Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Sequel

I have sent my first round of query letters to literary agents for my novel Shadowed Soul. In the meantime, my characters are still bugging me so I started the second installment.

Writing a sequel is trickier than I thought.

First off, I haven’t written a full novel in five years. I wrote Shadowed Soul and started editing it, but being pregnant and then a new baby shoved my novel aside. Earlier this year I pulled it out again and did some major rewrites and edits, but the whole story was done so all I had to do was improve it.

Like having a second child, I’m all the way back to the beginning and sometimes wonder how I pulled it together the first time. I know I can do it, after all, I did it once.

I find recapping the major points from the first story a challenge. I don’t want to over do it, yet, if someone doesn’t read the first story, they need to be caught up. I don’t want to do an information dump so I’m trying to weave everything in as I go. It really is a balancing act.

Continuity between the two stories hasn’t been much trouble at this point but I understand how it could be a challenge. Since I just finished intensely working over my first manuscript (I swear I’ve read it a hundred times), most events are fresh in my mind, though I have had to peek back at some minor details to ensure everything is consistent.

If you are thinking about writing a series, right off the bat, keep a detailed list of characters and traits while you are working on your first story. This seems like a no-brainer to many but not everyone does it. Keep details for everyone, even minor characters that will be in the story. You never know when a minor character will decide to take a larger role later on.

Keeping descriptions of other things that play a role in your novel is also recommended. In my novel, Shadowed Soul, there is an agreement between the vampires and hunters. I have written out everything in the agreement, even if all the details don’t make it into the novel. That way I have it handy when I need to refer to it and it saves me from contradicting myself.

Have you written a sequel of any of your stories? If so, what challenges or helpful advice would you like to share?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Writer's Block

I seem to be experiencing an uninspired period. Whether it be staring at a blank page or screen, trying to come up with the criminal to fill out the plot for a new book idea, or trying to write a blog, nothing is coming to me right now.

A big part of it likely has to do with the problem I'm having with my youngest imp, who just started junior kindergarten. She's been screaming, with all the gusto of a horror movie victim, when I drop her off in the morning, ruining the rest of my day as I worry about her. Of course, she's fine at school after I leave but that doesn't erase the memory of her little hands clinging desperately to me.

That sort of stress is not conducive to creativity.

I would be interested to hear how others deal with their own writer's block in the comments below.

I went back and read some uncompleted short stories to see if that would inspire me to add a little to them. Unfortunately, not this time.

I brainstormed some ideas for that new book I mentioned, but am still stuck in filling out the ending. Being a mystery type, I need to know who did it before I start the book.

I looked to my blog. Maybe coming up with a new topic and posting would spark my creativity. Obviously not if I'm writing about my writer's block.

As I was editing the book I just finished writing, I kept coming up with plans for the next installment. The characters were impatiently screaming at me to continue their story. Of course, I wrote the ideas down so I went back and reviewed them. I know where I want to go with that story, so I started the sequel to the book I just finished. I'm still stumped on a few parts but I figure as long as I get something started then I have a base and can add or delete later.

My creative energy is just in a down cycle right now and will bounce back soon.

I just hate waiting.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Lost Night - A Review

A woman brought in several paranormal fiction books to my store (I sell used books as part of my retail business) and I asked her about them. I told her that I love the paranormal genre but don’t like romance. She insisted that they weren’t really romance that there was just a love story as part of it. I’m a sucker for a good love story, just not romance books. I figured I would give the books a try.

I read the back of several, trying to find one that seemed interesting. I was skeptical because they all seemed like romance. I settled on The Lost Night by Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle.

The story is about a woman, Rachel Blake, who reads and works with people’s auras. After losing her job on the mainland, she goes back to Rainshadow Island to run the bookstore her aunts left her. She meets and is attracted to Harry Sebastian, whose family owns a large chunk of the island called the Preserve.

The Preserve is a dangerous area because of the alien energy it contains that makes it hard to escape. Harry is investigating strange, violent energy emanating from the Preserve that is affecting the whole island and wants Rachel’s help.

