Friday, December 20, 2013

Some Progress is Good Progress

I'm still working on KM6. It's a little slow going, but at least it's moving along.

I've known for a while that Killing Monsters (KM2) was not available on iTunes. I could NOT figure out what was causing this. I'd gone in and made updates and tried to figure it all out, but nothing I did worked. I happened to sign in to Smashwords yesterday and saw that I had an open ticket on the book (this is a new feature where other retailers can leave you messages). iTunes was rejecting the book because I had something like "killing memories can be purchased at Smashwords" in the front matter. I get it... they don't want me directing their customers to another site. Makes sense. So, I removed this line and hopefully it will be available soon.

I have a day off today (woot woot), so I plan on trying to write for several hours. I did hit a bit of a stall with KM6--I'd taken the book in a direction that I think I need to reverse (bringing Gregory Waller back into things). I think that's the wrong move. So, I'll work on that today and hopefully continue on.

For Adam fans, rejoice! He's making an appearance.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Well... that didn't go so well.

I failed my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. Epic fail. There will be more attempts in the future, it just didn't happen for me this year. The good news is that now I can start writing without the added pressure of a deadline. I plan to return to KM6. Hopefully I can get into it and plow through a first draft. I kinda feel like editing as well... but I do think I need to give writing more of a go. I've neglected myself for too long.

Good advice, Bradbury!
One thing that I hope helps me out is my Black Friday purchase: Microsoft's Surface tablet. I got the original one (it was cheaper) with a red keyboard. (I think red stimulates something... right. Maybe the creative juices will get riled up and excited.) I like the idea of being more portable. My current laptop is pretty amazing, but it's bulky and heavy. The Surface will be about 2lbs total. I have grand plans of writing during my lunch break or riding on a plane somewhere and writing. I'll admit, it was the commercial with the lady on the plane that really made me sit up and say "ooo, I want that."

Hopefully this isn't something that I'll set aside and not use. It's probably good that I went with the cheaper option instead of the newest model (which I really wanted).

So... here's to December being a better month for writing. Until next year's Nano!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

So, I still have five days before NaNo starts this year, but I created my account! I've also decided to work on the second book of my YA trilogy. Book two is titled VALLEY OF THE SHADOW. I wrote the first book (THE SPIRIT KEEPER) a few years ago now (yikes!). After I finished my MFA program I was unemployed for nine months. It only took a few months to write it and then I spent the rest of the time editing. The first book is 174,803 words (400 pages at 1.5 spacing). So... I might not finish book two with NaNo, but even though it's "national novel writing month" they tell you the goal is to write 50,000 words. As long as I hit that, I'll consider NaNo a success.

I have an outline for book two already, which is allowed. I also have about 3000 words, which isn't allowed. But, I'll just work to 53,000 words. That counts in my mind.

Anyway, I'm not yet sure how to add people as "writing buddies" but if you know how, add me and help keep me accountable and I'll do the same for you.

More updates to come!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Update on KM6

So, I've written just over 11,000 words for KM6 (just started chapter 3). It's been a little slow going, mostly because I haven't been making time to write, but I'm pleased with what I have so far. Like I always say, I just need to find a groove and plug away.

NaNoWriMo starts in 9 days. I still really want to be a part of it this year, but right now, in this moment, the outlook doesn't look that great. I do still think I'm going to start it... if I don't finish, I don't finish, but at least I attempted it, right? The only bad thing about it is that in 9 days, I'll need to stop working on KM6 and pick up something new (according to NaNo rules).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Next Project

So, I'm determined to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I was trying to hold off writing this new project until November 1, but I just started a few minutes ago, which means I'll need to figure out something new to work on for NaNo.

I've always said that there wasn't going to be another Es and Moo book until I could come up with an idea that wasn't "writing another book just to write it." It's important to me to be fully invested in a story for Estela and Moo. I think there was always the plan or idea to write one more book for these characters. I even have an old folder saved called "Killing Misery." And I'm pretty sure that it would've dealt with Estela's pregnancy. But I never had a solid idea come to me, which is why I didn't write anything back in the day. Back then the four KM books (rounding off with Hostile Kisses) "arched out" in a way. Meaning that the story lines that thread throughout each book all came to a conclusion of sorts and writing book six at that time felt too forced, which is why I didn't do it.

