I am pleased to welcome back Christopher Mannino as this week’s blog guest, who has something a bit different for us today. As part of the promotion of the next book in his Scythe Wielder’s Secret series, he is interviewing one of his characters.
But first, some information about the series.
THE SCYTHE WIELDER’S SECRET CONTINUES
Susan Sarnio made a choice, and will spend the rest of her life as the only female Death. Last year she was bullied and ostracized. Now, to her complete bewilderment, four Deaths vie for her affection. Yet, something is terribly wrong at the College of Deaths. When a ship carrying scythe metal is attacked, many blame the newly-freed Elementals, but Susan knows the Elementals are innocent.
Shadows from the distant past come to light. Dragons circle the horizon, blood spills, and nothing is what it seems. Susan and her friends struggle to stop a war. They search for the fabled FirstScythe, hoping to sway the balance, but who is the true enemy?
SWORD OF DEATHS, the second novel in the critically acclaimed YA Fantasy trilogy “The Scythe Wielder’s Secret,” is now available from MuseItUp Publishing in both ebook and paperback formats. In SWORD OF DEATHS, Mannino delves deeper into the world and characters introduced in the first novel. The novel is told from three rotating points-of-view, and for the first time, the conflict with Dragons is fully realized. The style becomes darker, and for more epic, as the series moves towards a momentous climax in the final book DAUGHTER OF DEATHS.
In School of Deaths, we first meet the ‘Mentals, or Elementals, one of the three races in the World of Deaths. Suzie’s appearance at the College of Deaths coincides with extremely high tensions between the Deaths and the ‘Mentals. In the second novel, a new ‘Mental, named Michi, is introduced. Michi is also a girl, which changes the dynamics at the all-male College. Michi sat down with Chris to discuss her role in the upcoming novel.
CM: You were involved in the revolt at the College, weren’t you?
MICHI: Yes, I was present at the beginning, but became trapped. For months, I took the form of a fly, eating the droppings I found in the Armory.
CM: How could you become a fly?
MICHI: I am an arthromorph. I have a special.. bond.. if you will, to the insect world. If I need to become an insect for a time, I can. I also use insects in other ways if I need to, but I don’t like doing so unless I have to.
CM: Why don’t you like using insects. They’re just bugs.
MICHI: They’re more than that. I sense what they sense, I feel close to them. To use an insect often costs part of their essence, and it’s not fair to them to use that.
CM: I’ve heard a rumor that you and Frank used to be in a relationship. Is it true?
MICHI: No comment.
CM: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your role in the upcoming book?
MICHI: Sword of Deaths really does a better job of spotlighting the ‘Mentals, who are of course the most important race in the World of Deaths. I felt like we were given a minor role in the first book, and I didn’t like that. However, things aren’t going that well for us, as I’m sure you’ll see.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE SERIES SO FAR
(Praise for SCHOOL OF DEATHS: The Scythe Wielder’s Secret Book One)
“Not just a book for young adults, but an imaginative read for everyone who likes something a little bit different. 5 Stars!”
– Reader’s Favorite
“With a well-developed setting, strong characters, a fairly fast moving plot, and snappy dialogue, this novel should keep readers engaged from the beginning to the end. Five Stars.”
“Let’s start with one simple statement: Wow! This book, the characters and the world created by Mannino is absolutely spectacular.”
-Kay, GoodReads Review
“This book’s world is brilliant, and the author’s creativity is more than amazing and the way he conveyed his imagination was just stunning.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.
Mannino is currently completing The Scythe Wielder’s Secret series and is working on several adult novels.
Learn more about Mannino and his novels, including trailers and purchase links at www.ChristopherMannino.com
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
Where does the time go? We’re at the end of August already.
Summer is nearly over and meteorologically it certainly feels that way. Lots of rain here in London and it’s feeling distinctly chilly. I actually put the heating on today.
Anyway, enough about the weather. On with the news.
I’m very excited to announce that THE WHISPERING DEATH is now available, in both Kindle and paperback formats. The official launch will be at FantasyCon in Nottingham on Saturday 24 October (which also happens to be my birthday) but I have not yet had a time confirmed.
