Prepping for NaNoWriMo

It’s nearly that time of year again and I’ve been busily prepping for National Novel Writing Month.  For the first time, I decided to try working from an outline – now that may seem like a no-brainer, but in all honesty, I have never used an outline with any degree of fidelity.  Sure, I outline upon occasion, but when my fingers are on the keyboard the story usually just flows.  Then my outline is completely obsolete after a few chapters.   I manage to wind my self back to the ending I had planned, but the twists and turns of the story line are completely spontaneous.

But then again, the last time that happened I had oodles of time to concentrate and these days I’m rather short on time – not to mention my powers of concentration match those of your average fruit fly.    So outlining it shall be!

I don’t anticipate getting through the entire first draft of Jealous Magic (the latest in the Relic Hunter Series) but I do plan on getting the bulk of the scenes crafted.  I hope to not let my NaNoWriMo group down (like I did the last time I participated).  I hope to keep moving forward and not getting stuck on the details.  So I’ve put a few safeguards in place to prevent being derailed by my usual demons…

I have a cover for Jealous Magic (I write best when I have the cover already done – I think it provides me with a little motivation).

I have the ending written. (It might change, but I have a hard time not obsessing over where the story’s going to finally end up – so when I write it first, I can relax and let my characters take me on the journey).

I still need to log into the NaNoWriMo site and re-join my group (if they’ll have me :)).

And probably 387 other things I didn’t think of.  But for now, it’s full steam ahead –  I even have an outline to prove it!



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Spring Celebration Sale

To celebrate spring – all of my books are only 99 cents on Amazon! Enjoy the magic. My Amazon Author PageEM Cartoon3_bak

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This Gang is just…AWESOME!

I love it when one of my favorite author sites features me as the author of the day.  If you’re an indie (like me) or a traditionally published author then check out AwesomeGang for promotions and their features.  They’re really an incredible site devoted to promoting all authors (and most of the authors help promote other authors and give such generous advice).  It’s really amazing and here’s their website link Awesome Gang and you can find them on Facebook and Twitter and even on Pinterest!

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Sneak Preview – A Wayward Witch

I’m too excited to keep one of Evan Robeson’s cases to myself.  Here’s a sneak peak at his very own story:  A Wayward Witch

The knock on the door was nothing if not authoritative. I grumbled and swore under my breath before reluctantly slamming my work back in the cabinet and trudging to the door. I flung it open without looking out the peep hole, and was startled to find one of Boston’s finest looking wide-eyed and flustered. I made a note to dial back on the irritation I felt at being interrupted.

“Mr. Robeson?” He asked, settling down into something resembling belligerent.

“Yes, officer. How can I help you?” I forced neutrality into my voice.

“We need to investigate a complaint filed by your neighbor, Mr. Durham.”

I didn’t hide the sigh. “What is it now? I’m the high wizard in some cult that tortures small animals?” I put on my best weary expression and ran my hand down my face.

The officer quickly hid a smile. “Um, actually Mr. Robeson, he claims you put something in his water supply.”

I grinned. “Actually, he probably thinks I ‘cursed’ his water, right? What did I put in it…eye of newt, wing of bat?” I shook my head sadly and stood aside, gesturing for the policeman to enter my townhouse. “Come on in, Officer. You might as well call me Evan, I think we’re going to be seeing quite a bit of each other.” I stood aside and the officer entered, glancing around with mild curiosity.

“Nice place.” He commented, and followed me through the rooms to the kitchen at the back of the house.

“Thanks. High Evil Wizard pays pretty well.” I replied, not hiding the grin in my voice or on my face. “You see, Mr. Durham is convinced I’m an evil wizard so everything that goes wrong at his place must be my fault.  In reality, I’m an attorney.” I paused next to my suit jacket which was hung on the back of my sofa and fished out a card. I handed it to him with a shrug. “I’m sorry you got called for this, officer. May I offer you some water or maybe an iced tea?”

The officer declined and glanced at my card. It was a heavy cardstock with my name in raised black letters and a fictitious law firm name. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a real attorney, but my employer is a little paranoid – and justifiably so. I watched as the cop flipped open his small black book and began reading his notes to me.

“Mr. Durham says his water has been running black for the past two days. He suspects you somehow caused it because you’re in a disagreement over a parking spot.”

“I can’t explain his water situation, but yes, he does complain that I usually manage to get a parking space right out front. He thinks it’s magic.” I smiled and spread my hands wide as if I had no explanation for Mr. Durham’s crazy ideas.

“Magic?” The officer tried to hide a grin, but the corners of his mouth twitched just enough to give him away.

