Quieting the Voices

I talk to myself. A lot. But only when I’m alone at home. I’m not that person muttering to no one in particular while walking down the street or the lady fussing at cans of soup in the grocery store. But my husband has been working from home lately and he’s definitely noticed it. I’m not sure why I do it but talking out loud helps me think. It really started when I began writing. Someone told me to read your script out loud to sort out flow, dialogue, etc. And it works for me. But that’s not what I mean by ‘quieting the voices’.

I’ve taken the last week off social media. No Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and only Tumblr once a day (because that site inspires me to write like no other!). I moved all those apps that used to be on the main screen on my iPhone to a folder on another page. I turned off notifications for everything except texts. It’s been quiet.

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I thought I would go through withdrawals but I haven’t. There have been no urges to check in, post, update or tweet. Before, it was too easy for me to get caught up in it all and my head was filled with noise. Now, I don’t hear Amy Author’s voice saying she completed a novel in one night or Riley Rights screaming about injustice in Timbuktu. I don’t see photos of Patty Perfect’s totally-happy-we’re-all-smiling-if-it-kills-us Holiday in Key West. There are no cute videos of heroic people doing amazing things while I’m just sitting watching on YouTube. There has been none of that. It’s been quiet.

And my mind has slowed down enough to focus on other things. When I sit to write it is easier because I’m not thinking about who is doing what and where and why. I’ve missed keeping up with friends though and when the next week is up I’ll go back. But I will only check in once a day or two and I’ll manage notifications with lists. Because I’ve quieted all the other voices and now the only one I hear is mine. And that’s important when you’re trying to do anything well, but especially when you’re writing.

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5 Works in Progress!

I told you I’m terrible at consistency when it comes to keeping a diary. Remember this post? I did warn you. Sorry if you’ve been waiting with bated breath! 😉 But, I have been writing, just nothing you can read right now.

Six Days is still at the publishers waiting for edits. It has been a very slow process; it’s my first book deal so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Apparently, patience. And I’ve got it because I’ve been working on five other projects. They are all in various stages of completion but the one I’m working on currently, the one I’m most excited about doesn’t even have a name! Of course, Six Days didn’t have its name until I had to start shopping it around.

My current work in progress (WIP) is about an Irish war vet who is sent home from the war in Syria on a medical discharge after an IED explosion killed his best friend and wounded him. The idea was inspired by this video I saw several months ago:  I jotted a rough blurb on a post-it note and stuck it in my notebook.

Then, on a long flight from Ireland and the UK two months ago a plot popped into my head: an Irish War Veteran dealing with PTSD demons by escaping to the remote Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. He has Butler, his veteran guide dog to help him adjust to life away from war. But then he meets McKenna and finds himself leaving his safe haven to watch her six. Somebody has to because someone is trying to kill her.  Thus began my fifth novel.

Inishmore, Ireland

Inishmore, Ireland

I had such a great time in Ireland and fell in love with the people! I want to go back and live there for a while. Inishmore, the largest of the three islands, is a well known writers retreat. Perfect! Let me go pack my bags!

And like my other novels, I need inspiration for my characters.

The handsome Irish actor, Kevin Ryan is now my novel's Aiden Monaghan.

The handsome Irish actor, Kevin Ryan is now my novel’s Aiden Monaghan.

Let me introduce you to Aiden Monaghan, aka Kevin J. Ryan, a brilliant actor who just so happens to be from Dublin! I’m excited about this novel and hope to have it done in a few months, depending on life events.

The other four novels are sitting there waiting. I look at them every now and then, but I’m too excited to finish Aiden’s story to take the time to dive back into them. Oh, and I can’t forget Butler, his dog… you know you want to see him! 

He’s a German Shepard who was trained to meet Aiden’s PTSD needs. He wakes him up from nightmares, nudges him out of flashbacks and can clear a room like a SEAL team! Unfortunately, he can do nothing about Aiden falling head over heels in love with McKenna! 

#tbt Butler as a puppy!

#tbt Butler as a puppy!

Updates

Last month I was offered a contract on my first novel Six Days! Beyond my wildest dreams – didn’t think my first attempt at writing would ever get this far. For someone who switches ‘careers’ like Jay Z changes clothes, I’m pretty proud of myself for not only finishing the book, but shopping it around. 

I finished Six Days in July of 2013 and had neighbor Jennifer Bateman, a contract editor for Penguin, look it over. She was the first person I let see my words on paper, the first person to tell me I should pursue this. Without her encouragement I never would have finished! Everyone needs cheerleaders in their corner and she was waving her pom poms for publishing like crazy! 

In August of 2013, Savvy Authors hosted a symposium and signed up immediately. They offered workshops, pitching practice, synopsis helps and the reason I joined: the Pitch Room! Editors and agents from different publishing houses accepted pitches from authors, trying to get their manuscripts in front of them. I submitted to seven publishing houses and one agent. I got two instant rejections and four requests for first three chapters. I was ecstatic at the response and encouraged to keep going. In September I submitted to four more houses and two more agents. Some of the editors gave me great feedback and recommendations. I edited based on some of the advice and resubmitted to them. By October I had two editors seriously interested. After some back and fourths I was offered a contract in March of 2014! 

It seems like it took forever from August until today to get where I am (contract expected to arrive early May, 2014) but from what I am learning the publishing world moves slower than I thought. But it’s all good and I’m already working on more novels, excited to keep my momentum going in the direction of selling and sailing. Husband and I have 7 years until we plan to sail away. Publishing more novels will help us sail longer so that is a strong motivation for me.