There’s also going to be another launch in South London on Wednesday 14 October. If you’re not going to FantasyCon but are in the vicinity to make it to this one, let me know and I shall send you an invite.
Two appearances to report this month:
18 August – I was on Jami Gray’s blog talking about the editing process and how the end is not the end.
24 August – Canadian author Allan J Emerson hosted an interview with me on his blog today.
While we’re on the subject of publicity, I want to mention that tomorrow night (Thursday 27th) there will be an online Q&A session to promote THE WHISPERING DEATH. My publisher, Kensington Gore, and I will be online to answer any questions that people might care to ask. This starts at 7pm British Summer Time, and it will be happening on Twitter. Use the hashtag #QAKGPUB (an abbreviation of ‘question & answer for Kensington Gore publishing’) to join the conversation. I am attaching the invite here. Feel free to spread the word!
WORK IN PROGRESS
Over halfway through the first draft of SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara Summers novel, now. Actually, technically it’s Draft 2.5, since I rebooted it twice, but I have now got further than I ever did in any of the earlier versions so I am feeling hopeful that progress is being made.
I’ve set a goal for myself that I will finish this novel, to final draft stage, by the end of the year. This will mean I’ve got two WIPs on the go, since I’m also in the (very) early stages of a new horror novel. But hey, sometimes that’s a good thing. When I get stuck on one WIP I can go work on the other one.
Lots going on, then. So on that note I’m going to sign off and go back to the writing!
Today I am pleased to have prolific and award-winning author Jami Gray on my blog. Welcome, Jami!
It’s All in the Lines
By Jami Gray
I’m a writer of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romantic Suspense, which translates to—I not only believe in the strange and unusual, I’m generally promoting it. During my first trip to New Orleans I managed to tick a few things off my bucket list. Of course I’ll be back, because there were too many things left unvisited—cemeteries, the swamp, plantations, just to name a few. However, I did make time to visit Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (http://www.voodooneworleans.com) for a palm reading.
First to give you a sense of setting—in the French Quarter, especially the closer you get to Bourbon Street and Royal Street, the smell can knock you into the next life faster than a horse drawn carriage. Cobbled streets lined with bars, shops and art galleries crouch below balconied homes. There are relator signs letting you know if a condo comes with its own ghost or not. (Kid you not!)
People abound, on the sidewalk, in the shops and bars, and on the streets themselves. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try forcing a car down those narrow strips. My hubby, BFF, and I made our way down the sidewalk when we saw the sign: Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.
We stumbled up two cement steps, brushed by a couple with a stroller heading out, and found ourselves surrounded by strange masks, chicken feet, hand crafted mojo bags, gris-gris, and voodoo dolls. Any and everything designed to help you maneuver your way through the modern karmic world.
Immediately, I’m drawn to the colorful collection of candles nestled next to the beautiful, but strangely disturbing alter to the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau. There are gris-gris, cooled wax, bits and pieces of past offerings while signs stand guard and warn customers “NO TOUCHING”. Not to mention the shop’s proprietress who reiterates the point to one or two customers who somehow miss the signage.
For all the strange items cluttering the walls, shelves and ceiling (oh yes, there were things hanging from the rafters—voodoo dolls, masks, hand-made crosses), there was a quiet peacefulness to the shop.
Eventually BFF and I make it to the back, and submit our names for a palm reading. We patiently wait our turn, debating if we want to pick up some chicken feet or a decorative skull (yep, that’s me).
Our readings are individual. I slip inside to find a white haired woman who could have been any one of the many authors invading New Orleans that week. Her smile is sweet and she has the steadiest gaze I’ve ever encountered. She reads my palm, giving me some interesting insights.
Then she picks up a well-worn stack of playing cards with, of all things, playing kittens on the back. They dance through her hands. I keep my questions silent and let the cards fall where they will. She used a standard Tarot layout the first time, but with each following draw, the layout changes. It’s been awhile since I’ve dusted off my own Tarot deck, so I’m not sure which patterns she used, but what she gave me—hmmm, the future holds some interesting times.
