Weekly Roundup 12-12-18 Jump-starting Your Creative Flow

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Sometimes the well of creativity and imagination runs dry and it’s up to you to find a fresh source. There are many ways to get the juices flowing again, but it may not be from the comfort of your favorite chair. Great material is all around us if we are paying attention, so try these the next time you need new ideas or inspiration:

  • Conversations – go ahead and eavesdrop at work, home, or the grocery store. The breadth of topics is astonishing.
  • The news – always full of colorful characters and interesting story ideas.
  • Dreams – sounds crazy I know, but as your brain cleans house every night you may pick up an idea or two. Keep pen and paper on the nightstand to record them before they disappear!
  • Books – you aren’t the only one with good ideas, so feel free to borrow from other writers (not in a plagiaristic sense of course!)
  • Entertainment – movies, concerts, TV, even your 5 year old’s school play.
  • People watching – go to the Mall or search your favorite magazines to find your next hero, romantic character, or bad guy.
  • Advertising – there are signs everywhere and many are clever or amusing. Churches, businesses, yard signs, billboards, and posters abound.
  • Change of Venue – get out of the house on a regular basis. Try visiting a library, cafe, park, museum, Botanical gardens, aquarium, pet store, or even a subway ride.

Sometimes the greatest story ideas come from a single word, a new face, or a familiar smell, jump-starting your imagination. So get to it! We’re all waiting to see what that creative mind of yours can come up with.

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Traitor’s Moon – Chapter twelve is finished! Word count stands at 100,498. (I love crossing the 100,000 milestone!) I have at least one more chapter, plus the Epilogue and then the book is done. I’m still hoping to have the writing finished by December 31st.

I had a blast working with Everet in this latest chapter, one of my sub-plot characters who is about a hundred years out of date. As it turns out, I probably could have written an entire novel about him alone, but this wasn’t the time. The Gladstone Shifters is primarily a romance series, with a healthy dose of intrigue and drama thrown in to keep things interesting, and Everet’s journey hasn’t reached the romance stage (yet).

 

Weekly Roundup 12-5-18 Reference Material for Romance Writers

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I prefer to get my news online and like to save articles which might help my writing, be it general information or new story ideas. Back in June I was intrigued by this one: “Sixteen Hot Spots on a Man’s Body You Should Know About” by Carina Hsieh. Naturally, as an M/M romance writer, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. It never hurts to introduce some new ideas into a hot bedroom scene, and I certainly can’t claim to know it all.

While the list contained the usual suspects (lips, penis, nipples, perineum), there were a few odd places mentioned:

  • Adam’s Apple
  • Lower back
  • The dip under the ankle

I am uncertain how much serious research is represented, but the author claims the advice comes from “experts”. I can think of at least two hot spots which were left off the list, though most gay men are not shy about taking advantage of them. You’ll have to read the article for yourself and decide if the information is helpful!

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Traitor’s Moon – I’ve made some great progress this week and am deep into chapter twelve! Word count stands at 96,300+. This part of the book is both winding down towards the end and building up to the final conflict. During a short break in the action, I’m having fun with one of the sub-plots, fleshing out a newer character. Too many new people tend to distract from the primary pair in each story, so I have to be careful. It remains to be seen if he will be featured, or only mentioned, in future books.

Since I’m near the end, I occasionally have trouble remembering details from the early chapters. Research is often required to make certain I am being consistent with important details (thank goodness for the “search” feature in MS Word!). I suppose it could be said that many readers would not notice minor errors, since they have most probably forgotten the details by the end of the book anyway. Perhaps, but I simply can’t let things like that slide. As an author, I feel obligated to give readers my very best, and I hope it shows.

My goal is to complete Traitor’s Moon by the end of the calendar year and publish it early next year. Stay tuned for the cover reveal!

Reader Roundup 11-28 18 November Birthdays

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Apparently March is a popular baby-making month, since my November calendar is filled with birthdays! In fact, today is my youngest son’s special day, and he insists on getting older every year, dragging me along with him. November also included birthdays for my sister, niece, and granddaughter. Break out the cake, ice cream and balloons – and don’t forget the presents.

Most of my extended family are several states away, so I make an effort to send a card and call them on their day. It feels nice to be remembered on your birthday, even if you hate the idea of getting older. Hey – you’re going to age no  matter what, so you might as well get some attention and gifts out of the deal!

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Had our first winter storm here a few days ago. It wasn’t too bad, but all snow and ice make me nervous if I have to drive in it. My recent move brought me 800 miles northeast, and the winters in my previous home were nothing in comparison. I went from six inches of annual snowfall to sixty-eight! Since I used to live here for many years, it shouldn’t take long to become accustomed to it again. No one here seems to pay much attention to the weather.