I think that's a type of selling out, for me. Writing something that I wasn't fully invested in just to write it. It probably wouldn't have been very good anyway. Most things done in that mindset turn to crap.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about possible ideas for more Estela books, not because they are reviewing well and people enjoy them, but because I enjoyed writing them. I love these characters and I think I've finally found a new story line that could open things up for more novels in the future. I think that this new book (KM6) would not only tie off some lingering things (Estela and Caleb and their growing family/relationship), but introduce the setting for the future of the series.

As some of you may know, if you read the KM series back on FictionPress, I wrote the first five books over seven years ago. Sure, I edited the books within the last year, but the hearts of them (ie, the first draft) were written a long time ago. I've grown a lot since the early 2000s as a writer. Needless to say, the tone and writing of any new Estela and Moo book will be different. Hopefully, the books will be even better! That's my goal as a writer, each book should be better than the last.

A couple things that I know will be different:

1) Book Six will likely not have a "KM" title. Because honestly, there's only so much that I can do with that and it's a little limiting (I think "Killing Misery" shows the limitation I'm talking about). Right now I'm throwing around ideas about Magical Babies. You know something like: Estela and the Magical Babies. Okay probably not that, but don't be surprised if in the end I do go with that working title. 

2) It will be told in present tense (like Hostile Kisses). Think of KM 1-4 as Estela telling you about how she came to meet and fall in love with Caleb, while KM6+ will be told in the present moment. This change is basically because it feels a little more organic to move into present tense for a first-person story. This, however, could change as I write--lord knows I changed KM1 from present to past tense halfway through. That was a pain in the ass to edit and showed if you were unfortunate enough to download the first version of the novel when I put it up online. It was a mess. Sorry about that.

So, yes. I've started KM6... we'll see how far I get and if I can even finish it. So, no promises, but I will try my hardest to bring new life into these characters. We all know that Estela can get herself into some trouble, so that won't change, but hopefully they'll be even more rounded, real, and mature. Anyway, I'll keep everyone posted on my progress here (watch the new status bar!).

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I haven't done a whole lot of writing lately. I have been reading, but no writing. I've even toyed around with the idea of editing KILLING MONSTERS as I know it probably needs one more good read-through. The weekend is coming and I hope to at least resume AROUND THE WORLD TONIGHT. My goal is to finish this rough draft by November when National Novel Writing Month begins. A few weeks ago, I brushed up the outline a little in hope that I could hit a patch of the story that excited me. I did find it, but I haven't written it. So... yeah. I need to figure out how to utilize my spare time a little better.

In other news, I just purchased the new Jim Henson biography. I'm pretty excited about that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

125 Pages In... I Can't Quit Now

So, writing has been going slow on AROUND THE WORLD TONIGHT. I guess I'm about a third through (or maybe a little less than that given how long my books usually are), and I'm just at this point where I'm struggling a little and wonder if it's working. It's hard to write about reality dating shows when you don't watch them. Maybe that's my first downfall? Still, I'm excited about the project and hope that I can work through this strange hump. I may need to revisit my outline a little. Hopefully I won't need to throw out what I've done at this point. I'm not throwing in the towel yet, I'm just a little discouraged that I haven't hit a solid groove with it. I'll just keep pressing on... My goal is to have this done by the time Nano starts. It would be awesome to write two novel drafts this year. It's ambitious, but if I could just get on a roll.......

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Writing, Writing, Writing

I spent several hours last night and most of today writing AROUND THE WORLD TONIGHT. I'm on page 83. It feels good to write again. Although sometimes it's a little difficult. Some scenes come to me easily and others are a bit of a struggle to write. It takes a lot to keep from going back and re-reading/editing what I've done so far. I'm a strong believer in the first draft being written from the heart; then you go back and edit with your brain. Right now, I get the sense that it feels a little patchy in places. I'll need to go back in on draft two and smooth some things out. For now, things are going well. I have a feeling that it'll be a long weekend of writing, which is good. I've had a difficult week at work and I need to give my brain a break from that kind of thing. I need to reboot and writing is very therapeutic and peaceful for me. I feel like I could probably write for several more hours tonight, but my eyes are starting to hurt from staring at the computer screen for so long. Plus, I'm at a good stopping point. A place where I'll be able to pick it up easily--I hope.

I hope everyone's enjoying HOSTILE KISSES! :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hostile Kisses is Available!

HOSTILE KISSES will be available on Smashwords in a few hours.

In 12 hours or so it'll be on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Project!!

