Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

Alright, everyone! It's time to hop! That's right. Let's get your blog hop on! And I'm about to hop to it!

Was that painful? I apologize. I've never participated in a blog hop before, so wasn't entirely sure how to get this started. I'm going to assume that my awkward stumbling has sufficed as a header, and just move on. *facepalm*

Today is my post for the My Writing Process Blog Tour.

First thing, I want to thank Johi Jenkins for tagging me. I have read both her Resurgence and The Thirst Within novels, and I'm eagerly waiting on the next installments. They're definitely the kind of books I still think about long after I'm done reading. Thanks again for tagging me, Johi!

Welp, I guess it's on to the questions now!

1) What are you working on? 

I am currently in the finishing stages of the last 3rd of After - Part Three. I'm getting nudged on this almost daily now to get it released, so the pressure is on! But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that the release date is just around the corner. After that, I have a couple of other projects simmering on the burners that I will unveil in August. I am incredibly excited about both of these, but my main focus still remains on The Phoenix Curse.

2) How does you work differ from others of its genre?

This is a toughie, since not only am I in the over saturated horror/supernatural nook, but in the zombie nook as well. Zombies!! Zombie novels are literally a dime a dozen now-a-days, and if someone had told me ten years ago that my first published novel would be about the mindless hordes, I would have scoffed and thought they were a moron... and then delved into what else they might know about the future, but seriously... zombies?

Yes, zombies!!! Not only because so many people out there love apocalyptic/distopia/zombie fiction, but I love apocalyptic/distopia/zombie fiction... and a strong female lead. Now, zombies have been done every which way, so I went the way of the not-dead mindless horde and ended up with infected LIVE zombies. Ones that will definitely die (and stay dead) if they suffer some massive trauma, but they're strong... and they're fast... and they're resilient, and that's what my nightmares are made of.

Also, most zombie novels start at the cusp of the desolation. I jump a few years past the apocalypse, and dropped my characters into the new and (not) improved distopia America, and let them take over from there. 

3) Why do you write what you do? 

It captured me. I fell in love with my characters and then fell into the world that I created. The Phoenix Curse started off as an exercise, but managed to bloom and come to life in my mind. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to get it all down on paper.

4) How does your writing process work? 

Slowly? *cackle* Probably not the answer you're looking for. I start with a prompt, a rough outline in my head, and I try to get a complete story down on paper as fast as I can. I've only done this a couple times, so I'm definitely no pro at it, but I'm working to get better! Once that part is done, then I bitch and moan for the next few months about how much I hate revising/rewriting/editing while I put myself through a slow kind of torture by getting my manuscript ready for the editor. Oy, editing sucks.

