I grabbed The King Tides by James Swain as a Prime Read after forgetting to make a choice. I go back and forth on liking this kind of story but I couldn't put King Tides down. I was in the world from the first scene and it all felt grounded in reality in a way that many go too far to make their character 'the best in his field.' Its a Hollywood blockbuster of a novel; get your popcorn, suspend some disbelief and get ready for a fun ride.
I know; those two lines might seem contradictory— suspend your disbelief and grounded in reality? But it feels like you are there, it might be a bit 'Michael Bay' if you know what I mean, but its fun and once you're sucked in there's nothing to pull you out.
Its got a little mystery, plenty of suspense and a heavy dose of action. The location felt like its own character, and although I've never been to southern Florida I was on the streets as the tide rose with Lancaster. I love a book that brings me somewhere I haven't gone, that made it an especially good airport read.
It was tense, it was action packed and I'll be looking forward to more from Lancaster & Daniels!
I rate it four stars.
My new work in progress tracks a woman as she flees from a co-worked turned stalker. I started the draft out writing only from her point of view as she plans and executes her escape. Along the way she recalls the events that led her to that point. How her fired assistant stalked her relentlessly.
But it felt like something was missing. So I went back and told some of those events in a close 1st person point of view from him, our stalker, as he wavers between love and hate as the obsession grows.
Now, with a thought out plot line and substantial outline I made my way through the initial chapters about our poor woman. The words came, not always easily, but they came.
Then I switched to him. And Jared just jumped onto the page. **insert eye-roll here about characters that write themselves** That's not what I mean, I'm definitely writing him, but its almost TOO easy to get inside his head and swing back and forth on his mood changes. Is that a bad thing?
I want to think not, I want to think that I just know him well, but don't they say write what you know? Is there some part of me hiding inside that is trying to tell me something... hmmm. It might be good that we are basically still in quarantine and I should stay inside.
If you see me hiding behind some bushes, just keep walking.
Before fall of last year I'm not sure what this year would have looked like. But in October I decided to push forward with self-publishing my debut novel. On December 1st it hit Amazon, then throughout the month I expanded to Kobo, Apple, and Barnes &Noble. Also in October a short story of mine was chosen for a Halloween anthology. So my goals started to come into focus.
This year I want to shop around my short stories and get at least one published in a paying market. Ideally a few, but one will be a good start as I learn the submission process for shorts. I also have a new WIP going and want to get it to beta stage by the end of the summer. Ambitious goal would be to publish that at the beginning of 2022.
Outside of new fiction, I want to keep my blog going better this year. I hope to post twice a month to build my followers here and on my Facebook page. If there are any questions/comments/thoughts you have for me feel free to drop them in the comments and maybe they will become a future post!
Reading about characters who work/play in an area of your own expertise can be tiring. Of course as writers you do as much research as you can. But there isn't a reasonable way to really get that ‘day in the life’ feel unless you’ve lived it. I am a horse trainer by day, and horses are something so many people like to add to their fiction. But there are so many bad takes on horses and their riding that I don't read horse books. I can't. You can tell right off when someones research is all done from watching movies. Hollywood gets it wrong a lot too so that is not a great teacher.
I’ve run into this issue in a book I am reading now. It's multi-POV and 95% of it I'm loving. But one POV character is a horse trainer. She's actually a lot like me, introverted and would rather spend her time alone at the barn. Great, I can relate to her. Wrong! Whatever research the writer did was probably out of YA girls books about horses. ‘Gentling’ them, calming them, and tying the reins to the porch rail. Every time her chapters come up I wonder if I can skip them and not miss anything too important.
It's almost worse because the author was clearly trying. Some things are so close to right that it kind of makes it worse when the other things come out of left field. And I know we all do it, I can only read so much about police procedure, I realize from this side of the screen that there are likely officers cringing at my characters handling of evidence or paperwork. It's too bad we cant all just have a giant convention where people of all jobs come and talk to us about these tidbits that annoy them in our books. For now though, if you ever have questions about horses/riding/their care. Feel free to ask me!
I want to be a plotter. If you’ve read my other posts you can see just how not a plotter I am. But I did a course awhile back in screenwriting and for it we had to outline the whole season of our show in addition to scripting the entire pilot episode. In our peer critiques I got really good feedback. That mini-bible as they call it has been sitting on my hard drive ever since. It's spawned a prequel flash story and lots of thoughts and random scenes but it's still just waiting. I want to write it, I really do. I want people to read it. I’m determined that it will be my NaNo project. I have 12 episodes outlined, which would spin nicely into chapters. It's all there waiting for me. The characters, the arcs. And yet... things pop into my head with nothing but a quick passing image and demand to be written. And my muse gets a thrill from that.
I'm working on a novel board (I’m not enough of a hippie to call it a vision board) for the show turned novel in hopes of bringing that excitement back. Part of me wants to hide the outline away and pretend I don't know where everyone is meant to end up. I wonder if that will help. If not I’m pretty sure I'll end NaNo with something. I just hope it's the novel I am planning.
Anyone else NaNo-ing this November? Do you go to local events - I forced myself out of my introvert cocoon last year for the thank god it's over party. Who knows maybe I’ll get to a writing event this year. Happy prep!