Now that HOSTILE KISSES is finished (still waiting on the last 30 pages), I decided to start writing a new novel. I need to take a break from the editing. So, the working title of this new novel is: AROUND THE WORLD TONIGHT. I'm not "in love" with this title, so consider it a place holder and what I'll use when I talk about it. Hopefully something better will come along.

So far, and this could change, it's about the following things:
  • A reality dating show (aka: Around the World Tonight).
  • A beautiful genius who's been talked into being a nanny.
  • World travel to exotic locations.
  • A carpenter just looking for direction.
  • A choice to be vulnerable or to continue hiding.
I have a half-complete outline to guide me along. While outlining is part of my process, it's definitely not a strict road map to the novel. Things change all the time. Characters that weren't planned pop up and change things. So, we'll see what happens here. In the past, I've been able to finish the first draft of a novel in a few months. I hope it's the same with this one. I'm 20 pages in so far and struggling just a little bit (I can't decide if I like the third person past tense, especially after working with first person present tense for the last few months). I'm happy with the prologue, but the opening chapter feels clunky. I'm trying to just push through all this and fix it in the editing stage, but I haven't hit a real groove of the story yet. I probably need to go on and introduce this sexy carpenter. Maybe he'll get the creative juices flowing.

Anyway, it could be a while yet before this one is available. Depending on when I finish the first draft, I may start editing A STARTER BOYFRIEND. However, if I'm not done until November, editing will have to wait (I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year). I'll keep everyone posted on how it's going--for now take a look at my new project status bar in the margin!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hostile Kisses: Summary

Daisy Harper is through with Adam Hood. They are officially broken up, which means no more funny business. She’s doing a great job of ignoring him—or so she convinces herself.

But all it takes to bring her reserves crashing down is one little question: May I kiss you?

When warned by her best friend not to sleep with him on the eve of a blood-red sun, Daisy fully intends to heed this advice. But when it comes to Adam, she’s never had much self control. One kiss is all it takes for them both to come undone.  

Sexy, demanding, and passionate, Adam wants her desperately. She feels the same for him, but can’t bring herself to say the three little words he wants to hear. Because of this, he’s the one to call it quits, and this time he’s not playing around.

Daisy knows she belongs with Adam. She can blame losing him on the omen of the blood-red sun all she wants, but the truth is that she’s clutched in fear that the past will certainly repeat itself if she says “I love you.” Three words that she desperately wants to say.

* * *

Feedback is welcome! I've finished my edits of the novel and sent the last thirty pages to my sister to proof read. So, I can definitely say that Hostile Kisses will be available this month (hopefully within a week).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nook edits in... on to paper

I finished transferring my Nook edits a couple days ago, so now I've printed the first 100 pages and have started editing this way. I believe I'm on chapter 5. Some pages have a lot of marks and others have few. Just goes to show that nothing's really done, huh? I don't think this will delay my estimate of an August release, but I'm not going to rush anything. I'll keep plugging away at it! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Step Closer

Finished my Nook edit of Hostile Kisses today and have started putting the edits into the computer! So, the hardest, most time consuming stages are basically done.

I still have a bit of work to do on this one (finish this transposing round and then print and read it again, hopefully catching little typos), but I do think I've nailed down the cover... I still have to write a summary, which is always a little difficult for me, and I'm trying to decide if I want to have my sister read it before I post it online (probably a good idea). At any rate, I think I'm on schedule for an August release.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Update: Hostile Kisses

I'm about 100 pages to the end of my Nook edit of Hostile Kisses. Then I plan to print it out and read it that way. I might give it to my sister to be my second set of eyes this time. My goal is to have it available sometime next month.

After that, it's time to write.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I haven't written in a really long time. It feels weird. When I sit down to do it, will it pour out of me as it has in the past, or will I struggle? I've had writer's block before (it lasted about 3 years). I was writing during that time, but it wasn't fun. It wasn't second nature. It was a struggle. I really hope that I don't find that when I get to work on my next novel.Time will tell!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

So tired...

...of typos.

And reviews about typos.... Maybe I shouldn't complain, since people are actually leaving reviews (whether they be good or bad... I take them all) and reviews draw in readers. But I work so damn hard on these books... it's just tiring when people make it seem like I just threw it online all  willie nillie and called it a day. [Side note: I did do this a little bit with KM1, but it was more that I was excited to release it and not because I was lazy. I've revised it now, but I'm sure there will be a mistake of two or five million.]

Two points: (1) Writing and editing are two different things in my process; writing = story telling, character development, plot, etc., and editing = fixing grammatical errors, typos, and other such things at a sentence level; and (2) it is VERY hard to edit your own work.