But as much as I grumble, it is all worth it when the scene I was struggling with finally clicks into place, and nothing compares to that feeling when I have my final manuscript in my hands. It's wonderfully awesome, and I hope to have that exact feeling here soon with After - Part Three. Never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

~~~

And there it is! We're really hopping now!!

Ugh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't torture those that made it this far down my post. Please accept my humble apologies. I'm ashamed. And sleepy, but no excuse.

Okay, NEXT week, be sure to check out the two blogs below, whom I have nominated to follow me in this blog hop.

First is Monica La Porta, whom I worked with on Off the Beaten Path. She is the author of the wonderful Priest series, which is set in a very intriguing world.

Next is Arreis Rose, who is currently working on her first series, and is just now getting her brand new blog off the ground with this blog hop. The first book in her series, Small, is tentatively set to release next Summer.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

News!

Summer is coming! It's just around the corner. That fact is unavoidable and weighs on me every day because I said roughly 8 months ago that After - Part Three would be released in Spring of 2014.

Now spring has come and almost gone, and it's time for me to face the inevitable. I did not finish as promised. There are a number of reasons why I did not finish on time, but like my fortune cookie told me... Excuses are easy to manufacture, but hard to sell. I never liked excuses anyway, so I'm not even going to bother wasting my time on an explanation right now. However, it will be coming later, because there was a lesson for me, a huge lesson as a matter of fact, and it's something I want to share because it might be helpful/inspirational... but later.

I could have published prior to this, but the book wasn't something I wanted to rush, based on the previous lessons I've learned. I got overly excited with After - Part One because it was the first book I'd ever written and finished, so I was a little over eager to hit that publish button. Then I had a slew of errors that I had to go back and fix. Then with After - Part Two, I had promised to get it out by October of 2013, and I did it!! ... And had a slew of errors that I had to go back and fix.

Third time's the charm?

I want to do this right. I can't promise a release date, but I can promise that I'm going to deliver a book that I'm happy with, and hopefully one better written and put together than it's predecessors. I can also give you my schedule, and at this late date, one that I feel comfortable in sticking with.

I should be finished with the rewrites by the end of this month, and then the manuscript will go to my editor in July. Once she has it to look over, I can get a better timeline of how long it will take her to finish the edits, and then I will be able to have a true release date. During that time, I'll be marketing part three, finishing up a project that stole some of my attention earlier this year, and working on the first draft on my next Phoenix Curse project.

Lots and lots and lots of plans! I'm excited about them all and can't wait to share it with you! Until then, blog posts will be scarce, but if you want to check up on me, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook. Yes... I have Twitter, but I suck at Twitter. I love you, Twitter followers, and I apologize for being Twitter stupid, but I just can't get with the program. I continue to try, but it feels like my efforts are doing more harm than good.

Sorries.

Have a good weekend, everyone!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dreaming and Days of Future Past

I've said this before and I'll reiterate right now, that I do enjoy my day job in procurement and I find it satisfying, but that is not my dream. 

*queue soft, inspirational music*

I have a dream! That dream is to wake up at 7 every morning, come downstairs in my bath robe, fix me a cup of hot chocolate, and open up the manuscript that I will pour all my creative juices into for the day.

*record screech*

Well, I guess I could be doing that anyway via starving artist fashion, but I'm a little more pragmatic than that. I need to make a living to support this hobby I have, but one day I hope to turn the hobby into the career that can put food on the table. And oh how satisfying THAT will be!

I have so many stories in my head that I don't have time to get down on paper right now. I would have liked to have been done with After months ago and already deep into Dreamland or beyond, but I can only do what I can do with the little time I have. Rest assured, that my free time is going into After - Part Three

Hell, I've had two prompts floating around in the ol' noggin for over a week now that I haven't had time to pen. If I don't get them down somewhere soon, I'll forget them. One is decent, one maybe meh, but you can't ever tell just from a prompt. The story doesn't really come to life until you work with it, and decent prompts aren't always easy to come by. I can go for months without a prompt, then have two fall into my lap within a day of each other and send my brain into hyper drive trying to untangle them. 

Think I'm going to get to them after I publish this post. Don't want them getting away!

Evan Peters
On the fun side of things, I got to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past last weekend. I really enjoyed the movie, but I'm not a hardcore X-Men fan. I only read a few of the comics when I was a kid, mostly Rogue and Phoenix stuff... which means I was not a fan of The Last Stand, but whatevs. Thank you for turning that fubar back around, Simon Kinberg! 