I’ll announce details when the contract is signed and the champagne is flowing! 🙂  

Blown Away… a small scene

If this website were a child I would be standing before a judge of Child Protective Services trying to explain my neglectful ways. I’ve just been busy. Pitching one book and writing my third. Here’s a little excerpt I just wrote, something to appease the website gods.

“I’m tired of walking on egg shells around you Emma!” Gee shouted at her, his arms raised in exasperation.

“Well, nobody asked you to!” she shouted back, fisted hands planted on her hips.

“Fine. Then I will give you a piece of advice that I would give any of my mates that sulked around the way you are. Life dishes out shit sometimes. It happens to everyone. So man up!”

Emma fumed and felt her face grow hot with the anger boiling inside of her. She took a couple of steps towards him, got right up in his face and yelled, “Don’t you dare to even think about giving me advice on my life. My life has been nothing but an all-you-can-eat buffet of shit. And in case you haven’t noticed, I am NOT a man!”

Gee looked down at the fury on her face, shocked that she had it in her. Shocked that she had yelled back. Shocked at how turned on it made him. “Oh, I’ve noticed,” he whispered as he bent down to kiss her.

It was a quick kiss. Emma didn’t even have time to remove her fists and hit him. Or wrap around him to draw him closer. Before she could even respond with any sort of coherent gesture, he turned around and stalked away. She took in great gulps of air as she stared at his retreating back and wondered what the hell had just happened.

To kill or not to kill

When I first met Jason I really wanted to kill him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he was a good guy and all. Musical, smart, beautiful, and Southern. There was A LOT to like about the guy and everyone who met him loved him. I did, too. But I just thought it would be better if he died so I shot him one rainy evening. He tried to hold on a bit longer but the bullet had done its damage. He suffered but finally died in the arms of his love. It was tragic and beautiful. But then my editor said I could absolutely NOT kill my male main character. *Pout* So I re-wrote the ending to my first novel and she’s right, Jason had to live and I’m glad he did. The world does need more good guys out there, right? Especially since Jason stumbled upon a government cover-up. Think Eric Snowden but with more of a plan and handsomer. Here is a picture of Jason:

jason2 henry_cavillYes, I know. His real name is Henry Cavill. AKA Superman. But I found him before all that. He was my Jason long before he donned that red cape. Having a picture of my main characters helps make them real, helps me write, helps me figure out where they are going next. So, yeah, looking at that dimple now, I see that killing him would have been a shame.

But sometimes the endings aren’t Happily Ever After. Nicolas Sparks obviously has stock in Kleenex. Jodi Picoult, the author of My Sister’s Keeper, can create tears from others with less than five words.  The popularity of their books leads me to believe that sometimes killing is okay, even necessary. Sometimes a death brings about a much needed change in another character, something that spurs the story on, even changing it’s direction. I do understand that people read to escape reality, to have a happily ever after in their dreams. But sometimes, just sometimes, don’t you want a little tragedy, too?

Dead Man Down? Have you seen this Colin Farrell movie? OMG – again, support Mr. Sparks and get those tissues! Broke my heart into a million pieces. Crying and runny nose with my husband glancing over making sure I was going to be okay. It was sad but you know what? I freakin’ LOVE that movie! Yes, the acting was amazing, the story line was riveting and there was a good amount of gun handling of which husband approved. But the tragic ending made it memorable, something I won’t soon forget. Does that make me a masochist? No, just a writer that likes variety, something more than the fairytale endings so many are used to watching or reading.

If you haven’t heard about Game of Thrones and you like your HEAs please crawl back under your rock. There is so much uncertainty about the longevity of it’s main cast the actors have to check in with security every morning to see if they are still wanted on the set. There is even a parody on YouTube:

 

So what about you? Do you like it when a character is killed off or do you want to see that Happily Ever After?

Standing Out and Out Standing

So. How ya doing? It’s been a while…summer vacations, house falling down, zoo needing care. You know, it’s been busy. But really, I am at a loss as to what to write. I know, I know. “You write books, for cryin’ out loud!” I hear you and writing 90,000 words for a novel comes easy for me. Status updates, tweets, texts – got those covered, too. I can spit those out easier than I can, well, spit.

Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)But this beast I’ve created here? It just stares at me, daring me to post some drivel that it will consume and then spit back out with a laugh. I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m not an authority on fashion unless jeans and a t-shirt are suddenly couture. I can’t even begin to comprehend the ins and outs of politics nor do I want to debate that here. I can talk a little about a lot. Unless it’s my neurotic dog. I’m a pro at dealing with him. And if you need advice on how to burn a pot of rice, well I’m your girl!

I’m supposed to be creating an ‘online presence’ for publishers and agents to look and see. Kind of like a litmus test for how popular I am, thus indicating how popular my books will be in the future. It’s like high school all over again. Word.

I understand that the publishing world is inundated with ‘wanna be’ authors and you have to stand out above the rest. You need to be different yet relevant; relateable yet edgy. Lady GaGa is a perfect example. People who don’t even listen to her music know who she is just by the absurd and bizarre things she does. Her bacon dress was brilliant. It was different, never heard of anyone doing that before. And it was relevant – talk about the ultimate recycling of materials. She could wear a dress and then go home and cook it.

So, while I won’t wrap bacon around my next manuscript, I need to find a way to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of ‘wanna bees’ out there. The wanna bees that write beautiful novels, descriptive and passionate, full of amazing story telling. There are thousands of those on slush piles on agents’ desks all across the world. Just to be seen by the agent’s two eyes is pure luck of the draw. Standing out after that is crucial. That’s where I’m at – creating something worth seeing. And right now I’m just feeling like her: brideFrankenstein3