Monthly Archives: February 2012

Darkspeed is darkspeedier

After a major facelift, a tummy tuck, and a hip replacement, Book #2, Darkspeed, is back on track!

I think sometimes I’m too subtle. I have to stop and realize not everyone lives inside the dark cobwebbed space between my ears and be obvious on occasion.

For example, I love reading Agatha Christie, but it annoys me to no end when the “who dun it” was the next door neighbor that never got introduced until the Big Reveal. I try not to be that writer. I give you all the clues you need to piece together the puzzle, along with a few random misdirections, all with the goal being that when you get to the end, I want the reader to say “DUH! Why didn’t I figure that out sooner!” instead of “Well, yeah, I think we’ve known that since page six” or “How did you get to that conclusion? That just makes no sense whatsoever!”

Darkspeed, like all of my full-length novels at least tries to incorporate an element of surprise, and I hope that at least one person says “Wow, I did not see that coming.”

Much thanks goes out to Shaun for convincing me to revisit DS, and to D for questioning my motivations. They say it takes a village to raise a child… I think it takes a whole clan to write a book! Thanks, friends!


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Editing – the dark side of writing

I hate to edit my own writing.  There, I admitted it.

Editing is a pain in the behind.  Every time I find some stupid, bonehead mistake, I want to shake myself, especially if this is the umpteenth time I’ve gone over it.

But editing is a very necessary evil.

Sometimes I get a story idea that just rocks my world.  I get it down on paper.  I re-read it and I like it.  Then a month goes by… and a couple of more months… and I read it again and suddenly I realize thatabsolutely nothinghappens for the first sixty pages. HUH?  How could I have missed that?

But that’s okay, because I can re-write and re-work (which unlike editing, I love!) Suddenly, that little jewel I pictured in my head really does exist on paper. And while I’m at it, I start hacking and slashing, getting rid of parts that needed to go all along, and adding in bits that were missing.  Nothing is sacred when I re-write.

For example, I’m doing a total facelift on Book #2, Darkspeed, this weekend. I’ve cut 7k words from it, and now it’s a much stronger story.

FYI, I love Darkspeed.  I really had to push and challenge myself with this one but I really love the story, but it’s the characters who make it special for me. Maybe that’s why I had such a hard time revisiting it and giving it the tough-love tough-scrub it deserved. I remember intensely what it felt like to write DS. I introduced a character that kept me awake at night, and while writing the first draft, I realized that he couldn’t be the person I wanted him to be, and had to let him be the person he really was. That was a rocky, hard journey. In the same story, I introduced another character who was intended to be background fluff but he took on a life of his own and became central to the Elleverse. His growth throughout the series is second only to Elle’s journey and the more layers are revealed on him, the more he continues to amaze me.

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You lost me at monsters

I am trying to get published, maybe not as hard as I should, but I am actively working on it. I’m recruiting friends and perfect strangers to read and comment on my work, and try to apply their comments and suggestions.

I’ve come out of the author closet with all of my friends. I don’t blush when writing is mentioned, instead I push a handful of papers at anyone who will take them. I enter writing contests with varying degrees of success. I’m honing my pitch. I’m submitting samples to agents. I just haven’t gotten very far yet. I don’t know if that is because I’m just not good enough at my craft yet, or if I just haven’t found the right outlet yet – so I’m working on both.

I’ve gotten a lot of form rejections so far, and those suck because the reader didn’t even think I was worth a real comment. I get it. Agents and publishers are swamped, and even a form rejection is better than nothing.

I’ve also received feedback from my friends – some positive and some not so positive.

  • My favorite is “because you are either better than (name of popular series redacted) or you spent a LOT of time typing up a book someone really fucking good wrote and i know that ain’t it because you’re too lazy to do that for a practical joke.”
  • But I will never forget a review which was posted online instead of emailed to me “… just finished editing an amazing book by a great author… can’t wait for the next one!!!

It’s hard to get friends and loved ones to give you the straight scoop, because they want to encourage and support, and are afraid that you might not take rejection well. I’m the queen of rejection! I eat bowls of rejection for breakfast! But my friends don’t want to hurt me, and I love them for that. Fortunately, strangers don’t really give a crap about your feelings and their comments – good and bad – can really hit home.