No, three points: (3) It's very hard to edit your own work when you've looked at the same manuscript three or more times.

I just needed to get that out there.

I'd also like to mention that I'm just as frustrated by typos as readers are. I'm a perfectionist. I'm a virgo. I need these things to be perfect and they aren't and that bothers me... but I can't spend my entire life editing my KM series. Maybe one day I'll make enough money to hire someone to edit them and create killer covers... until then... they are what they are.

Thank you for letting me vent, blog world.

Now, let me return to Hostile Kisses. I feel like it's pointless to aspire to a completely clean manuscript... but I'll try.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Killing Memories: Revision Now Available

I finished up my Nook edit of KILLING MEMORIES tonight and have posted the new version on Amazon and Smashwords (it'll be available on Barnes and Noble and other retailers soon).

I basically cleaned up sentences and fixed typos and grammatical errors. Hopefully it's more presentable now. If you decide to download the revised version, be sure that is says "Revised 2013" on the copyright page or after the book summary. Or look for the revised cover.

I can now put 100% focus in my Nook edit of Hostile Kisses! For the life of me, I can only really work on one project at a time.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

New cover ideas

So, I haven't been 100% happy with my book covers. Not that they weren't well designed or anything like that, just that they didn't quite fit with other covers out there now in the ebook world. So, I've been playing around with a few ideas. I'm going to keep searching for a new image for cover three, but I'm kinda liking the rest. Thoughts?

If I do decide to change the covers, I'll do so with the update of KM1, which will be coming soon (I'm about 150 pages away from completing it).

In other news, I am still plugging away on my Nook edit of Hostile Kisses--making good progress there. I'm switching back and forth between KM1 and HK. My hope is to release them around the same time. The KM1 update will probably come first. I'm not quite sure when either will be out. My hope is by the end of July or early August, but we'll see.

I hope everyone is enjoying Killing Models! Please be sure to leave a review.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Next Up to Bat...

So, now that KM4 is done (yay) and posted online (double yay), I'm moving on to my next project. Of late, it has been my nook edit of KM1 (I'm about 40 pages away from the end). I'm basically cleaning it up--trying to catch all the little typos, tense errors, missing words, etc., that I missed because I skipped this (now crucial) edit. So, once that's done, I'll be uploading a revised version. Note, there are no big changes in this edit. I'm deleting some sentences, but not any that do anything to change the story overall.

Once I'm done with KM1, I'll move on to my Nook edit of HOSTILE KISSES. I love Daisy and Adam's story. It's a little more serious (ie, Estela's not around to cause crazy mischief and do stupid things, but she does make an appearance), and the tone is different (because it's Daisy's point of view). I hope that people enjoy it just as much as the KM series.

I don't know that KILLING MODELS will be the last of Estela and Moo. I'm sure that there are more possible stories, but I never like to force things. Because nothing's coming to me at the moment, I can't promise a new Es and Moo book. KM1-KM4 are separate stories, but they're linked too. I feel like  they should be read in order for the best experience. And because I know my patterns, I wonder if I'll be able to write just one more KM book or if I'll have another large arch that spans over three books. I feel like I'm too grandiose. :) I sometimes wonder if I'll ever be able to tone down the scope of my novels. Most of them range close to 500 pages (sometimes longer)--so, that's almost 2000 pages across the four KM books.

So, yeah. No KM5... yet. Maybe one day.

After Hostile Kisses, I plan on writing something new. Writing!! I haven't written anything in a very long time. So, I want to get a good draft of a new novel done before I start working on editing A STARTER BOYFRIEND, which was one of the last novels that I published on FictionPress. Some of you may have read that one. It's a stand alone novel (my first!).

I also plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Depending on timing, I might start writing that new novel in November, or maybe I'll get lucky and will write TWO novels this year. It's possible--I just have to switch gears and bunker down. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Killing Models Release

KILLING MODELS will be available on Nook and Amazon in 12 hours (so, by 8am EST June 10, 2013). It will also be available through Smashwords, but right now the site isn't working quite right. You can find and buy the book if you look up my Smashwords profile (click the second one in the list, the first has a few formatting errors), but I recommend waiting a day or so until the site is working properly.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm a little embarrassed...

So... I've started my Nook edit of KM1. If you recall, I didn't do this step before releasing Killing Memories. As reviews came in about grammar errors, I was frustrated because I felt that there weren't grammar errors; they were typos. 

Ummmm, no.

