General

June Recap

Happy 4th of July!

June has been a busy month. My little girl turned 6 years old on June 1st! We celebrated with a whole weekend of birthday parties. The second weekend was taken up with a three-day backpacking trip to the Great Sand Dune in southern Colorado. You can read all about that and see pictures here. There were dance recitals, barbecues, play dates, bike rides… Yeah, summer is definitely here. 😉

Despite all of these many distractions, I am ecstatic to report that I have FINISHED COURTING DARKNESS!!! By finished, of course, I only mean the first draft, but still. The story exists somewhere other than my head, and I’m very excited to free up the extra space for MORE STORIES!

I hope your summer is off to a great start as well.  🙂

 

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CURRENT PROJECTS

Magicsmith Book 2: Courting Darkness- Draft one is DONE! It was a lot of early mornings, but I managed to do it. *Happy dance*

The Price of Tomorrow – I got back responses from *most* of my beta readers, so it’s time to tackle a few more changes and polish it up. I’m debating whether or not I want to start querying this book while I’m so busy with my other series or not. We’ll see.

Magicsmith Book 3: (Title TBD) – I didn’t manage to work on this book in June beyond stray thoughts and daydreams, so July is going to be all about pinning down the outline. Hopefully, come August, I’ll have a solid framework for the story.

 

WORDS WRITTEN AND/OR EDITED THIS MONTH

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The most interesting thing I learned this month:

It’s illegal to carry a blade longer than 3.5 inches, or any ballistic knife, in the state of Colorado. I also learned a ballistic knife is a knife where the blade can be detached and shot from the handle. Crazy!

REVIEWS

The first two books I read this month were a breeze. I finished both in a few days apiece. Then I started on Infected and, well… Let’s just say it broke the pattern. The review for that one will be out next week.

To see reviews as they come out, as well as other posts, follows my blog at Ramblings from an Alternate Reality.

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ON THE HORIZON

Currently on my TBR shelf:

July brings fireworks and backyard barbecues, as well as another camping trip. I’m looking forward to taking a little breather now that the first draft of Courting Darkness is done before I jump into editing.

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May Recap

Hello Fellow Dreamers!

May brought about a BIG change in my writing career. For those of you who haven’t seen my social media posts (and weren’t called at work in the middle of the day because I just couldn’t hold it in any longer) I SIGNED A PUBLISHING CONTRACT!!!

That’s right, I finally made it to the next stage of my journey.

For me, working toward publication has been like a long-term RPG. Create a character, i.e. an author persona and social presence. CHECK. Complete a range of missions that graduate in difficulty, i.e. write a book, query said book, get an agent, sign with a publisher. CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, and CHECK. Time to level up!

The contract is for the first three books in my Magicsmith series, two of which aren’t written yet, and the idea of writing to a deadline has my stomach in ropes. It doesn’t help that my daughter finished kindergarten this month, and so is home with me. All the time. For three months. Yeah, don’t know how much I’ll be getting done.

I’ve always been more of an “as the mood strikes me” kind of writer. I’m plenty productive, but I tend to jump between projects. I have four novels in various stages of completion as well as the short stories I write and tweak when I need a break from the larger projects. But, when I signed that line I promised to deliver, so I’m going to be focusing most of my energy on the Magicsmith books for the foreseeable future.

Also new this month: my nephew. Thomas Christopher was born May 2nd at a whopping 5 lbs. For those of you who don’t know babies, I’m being sarcastic. He’s a tiny little thing, about half the size of Alice when she was born.

research

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Magicsmith Book 2: Courting Darkness – As noted above, most of my efforts this month have been focused here. I’ve completed about 65% of the first draft and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

The Price of Tomorrow – I’m still waiting for responses from a couple straggling beta readers, then I’ll be ready for a final edit.

Magicsmith Book 3: (Title TBD) – The third book in my Magicsmith series is still in its pre-writing phase. That means I’m laying out the outline, figuring out which characters I need and what rolls they will play, finding the main character arcs, and choosing secondary plots lines to weave into the story.