Nope, won’t share, because I’m a firm believer readings are to be kept personal. I will tell you, I’m curious to see how much she gave me comes about.
My BFF and I did compare notes, because you have to enter some of these readings with a dose of skepticism. Yet, there was enough individual predictions in the readings to make us both believe there may be nuggets of truth.
Now, is it a chicken and egg thing? Will our futures fall as predicted because that’s what we believe will happen? Or will it happen that way because that’s the way it’s supposed to? I’ll leave the answer up to higher powers to answer, for now I’ll keep on, keeping on and we’ll see what the future brings.
Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…
THE KYN KRONICLES (Urban Fantasy series w/Black Opal Books)
WRAPPED IN SHADOWS, Kyn Kronicles .5
(Things That Go Bump For The Holidays Anthology)
The magic of the holidays can be hell…
Celebrations abound during the holidays, but this Christmas an engagement celebration goes horrifically wrong. What appears to be a simple murder/suicide hides a vicious surprise. The type of gift Raine and Gavin, elite member of the Kyn, didn’t want humans to unwrap, because revealing the monsters in the shadows isn’t the way to spread holiday cheer.
SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…
When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.
As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2
Some nightmares are born of love…
A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.
Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.
SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3
Even wild hearts can be broken…
Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.
If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.
SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4
Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…
After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.
As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?
Coming Fall 2015:
A collection of Kyn shorts, including WRAPPED IN SHADOWS
Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.
Find Jami at:
Black Opal Books: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI
You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:
Today I am pleased to have horror author Kristin Battestella as my guest blogger. Welcome to Imaginary Friends, Kristin!
Inside the Toy Box – How to use Everyday Things to Inspire Character Personality and Depth!
by Kristin Battestella
Writing is youth. It isn’t outside the box. Stop thinking about all that advice that says break the rules, twist the genre, create something no one has ever created before! Get rid of all those ultimatums in your head and actually do it. Open that Toy Box!
Writing in many ways is play-acting. You are creating an imaginative world. Even if you describe a real world setting that you know intimately, one must put a spin on the senses, invoke feelings, and let strangers reading your books know what it is like to be here or there ten, fifty, one hundred years from now. How can you do that if you simply sit at your desk, K-cups, internet and all? Even when writing a completely serious decidedly non-childlike manuscript, you should behave in a child like manner during the initial writing composition. Return to your youthful memories, sense of wonder, and life altering experiences to make your paper world come to life.
Does your character hate au gratin potatoes and fish sticks because you yourself had horrible experiences with gross cheese clumps and limp, pasty fish? Write it down! Never think anything you write is too dumb. So long as it says something important about the character’s mind and personality or motivations in your text, any quirk or mannerism that creates a fully developed person and reader embodiment is a good thing!
And speaking of embodiment, how can you expect readers to inhabit your work if you don’t do so yourself? I’m not saying you have to kill someone for your horror or sleep with many people for your erotica, but finding ways to experience the times, places, thoughts, and feelings of your characters and manuscript environment should be paramount. How do you know if your character hates corsets unless you try one on yourself? Maybe she-or he!- actually finds them quite comfortable because you went to a fancy lingerie store and got fitted yourself. And hey, check out those adult shops to spice up that erotica or use Weird NJ as your roadmap to creepy or notorious places. What do you do with all these new found experiences of yours? Write them down!
It’s all fine and dandy to write with a quill on antique paper as your players may have done. Don’t scoff. Just ask yourself, ‘Why not?’ Try wearing a wig in your character’s style to the grocery store and see what happens. Do your neighbors already think you’re a whirlwind of fun? Or will you surprise someone, maybe even yourself?
Use the physical freedoms and whimsy already about you to free your mind and imagination. After a seemingly drastic character embodiment experiment, it becomes easier to find your story sources in everyday things. Can you fit in your kitchen in a hoop skirt? Would your glamorous blonde ever do the laundry? Open yourself to creative foreplay and experiences for a magical writing experience!