These are grammar errors.

Typos aren't any better, but there's something about telling a writer that their grammar's bad that stings a little.

The problem is that when I first wrote KM1, I wrote the first half in first person present tense (for example: "Stop looking at me!" I yell. Instead of yelled). [Hostile Kisses is written in first person, present tense. It's a little tricky going from that to past tense, but I'm managing.] I'm not sure why I decided to change the tense for book 1. I think it was because it wasn't coming out organically--it didn't sound right. Making that change involved a lot of heavy rewriting, and I obviously missed little things here and there. It's not just missed tenses though--there are a lot of little things that I'm catching. I wish I'd thought to do the Nook edit for KM1. Oh well, live and learn!

It's kinda fun revisiting book 1 again! I hope that I can make it stronger and hopefully reduce the amount of reviews that say: "this is dumb" (not helpful!).

Thursday, May 16, 2013


So, Barnes and Noble is changing their independent publisher platform from PubIt! to Nook Press. I'm concerned about this because I think in the transition between the two things are getting lost in translation. My sales have been pretty steady since the beginning of the year, but in the past two days I haven't had any. I don't really understand that and it concerns me. Plus, I can't sign up with Nook Press, which frustrates me. I'm considering the temporary removal of my books from B&N until they figure out what they're doing. The only downside of this is that B&N is the best platform for my books (although Amazon is slowly picking up speed).

I don't know what to do now... I need to figure it out before KM4 goes live.

When might that be, you ask?

I don't know... I hope by the end of the month. My fingers are crossed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Killing Models Release Date

So... I hoped to have KM4 available by this weekend, but that might not happen. I'm still waiting for feedback from my beta reader and she did mention she's a bit busier this time around (she's planning a wedding herself!) and that her review might take longer. So, yeah. I'm not going to rush her. Hopefully the wait will be worth it!

Hostile Kisses update: 140 out of 330 pages edited.

Killing Memories nook edit: Just finished chapter 1. This one needs a lot more work--I may even print out the novel and edit it that way. It won't need an overhaul of the story (I already did that), just a sentence by sentence trimming.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I'm still waiting for feedback from my beta reader for KM4... once that comes back all that I have left is formatting the e-book for the three different platforms. Then I can upload it! It still probably won't be until next weekend, if I get the book back by then. It makes me happy when people tell me that they're excited for it!

I've started working on my first edit of Hostile Kisses, the Estela and Moo spin-off that features Adam and Daisy. That's going pretty well, I think. I'm 41 of 326 pages in. I haven't added anything to this one, which I think means that there are less holes in it. So, that's good. I've finished the cover for HK already too. I'll share it here later on.

I've been debating on what to do after HK is done. I have one more contemporary romance that I could edit (A Starter Boyfriend), but I think I might take a break from editing and write book 2 of my YA trilogy (The Spirit Keeper). Hopefully fans of the KM series will like these books too. I do wonder if it's detrimental to call it "YA"? I put it there because the characters are younger, but I feel like the story is more "adult." I. Don't. Know. I'm not going to worry about it too much right now--the series isn't even finished. Of course, I'll listen to any thoughts on the subject!

At any rate, I feel like it's time to start writing--or else I'll have nothing to publish later on. I'm still deciding.... If I do go right into the edit of A Starter Boyfriend, I'm stopping in November so that I can participate in NaNoWriMo. I've always wanted to try it and I think this year is my year.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Killing Models Blurb/Cover

Okay, here's the cover and blurb! Any feedback will be great!

Voodoo. Murder. Betrayal. Wedding?

One of these things just doesn't fit in with the others.

In two months, Estela will be married to the love of her life. She doesn’t have a dress, a venue, or invitations, but she’s positive things will work themselves out. Between planning her wedding and managing Moo’s career, she finds it hard to focus on anything. And now that she’s killed someone—violently—she can’t focus on anything.

She’s promised Caleb not to get involved in another murder investigation, but what if she’s the murderer? Certainly she should get involved then? At least to turn herself in? But then things get crazy and models are being offed left and right. With Moo a little over seven months pregnant, she could already be next on the killer’s list! Estela knows she has to intervene somehow.

Protect Moo. Marry Caleb. She can do these two things at once, can’t she?

