Happy Halloween

 

Writing over here gets done in between other tasks. Or after everyone else has gone to sleep. During this fall break, one of those times has been pushed back to late night hours. Progress is made. Slowly, but surely.

A few nights ago, I got word one of my poems will be appearing in the fall issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine! I’m very happy with that, as that particular poem is one of my personal favorites. That may be the only one to find a home from that last round of submissions. Waiting on word from one last literary journal, and then it will be time to pick my next shots.

Those next shots will be a cross genre combination, because as soon as I’ve typed the last words into the novel’s second draft, it will be time to query on that. Once that process begins, I’m hoping to have the time to haul out novel number one, wheel it into the operating room and try to make that Frankenstein monster live. ‘Tis the season.

In one of my other projects, there are three scripts completed, and I am beginning to break down the next three for whenever there is time to start on those story drafts. If I’m lucky, sometime this fall or winter I’ll be able to have some of my mentors look the project over and give me some feedback on it. From there, we’ll get a much better idea of where to take it.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’m now going to go do nothing but decorate, dress up and take selfies with seasonal filters on until it’s over!

Have wonderful Nightmares before Christmas, everyone.

 

 

 

Lost in the mail

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At the end of July, I received a response from a magazine editor regarding some writing submitted to them last September. This came as a surprise, because I’d forgotten all about it. September 2016 was when I started submitting work more regularly, and many other pieces had gone out to various publications since then. Some responded within weeks, several within months, and one or two responded within days.

When the lag time between pressing send and receiving feedback is nearly a year, it can be a bit discouraging. If the publication you’re submitting to does not allow for simultaneous submissions, whatever you  choose to send them is off the table until such time as they accept or reject it, or you withdraw it from consideration. Most of the publishers I’ve considered–and all that I’ve submitted to–have wisely chosen to use electronic submission systems. This is as efficient as their process is going to get.

With such long response times being fairly commonplace, especially among the more well known publications, there is not much to be done about it, other than try to make your own process as efficient as you can. For my part, I’ve been rotating among some faster responding sites and periodicals when material becomes available while waiting on responses from one or two of those that take half a year or more.

Some of what I send out next is new writing, some pieces are reloaded and sent off to another prospective home. This varies, depending on what the writing is. Short stories go solo, poems go in groups of threes, fives, or whatever other number a particular editor is willing to accept per submission. Poetry is still a tough sell, as it probably always has been. But, whether it’s poetry or short fiction, there are any number of publications where a given piece of writing might find its place.

As of this moment, I’m awaiting word on three submissions, putting together the next two, and planning where to go after those. Pieces are moving all the time. Keeping the process electronic makes things more efficient for me, and for editors on their end, but there is still the time between.

 


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7/7/17

Today is an empty box on the calendar. It’s Friday, which is great, but nothing is scheduled to happen today.

Things that are in the process of happening:

Writing the first of the final chapters in novel #2.
The Nook release of Hidden Leaves will be soon.
Ten poems are out on submission, five are ‘in progress’ in Submittable.
Three scripts are complete in another project. (Story drafts)

My first beta reader has read through all of my current manuscript and pronounced it good. She reads a lot of mysteries, and her comments were encouraging. It’s important to me that it works as a mystery, leaving aside the elements of the story that are more urban fantasy or paranormal. There will be a few more beta readers added after the manuscript is complete.

That’s it!

Time for more coffee and typing.

I hope everyone has a great Friday and an even better weekend.

Writing through depression

Depression runs in my family. Over the years, I’ve had some pretty dark days.

During the time I’ve been working on The Ghosts of Autumn I have experienced a few depressive episodes. The important thing–to me–is that in rereading the manuscript, I can’t tell which days those were. The scenes in the novel are what they needed to be. The best that I could make them be at the time they were written. There isn’t a point in the book where I could clearly say “damn…things must have sucked on the day I wrote that” The dark scenes are dark, the funny scenes are fun, there are light moments in the serious scenes and some darker moments in scenes where the characters are not in any danger. The tone that I wanted to create is there throughout the whole of the story.