I just thought Days of Future Past was really well done, and it had some excellent comedic moments as well. Someone who's unfamiliar with the X-Men mythology should still be able to enjoy this movie, but I STRONGLY recommend watching First Class first if you haven't seen that one. 

My favorite introduction of a new character to the screen was Quicksilver! YAY, TATE!! Yes, I know his real name, but Tate is the first thing that pops into my head, even after watching American Horror Story season 2. I can't even remember what his name was in that season. Probably because I always referred to him as Tate. 

Okay, okay... Here on out, I'll refer to him as Quicksilver, because.... QUICKSILVER!! But that's only going to work up until the next Avengers movie releases. Then everyone's going to be confused. 

Welcome to my world. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bioshock and Editing

I believe I have finally managed to get a good editing process down for myself. Goals are easy when you're still in the first draft process and you're just writing words, words, and more words, but it was difficult for me to set goals during the editing. Mostly because I didn't have a good process. First there are rewrites, then you have the macro-editing, and then you have the micro-editing... All of which I find very daunting tasks. Hell, there are probably more editings in there I should be doing that I don't know about. Don't tell me! Don't tell me!! I don't wan't to know about them, or it's just going to scare me more.

So a couple weeks ago, I was able to work out a goal for myself, and I started to meet it everyday. So I upped that goal last week and I met it EVERYDAY! WOOHOO!! It took a bit of adjusting to create an attainable goal while I juggle work, family, and sleep, but I think I've finally done it.

If I try to do to much, I end up over reaching, stressing myself out and then the inevitable crash and burn catches up with me. Once that happens, it's hard to get started again. Doubts and fears creep in, and other projects dance enticingly at the edges of my mind. Don't worry though, I am determined to make this work. I'll get through this one step at a time, one page at a time, one word at a time, until it's done and I can hit that publish button. Then I will begin the next project and finish it the same way. 

And.... I still don't have a release date for part three yet... sorry! But we're getting closer!

So please don't hate me for taking some time off this weekend. I enjoy playing PC games and grabbed Bioshock Infinite while it was on sale for $10 on Steam. My husband has played it, and it's one of his favorite games. He was not spoiled to the ending when he finished it, so he had a pretty mind-blowing experience. Me, on the other hand, I tell him back then, "I'm never going to play it. Go ahead and tell me how it ends."

Oops! I really had no intention of playing the game, and I suck at first person shooters anyway. Why would I think I'd play it? Guess I won't be having games spoiled for me anymore. But I played it, and I enjoyed it. Of course I had it on EZ mode, but that did not distract from the story. Shame I was spoiled to the ending. Now I'm left to imagine how mind-blowing it could have been.

I guess FPS games aren't so bad... I still need to finish Mass Effect 3.

After all the edits are done, of course. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Long time, no blog. Am I right?

Sorry about that. I've been updated on Facebook more and more lately, which isn't to say that much, but that's where my posts have been. If you haven't followed me there yet, here's the link. There is also a Phoenix Curse facebook fan page, but I hardly ever post to that one anymore.

So here's a brief rundown of the past couple of weeks. My husband and I celebrated our 6th anniversary last weekend, and it was wonderful. We didn't go anywhere, but we did take a couple days off work just to spend time with each other. One of those days included an hour long full body massage at a day spa.... shortest hour ever!! I definitely recommend doing that if you never have. It is amazing!

That was followed by a stellar week in the editing/rewriting journey, and I plan to match and exceed that this week! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of my first root canal and a crown prep on top of that, so I did not hit my daily goal... imagine that?... but it wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. Little ibuprofen afterwards and I was almost back to my normal, charming self.

Here's a life tip for everyone out there. Don't eats nuts, I repeat, DO NOT eat nuts the day after you've had a root canal. That is a BAD BAD BAD idea! Feel free to pass that on to friends and loved ones out there.

Ahem...

After my wonderful 5+ hours experience at the dentist, I came home to relax a bit. We've been living in our new house since the end of February and haven't take a walk around the neighborhood yet, so I asked my lovely daughter if she wanted to go with me. It was a beautiful weather last night, so we headed out on to find the nearest walking trail. It was just my daughter and the little stinker since my husbands ability to walk has been very limited due to a injury.

We find a trail and are walking through a nice, open area behind some houses. Bunnies are hopping around being bunnies, and it's just a picturesque day for a walk. Then Arreis (my daughters pen name) says, "I want to show you something," and she hands me her phone.

This is what plays.


Then she hands me this nifty little green and blue bracelet that she made out of rubber bands. Not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit! It was such a beautiful walk and a memory I will cherish forever. So glad I can share her love and creativity with everyone too!

To all you wonderful mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

After - Part Three Cover Reveal!

Happy first day of spring! Ya'll know what that means, right? As promised, the cover reveal for After - Part