Determined, Estela hurries to conclude this murder business. Just as things start to get back to normal, she sees a side of Caleb that she never expected in a million years. It is a side that makes her question everything. Does she even know him? Does she know herself? Maybe there won’t be a wedding after all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Game Plan

Now that my Nook edit for KM4 is done, I have decided on a game plan on the next few steps:

1. Transfer Nook edits to computer. I'm about 139 out of 457 pages (Nook pages, that is) in to the transfer. Things are going well. I'm doing things a little differently with this book, in that I'm doing the Nook edit before I send it to Sarah, my beta reader. I'm hoping to avoid typos this way. I probably should have done this for ALL of the books, but for some reason, I didn't think to. I was rushing things, I think.

2. Edit Hostile Kisses Blurb. I'm planning on putting the prologue of HK at the end of KM4. So, I need to make sure that's good to go.

3. Send KM4 to Beta Reader. Sarah's good so she'll probably have it back to me in a few days--if she's not swamped (fingers crossed).

4. Finalize cover. No promises on this cover being amazing... I'm going to work on it myself this time. Mostly because I know that I want the covers to change at some point and I don't want my friend who helped me with KM2 and KM3 feel like I wasted her time. Anyway, here's the cover that I have so far... thoughts? Give it to me straight. I'll take any feedback I can get--how much I can do on my own, I'm not too sure.

5. Write blurb. Ugh... this is seriously the hardest part for me. Look for drafts to be posted here. Reader feedback is invaluable to me.

6. Format novel for uploading. This can be a little time consuming. I have to have drafts for Smashwords, Nook, and Amazon. They all want things to look a little different. For the most part the files are the same, but if I make a change to 1, I need to make a change to all. Blah.

7. Upload KM4!

8. Start editing Hostile Kisses (while doing a Nook edit of KM1). So, I'm pretty sure that in my excitement to share Estela and Moo and the guys with everyone, I didn't do a Nook edit (hence all the "grammar" related reviews it received). I've actually already started this (it keeps me busy at the gym). My goal is to upload the revised KM1 at the same time as HK... or maybe a week before, we'll see.

So... let me stop blogging and get back to transferring edits!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Weekend Coming!

Okay, so I haven't done much nook editing this week. However, I think this is going to be a great weekend for it. Mostly because my sister's out of town and I don't have anyone around to distract me with shopping and fro-yo. Of course I may do both of these things on my own this weekend. The point is, I hope to read through most of KM4. I'd like to have it to my beta reader at the end of next week, and to everyone else by the end of April, if not earlier!

So, here's to a good, productive, fun weekend of editing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Craft Note: What Are My Characters' Stakes?

So, a friend of mine shared a blog link with me about "stakes" in writing, which got me thinking about my newest work, THE SPIRIT KEEPER. This is a Young Adult (although, I do think "adults" would enjoy it too) supernatural trilogy that I started about two years ago now, I guess. The first book is written (I was going to say "finished" but nothing is finished for me) and edited (again, nothing is finished), but I still think that something is missing. I've had at least 2 readers say that they couldn't connect with the main character. I believe that part of this is because I have yet to answer this question: "What's at stake for my characters?" Also, I have no idea what the point is or what I'm trying to say, or want to happen. Perhaps these questions are all tied together? Maybe it's the same question asked three different times....

So, let's take a moment to consider stakes in writing. It been a while since I've done one of my "craft notes" posts... this might be fun. Or boring, depending on what interests you.

Ava Jae (Writability blog) writes...

...Without established stakes, the readers have no reason to care if your protagonist fails or accomplishes his goal. The tension disappears, the conflict doesn’t matter because if your protagonist loses, oh well. Not like anything bad happens.

I really think this is a vital problem in my YA novel. I have an overall idea of what I want to happen across the three books, but I still don't know the end goal. And while I do plot and plan (outline) to a certain extent, I don't believe that I think about "stakes" at all. Do you?

Maybe you think about them all the time? Or Maybe you're like me and don't think of them this way. I can only hope that in all of my plotting and weaving that I'm some how accomplishing the above? I tend to think about writing in less traditional ways, or maybe I define writerly terms in ways that aren't the norm. I've been writing since I was nine. Everything I knew about writing (up to almost 3 years ago now) was learned through reading and by the practice of writing. Even having studied writing in the MFA program, I know that I couldn't adequately define anything about my writing process. I vaguely understand metaphor. I have no idea what syntax is. Participating in a MFA program really opens your eyes to writing mechanics (in some cases, anyway). I don't really know how much I learned in all those classes. I often found myself scratching my head whenever we talked about "plot." I was probably the ONLY person in my classes who wrote plotted, character-driven pieces, and I didn't understand what the hell they were talking about. The way literary writers think of plot (versus a "genre" writer) isn't the way I think of it. Or maybe it was semantics. Similes, even. Still, one degree later and I'm still not quite sure that I could explain technical craft to anyone. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.