Hannah – Hannah’s first draft is done, but with deadlines on the Magicsmith books I think I will need to set this aside for now. I’ll put it back on this list when I have enough time to start editing it.

 

WORDS WRITTEN AND/OR EDITED THIS MONTH

pencils_number

 

The weirdest thing I learned while researching:

It’s easier to gouge an eye out of its socket whole than it is to pop it.

 

REVIEWS

This month I finally got around to reviewing the audio books from my Seattle road trip. I also jumped Altered Carbon to the front of the line because I wanted to read it before watching the TV adaptation now available on Netflix.

To see reviews as they come out, as well as other posts, follows my blog at Ramblings from an Alternate Reality.

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ON THE HORIZON

Currently on my TBR shelf:

 

The beginning of June is always a hectic time for me, and this year more than most. At the moment, life is taken up with sorting out our family’s new schedule and planning my daughter’s birthday parties (yeah, that plural was intentional). We’ve got plans for camping the second week, and then I’m hoping things will settle down for a bit. Somewhere in there, I need to find time to finish the first draft of Courting Darkness, read through the beta reader responses for The Price of Tomorrow, and finish the pre-writting portion of the third Magicsmith book. Wish me luck!

Where to Find Me

I can’t believe summer is almost over!

Next month, right around the corner now, I’ll be attending the annual Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Conference. (That’s a mouthful!)

For those of you who don’t already know, the conference is Sep. 8-11 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. RMFW does a great job of organizing and hosting, with a terrific lineup of speakers, authors, editors, and agents. There are always so many amazing classes, I’m sad there isn’t enough time to attend them all. There are also a great many social events, and of course, the book sale which is free to attend and open to the public. (For a list of participating authors, check out this flyer)

You can find all the details about the conference here.

To all you local authors, and authors-in-the-making, I hope to see you there!

Third time’s the charm?

I just got a third request for my full manuscript, A Drop of Magic!

I really like the agent. She’s near my age, and has a lot of similar interests. I feel like we could get along.  *Crosses fingers*

Whatever the outcome, this round of querying is going way better than the last. Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of things.

Looking Forward

Happy New Year everyone!

2016 saw a lot of changes for my family, and there’s still more on the horizon, so I thought I’d take a moment to take stock of where my projects are and what I’m hoping to get done in 2017.

First off, my art projects have been taking up a lot of time lately. I get more orders for my chainmail jewelry around the holidays, and the launch of my husband’s game development company has had me getting back into asset creation and dabbling in animation for the first time. As for my writing, let’s break it down:

A DROP OF MAGIC is still looking for agent representation. I had two agents ask for the manuscript. One passed, stating that the plot and pacing were excellent, but the character of Alex wasn’t quite what they were looking for. The second hasn’t gotten back to me yet, so fingers crossed I’ll have news on that front soon.

I’ve finished the first round of editing for THE PRICE OF TOMORROW, my young adult science fiction novel. Next up is voice reading for the individual narrators. Then I’ll be looking for a couple early beta readers, so let me know if you’re interested. 🙂

COURTING DARKNESS, the second book in my MAGIC SMITH series, is on hold until I figure out what is happening with book one. That said, I have been poking around with it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a complete first draft rears its head in the later part of the year.

The preliminary work on HANNAH is coming along nicely, and I’m hoping to get a first draft out in 2017.

I have two other novels that are in the pre-writing stage, and are nearing the point where I will attempt a coherent outline, so look for those progress bars to be popping up later in the year.

I’ve finished three short stories, am halfway through a fourth, and have outlines for at least three others. My intention is to write one between each stage of my novel work. I haven’t yet decided how I want to disseminate those. Maybe I’ll release them as exclusive content for people who follow this site.

My two complete children’s books: WHERE I DREAM and DANCING WITH THE WORLD are on hold while I decide whether I want to do the illustrations for them myself or not. The third, THE WORDS THAT GOT AWAY, is still in progress, though the first draft is done.

Since my daughter will start kindergarten in the fall of 2017, I’m anticipating a significant change in my schedule that should free up more time for writing. Here’s looking forward to a productive year!

Moving up

So, I received my results from the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future contest today. As you may recall, I got an Honorable Mention last quarter. This time around, I got a SILVER Honorable Mention.