The good:

  • “I want to go hunting monsters with Elle”
  • “I’m in, come rain or shine, But monsters to die for?  Yes!  The writing is suspenseful, scary, believable, empathetic, and most importantly… tempered with humor. A winner!”
  • “strong on spookiness”
  • “My favorite thing about this chapter, and the excerpt in general, is that the beasties are never fully described: they are shadowy things with eyes and claws, and this makes them much scarier than they would be if given a full clinical description.”
  • “4.0 out of 5 stars Monster-Hunter Madness”
  • “we see and feel it happen! We’re right alongside her as she is attacked. This slow chapter ends with a screaming note, and hooks the reader.”
  • “To the reader: if you like paranormal monster-hunter stuff…this one looks like it’s gonna fit the bill.”

The blah

  • “I’m generally not a fan of horror fantasies but both my daughter and son-in-law are devotees and I’m certain that they’d find this story compelling.”

The painful

  • “After an intriguing, if familiar, opening sequence — a young woman driving alone after dark is attacked by a mysterious creature — this horror novel fails to deliver the goods, lacking enough scares or suspense to keep readers turning pages.”

And the downright confusing

But if I had to be honest, my favorite complete stranger review was full of mixed messages. I like to call it my “you’re a great writer, but I hated it” review and I use this to remind myself that taste is subjective and if someone doesn’t like creature-features, they’re not going to like my writing, even if it was perfect.

  • I held on until the phrase, “Elle was a monster hunter.” Then I was yanked out of the story by the ridiculousness of it all, I found it very unfortunate that the author went in this direction with a beginning that had me poised for more. The story is unbelievable, but not badly written. There are sections that are very well done; it made me wish the author had written the story I started reading and not the one I finished.“

I think I got more out of this review than any other, since it gave me a solid rejection philosophy, and inspired a line in Book 5, Secondary Infection:
“You lost me at ‘monsters’,” Zoë said firmly.  “I mean, this is ridiculous.”

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Every blog should start with a confession and here’s mine.

I’m an unpublished author, but I don’t plan on being like that forever. The unpublished part, not the writer part. I don’t think that a writer ever really stops writing once it seeps into their veins. And even if I never see a word I’ve written in print, I will keep writing.

So, what do I write? That’s not an easy question to answer. If I had to use an industry category, it would have to be dark fantasy or horror, but I abhor both of those labels. To me, fantasy means swords and dragons, and while I admittedly do incorporate occasional swords and dragons, I don’t set books in an alternate, Toklein-esque world. In fact, the crux of my framework is that monsters are real and they exist in the world that you already know. That sounds like urban fantasy, I know, but urban fantasy is based on a hero or heroine who happens to be a werewolf/vampire/other creepy crawly – and my character is a human who fights such creatures. As for horror, yes, I have all of the elements of a scare fest, but in my head, horror is Stephen King and Clive Barker.

I like to describe it as I write old-fashioned, creature-feature fiction and paranormal mysteries with comedic undertones – because I want people to enjoy being afraid of the dark.

Although I dabble in other stories, most of my novels and short stories (currently 6 and 8, respectively) are part of The Unnatural Adventures of Elle York, or the Elleverse as I call it. They center around a woman named Elle York, who is more determined than talented (sounds like me!), and who has dedicated her life to fighting the boogey man. Along the way, she meets and defeats a wide variety of nasties from tiny brownies to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In between are gods, demons, genies, trolls, and a whole lot of spookies you never even knew existed. And yes, there are a few werewolves and vampires tossed in there for good measure.

More important than the beasties that Elle fights are how the lives around her are affected. Elle collects an eclectic group of staunch friends and a variety of enemies. Over the course of the series, she is betrayed, heartbroken, physically and mentally crushed, scratched, bitten, and even shot. She also falls in love and eventually finds a way to save the world without carrying the weight of it around on her shoulders all the time. Elle York isn’t just a hero, she’s my hero. When I’m terrified or don’t think that I have the strength, courage, or tenacity to go any further, there’s always one phrase that keeps me going …. WWEYD.  “What would Elle York do?” has become more than my motto, it’s my mantra.

So why have I come out of the writer’s closet and exposed my dirty secret to the world, knowing that it could result in ridicule? Why do I continue to pursue and agent and publisher even though so far I’ve been met with rejection? Why do I ask every person I meet to read my stories and give me honest feedback, no matter how hard it might be to hear the truth? Why do I keep trying to break into an overcrowded industry, knowing there is a real chance that I will never succeed?

Because it’s what Elle York would do.

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