share and share alike! Inquiring minds want to know. Feed us. : )

Music To Demon By

Once upon a time, dear inklings, I told you the story of how my Demons of Saltmarch came into being.

To recap: I dreamed about a forbidding figure on a bridge, and I recorded the imagery in my dream journal. I knew that at some point, those images would turn into a fantasy novel. A few months later, I was pushing and prodding my vacuum cleaner into sucky submission whilst listening to the INXS album The Greatest Hits.

And BAM! there was the rest of the story.

There is an entire blog post, by the way, on receiving creative inspiration while engaging in the mundane. But that is another story and shall be told another time.

Anyway, the song that really got me that day in my hallway was “Suicide Blonde.”

Got some revelation put into your hands
Save you from your misery
Like rain across the land
Don’t you see
The colour of deception
Turning your world around again
.

And that, my loves, was how Colors of Deception was born. As of last week, you are now acquainted with its younger sibling, Shadows after Midnight, as well.

Recalling the INXS lyrics that helped bring my demons to paper (in more ways than one), I realized I’ve been remiss in sharing my writing playlists with you. So, without further ado or adon’t, here are the songs that inspired scenes and characters for the first two Demons of Saltmarch novels:

Colors of Deception


All songs by INXS.

Suicide Blonde (Dante)
The Strangest Party (Holly and Peter)
Taste It (Dante and Holly)
Devil Inside (Holly in chapel)
Heaven Sent (Holly, driving)
Disappear (Dante)
The Gift (Dante in the cave)
Need You Tonight (Dante and Holly)
Deliver Me (Dante)
Baby Don’t Cry (Dante’s denouement)
Afterglow (Dante’s epilogue)

Shadows after Midnight


All songs by INXS. The Shadows playlist also included all the songs from Colors.

Original Sin (Dante)
I Send a Message (Dante and Holly)
The Swing (Peter)
Johnson’s Pendulum (Eileen)
Love Is What I Say (Peter and Dante)
Burn for You (Dante and Holly)
 

 
 

For Stains of Grace, I branched out from INXS. But if I share that playlist with you, you’ll get all sorts of icky spoilers, so I don’t wanna do that. ; ) I can tell you, though, that it includes Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Porcupine Tree, and Apocalyptica.

Yeah. I mix stuff. ; )

And with that, I’ll leave you with the words of Dante’s favorite musician:

Yes, it’s me,
I am the one
To make you see
Where we belong.

To dream
All the time
Without a scream
In the dead of night,
All those faces
Come back to me.
I’ll be begging
To swim that sea.

A need to quench
The thirst of many
To justify
And make ready

This realization
Owes us strength to show.
If you’re uncertain
You’re invited to believe.*

______

*Lyrics by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss.

SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT live at Amazon!

Hello, my dears! I know it’s been a stupid long time since you’ve heard anything substantial from me here. I am so very sorry! But it’s because I’ve been working hard to get you this:

The paperback of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT is now available at Amazon. Click here to buy your copy, and happy reading!

For those of you who want a little more detail:

Peter Townsend is not normal and doesn’t play well with normals. He belongs to the ancient line of auguren, demon hunters with only one goal: Protect ordinary humans from their demonic tempters.

But last year, protecting Holly Idaho shattered Peter’s world. When Dante Mullins, the demon hunting Holly, spirited her away to the infernal realm of Saltmarch, Peter went through hell to save her. Falling in love with her wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was leaving Dante alive.

Now Dante is back, and Holly is missing. Holly’s friends Anne and Owin insist on joining Peter in the furious search. But when a new demon enters the fray, one that makes Dante look angelic, its nightmarish power threatens to consume them all.

The loyalties of friendship might be more help than Peter can deal with. This time, saving Holly might just cost him his soul.

BUY NOW:
SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch 2)

Many thanks to Julie V. Photography, Amy Nickerson Design, and model Andy Sawatzky for the cramazing cover art!

And do click to embiggen. It’s way cool. : )

Away Message and EXTREME Cuteness


Hello, my loves!