“I come home at odd hours, and there’s usually one open space in front of the two houses when I get here. Mr. Durham comes home at 5:15 every night, and there’s no parking anywhere on this block. Probably because everyone else gets home at 5:10, but he thinks I use some sort of magic to clear out a space for myself.” I laughed and leaned against the counter, holding my hands out in surrender.

“Did you have words over it two days ago?”

“Yes. Mr. Durham parked his car down the street, and it was my bad luck to get a spot right out front of my house when he finally got to his own door. He made some snide comment, and I’d had a bit of a long day and told him I made the other car disappear. I suppose I probably shouldn’t have said there was no point in being a wizard if you couldn’t at least get decent parking.” I pulled a contrite look and shrugged. “You see, this has been going on for a few months now, and I’ve tried to explain it rationally, but there’s no reasoning with the man. This time, I changed my tactic and lied to him. I told him I was using magic, thinking he’d realize the absurdity of that, but apparently I overestimated him.” I laughed. “Who would have expected him to take me seriously?”

I forced some calm energy out of myself, giving the officer an apologetic shrug for good measure.

The officer nodded sympathetically and finally closed his notebook gently. He assured me he would alert the city water commission about the problem and speak to Mr. Durham again. I smiled, nodded, and thanked him wearily. I even shook his hand at the door. Really, a wizard with nothing better to do than get good parking spaces and screw with my neighbor’s water?

Maybe that’s what retired wizards do, but I had bigger fish to fry at that moment.


Stay tuned for more from Evan – as well as sneak peak of my new novel co-authored with April Chanderon and the debut of my new series! After all, it is NaNoWriMo!

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What the bad times taught this author

I had one of those dark years where everything in life changes and it takes a long time to put the pieces back together and find “the new normal” – but here’s what I learned from the experience:

1.)  Books transport you out of the stress and despair and into a whole other world where people have bigger problems than you.  In this way, they give you perspective  and they entertain you when you think there’s nothing on the planet that you can focus on.  I will be forever grateful to Mercy Thompson (a great heroine from Patricia Briggs) and Jane Yellowrock (another of my “girlfriends” from Faith Hunter) for keeping me company on some really dark days.  Those two series brought me through the scariest time in my life – and even made me laugh when I didn’t think I could.  I went from therapy writing to therapy reading but I’m on my way back again.

2.)  Writing takes tremendous concentration – and when I’m stressed I have the attention span of a gnat.  I haven’t been able to string two coherent sentences together for an entire year but…

3.)  Research is the first step toward recovery.  I might not have been able to write, but I sure did put in some late nights at the computer researching for my next books.  I haven’t lost the passion to write, just the time and focus – but that’s shifting back.  Arienne’s on a new adventure, there’s a new heroine with a mystery to solve, and two other books I’m co-authoring with my good friend April Chanderon.  2016 should be an exciting year!

4.)  At my core, I weathered the storm quite well.  My characters have the same ability – when other people might crumble, they don’t – when sane people would give up, they forge ahead.  There’s a little part of the author in every character – and I’m sure I’m not the only author who stitches together characters with bits and pieces of myself.

5.)  I still write “smart, fun fantasy” because everyone needs an escape.  That won’t change because I learned that escaping into a good book is salvation – and I am more than willing to have Arienne, Callie, and Cleo hold someone else’s hand through the scary times life sometimes brings.

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Confessions of an Indie

I admit it: I was lazy this weekend. I decided to watch a movie instead of working. I felt guilty all day until I got home today and realized that while I was resting on my laurels (among other parts) on Sunday, the posse over at Awesome Gang retweeted me. It made my day!  As indies, we all need to help each other out sometimes!

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Why is it so hard to maintain momentum?

Indie entrepreneur_001

I go on publicity binges – posting, tracking, tweeting, creating new content, then posting, tracking, tweeting all over again.  Then I see a jump in sales and I think “Great!  It’s working!” and I work like a woman possessed on my next release or short story in between posts, tweets, tracking, etc..  All of a sudden I hit a day when it just seems like so much self-aggrandizement and frantic activity that I can’t bear to do it for another minute.

It’s in these dark hours of (mental) exhaustion that I just want to crawl onto the couch and read someone else’s work.  The one thing being an indie has taught me is that those moments of blissful peace are necessary to fuel my creativity.  It’s stressful to live with the little voice in my head “Did my scheduled posts work?  Did I put the links on that post?” and all of the other random thoughts that pop in while I’m trying to live my life.

That’s the crux of the matter:  I have a life.  I have a full-time job.  I have a family.  I have a small dog.  I have friends.  I also have a part-time job (writing) that I’m building into a business and that business reqires me to be creative and consistent.