Anyway, my lack of thinking about stakes is likely why with every project I come to a "what am I writing about" or "what's the point of this novel?" moment of panic. It usually happens toward the end, and especially if I haven't been outlining. I know that I have "goals" that I want the characters to move toward (growth is a big thing for me), but I don't always consider what might be at stake for them. Again, are these things the same? I'm not really sure.

When I think about my KM books, I'm not sure that I could identify what's at stake for Estela. Yes, she has something to overcome (usually a psychopath!), and I do think that she grows with each book, but am I missing something more important? I probably am, especially with KILLING MEMORIES, which wasn't outlined until late in the second half and still feels a little muddy. It needs another edit. In the span of four books (because while they could stand alone, I wrote them to be read as one giant saga), what is at stake for Estela? A lot of little things happen, but what's the big picture? I really don't know. I need someone to tell me.

 Here's another great excerpt from the blog:

I suspect a large part of the reason writers sometimes forget to mention the stakes in their pitch is because they’re so close to their work. The writer knows what will happen if their protagonist fails and sometimes it seems obvious to them even in their stake-less pitch what that failure means--but to the outside reader who doesn’t know the story so well (or at all, for that matter), they need the stakes spelled out to them. 

I often feel WAY too close to my characters. But in the case of THE SPIRIT KEEPER protagonist, Evelyn, I'm not completely sure what her stakes are. What is she going to lose if she fails (and what is she trying/tasked to do)? I feel like if I can figure that out the main character may be more likeable. I mean, I like her just fine, but I'm really close to her. Unlike readers, I can hear her voice, feel her anxiety, etc. I feel the same way about Estela and Moo and while I feel that they are richly developed, I still wonder if readers are really able to see them like I can?

Stakes are definitely something to think about as I write/edit.

I know for a fact that I didn't include the stakes in my query letter for THE SPIRIT KEEPER when I sent it out to agents a year ago. This is something that I'll need to think about when I start working on submitting it again (likely after I finish up with my KM series). This is also something I need to think about when I write my blurb/summary for KM4.

Stakes are on my mind now, but I wonder if they'll slip away once I start writing/editing again? Perhaps my subconscious will tuck them away with all the other skills I've learned and then do the work for me? One can hope...

What is The Subconscious to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse. ~Ray Bradbury

Check out the article: Pitch Tip: Remember Your Stakes

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I just finished my first edit of KILLING MODELS! This has been a very productive weekend. I'm starting my Nook edit now and after that I'll send the novel to my beta reader. In the meantime, I need to work out the summary and the cover.

Maybe I'll be done by April! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Strange Week

I haven't gotten much editing done this week for a couple reasons (1) personal things going on, and (2) (a facebook app where you can make cartoon avatars of yourself):
This is my avatar! I look cute as a cartoon :) I do love pancakes.
My sister made one too so I've been making comic strips for the last two days. The only good news is that it's the weekend and I usually get a lot of editing done on the weekends. I'm about 82 pages away from the end of my first edit of KM4. My nook edit is usually much faster and my beta reader is pretty quick too. I was making steady progress, but now I need to get refocused.

I've also posted a few things on my other blog. It's been a strange week. I hope next week is better.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Editing, editing, editing!

I have about 160 pages left to edit for KM4. It's been going smoothly (when I sit down and do it that is). I suppose that's because each book was easier for me to write, so the later ones have a little less work. It still takes me a good chunk of time though. This is the first real edit that KM4, and the others, have had. When I was posting chapters to FictionPress, I simply read them over quickly and posted--typos be damned! It's kinda nice to revisit these stories 5+ years after writing them. It's my hope that I am improving them somewhat....

Anyway, I hope to carve out sixty pages this weekend, but we'll see. I'm starting to wonder if I'll be done with the edit this month or if it'll be April. I'm not going to rush it. Rushing leads to typos and little errors that I don't like reading about when people leave reviews. So, I'm going to try my best with this one. After KM4 is done, I might take a little break and work on something else. I've been doing a little hand editing of A SPIRIT KEEPER, the first book in my planned trilogy. Reading the characters makes me a little excited about starting to work on those books again. I still feel like it's too long, but I might continue to push forward with it. I mean, if an agent doesn't want it, I'll put it online. At least that way it'll be read and won't just sit on my computer.