As many of you already know from Twitter and/or Facebook, I was stricken with plague a few weeks back. The dire malady didn’t affect my blog, really, as I posted something right at the start of the death-warmed-over-ness and then posted another something right as Horrid Gunkdom finally capitulated. Since then, I’ve been playing catch-up, which is my favorite game, and I just lied to your face about how much I enjoy playing catch-up.

The upshot of it all is that the blog has suffered this week. I am sorry. I want this place to be more for you guys than it is for me, and this week, I’ve let you down. I apologize. Please forgive.

Please especially forgive because the Suffering of Blog must needs continue into next week. You see, starting tomorrow, I’ll be facepainting part-time at the Oklahoma State Fair. It’s only four hours per day for four days…but that’s 16 fewer hours I’ll have to work with over the next six days. Therefore, although I hope to grace Court Can Write with my presence over the next week, I can make no guarantees.

The other thing that’s currently a thing is actually two things:

(1) final edits for the first issue of “A Consortium of Worlds,” our short story e-magazine, are due next Wednesday, and

(2) Shadows after Midnight final manuscript, back cover copy, and cover art with trade dress are due next Thursday.

I am a bee of much busyness.

I will come up for air, my dear inklings. And when I do, you shall be the first to know! (Or at least second.)

Also, I shall try to finagle permission from my employer to post pictures here of my facepainting artwork. Because I know you dears love visuals. And because I love you, I shall end this post with a VEC* for you:

*Visual of Extreme Cuteness, please click to embiggen!

**Origin of this image unknown. Please help me attribute, if possible! Thank you. : )

Extra! Extra! Get Your Sneak Peek Here!

As I promised yesterday, here’s an excerpt from my upcoming SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch #2).

In this scene from Chapter 7, Peter (main character & narrator) and Company are looking for clues to the whereabouts of a friend they think has been taken by a demon. Their search goes awry when the demon Seirim attacks them by means of artwork hanging on the walls of a local café.

When last we saw Our Hero…

_____________________

A spiky-haired form flew past me, heading for the café’s front door. I wondered what had happened to her drummer brother. Get Daniel, I thought at her, with no hope that Jas would hear me. Only hope that she would make it outside alive.

At Owin’s side, Anne pulled at the vines that held him, her fingernails scraping green plant flesh onto the floor. She glanced up at me and yelled my name again. At her feet, Holly sprawled in a spreading pool of blood. Kneeling at Holly’s shoulder, its posture that of a penitent worshiper, a cartoon bunny lifted its face from her throat and grinned at me over her too-still chest. Its fangs and muzzle glistened with her blood.

Three normals in serious trouble—and trouble of a nature I’d never even heard of, let alone faced. This is not how this is supposed to go. For once, I needed Daniel. For once, I needed my big brother.

Dammit.

I lunged forward—and stopped short as vines thrust past my head on either side and twisted around my throat. This time, breath cut off completely as the demonic plant jerked me backward. My right foot went out from under me, and I crashed to the floor. My head smacked into something more solid than my skull. Darkness bloomed in my vision.

With the little air I had left, I tried to yell Holly’s name. But I only made a thin whistle. Banegold in my hands, I grabbed the vines encircling my neck and pulled. Plant flesh sizzled, but the pressure only increased. More vines whipped down from somewhere above, replacing the ones I weakened. I couldn’t see the doll anymore—and then its face slid over the edge of the bar high above my head. Its bland expression hadn’t changed. But its eyes were different. Too large for a doll head, the emerald eyes of Owin Moran stared down at me as though a plastic surgeon with a sick sense of humor had excised the twin green orbs and stuck them in the doll’s face.

“Greetings, Peter,” said the doll.

The voice was jovial and scratchy, like that of a favored uncle in some piece of classical British literature. But it didn’t issue from the doll’s pouty red lips, which remained frozen in their perpetual, inane smile. As though exuded from enormous pores, the voice came from the dozens of fanged mouths studding the mother vine.