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Traitor’s Moon – I’m finally making some significant progress! Chapter eleven was completed over the holiday weekend and I got a great start on chapter twelve. Following that, I should be able to wrap things up with one more chapter and the Epilogue. There is still a lot of story to tell, both major plot elements and minor story threads. It’s all important! I love seeing my characters grow and change, new ideas introduced, and conflict resolved.

I don’t plan out everything in advance with my books. I prefer to work with a rough outline of ideas and then allow the story to tell itself as I write. I’m sure a lot of authors would cringe at the idea, but it works for me. Some of the best elements in my stories are ones literally added as I’m writing, and they often surprise me. For instance, in my current manuscript two of the main characters have a unique and humorous way of interacting which I hadn’t even thought of previously. Initial feedback from beta readers confirms their verbal fencing fits the characters well and made the story more enjoyable. Cool!

You might think my mind is totally consumed with finishing Traitor’s Moon, but you would be wrong. While my new job requires more concentration and less time for my mind to wander and create, I’ve still been churning out story ideas! As always, it’s been a mixed bag; dragons, fairies and elves, various romances, sci-fi, and of course the next book in the Gladstone Shifters series. If I could start writing full time today, and lived to be a hundred, I would still have file folders full of ideas. That’s OK, it keeps me out of trouble.

Weekly Roundup 11-21-18 Thanksgiving – More Than a Holiday

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.

Growing up, I loved Thanksgiving because it meant a big family dinner and time off school. I didn’t care why it existed or when it started or what it might mean for me personally. Introspection and history were for grown ups, and I couldn’t have cared less.

I’m happy to report my attitude of gratitude has changed over the years, but Thanksgiving provides a crucial reminder to get me back on track. Many have forgotten or ignore the spiritual side of the holiday, which is more than regrettable considering how blessed we are as a people in this country. God has been so very good to me, and I am eternally grateful for His love and provision.

I must confess, however, it’s entirely too easy for me to focus on the negative and gripe about what I don’t have. If you’re like me, then I challenge you spend some time tomorrow making a list of blessings and place it where it can be seen every day. As more things come to mind, add to your list and review it when your attitude starts to sour. While we often can’t change our circumstances, we DO have the power to change our attitude, and a thankful heart will go a long way to lifting your spirits and encouraging friends and loved ones.

My best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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I’ve made some progress on Expectant Moon this week and am more than halfway through chapter 11! Have you ever planned a memorial service for shifters? Well, neither had I! This was another difficult and emotional portion of the manuscript, and I found my self choked up and crying as I wrote. Good thing the tissues were close at hand! Hopefully I managed to create something unique to the wolf shifter community, yet still recognizable to my human readers.

This event marks the end of the dramatic attack sequence and leads into the final wrap-up portion of the story. I still have a bad guy to deal with and a number of dangling threads to tie off, but the end of the book is now in sight. With the holiday tomorrow, I have a long weekend ahead and plan to spend most of it writing. No promises, but if all goes well, I may actually get the book finished before the end of the year after all!

Weekly Roundup 11-14-18 Book Review – LEVITY

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

If you are a fan of fairy tale re-tellings, get a copy of LEVITY by Leta Blake and Keira Andrews. This gay fairy tale contains many of the classic ideas: a prince, a witch’s curse, a love story, a happy ending. All similarity ends there, however, as the authors spin an enjoyable tale with an incredible twist.

The prince is cursed from youth with a lack of gravity, both physical and emotional, requiring constant care to keep him from floating away! Though taught about normal emotions by the royal staff, the young prince spends his life laughing through most circumstances, never shedding a tear or showing remorse or sadness.

A birthday outing results in the prince floating away into the sky, only to be rescued later by a handsome woodsman. The lonely man also suffers from a curse of his own, yet the two of them manage to quickly develop a relationship before the prince’s keepers arrive to take him home. When the witch who cursed them both gets involved once again, the lovers face a crisis which seems to have no solution. How can they ever free and remain together?

I enjoyed both the classic format and the unique elements which made the story deliciously different. This is an example of imagination at its best! I can’t say I would ever have thought to curse someone with a lack of gravity, but the authors make it work. I found the use of flashbacks to explain the curses a bit clumsy, as it broke up the flow of the book and felt artificial. Otherwise, it was a wonderful read and one I highly recommend. You’ll like the cover too!

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Though my writing time this week remained severely limited, I did mange to get a good start on chapter eleven. Word count now stands at 88,000+. It felt good returning to the story!

I had hoped to publish Traitor’s Moon before the end of the year, but it looks doubtful. My new work schedule leaves me with even less writing time than I had before, and I am often so tired I have to use my free time to catch up on sleep. Believe me, I’m just as disappointed as my readers, but my health and ability to pay the bills has to come before my books. I will keep trying, and who knows – it may still happen. I’ll keep you posted!