Three is coming right up!

Happy Spring! 
Before I get to that, I just really quick want to say thank you to my fans out there. I love reading your kind words that come across Facebook and Twitter. They mean so much to me and really do brighten my day. I'm back to working on the book at least a little every day, and I'm so happy that you're on this journey with me!

So here it is. The brand new, shiny cover art for After - Part Three!

Doesn't it look so cute, fluffy and.... creepy??




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Kind Word

I like to talk about trivial things. There's just something I love about fluff... a sweet, guilty pleasure. Today, however, I'm leaving the fluff behind, and touching on a serious subject.

I don't talk about my personal life, my past life, much. It's a topic I intentionally steer clear of for a reason, and I have no plans to divulge my ancient history other than within my writing... and before I go any further, you must understand that it is just that. Ancient history.

I sit here tonight in a brand new house, have a loving husband, wonderful kids, a good job, and I've been able to turn my dream of becoming a published author into reality. I'm blessed, and I know it, but I walked a very dark path to get here. Yeah, I caught a few breaks that lead me out of a very bad situation, but ultimately it was me that made the decision to be strong and walk away.

Maybe, at some point in my life, I thought of myself as a victim. Not only did I live through, I survived years of domestic abuse, and I believe I came out the other side a stronger person. It's no small debt that I owe my husband for helping me grow into the person I am today, and he probably doesn't even realize how much he helped me by simply being the kind soul that he is. I've grown so much over the past decade, and even though there are still some lingering issues, some scars that refuse to completely fade away, I am happy with the person I am today. I will never think of myself as a victim again.

But that's not the story I want to write about tonight. I will leave the darkest part of my life in the shadows, only to break free in bits and pieces in my books. What I want to talk about is the road I walked that lead me there.

We were all born a clean, pristine slate, to be shaped partly by nature and probably a lot more by nurture. The house I grew up in was rife with bitterness and negativity. Two things that really don't come close to what I suffered in my early adulthood, but they paved the way nevertheless. The passive aggressive comments and outright degrading statements getting thrown at me at a very young age shattered my self-esteem. Remember, as a child, you have no basis of comparison. This was the norm. This was how I thought the world was supposed to work.

I very keenly remember sharing my dreams with the adults around me - those that I trusted, loved, and respected unconditional because that's simple what children do - and I was laughed at. By adults. I didn't even get humored or patronized, my thoughts were simply shot down.

I sang a song and was told "You'll never sound like Pasty Cline."

When I told another member of my family, "I want to write a story," I can still remember her laughing at me and saying "You don't have anything to write about."

But the worst thing was that I believed it.

I'll never forget how hard I tried to achieve their standards, how I strove for a complement, and yet I could never satisfy. It left me feeling completely unwanted and that anything I would accomplish would be worthless and a waste of time. I'm sure there are thousands upon thousands of people that have suffered through similar situations, I can't imagine that it's really all that uncommon, and that's a sad thought indeed.

Years later, as an adult, I finally understand that the problem was never with me, but more a reflection of the insecurities and doubts of my caregivers projected at me. Now, as a mother, I can't even fathom saying these things, or the like, to my children. Even though I witnessed it, lived through it, and bore the brunt of many hurtful statements, I still do not understand the thought process behind 'knocking' a child's self-esteem.

And really, this is what I want to talk about.

Watch what you say around and to the young-ins. What you think is an offhand remark that doesn't mean anything to you might linger in their thoughts for years. It could hit them at a critical time and shape who they are, affecting their decisions and reasonings for decades.

And even though I was nearly crushed under the weight of the overwhelming negativity, I do remember the good things too. Not that it came from my immediate family, but the applause from an unlikely source stands out like a bright pillar in my memories. It was the encouragement I was starved for, and it was enough to keep the spark burning.

I remember that vividly as well, Mrs Duke. Thank you.

So never withhold a kind word from a child. If you have young children around you, keep in mind that you are their everything. Everything you say, everything you do is being inscribed into their memories. It doesn't even have to be your own child, especially if it's not your own child, because you never know, can't know what they live with. The kind word you say to them could just be the only one that they'll hear that day, that week, that month, that year.

Encourage them, listen, spare that moment to really focus on what they've brought before you. It will mean the absolute world to them. Those kind little words may be the ones they remember, the ones they cling to during the tough times, the ones that will give them that extra, little push when they want to give up, and the ones they smile back on after they accomplish something amazing.

You may never know what you've done for a child with your kind words, but they'll know, and that's what matters most of all.