“This day has been so very long in coming,” it said.

Owin shouted. Anne screamed. The barista sobbed on the other side of the counter. I raised my hands, hoping banegold still stirred at my fingertips. Black blossoms splotched my vision, so I couldn’t tell for sure.

A staccato giggle issued from the mouths in the vine. “How’s your leg?” asked the demon Seirim.

I shot banegold. Shot blind—but I heard wood splinter and vine shriek. The demon’s grasp on my throat eased just enough for me to suck in a short breath. Like the black blossoms in my vision, pain flowered in my chest. I tried to roll away from the counter. Tried to roll away from the pain. The pain followed me. As I flopped to my stomach, the demon doll landed on my back, its weight much more solid and crushing than it should have been for its size. The concussion drove my precious, salvaged bit of breath from my chest.

Pain morphed into a vise as vine fingers dug their claws into my scalp and pulled my head up. I felt banegold spark like electricity at my fingertips, then fizzle out. A vine snaked around my head. I felt its weird, alien lips pressing against my left ear, almost intimate.

“Look, auguren,” the demon whispered. “Look on them, these ordinary humans, and see the chaos you have wrought.”

I had no breath left. I couldn’t have said no even if I’d tried.

On the floor ahead of me, Holly was conscious. Her dark eyes rolled wildly as she fought off the demon bunny with one hand and held the gaping neck wound together with her other. Blood flowed steadily through her fingers. The creature cackled and swiped at her hands with its claws, but it wasn’t pushing very hard to reach her. No. It was playing with her. It wanted to watch her struggle to get away while it came on a little bit at a time, relishing her panic and her pain. Her legs fishtailed on the blood-slick floor as she tried to slide backward away from the thing. But her back was pressed against Anne’s legs. Holly had gotten as far away from the bunny as she could get—and Anne couldn’t move to help.

Vines held Anne’s arms trapped at her sides. Though her feet remained on the floor, the vines strained to lift her up—and into the painting. Owin’s left shoulder and arm had already disappeared into the canvas. I had a weird moment of vertigo, seeing most of Owin real on the outside but part of Owin flat and two-dimensional in oil paint. Even worse, the flat part of him was moving within the painting, his arm flailing to avoid the crushing grasp of the circular plant maw that I now knew was a manifestation Seirim.

How? I wanted to ask. I’d never seen a demon manipulate inanimate objects this way. In Saltmarch, maybe, but not in our world. How is it doing this? And where was Daniel?

A huge flower the color of my own midnight opened one blinding petal at a time in the center of my vision. As I lost sight of Holly, Anne, and Owin, a scream sounded that could only belong to Jas. Jas—not outside? A shout of rage arose in response. Bryan? My ears were ringing, and all other sound was muffled. But still, I could distinguish the demon’s voice as its damp, spongy lips pressed against my ear.

“You can’t save them,” it whispered. “They belong to me now. I shall gulp their blood and devour their flesh and gnaw their bones. You cannot save them.”

No! You won’t

In the confines of my thoughts, the words sounded powerless. My fingers tore at the vines around my throat, while the rest of me thrashed back and forth, bucking beneath the weight of the creature on my back. My body made these efforts without me, and I watched from somewhere far away. The only immediate sensations were the agonizing pressure in my chest and the horrible brush of the demon’s vine lips.

“But you can save the lodestone,” it said… . “You can still save her, auguren, if you are willing to pay my price.”

What price?

And in the most hideous moment I had ever experienced, a moment that out-hideous-ed every other awful memory I’d hidden away, the thinnest tendril of vine slipped into my ear, threaded its way into a cold pain that stabbed the side of my head like an iron icicle, squirmed past—through?—my eardrum, pierced my brain, and spoke to me with horrible intimacy as its tiny plant fangs gnawed at my gray matter.

That’s what it felt like, anyway.

“Yourself,” said the demon into my head.

___________________

Inklings, I hope you enjoyed this. Feedback is always welcome. : )

Book Release Party: SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT

Hello, my dear inklings, and welcome, Saltmarch fans!

