Seacombe Island Is Here!

cover of Seacombe Island

It’s here! My novel Seacombe Island has been published and is for sale on Amazon!

I began the novel as a 2011 NaNoWriMo manuscript. Since then, I’ve rewritten and edited most of the chapters several times and added a few characters that the zero draft didn’t include. Somewhere along the way I had put it aside while I finished graduate school, but the amount of work wasn’t ever really the issue. The big problem was that I had trouble developing the main character, Thomas Ashton. I had supporting characters who knew who they were right from the start, but not my protagonist. He was playing his cards close to his chest and refused to confide in me.

And so I put the manuscript aside and let the problem stew for awhile. Eventually I began sorting out some of the themes and gaining a better sense of what the driving forces were behind my characters. As I went through and edited some of the bits that were really irritating me the protagonist’s personality became clearer, and the more I delved into his backstory, the better I understood him.

What really helped me sort out some of the backstory was writing a short story based on the Seacombe Island world, “Hekatite,” which was published in the Smoke and Steam anthology this spring. Even though Tom isn’t in the short story, Edward Grey and Tom’s friend, Samuel Grey, are. Writing about them and figuring out what they were up to, and how it would affect Tom in the future, gave me a guideline and was a lot of fun.

I hope you enjoy Seacombe Island!

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Makin’ Smoke


Whew! November is over, and NaNo is over, and we’re halfway through December. I’m struggling to get back on track with several projects, although I’m making some slow progress on editing my novel and I have a few short articles to get done before the first week of January.

I haven’t written much about my story “Hekatite,” which appears in Smoke and Steam, the second anthology published by Corrugated Sky. In this one I get top billing. We’re calling them novellas because the stories are fairly long, and the book comes in at 260 pages. “Hekatite” takes place in the same universe as my forthcoming novel, Seacombe Island, and includes some of the same characters.

Writing the novella was a fairly straightforward plot, but it was an interesting way for me to fill in some of the backstory for the novel and figure out the dynamics between characters. As sometimes happens in writing, one of my secondary characters has become a favorite and is in danger of eclipsing my main character. But as I go through Seacombe with my final edits, I’m finding ways to strengthen the main character because I’ve finally figured out how some of the interactions need to take place.

What I need now is a good long vacation to deal with the task of writing, but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen. I’ve been using up my remaining vacation time a day here and a day there, and pretty much squandering any downtime by running house errands, and whether I travel or not, the holidays are not good writing time for me.

So, here we are nearly at the end of the year. My goals through the first week of January are to get at least halfway through Seacombe edits, finish four short articles on athlete bios for Salem press, and get back into research on my nonfiction book on Victorian detectives. And wrap up my author proposal for another book project. Not too many things, eh?

NaNo 2017, Almost Toast

It’s been a long haul this year for my NaNo adventure. I had the ghost of an idea for a book and was hoping to tease out the plot during the month of writing dangerously, but that hasn’t happened. I need more time to think this through, and it will probably get shelved once November is over because I have several other projects in the works. Still, NaNo isn’t a waste, as it’s force me to get back into the habit of writing daily, and it’s a bit surprising how many words I can type in an hour if I push myself.

On the flip side, my hands are hurting from the typing. It’s not carpal tunnel, it’s just aches and pains from jamming the space bar and muscles that aren’t used to marathon writing sessions. My first office job was in a typing pool, and as much as I like to write I can’t imagine ever doing that as a full-time job again.

So, it’s early on November 29, which means today and tomorrow to wrap the novel. It’s almost toast! Just two more days, and I’m at 47,132 words, so I have no doubt I’ll reach the 50K mark, but the story won’t be at an end. I think instead of writing chapters for the next two days I’m going to write chapter synopses and try to find a suitable finishing point for the story. Then if I pick it up later I’ll have the skeleton of a plot to follow and can flesh out the writing.

In other writing news, I’ve started talking to some people in the hopes of getting a history book project underway. I have an interested publisher, but I need access to archival materials and I may need permissions for using materials. I also have some encyclopedia articles on athletes that I’m working on. Here’s to a verbose December!

Walnut Wednesday

Actually, I’m sick of days with color names. Okay, one day in particular. Have you guessed what it is? Here’s a hint: It’s happening in two days. Or it has been happening for a week already. And the pre-pre-pre-pre Color-Name-Day-That-Will-Not-Be-Named days have been happening, now, for at least a month. Remember when Christmas was just one day? And when we actually enjoyed Thanksgiving, before it turned into nothing but a month-long (er, I mean five-week-long-and-growing) sales pitch?

I know what you’re thinking. I’m a jaded holiday hater. One of those people who smashes tree ornaments and steals kiddies’ presents from under the tree. A veritable Grinch. But that’s not true. I just want to enjoy a holiday with seeing it pushed aside as unimportant because the Next Big Thing is coming up. Like when you’re watching TV and half the screen is occupied by commercials for the next show. It’s like they can’t wait to get this one over with.

Tomorrow I am celebrating Thanksgiving, and I’ll spend some time writing to keep up with my NaNo goals (I’m at 720 words behind at the moment, but today’s not over yet and I hope to make up that difference). Enjoy your holiday, and for those of you who have to work, I send you double wishes of cheer.