The last time I hit that wall – the one between “I love doing this so much” and “I’m closing my Twitter account” – I decided to approach things differently.  Instead of working like a woman possessed on my next release while promoting, I broke it down into two separate tasks.  Write.  Publicize.  When I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I build my tweets and posts and save them or schedule them to post at specific times.  When I can’t form a sentence, I work on my art for advertising sales & promos – then I save them or schedule them.  Trying to do it all at once just saps my energy and creativity.  If my posts are scheduled, I can focus on my next project.  This has made me more focused as a writer and it’s enabled me to keep my online presence consistent.

When I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I curl onto the couch (with the small dog) and read someone else’s work.  Those breaks enable me to do recharge enough so I can build my business.  It’s time I carve out for me, without the pressure of constantly feeling like I must do more.  Maintaining momentum is important, but maintaining sanity is even more critical.

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.99 Cent Stress Busters

99 cent sale art 3

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Researching Magic

Although I primarily write fantasy, there’s a great deal of research which goes into the creation of my stories.  I suppose I could simply make up the entire thing, but I love legends and mythology so I actually enjoy the research.  That research has given me new ideas and taken my characters to places I couldn’t have imagined!

Along with a pretty extensive collection of legends, I admit I’m addicted to Wikipedia.  While I do look up specific objects on that site, I also click on the sources below the articles.  It is through these external links that I have found on-line library collections of 16th century illuminated manuscripts and a little known compilation of Native American legends.  Being a writer when there’s such a vast wealth of knowledge available is exhilarating.

The creation of magical powers is another part of my stories, and I spent hours developing it for my first book and more time increasing my knowledge since then.  I have read books on magic and herbal healing, mostly those written by modern practitioners of the craft – and while I’m not a witch – as an author, I like to have some basis in reality for my stories.  Many cultures have a strong tradition of herbal and crystal healing and those areas find their way into my work as well.   I have expanded on those resources to develop my own brand of magic.  I like spending a few moments flipping through my dictionaries of healing herbs and crystals to get some inspirtaion for my stories.  Sometimes, I write my characters into impossible situations that I have no solution for – a few flips through one of my resources sometimes turns up the perfect answer or at least gives me a grain of knowledge that I can expand into a viable solution.

All of the research gets filed into my brain, or scribbled onto index cards, or typed into documents that lurk on my computer. That process makes writing as much about learning as about creating a story.  I think that’s the thing that keeps my reader interested – there’s really something to learn hidden in my stories.  I know the research and learning is what keeps me interested as a writer – there’s so much out there that I feel like I’ll never run out of fuel for my stories.

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What’s so great about sad?

I just watched the last episode of a series I have loved for years – loved so much that I thought how sad it would be when it finally went off the air.  I’m not feeling that anymore.  In fact, I’m so disgusted that I won’t watch it again…even though it will be on next week.  One of the few characters I still cared about was killed in the episde I watched.  I won’t be back to see what happens next because the death of that character broke some thread of trust I had with the shows writers and producer.  Now, I just don’t care.

Life has enough strife, stress, and hardship without someone bringing more to me in my leisure time.

Once I figured out I now have one additional hour each week, I moved on to another thing which could have been equally traumatic – the end of the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Now, I’ve been putting off actually finishing the final book because I didn’t want to be sad.  Today, I figured I was already pissed off enough after my television viewing, so I might as well be completely miserable.

The entire time I was reading the final three books I kept wondering how Charlaine Harris would end it.  I had all sorts of evil twists and diabolical plots and traumatic events floating around my imagination.  I’d write them all here, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who’s still reading the book.  I’ll create a separate page so you can read them if you want.  I sat on my couch with my dog and a glass of water and decided to just rip the bandage off…

Much to my delight, the ending wrapped everything up quite nicely – with a healthy dose of justice and some pretty cool scenes that made me feel vindicated and really, really smart.  At no point did I feel betrayed or used.  I didn’t feel like I had been lead down the primrose path.  The author had a chance  break my heart and decided not to do it.  I suppose I’m a complete sap because I do love a neat little ending.  Notice, I didn’t qualify that as “a happy ending” because if nothing else, the end of a series I loved is hardly a happy thing.

It’s a mater of trust for me as a reader, viewer, and author.  I like to be brought home after a date safe and sound with no regrets that I just wasted a few hours of my life.  If I wanted to be sad, stressed, and shattered then I’ll wait around a bit because life tends to do that to all of us from time to time.  I don’t need a complete stranger to make me feel that way.

I guess my new book will be out sooner, now that I have an extra hour in my week.

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