Cover art by: Masloski Carmen
Editor: David Watson
Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre?
Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horrifying existence. Featuring interviews with Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, and The Gothic Tea Society. Plus more!
Authors: Kristin Battestella, Mimielle, Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, Steven Rose Jr., Garth von Buchholz, H.E. Roulo, Sparky Lee Anderson, Mary Abshire, Chantal Boudreau, Jeff Carlson, Catt Dahman, Dean Farnell, Sandra Harris, Willo Hausman, Laurel Anne Hill, Sapphire Neal, James Newman, Loren Rhoads, Chris Ringler, Jessica Robinson, Eden Royce, Sumiko Saulson, Patricia Santos Marcantonio, J. Malcolm Stewart, Stoneslide Corrective, Mimi A.Williams, and Ron Vitale. With art by Carmen Masloski and Lnoir.
Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper The Cumberland County Reminder and has been writing non-fiction, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for almost twenty years. Along with numerous sports articles, print essays, online reviews, and pen name fiction, Kristin’s first eBook was published in 2005. She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network, Horror Addicts.net, the Friends of the Mount Laurel Library, and has attended the Philadelphia and Collingswood Book Festivals and the Muse Online Writers Conference. Kristin’s first full-length work The Vampire Family has been re-released with Eternal Press; and her 7 book sequel series Fate and Fangs is available now with Muse It Up Publishing. Kristin appears in the Horror Addicts Guide to Life Anthology in 2015 and discusses film criticism from her I Think, Therefore I Review blog on RadioVisionNetwork.com’s What to Watch.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
It’s time to unveil the cover for my forthcoming horror novel THE WHISPERING DEATH!
This one is being released by British horror publisher Kensington Gore in the Autumn. The e-book version may, in fact, be available in a few weeks. The print version will follow in a couple of months. I am hoping to be able to launch it at FantasyCon in Nottingham in October but I am awaiting confirmation on that.
This is the scariest novel I have written in a while, and it’s not for the faint-hearted as it has rather a lot of gruesome scenes. It also has a lot of references to LARP, to D&D, to Resident Evil and is an homage to geekiness in general. Oh, and it has zombies, too.
I am very excited about the release of this book. For those of you in the UK and not going to FantasyCon, I’m endeavouring to arrange another launch, in the South of England, to offer another opportunity to attend. As always, watch this space for further info.
In the meantime, here’s a teaser in the form of a blurb for the novel.
Blurb for THE WHISPERING DEATH
Death comes to us all; life is the name of the game and everyone has a role to play.
When a group of live action role-players perform a ritual as part of a game, they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil that tears their world apart. The reanimated corpse of a long-dead magic user, corrupted by powerful dark magic, offers a promise of unlimited power, but at a terrible price. Having helped open this Pandora’s box, Mark and Elizabeth must race against time to close it again – before it’s too late.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
Generally I do the monthly round-up on the last Wednesday of the month. However, last week I was in Darkest Wales, with no access to wifi and barely any mobile phone signal. It was nice to get away from it all, but a bit of an adjustment to be ‘off the radar’.
So, July’s round-up is a week late. But there is plenty to report, so on with the news.
The ‘Former Heroes’ anthology is now available to buy, in print and e-book format. Featuring seven original stories of SF, fantasy and horror, all of these authors are united by being live action role-players. It’s a fairly eclectic mix of stories, but it has already started receiving good reviews. My own story is definitely one of the darker ones.
THE WHISPERING DEATH is in final proof stage, and now I’m getting excited. It’s always a thrill when a book starts to become a reality.
It is hoped that this one will launch at FantasyCon in Nottingham in October, but I’m still waiting for confirmation of a launch slot. More news on this as it happens!
I was pleased to feature on the Omnimystery page at the beginning of the month as the author interview.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I’ve not made much progress on the new horror novel, but the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, continues apace. One of my work colleagues was asking about it the other day, which has given me some motivation to get on with it. I’ve set myself a goal to have this WIP finished by the end of the year. Not just ‘current draft’ finished, but at final draft stage. So I’d better apply bum to chair a bit more often and get cracking.