Saltmarch, Where The Demons Live

As this unbearably hot summer hangs on tooth-and-nail to its ridiculously sweltering temperatures (here in Oklahoma, anyway), let us turn our mind’s eye to the near future, a future most glorious in its cooled-off-ness (we hope) and in its bringing of a near-and-dear-to-my-heart event, yea verily and forsooth.

 

That event, my little pumpernickels, is the BOOK RELEASE PARTY

for my second novel, SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch #2)

on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8th, at 6:30PM

at VINTAGE TIMELESS COFFEE (900 NW 150th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73013).

And you are all invited! Tally-ho, zounds, and bangerang!

If you’ve not yet delved into my Demons of Saltmarch Series, please check out COLORS OF DECEPTION (Demons of Saltmarch #1). Buy it for $2.99 on Kindle or $12.99 in paperback!

If you are already well-versed in the Demons of Saltmarch world, come back to courtcan.com tomorrow for a sneak peek at SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT! (And yes, this will be more than just the sample you found in the back of your COLORS copy.)

Dante and I hope to see you soon. ; )

Demons, Daftness, and Deadlines — OH My

So, I’ve got two exciting things to tell you about. I’m gonna try to tell you these things coherently — but, alas and alack, the lovely storm that rolled in this evening has bequeathed upon me a vision-blurring, brain-mushing headache. Thus, if I don’t make sense or if everything I write comes out weird, I’ll have to ask you to bear with me.

But exciting things! The first one, my darlings, is that a few weeks back, Julie and Carlos Velez of Julie V. Photography shot the cover art photo for my SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch #2). And it was bonkers fabulous.

I know that after Book 1’s cover art shoot, I shared all manner of cool photos with you. Sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be doing that this time. For one thing, we shot our male model against a white backdrop, and the cool Saltmarch background will get Photoshopped in.

For another, I want to keep the appearance and identity of our male model a secret (though you already know who he is and what he looks like, if you’ve been paying attention on Twitter.) He’s gonna look cramazingly cool on the SHADOWS cover, and I want the whole thing to be a surprise.

In the meantime: MODEL! You know who you are! And I thank you once again for your fabulous work with our photographers!

I know so many cool, talented, and just plain nice people. : )

And that, my beloveds, was Exciting Thing One.

Exciting Thing Two is that I have officially completed my final draft of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT and have submitted it to my editor for official, editor-ish “nurturing.” And as I peruse my Google Document, I see by her notes that the nurturing is already well underway.

Which, if you hadn’t guessed, gets me all kinds of nervous as well as giddy. I actually love getting edited, because it’s an honest joy to find out stuff I can do to make my story better.

The story in question, of course, is the sequel to COLORS OF DECEPTION. If you haven’t read COLORS, I won’t spoil it for you here. But. I will say that in this second book…

  • Peter takes center stage as main character,
  • we get to meet his auguren (read: demon-hunter) family, including his arrogant big bro Daniel (sibling rivalry! woot!),
  • Holly’s got a botheration of explaining to do,
  • seductive, craven, hungry Dante Mullins is up to his old tricks,
  • somebody gets whisked away to Saltmarch,
  • and demon cartoon bunnies are rather inconvenient.

Me, I am bouncing hither and yon, alternating between breathless excitement to get this book into your hands, my loves — and breathless terror that you won’t like it once you’ve got it. Welcome back to my Author’s Mild Manic Episodes. They might become more frequent until the first week of October (read: release of Book 2).

I hope you enjoy your stay. ; )

How To Write A Novel

Since I doubt the demons will ever deign to craft such a mundane, human thing as a newspaper, it’s up to me to report the news of goings-on in the world of Saltmarch. Saltmarch, in case you missed it, is a fictional realm inhabited by the demons of my paranormal trilogy. And, in case you missed that as well, the trilogy consists of:

Saltmarch, Where The Demons Live

Colors of Deception

Shadows After Midnight

Stains of Grace

Colors has a publication date of April 2011. (Oh, final edits, how I both desire and dread thee!) Shadows has no publication date yet, but it’s in the third draft stage.