Today marked another day in ‘weird searches’ I had one of those nights where you wake up and your half asleep mind starts dictating a chapter. It’s not the novel idea I have brewing for NaNoWriMo, which I really need to stick to so that I can finally put that one to bed - it's been outlined for more than a year... but I digress.
Strange things in my search history. We started out with the not unreasonable: what happens to your body as you drown? Stemmed off into the strangeness of dry drowning, but neither ended up being quiet the kill method I needed. Did I mention my late night character is a serial killer? No, well she is. Yes she, and she keeps insisting that she will never be caught.
Anyway drowning took me to poison gases, what different ones might look like once deployed and all the horrors of what they might do the body. Oh the images! Turn on safe-search guys! It was when I started looking into how one might acquire such things that I realized what I was doing. I’m definitely on some kind of watch list now. I use DuckDuckGo when I think of it, but I am of the mind that they are always watching. So, oh well.
In the end, it's always an interesting dive and I did get the information I needed. I know this will not be the last of my murderous searches so if you ever see a gofundme for bail, you know why. What are some of your strange searches? Death and dismemberment? Crimes and getaways?
I'm still not sure I ‘have it’ but my Excite synopsis is coming along. As I finished it, I was surprised at the rather huge realization I had about my own book. Sure I was super pleased to get good feedback from betas about character arc and pacing. But I drafted this one as I pants-ed my way through NaNoWriMo a few years back. At the time I wasn't thinking about any of that.
In edits I did make sure each POV character had a distinct voice and showed change, but I didn't realize HOW MUCH change from my MC until I wrote the last line of my synopsis. Now that I finally saw it I realize that it is what people have been responding too. *head desk*
I guess it's good to surprise yourself, and I guess it's good that I got there without thinking too hard. But I wish I could say ‘of course, I had it all worked out from the beginning.’ That is probably why I am a pants-er through and through. It all worked out in the end on this one, I just wish I could have gotten my muse to tell my brain about this wonderful revelation a bit sooner.
Back from my betas Excite is ready to be sent out to agents. I hadn't planned on this book doing really anything. I hadn't even really played with editing it until I offered to beta for another writer and they asked if I wanted to swap. It was the only thing of a similar length finished so I figured why not. Now my baby is ready to step into the world.
Sort of. I have to figure out synopsis writing and that feels monumental. I got the query letter down, and that felt easy compared to a synopsis. I have a draft, but shrinking the novel to just 600 or so words is proving just as hard as I imagined.
For better or worse (or impatient-ness) I have already queried a few agents who do not ask for a synopsis in the initial contact. It may come back to bite me if one responds quickly asking for one, but most I’ve chosen so far have timelines of 6+ weeks to hear anything back.
My next batch of queries will require that synopsis, but for now I’m happy to see a few ‘SENT’s on my agents list.
In June I took my first trip to Europe! I spent 6 days in Italy. Mostly in Rome but also a day in Venice and a drive down the Amalfi Coast to Pompeii with a stop in Positano to dip in the sea. It was hot, hotter than the forecast predicted but that didn't slow me down (much).
In school I did six years of Latin, so finally getting to see the site of the history was amazing. And while I’m not religious, I love to visit churches (temples, etc) for the art and history. Out of everything; the Vatican, the ancient buildings; the frozen in time city of Pompeii - what took me most by surprise and immediately threw inspiration my way was Venice. I wish I had planned more time there.
The canals were beautiful and I could have wandered the narrow streets for days. It was the ones that simply end in steps descending into the water that really struck me. Though I didn't visit during flooding season, the idea of that water rising up and the locals just going on with their daily lives moving through it left me with a character begging for a story.
Now I just have to figure out what she's up to
There are so many resources out there that it is hard to know where to start. Finding a course, or book, or even software that actually helps you write (rather than helps you procrastinate writing) is tough. But I have found a few that I really liked and felt like were helpful.
The very first stop for me, as is probably quite common, was NaNoWriMo. Write your 50k words in 30 days and you are a winner! With a novel! Well, sort of. Still those words have become manuscripts that are becoming novels, and short stories so all those Author Pep Talks and late night reaches of word count goals did help. And the forums there pointed me in the right direction to find even more help.
Even having ‘won’ NaNo a couple times, feeling like I could reliably finish things (of any length) was still a mystery. I stumbled onto Holly Lisle's site (https://hollyswritingclasses.com) and onto her free flash fiction course. In just a few weeks I had 8 shorts that just kept multiplying and became my first self-published collections. Her forums are great and everyone on them is so helpful. It is a great writers community.
I wasn't in a place to be able to purchase her bigger courses so i kept poking around. I had been on Coursera.org for other things and found a neat set of courses presented by Wesleyan University (https://www.coursera.org/specializations/creative-writing). I’ll admit I found some of the lecturers more engaging than others but the prompts were interesting and helpful all around.
The most surprising, and the most fun, course I’ve done was also in Coursera, it is a screenwriting course (https://www.coursera.org/learn/script-writing/). It teaches the format for screenplays but also the 3 act structure and great dialog. The best part of this one though was that it was a close group for peer review. It was required to review others work and to get feedback on your own, even with the completely free version! I got some amazing notes on my story and learned a lot about the process by reading others first drafts.
If you are searching for knowledge I definitely recommend checking out some of these places, I don't get anything for posting the links so I have no reason to over-sell them. What are your favorite online (or print) resources? Drop links in the comments, I love to keep learning!