By the time of the next monthly round-up we’ll be moving into Autumn, at least here in the Northern hemisphere. Where does the time go? See you then!
Today I am pleased to welcome fellow Muse author Robbi Perna to the blog as this week’s guest.
SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?
RP: This is a tough question that fits in with when did you learn to cook or sew. I can’t remember a time I couldn’t write and have been a writer all my professional life. I started writing fiction five years ago on a serious basis, but I wrote stories to amuse my friends and family from my grade school days at St. Peter and Paul’s. Catholic nuns are the world’s best educators and I owe a lot of my success to the lessons in English and grammar I learned in their classes.
SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?
RP: As writers we tend to mimic those authors that we enjoy. I loved Emilie Loring’s romance stories. They are out of date and politically incorrect now, but for their time, they were magic. Later, Elsie Lee starred as one of my heroines. Her books of gothic, romantic suspense are classics and I own almost all of them. Today’s authors that I list as favorites and who have an influence on my writing are Susanna Kearsley, Nora Roberts, and Mariah Stewart.
SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
RP: Don’t fall into the trap of believing you need a group of people you don’t know and may never see again influence your writing. I had a bad experience with a writers group that nearly torpedoed my first attempt. I never repeated it. Find one or two beta readers and let them give you feedback.
SJT: When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser?
RP: I have a very meticulous procedure for my writing. An instructor once told me if an author works from an outline, then he/she knows the story arc and never has to worry about writers block. I take it a step farther. After I have my basic story line set, I make a very preliminary outline using a 15-step method that begins with Line 1 (story opening) and then moves to Line 15 (story closing). I then alternate between first lines and last lines ultimately meeting in the middle. One of the benefits of this method is it helps with the sagging middle a problem with which many writers have to deal. Knock on wood—hasn’t happened to me yet. Once I have this basic outline, I pull out the main points and use them to make my video trailer. Only after I’ve finished these steps do I sit down and start writing my story.
SJT: Tell us about your latest release.
RP: My latest book “Where the Lion Dwells”, which Muse will release in electronic and print formats in September, takes place in the horse country of Middleburg, Virginia. The heroine, Joanna Sansone, returns to Virginia following her civilian deployment in Iraq as a political advisor. A disfigured left forearm and the loss of her fiancé, Renzo Moretti, are the scars she carries from the experience. Now, she asks for nothing more than the peace of her new home. The U.S. government has other ideas. A large defense contractor calls on her services. A new English language training facility in northern Virginia’s horse country needs a registrar. Then, one of the students, the son of an important tribal sheikh, becomes seriously ill.
Mick Riliuni is a brilliant physician renowned for his work in tropical diseases that the family engages to consult on the case. When he meets Joanna, he accuses her of prejudice when she questions the need for the expertise of the student’s mysterious uncle. The arrogant Doctor al-Najid is a painful reminder of her losses and an irritating presence in her life.
Caught in the crossfire between two strong personalities, Joanna discovers her passions’ reawakening, but she has questions. A trip to a mountain fortress in Sicily may yield the answers. Will they give her a future or will her heart remain buried in the grave with Renzo?
SJT: Your website says that growing up in an Italian-American family gave you a “unique insight into the Italian male psyche”. Do you think cultural background shapes a person’s personality, and if so how has the Italian psyche influenced your stories?
RP: Absolutely…cultural background shapes a person’s personality and worldview. Italian life revolves around family, friends, loves (and lovers), and, of course, good food and wine. My stories have all these elements, I guess because like many authors, I write what I know and that forms the foundation upon which I spin my tales.
SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
RP: Since I’m a defense contractor and technical writer in addition to a romance author, I’m always writing something. When I have downtime, I read other authors’ works, travel, and spend time with my favorite guy—Santino the parti-poodle.
SJT: What’s next for you, writing wise?