Weekly Roundup 11-7-18 Ten Unusual Things About Me

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Today I’m responding to an unofficial tag from H.R.R Gorman, who published a list of unusual things about himself. Check out his blog – he always has interesting things to say! Anyway, the challenge sounded like fun, so I’m going to give it a go.

  1. I come from a family of eleven children. This was something my parents planned right from the beginning, and if my mother hadn’t miscarried once, they would have had twelve. I have eight sisters and two bothers and am number nine in the lineup. OK, enough math.
  2. I really hate getting lost while driving, as in stressed out worried I will never find my way back to civilization. It’s even worse if I’m running late, the weather is bad, or I’m in a strange city. If you’re ever riding with me when this happens, you may hear some colorful words!
  3. Not sure what the percentages are, but I never had my tonsils or appendix removed. Sad to say, this is not true of my perfectly healthy gall bladder which was mistakenly yanked from my insensate body at the hands of an HMO physician (don’t get me started!).
  4. I learned to drive on a Ford Pinto, a stick-shift gas-saver without any amenities which my father purchased new and kept running well beyond its normal lifetime.
  5. Since leaving home for college, I have moved a total of thirty times. Yes, I’m getting too old for this, and no, it won’t be the last.
  6. As far as I know, I have only wet the bed once. I was nine years old, and my family was vacationing in Minnesota. On the very last morning, I did the deed thinking no one would notice – including my older brother who shared the bed with me. You must understand; we were staying in a cabin by the lake where it was pitch black at night and a family of skunks was living under the outhouse. There was NO WAY my nine year old scared of the dark (and woodsy creatures) self was going to venture out to pee! I certainly didn’t get any sympathy from my mother, who was forced to delay the trip home while she dashed to the laundromat in town to wash the sheets.
  7. I have a master’s degree which I used for less than a year and will never need again. Yeah, I would definitely do some things differently if I could go back in time.
  8. At one time, I was serious about becoming an actor or a singer. Later came the nature photography phase, followed by the current author career track. Hey, at least my recent choices are a bit more exciting than the mailman or garbage man I wanted to be when I was kid!
  9. People who are afraid of heights normally stay away from them, yet I still enjoy riding roller coasters. The worst part is the slow clink-clink-clink up the long hill to the top. Once you drop over the edge, the certainty of plunging to a gory death outweighs the mere fear of heights. Go figure…
  10. I feel lost with out access to a clock. I not only wear a wrist watch but have clocks in every room of the house. I think it’s part of a need to feel in control of my day and avoid being late. Perhaps I should have been a horologist.

And there you have it -all my weirdness in one list! Well, the list probably could have been longer, but I don’t know you well enough to reveal anything else.

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I wish I could report some progress on Traitor’s Moon, but I’ve been swamped with work and getting settled in my new apartment. Except for wall art, I’m almost done unpacking boxes and finding new homes for things. While I like my kitchen, its layout is opposite of the last one, and I find myself turning in circles trying to find things which used to be next to the stove but are now on the other side of the fridge. Light switches also have me goofed up, and if it weren’t for strategically placed nightlights, I would be slamming into walls in the middle of the night.

I dearly miss writing, and my poor book cries out for me to finish it! Now that I’m getting used to my work schedule and the move-in is almost complete, I should be able to make some progress. My goal is to start again tomorrow, or as soon as I can get caught up on changing addresses and paying bills. Tune in next week to see what happens!

Weekly Roundup 11-1-18 Changes!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

My apologies for missing the update yesterday, but I have a good excuse.

Last week, I wrote about the difficulty of securing employment – two days later I got a job! It’s not everything I might have wanted, but it has potential. Unfortunately, working second shift is playing merry hell with my schedule! My neat, orderly world suddenly went belly up and I am scrambling to compensate. When your new normal is abnormal, things get kind of weird.

As if that weren’t enough pot-stirring, I was able to find an apartment (that’s another story) and so have been spending my little free time arranging utilities, changing addresses, etc. The move is this weekend, and since I just started a new job, can’t ask for time off. Whew! The silver lining here is I will finally have my own place instead of camping out in my son’s living room. I’m grateful to him for putting up with me, but he and I need our own space! How I’m going to afford the rent is another issue…

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I haven’t had any time to write. I hope to be back on the horse by this time next week, but no guarantees. Oddly enough, most of my “author” thoughts lately concern the next book in the series; something I’ve had happen before. If the ideas are really cool I’ll write them down, otherwise they get tucked back into my cranial cupboard until needed. While I hate the interruption, I should be back on track within a few days and make some progress on Traitor’s Moon!

PS – I have the final cover art and it’s gorgeous!