At first Rachel’s a suspect because, before she went to the mainland, she spent a night in the Preserve and found her way out, but can’t remember what happened. Once Harry gets to know her, she’s off the suspect list.

Together they discover what happened to Rachel on her lost night and find men involved in a scheme to smuggle alien weapons off the island.

Harry also finds one of the three stones his ancestor buried on the island, which were all stolen. It turns out the stones were causing the energy disturbance and finding one helped calm the energy somewhat, keeping people safe for now and setting up another book.

Within in the first twelve pages I was ready to put it down. The writing style screamed romance. It wasn’t great but it was decent. I can see why people whip through these books with the short sentences and simple story lines.

Despite this, I kept going.

I must admit the book was entertaining, though likely not the way the author intended. It was a paranormal romance. The cliché romance writing made me laugh out loud several times. There were lots of passages I read to my husband who looked at me like I was out of my mind.

The characters were decently written and I was intrigued by Harry Sebastian, once I got over his name. Krentz (Castle) had come up with a nice little world and some pleasant characters. I like the different talents (powers) some of the characters have.

I was able to overcome the romance idea but didn’t find the story overly exciting. There was a fire, some okay sex, a kidnapping, some more sex in a cave despite the danger they could be in, and then they find the bad guys, the pace picked up a bit then, but it didn’t last long.

Overall the book was boring with hardly any action and I didn’t really feel the connection between Rachel and Harry. The ending was a little too happy for my taste.

For those looking for a quick, easy read or those who like paranormal romance this is a book for you. I’m sure this woman isn’t a New York Times bestseller for nothing.

For anyone seeking something darker with lots of excitement and deeper characters, don’t bother.

Is anyone else having trouble finding good paranormal reads that aren’t romance...guess I’ll just have to wait until Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat comes out on October 28 and in the meantime, delve further into my own dark paranormal book.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Disillusioned Crushes

When I was a teenager I had crushes on several rock musicians. Who didn’t have a crush on a musician, actor, or other celebrity when they were young? You imagined how great life would be. He was everything you were looking for in a man – romantic, attentive, caring.

I had a great reality check several years ago about my teenage celebrity crushes – they definitely weren’t as great as I once thought.

I was reading Slash’s biography (guitarist for Guns N’ Roses for those of you who didn’t already know that) and in a passage he was talking about the early days of the band when a few of them were living in a freight container. They were having a party and there was a girl they were taking turns with. GROSS!!!!!!

Though Slash was not one of my crushes, I did have a crush on another GN’R member. Upon reading that, not only did my stomach turn, but it dawned on me how dirty many of these rock stars are. They have had women upon women throwing themselves at them for years. I wonder if they can even guess the number of women they have been with. Nope, a history like that is definitely not for me.

Then I started watching the Bret Michaels (lead singer of Poison) reality show, Life As I Know It. I will admit having a huge crush on Bret Michaels as a teenager. I’m watching that show thinking that his partner has all the same problems as I do with my husband, plus some. Reality check #2: they are still men and do all those men things – probably with additional ones thrown in because they have the money to do crazy things.

My final reality check was thanks to Facebook.

Nuno Bettencourt (guitarist extraordinaire from Extreme). I’m going to admit to still crushing on him...don’t tell my husband. I follow him via Facebook, which would have blown me away when I was a teenager. He’s a fan of the selfie, which is okay, who doesn’t want to look at pictures of him.

Sorry, getting off topic...

Musicians are a little self-appreciating. Okay, let’s call it like it is, many are divas to some degree. I’m sorry, there’s only room for one diva in my world, which was me until my daughters were born. Sorry Nuno, I will still follow you though.

The moral of my story, they may be nice to look at, but guess what – they aren’t as great as we imagine them to be.

It reminds me of a quote from High Fidelity (great book and movie):
“The other girl, or other women, whatever. I mean, I was thinking that, they are just fantasies, you know? And they always seem really great, because there are never any problems. And if there are, they are the cute problems, like we bought each other the same Christmas present, or she wants to see a movie I’ve already seen, you know. Then I come home...and you and I have real problems, you don’t want to see a movie I want to see, period.”

That said, I would take my husband over my teenage celebrity crushes any day.