RP: I have two sequels planned in my “The Vines of Bordessi” series. The first one (for which I have completed two of the steps in the procedure above) is “Triumph without Glory.” I’ve posted the video trailer on my website if anyone wishes to have a sneak peek. The next story in the series, as yet untitled, is waiting in the wings. The inspiration for it is two stuffed bears. One is a tough Army ranger dressed in camouflage, which belonged to my late brother, and the other, a lovely white bear I found to keep him company. Paolina, the Bearness of Mezzogiorno, is a gorgeous white velvet creature complete with black lace gown, diamond earrings, and a sparkling tiara made for me by my very talented friend, Julie. That story will be a corker…stay tuned!
Award-winning, multi-published author Robbi Perna started penning romantic fiction as a respite from her career as a military analyst specializing in strategic communications. Her historical romance, “My Heart Still Surrenders,” won first place in the Florida Writers Association’s 2014 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition. Her time travel adventure, “The Roman Phalera” is a finalist in the 2015 competition. Robbi grew up in a strong Italian-American background in Colorado where she spent the first half of her life before she moved to Virginia. She has since moved to central Florida where she claims snow is a figment of her overactive imagination. Her parti-poodle, Santino, manages the house while she works on her latest manuscript, “Robes of Destiny.” Readers may contact her through website, http://www.RobbiPerna.net.
Today I am pleased to welcome Eric Price as this week’s guest blogger, to talk about the writing process. This is something that’s different for every writer, so let’s hear about what it means for Eric.
Writing, Rewriting, Revising, and When to Submit
By Eric Price
Coming up with ideas has never presented a problem for me. I have too many file folders to count on my computer’s hard drive. So why am I not the most prolific author since Philip M. Parker? Well, since I do the writing myself, it takes more time. But I also have a hard time knowing when I’ve made my story as good as I can make it (at least before my editors get ahold of it and tell me to make it better). So when is enough enough? I suppose this question has as many answers as there are writers. I’ll walk you through my process. If you’re new to writing, maybe you’ll find the information useful. Established writers, perhaps you’ll find a fresh angle. And if you have a different approach you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
This part causes me some trouble, but when I sit down to write, I try to do just that – write. Planning, plotting, researching the Cayuse War…all of these fall in one category for me: procrastination. At this point, the most important thing I can do is get my story typed. I can look up Cornelius Gilliam’s date of birth later. Far too often, I’ve spent countless hours doing research only to cut most of the juicy information from the final draft…or not using the material at all. I do save everything, though, so I may have a use for those notes on cutaneous gas exchange someday.
This part seems like it should be difficult, but I find it surprisingly easy. I basically scrap everything I just did and rewrite it. I credit (read blame) one of my writing instructors for this. I had an error created by copying and pasting, and she got on my case saying the technique makes for sloppy writing. She went on to tell me how in her day everything was done on a typewriter so changing sections meant retyping the whole thing.
Before I learned to work entirely on my computer, I would print a copy, make corrections by hand, and then retype it. Now I combine those steps into a massive rewrite. While I’m working on this, I fill in the details I fought so hard not to research in the writing phase, such as Cornelius Gilliam’s date of birth (April 13, 1798). I also use the time to beef up any descriptive details that add to the story, while removing those that slow the pace.
This is sort of my final walk through looking for typos and spelling errors. I list it as one step, but I probably go through the story two or three times at a minimum. I tend to get stuck on this step. I want to find every single error before my editors even look at it. I’m not sure why. My editors still find mistakes as plane as a 747.
At this point, some people also use critique groups. I don’t. I’m not going to tell you not to or say anything negative about them. In fact, I should probably have one. I have several reasons for not using one, and probably none of the reasons are, well, reasonable. I’m a private person. My writing is my creation. Victor Frankenstein didn’t offer tours of his laboratory. I did let several people read Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud before I submitted it. While I took some of their suggestions, I still felt like a bus full of senior citizens had just arrived. The Squire and the Slave Master (Saga of the Wizards Book Two) comes out in a few weeks. Not counting myself and the people working for my publisher, only two others have read it…and neither in its 100% final form.
