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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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!

October Is for Anthology

Ah, yes, that’s a bit of a lame title for the blog post this week, but it’s eerily prescient. Last year (in October) we launched Corrugated Sky Publishing with the publication of our first anthology, Tales of the Black Dog. We started a second anthology with the hopes of printing it this spring, but that came and went and then the summer sun burned down on us and we still didn’t have a finished book in hand. And now it’s October again, and we are very, very close to getting the second anthology in print. So close that we will probably have it next week, just in time for Halloween — again!

This second book is called Smoke and Steam and it’s big: 260 pages, which means that what started out as four Steampunk short stories morphed into four Steampunk novellas, including “Wings over Staria” by JC Rock, “Hekatite” by Karen Garvin, “Heart of the Matter” by Michelle Schad, and “Freedom for a Foster” by Cathryn Leigh. We’ll have the book available in paperback and ebook versions on Amazon, but while you’re waiting for our second anthology, why not pick up a copy of the first one — Tales of the Black Dog? After all, it contains some great horror stories, and what better time of year to read them?

With the anthology all but finished except evicting a few typos and finalizing our print files, it’s time for me to get back to other writing projects. The looming question, with November coming up, is whether I’m going to do NaNo this year. I did it last year and managed to meet the word count, so technically I had a “win,” but the story never quite jelled into something worthwhile. It was supposed to be a noir mystery, but the only “noir” was my character riding a bus at night and the only “mystery” was the plot. I loved my title (Killing Palatino); I also liked the art I came up with for the cover. Maybe I’ll dust it off sometime, but not this fall.

I do have another book idea that I’ve been thinking of developing. It would be a young adult story and the protagonist would be a young girl who lives in a country where being healthy is considered a social duty and being overweight is illegal. I want the politics to be in the background, not in-your-face, but I’ll need to develop an interesting character who has motives and desires. I have some ideas, but you’re going to have to wait at least until December to learn more … as will I!

Writing Goals and Refilling the Well

I’m sadly behind in my writing goals, but I’m not really surprised since I set the bar so high for myself. At this point I’m about 5900 words behind schedule. The problem with falling behind goals is that you get to a point where you just want to give up on the goal instead of doubling down and trying harder to get the work done. For me, a lot of the nonfiction articles I write require a lot of research and that takes time, but I can’t justify counting that toward my writing goals. Instead, I create a rough draft of the article and count those words, then when I revise it’s just a matter of calculating my editing time as an equivalent word-count, which admittedly is a bit tricky to do.

The best course of action is to get back on track with my average daily writing goal. I’m only counting five days a week for that because I’ve found that it is unrealistic if I expect to write every day. Sometimes I just need to get away from the keyboard. I work full time and spending fourteen hours a day sitting here and being productive is just not going to happen.

I spent some time this weekend indulging in what Julia Cameron calls “filling the well.” That’s basically recharging your artistic batteries by doing something different and not beating yourself over the head for not getting your entire NaNoWriMo word count done in one afternoon. I’ve signed up for a Craftsy course on working with colored pencils and right now fighting the urge to buy excessively large collections of colored pencils just because — Oooh! All the colors! I have colored pencils but of course I want different ones, because as it turns out there is a difference between them. There are wax-based and oil-based pencils, and the oil-based ones are much smoother and have more pigment so they are a higher-quality artist tool than the cheap ones you get at the local mega-mart.

My writing goals this week are to finish revising and editing a bio for an encyclopedia and start working on a presentation that I’m giving the beginning of April. I’ll probably spend time trawling my notes so it may not be much actual writing for that, but I also have been putting off doing the final revision of my novel as other projects have just swept it off my desk. Time to pull it out and get started, I think.

And one more thing: my backspace key just fell off my keyboard, so I have to type perfectly! Have a productive writing week, and may all your words be typo free.