Confused? I was.

I had to look that one up, but it turns out it’s a step between Honorable Mention (what I got before) and Semi-Finalist. So it’s totally a step in the right direction! Go me! 😀

I’m halfway through the first draft for next quarter’s entry. Here’s hoping I can keep improving!

Genre Con

Yesterday, I attended my first writer’s conference/workshop with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I have to say, everyone was very welcoming and supportive. I sat at a table with about six other people, writers of all different genres. Some were romance, some were historical, some were YA, some were mystery. I found that the genre wasn’t important; everyone had wonderful comments to contribute to our conversation about writing craft, critique groups, and publication. We also shared many of the same concerns about out abilities and careers, and had come across many of the same pitfalls. It was encouraging to talk with so many like-minded people.

The morning’s keynote address and presentation were done by Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp of the Nelson Literary Agency. Both women had nice, approachable personalities, which made it easy to enjoy the presentation. They also did a live slush pile reading, which was very enlightening. It seems agents only get through a short section of the sample pages writers send in, often only a few lines or paragraphs. Since they were puling samples at random from the stack, only a small number of people had their pages read. Unfortunately, I was not one. It would have been wonderful to get some concrete feedback on my opening pages.

Many people, including Mrs. Nelson, seem very concerned with critiques being too harsh and damaging a writer’s confidence. Needless cruelty is certainly to be avoided in a critique, but the whole point is to improve. Without real criticism, it is difficult to do so. If anything, I wish people would be less concerned about my feelings and more concerned with making my work as strong as possible when giving feedback.

The afternoon was a breakout class by genre. If there’d been a fantasy class I would have taken that, but the sci-fi/fantasy speaker was entirely science. Since I don’t write hard core science fiction, I decided to take the mystery class, as most of my stories have an element of mystery to them. The class was pretty low key, and the presenter was, understandably, distracted by her daughter having a baby in England this weekend. The first portion reminded me of any college lecture I’ve attended. Mrs. Bates defined the mystery sub genres and general guidelines for mystery writing as addressed by successful authors in the field.

The second part of the class was a small group workshop in which we tried to plot a mystery story together. I can’t remember the last time I worked on a group project. It was like high school all over again. For the most part, we were able to mesh our ideas together into some semblance of a cohesive story. Here’s what we came up with:

A homeless man was found murdered in the Georgetown canal in Washington DC by a biker in the early morning. The police detective assigned to investigate is an area local who’d seen the man around recently. The man was stabbed in the neck by a broken bottle, leading the detective to suspect another homeless person in a crime of passion. A recovered key, however, leads to a search for an airport locker that holds a stash of government secrets, and lab tests on the bottle show it to be a high-end scotch, far beyond the means of your average vagrants.

The homeless man was not actually homeless, but hiding in plain sight. He was a congressional aid in the office of the head of the intelligence security comity. His boss had been selling secrets to the Russian agent he was sleeping with. The Russian agent discovered that the aid had found out about their arrangement and had the aid killed to protect their asset. The detective discovers they truth, but is hushed up by the congressman and his associates. There is no justice for the lowly aid who tried to do the right thing. (This story is a noir, therefore it does not get a happy ending.)

Once I go through my notes from the presentations, I’ll type up some of the tidbits and insights I gathered and post it for anyone interested. 🙂

Membership

I’ve become a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers community! I’ll also be entering two works in the Colorado Gold Contest this summer, and plan on attending the conference in the fall. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

*high hopes*

A New Look for a New Year

Happy New Year everybody!

I hope you all survived the holidays and are ready for a fresh start.

You may notice things look a little different on my website. I’ve decided to kick off the new year with a new look, so take a moment to poke around. My author bio is now featured on the welcome page, along with information about upcoming releases and my progress on current projects.

There’s also a new tab in the menu titled READ:. There you will find any writings I’ve posted for free consumption like select chapters, excerpts, or short stories.

Hopefully you all like the new look and feel. Let me know if anything isn’t working properly and I’ll get right on it. 🙂

Let’s make 2016 a great year!