I see this word as having double meaning in writing. There’s the obvious: To submit something is to present it for approval. You’ve worked hard on your book, short story, poem, play, etc. Now you’re ready to send it to a publisher who will read it as soon as it comes across the email (he or she will open it immediately since you gave it the most catchy title in the history of literature), and once this lucky publisher regains composure from reading the awesomeness you just sent, you’ll get a reply with your contract. This should come by the close of business that day. If you believe this, let me know. I’ll write a new post on waiting. Tom Petty was right, it is the hardest part.
Where were we? Oh yes, the second meaning of submission: to yield, or stop. And that’s really what it is for me. I’ve gone through it countless times, and I finally get to stop…at least for a while.
So there’s what works for me. I certainly don’t claim this is the only way to write, or even the best way. I highly doubt many people do a full rewrite. Now it’s your turn. What techniques do you use to make your creation the best you can?
Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. It is scheduled for an August 4, 2015 release. Find him online at authorericprice.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Blurb for THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVEMASTER (coming August 2015)
Today I am pleased to welcome crime writer J E Seymour as my guest to the blog, with some sage advice on the editing process.
By J E Seymour
I’m in the middle of editing my third novel. It’s not fun. I’m not even talking about the multiple times I’ve edited it myself, which is its own nightmare. I’m on the second round of professional edits with my publisher’s editor. Don’t get me wrong, she’s great. I don’t have anything against her, except that she’s forcing me to work at this. Yes, she is pushing me to do things with my writing I haven’t done before. Yes, she is making me stretch. And those are good things. I’m thrilled, really. When I’m not staring at the screen and cursing her.
This is what a good editor does. A good editor tells you what you’re doing wrong. The writer has to be able to take that criticism and make the writing better. Some of the criticism hurts. How can this person say that about my writing? But then, when I step back and look at it, maybe she’s right. Then I can make it better. And that is why a writer needs an editor. We all need someone to tell us when we’ve made a mistake.
Good editing starts at home. Set aside your first draft. I ignore it for a few weeks, some people set it aside for months. Then come back to it. You’ll see things you were missing the first time through. Then move on to beta readers. An outside eye, whether it’s a writers group or an individual reader, will again find things you missed, but should also help you with things like continuity.
After this, go over it yourself again. Pay attention to what your first readers said. Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way. Be objective.
For me, the next step is to send it to my publisher. Then the professional editor takes over and the real work begins. And if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bang my head on the desk as I go through the latest round of edits.
J.E. Seymour lives and writes in the seacoast area of New Hampshire, USA. She has two novels out with Barking Rain Press – Lead Poisoning, and Stress Fractures, both featuring Kevin Markinson, retired mob hitman, Marine Veteran and all around family guy. Her third novel, Frostbite, featuring the same character, is due out from Barking Rain in March of 2016. She also has had more than twenty short stories published in print and ezines. In addition to writing, she works in a library and takes care of a farm with four ponies, two horses, a donkey, several cats, two rescued greyhounds, a cockatoo and two pet snakes. Find out more about her at her website and buy her books direct from the publisher here: http://www.barkingrainpress.org/j-e-seymour/
Today I’d like to welcome author Allan J Emerson to the blog.
SJT: We have a lot in common, you and I. Like you, I was making up stories as a little kid. Mine used to feature any one of my dolls or stuffed toys, which all had names and family histories. What were your early stories about?
AJE: I do think the urge to tell stories surfaces when we’re quite young. When I was 7 or 8, my stories were mash-ups of movie plots, fairy tales, comic books, and whatever I thought up myself. They usually featured knights or kings who had some kind of special powers: they could fly, or read minds, or become invisible. I didn’t worry about anachronisms either—knights might shoot it out with the villain, or hear a cry for help over the radio.
SJT: Which writers inspire you?
AJE: Among mystery writers: P.D. James, Elizabeth George, and Ian Rankin. Louise Penny (the Inspector Gamache series). Stephen King has turned to mysteries recently (Mr. Mercedes). All of them write fully-realized characters living believable lives. Writers outside the mystery genre, like Alice Munro, Franz Kafka, Edith Wharton, and Saul Bellow, for their insights into what makes us human.
SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
AJE: I wish someone had told me it was not enough to want to tell a story. You need the tools to tell it, and most of us aren’t born with them. Take a course, read books on writing, or do whatever you need to do to learn writing technique. I eventually figured a lot of it out myself, but I would’ve been producing better stories much sooner if I hadn’t learned by trial and a great deal of error.
SJT: So tell us about your latest book, DEATH OF A BRIDE AND GROOM.
AJE: My favourite subject! Death of a Bride and Groom is a small-town mystery with humour, a little sex, a little swearing, and some surprising relationships (kind of like the author’s life, only without the murders).
The bodies of a man and woman are discovered in full wedding regalia atop a giant wedding cake parade float. The murders create a sensation in the little town of Honeymoon Falls, and there’s no lack of suspects: Iris Morland, the “bride” was truly, deeply, hated by half the town. Connor Tarlech, her lover and the “groom,” had been responsible for a bankruptcy that devastated the other half. Police Chief Will Halsey tracks down the killer through a series of encounters with various townspeople, most of whom have secrets they have no intention of divulging. Here’s a brief extract from the discovery scene:
“The bride atop the float stared sightlessly out over the street behind him, her head resting against the back of the elaborate throne on which she was seated. Her crown of plastic orange blossoms had slipped askew, and the panel of gauzy material descending from it floated in the breeze in front of her, alternately veiling and revealing her face. Her brown hair fluttered against her lips, which were slightly parted as though interrupted in the middle of a word, a word she’d been confident would have resulted in a far different outcome. The cat Halsey had frightened was curled up in her lap, thin yellow crescents showing through its slitted lids.”
SJT: You are described as writing ‘humorous crime’. How do you go about putting humour in a story about death? Would you say there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy?
AJE: Certainly, life can be tragic and funny at the same time. I once watched a cat scarf an entire meat pie on a kitchen counter while its distracted mistress told me about the terrible final days of her husband’s life. I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt her tearful account, and it wasn’t until the cat’s loud slurps caused her to look around that we both began to laugh.
I think most mysteries (at least the ones I enjoy) are not about death as much as they’re about what happens after a death. The humour in Death of a Bride and Groom comes from the behaviour of the living after the bodies are found.
SJT: Your setting, Honeymoon Falls, is clearly a thinly disguised version of Niagara Falls. A place I know well. As well as putting fictionalised versions of real places in your books, have you ever put fictionalised versions of real people in them?
AJE: There are elements of people I’ve known in my characters, but I’ve never fictionalized real people in full. I find modelling a character on a real person constrains my imagination; it’s hard for me to imagine the character doing anything the real person wouldn’t.
I did get the idea for the town of Honeymoon Falls while visiting Niagara Falls, although the resemblance extends only to the idea of both being honeymoon destinations. (Well, I have to admit the heart-shaped vibrating beds and mirrored ceilings in the hotel were suggested by brochures from some of the tackier establishments in the Niagara area.)
The idea of marketing their town as a honeymoon destination is born of the inhabitants’ desperation when the town’s major employer goes bankrupt. Since they don’t have anything like the spectacular natural wonder that is Niagara, they dub the town “the Romance Capital of the World” and cultivate an over-the-top romantic ambience which slides rapidly into kitsch.
SJT: Do you have plans for more murder and mayhem for the residents of Honeymoon Falls?
AJE: Absolutely! I’m currently working on the next in the series, to be called Death of an Action Hero.
SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
AJE: Read, travel (would love to visit England again), learn something new (I’m presently trying to learn French). I love theatre and have been toying with scriptwriting. I think watching actors bring to life characters I’ve created would be an incredible experience.
Thank you for inviting me to share your space today, Sara. It’s been a pleasure!
Allan J. Emerson is a Canadian writer and Death of a Bride and Groom is his first novel. Inspired by a trip to Niagara Falls, Emerson wondered what the daily lives of the permanent residents of such a popular honeymoon destination were like. Emerson was born in Saskatchewan and brought up in small towns there and in British Columbia, but lived in Australia and New Zealand also before settling with his wife in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Visit Allan’s website to learn more about his writing.