I’ve blogged about the depression itself over on my personal tumblr blog, which seems to have become only an annual event (every time I get an email wishing the blog a happy birthday, I remember it and sometimes post something).

I’m mentioning that for only two reasons. One, Tumblr is the only social media site that actually asked me important questions when I searched for a depression related hashtag. It gave me an info page with hotline numbers and asked if I was okay. Then it went on to suggest a few blogs to follow. No other site has done anything like that. It reminded me of an online game I used to play when my girls were very young. Guild Wars was the only game I can recall that did anything like that. It would give a chat message saying something like ‘you’ve been playing for four hours, please take a break‘. In reality, I had been parking my character in safe spots and getting up to go do things like laundry or dishes, checking on napping toddlers, etc. in between completing quests. So I hadn’t actually been playing that entire time, but I appreciated the thought behind it.

The other reason is that whenever I am dealing with a serious depressive episode–or even if I just need a little “me time” to recharge after dealing with too many people, I tend to vanish from social media. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed over the years. If I’ve withdrawn from posting, commenting, and/or even ‘liking’ things, or I just haven’t logged in at all on Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram for a few days that’s when I’m not doing okay. If I’m online and interacting with any posts by friends or other accounts that I follow, it’s better than when I’m just not bothering to connect at all.

I might still be feeling down, but if I’m engaging in any way with something someone else has posted it can be a productive thing. Sometimes I am just reaffirming that I am not alone. It can be a way of confronting it and trying to work through it–especially if it is specifically depression related. Other times, I might just be looking for a distraction to help me feel better. Many times, that actually works. Like many creative people, my mind runs at a hundred miles an hour, and doesn’t always stop until I sleep. I’m constantly imagining things, questioning things, and recreating things in my mind. It’s an almost continuous flow. Montages of things real and imaginary, all the time. When stuck in a negative feedback loop, things can go downhill pretty fast. But when I am able to flip the script with a new thought that I like, or a positive emotion, it is possible to ride that right out of whatever funk I am in. Nothing works all the time, but this has happened with just random discoveries online. It’s all in how you use it.

It’s in times like these where staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen can lead to nothing at all, or an eruption of creativity that leaves me wondering why it can’t happen more often. The days where progress is made–or not made–in a less emotional manner don’t leave an impression on me. It’s those times where it’s been difficult to focus through the glitches in my stream of consciousness that have given me the most hope. Because slowly but surely, something that is its own thing has been created through consistent effort. It can be read like any other book I might pick up on a bad day, and the story holds my attention. That’s how I know. In the end, everything is going to be okay.

Character counts

During my last read through of the manuscript for Ghosts of Autumn, I counted character names. Not just any character with a name, but those that are key to the story. They are not all “main” characters, but each moves the story forward in some crucial way.

There are of course many other characters named in the book. Some are in scenes with the primary characters that have the most dialogue, others are named but have no lines or never appear in a scene, and there has even been a couple that were given lines but were not given names. Those were crowded scenes.

As of this post, the story is about 85-90% complete, and there are 45 characters that have large parts in it, or whose parts moved the story forward in various ways.

Those are the characters that advance the plot through their words and actions consistently. At times, some of them have changed the entire trajectory of a scene because a character moment occurred that I didn’t see coming until I got there. That time Lieutenant Blanco quoted my protagonist, Detective Vincent Salvati, as saying “you can’t spell Deacon without OCD.” comes to mind. It seems an offhand comment in the scene, but it was an important character moment for all three of them. Salvati never says this in the book, he is only quoted as “always” saying it. The scene was going somewhere else up to that point, but that was too good to pass up. It has Salvati’s sarcasm, Blanco’s bluntness, and tells the reader something they might not have noticed about Detective Deacon up to that point. All in one line.

There are a lot of moments like that where scenes turned on a character’s personality. I like this cast of characters a great deal. Even when they don’t do what I tell them.