Weekly Roundup 10-24-18 Looking for Work

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

As you may know, I completed a major move at the end of September and am trying to get settled. I can’t speak for anyone else but looking for a job is at the top of my “Least Favorite Things to Do” list. It saps my energy, makes me doubt everything, and reduces my already low self-esteem. Almost four weeks and… nothing.

Yesterday, I spent over three hours at one employment agency, trying to secure a job I didn’t really want – they’re still looking. You know things are bad when you send in an application to the one place you swore you’d NEVER work, and they turn you down. At this point, the bottom of the barrel would be looking up.

All righty then, enough complaining! There are some perks to my current situation:

  • I get to stay up late and sleep in.
  • There are no annoying co-workers to put up with.
  • My morning commute is only as far as the bathroom.
  • I have more time to write!

Current manuscript – I’m now on chapter 11 of Traitor’s Moon. In order to fit in the rest of the story, I’ll probably need three or four more chapters. Word count = 86,000+.

I ran into a curious problem in Chapter 10. Two sets of characters were recently mated; one gay and one straight. Now, I couldn’t ignore the straight couple completely, so yeah they get some sexy time together. When I attempted to get more detailed about their love-making, I felt very uncomfortable and had to delete it from the manuscript. I still managed to give them their own moments, but I simply couldn’t go much beyond pleasant generalities! It’s not a matter of being shy or ignorant – I was, after all, in a presumably straight relationship for twenty years!

Writing intimate situations for gay couples is easy, and yes, I get a kick out it. This was the first time I attempted to write a straight sex scene with any depth, so the whole “I don’t think I can do this” feeling really took me by surprise. In the end, it’s probably for the best. My readers aren’t looking for hetero sex in my romances, and since I don’t feel comfortable writing about it, I think we’re on the same page. This is another example of characters teaching me something about myself, and I’m OK with that. At least I know my limitations!

Expectant Moon Gets a Makeover

The importance of a great cover cannot be overstated. It’s crucial to grab a potential reader’s attention while also giving them a general idea of what kind of book they are looking at. Great, now you’re halfway there! The second step is to provide an enticing book description, which, if done correctly, peaks their interest and convinces them to purchase. I’m going to save step two for another post and focus on the cover today.

One of the challenges an indie author faces is the overwhelming body of knowledge needed to successfully publish a book. Assuming you have a great story and the manuscript has been written well and edited properly, you’re still left with all the marketing issues – including the items mentioned above. I was arrogant enough to believe I knew better than my graphic artist what a great book cover should look like. Consequently my choices have been underwhelming, affecting sales and my brand. (Yes, my other books need new covers too, but I can’t afford to change them all right now.)

Well, this old dog really CAN learn new tricks! At times it’s difficult for me to admit I was wrong, swallow my pride, and let the “experts” guide me. Perhaps you share the same struggle and know what I mean. Anyway, with Traitor’s Moon nearing completion, I was determined to find an AWESOME cover for it. The original plan was to model it after Expectant Moon’s with slight changes. Now, I’m very fond of the present artwork and wouldn’t normally spend the money to replace it so soon, but I’d made too many mistakes and it had to go.

After eating a generous portion of humble pie, I contacted my graphic artist with a request to start from scratch and design the whole series, which will include at least three books. This time, I gave her the freedom to do it properly and ignore my input if it got in her way. The difference between the old and new is quite striking and early feedback is convinced I’ve got a winner. Tell me what you think!

New Cover:

ExpectantMoonSmallerWebUse -new

Old Cover:

ExpectantMoonSmallerWebUse

 

WEEKLY ROUNDUP 10-17-18 May I quote you?

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

This week I want to share a mix of wonderful book quotes:

  • “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx
  • “The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.” Isabel Allende
  • “You cannot open a book without learning something.” Confucius
  • “The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.” Joseph Joubert
  • “Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.” G.K. Chesterton
  • “Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?” David Baldacci
  • “A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.” Neil Gaiman
  • “In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.” Anna Quindlen
  • “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” Christopher Hitchens
  • “A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Garrison Keillor

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Traitor’s Moon – I’m deep into chapter 10! Two of the minor characters have been brought together as mates and were named after my parents. If they were still alive they would not be amused! I didn’t do it on purpose…it just happened that way – really! Anyway, I’m unpacking the story box at a faster pace, revealing jewels which had to wait their turn. I’m not sure if I get more pleasure from revealing it to myself or to my readers. Word count stands at 80,000+.

My graphic artist is busy working on the cover for Traitor’s Moon! I love seeing the book come to life visually this way. In fact, she is creating covers for the series, which means Expectant Moon will get a new one too. I may give you a preview but will definitely reveal it when Traitor’s Moon is released. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.