As of this past Monday night, I’ve finished Draft 2 of Stains.

The First Draft

Now, allow me to clarify: When I write the first draft of a novel, I pound out the manuscript as coherently and quickly as I can. I started pre-writing for Stains of Grace on October 1, 2010; started writing on November 1, 2010; and typed “The End” on February 10, 2011. That’s the fastest I’ve ever finished a first draft in my life. The final word count was 80,421.

“The End” happened in the wee hours of the morning. After I’d slept (8 hours = a MUST!) and eaten (breakfast = a MUST!), I waded right into editing. Usually, I’ll let a first draft sit for a month before I go back to it; but this time, with the pub date of Colors approaching, I don’t have the luxury of taking my time.

Besides, my two foremost Saltmarch beta readers (Mama and Celia) have been admirable in not pressuring me for a complete manuscript — yet they’ve made it quite clear I am to deliver said manuscript into their eager hands, posthaste!

The Second Draft

And so, not ten hours after completing Draft 1, I started editing with the goal of completing Draft 2.

When editing toward Draft 2, I use the following approach:

1. I delete strikethroughs. As I pen a first draft, I try not to backspace. It breaks the flow of my thoughts, and sometimes it can break the flow of story. If I’m backspacing, I’m editing — and that’s a no-no for my first drafts. Strikethroughs mark words, phrases, and paragraphs I won’t need later.

2. I do light editing: fixing typos as I see them, changing a word here and there if it catches my eye. Sometimes, as I write Draft 1, I’ll write notes to myself in brackets. As I light edit, I judge whether or not the stuff in brackets is a quick fix or not. If it is, I’ll do it now. If it’s not, I’ll save those bracket notes for a later draft.

3. I just read the thing. I don’t allow myself the leisure of reading the story as I write the first draft, so now is my chance to read and see if this mass of words really is a story or not. If I get caught up in it and forget to edit, I know what I’ve got here is rough but usable material.

In the case of Stains, light editing took six days. The final word count of Draft 2 is 78,254.

Now, I hand Draft 2 off to my beta readers, and the agonizing yet exhilarating wait for feedback begins! Oy vey. 😉

The Third Draft

While I wait for my betas to chew through my story, swallow it, and spit out the parts they don’t like, I’ll tinker with the story a little bit. This means more light editing, a few fixes here and there, maybe adding a paragraph or three.

Or I might just leave the story alone and let it ferment some more. Taste-testing too much too early sometimes keeps me from appreciating the full flavor of what my beta readers have to tell me later. But for this part, I just trust my instincts.

When I get feedback from the betas, that’s when the real work on Draft 3 begins. Depending on what they tell me, I’ll do little stuff like correct typos, add dialogue attribution, and shorten sentences — and I’ll do big stuff like rewrite characters, move paragraphs from one chapter into another, and add scenes or entire chapters.

Once I’m satisfied with what I’ve done, I’ve got me a hot little number called Draft 3.

The Fourth Draft…and Fifth

Or Sixth — And So On.

After Draft 3, the rest of the drafts are basically wash, rinse, repeat — editing, handing off to readers, getting feedback, editing — until I feel like it’s clean enough. No book is ever squeaky clean. Especially from the writer’s perspective, there’s always going to be something that needs fixing.

But for me, it’s kind of like oil painting: If I go back to it too often, I’m eventually gonna mess it up. I must needs reach a point at which I wouldn’t be embarrassed to share the story with the public.

It might take me four drafts to get to this point; it might take me six. Colors is currently in Draft 4.5 stage. My epic fantasy novel, Triad, has gone through eight drafts and might require one more before it’s ready for the world.

Tell me, fellow writers:

Does my process look anything like yours?

How do you feel about handing your baby off to its first beta readers?

What’s your favorite tip/trick for the early draft stages?

I’m curious. Let’s talk. 🙂