However, even thought I feel like working on something new, I still need to go back to KM1 and do one more extensive edit. I totally rushed that book and it deserves a little more attention. It was the first novel I ever completed... I wrote the first half without a plan and then planned the second half (so I would finish it). While I think I smoothed out the plot, I know there's more work to be done. I might actually print that one out and work on it that way. Sometimes you miss a lot of stuff when you work on a screen.

Which brings me to something else: Curbing my need to change things based off feedback (often negative) that I receive. I think studying fiction and being in a workshop like setting helped me learn to sit on things for a few days to ponder (or fester) before taking action. If I didn't, I'd change everything just so that people would like my work. I can't please everyone. I know this as a writer, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to. In general, I love all forms of feedback (as long as they're constructive). I feel like I learn a lot from readers and other writers. I guess that's the important thing.

Oh, remember my writing goal? It's been two months... *sigh*

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Normally... Valentine's Day is just a regular day for me. This year did not stray from the norm, and for some reason I'm feeling "blah" about that. I feel like I wanted something special to happen. Every few years this day sucks... I should have bought myself something (besides pancake mix--I'm making breakfast for dinner). My weekend just opened up a little, so I think I'm going to focus on more editing of KM4. I managed over fifty pages of KM4 last week. I think I can do that, or more if I can find a good groove. Unfortunately, I'm nearing a somewhat depressing section of the book so I might not work on that tonight based off my present mood.

I can't wait for pancakes.

Here's hoping that you had a nice Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hello February!

So... I haven't done much editing. Probably not the news that people who want to read KM4 are wanting to hear. The good news is that it's the weekend and there's potential for editing... maybe even during the Superbowl! :) I finished "Falling Kingdoms," which I posted about last time. I really enjoyed the book and I'm excited to read the next one in the series when it comes out. I'm now reading "City of Dark Magic" by a writing duo who go by the name Magnus Flyte. Ehh... whatever. The authors make it seem like this person mysteriously dropped off his manuscript and they're his representatives. Maybe it goes well with the novel... I'm only like 50 pages in so far. It feels a little gimmicky, but we'll see.

Me: as a small blond, white boy.
So, funny story... or perhaps pathetic... overly optimistic? Creepy? Anyway... as I was reading "Falling Kingdoms" my brain wandered out of the story and I found myself kinda stroking the pages in a strange, awed daze. I went from happily reading, completely absorbed in magic and princesses and princes and scandalous feelings and waring kingdoms, to practically drooling over the soft pages and delicious smell of new print. It was a very strange moment. I don't often go gaga over books like that (unless you count my habit of buying books when I have over a 100 on my shelves that I need to read). So, after the "moment" passed and I realized that I looked like a crazy person (thankfully I was alone in my bedroom), I put the book down for a little while. I felt a mixture of "wow, you're a crazy lady" to "well, now I"m depressed." You see, my ultimate dream as a writer/author is to be published in the "traditional" way. I want to receive the "Tanya, I want to publish your book" call. I want to find an agent (I've been unsuccessful of late). I want the headache of dealing with publishers (as I assume it likely will be, unless I'm super lucky). I've wanted this since I was very little, nine-ish, maybe. Instead of an adorable white boy in the picture above, imagine a little biracial girl with her thick, unruly curls pulled back into three tight braids with bobbles at the end.

I want to be published. And although I am a published indie author--I'm doing it on my own and it's really hard. I know that each KM book needs more editing. I know the covers need a little more refining. I know I need to market more. It's hard to market myself. What do I do... go up to someone who might look like the like romantic comedies and tell them I have a self-published book with lingering typos that they might be interested in? That's awkward. I have a lot to learn about indie publishing and I'm feeling a little lazy at the moment, hoping that my name will get out there by word of mouth. That one day I'm just magically selling a 100 books a day. :) Pipe dreams!!! Well, no, not really... I know that I will be traditionally published one day soon. It'll happen. Did you hear that Universe?!?!?!?!?!

I thought of all this again today while browsing books at Target and saw that "50 Shades of Gray" is now in hardcover format.......................

I mean, can I catch that kind of break? First you have a e-book, then a paperback, and then a hardcover! The reverse process intrigues me. And it also makes me scratch my head in confusion. I mean, really? Was it that good? How big was this hardcover print run? Do they expect those books to fly off the shelves too? I kinda skimmed the cover looking for a "newly edited" stamp. If I did the reverse publishing thing I would be editing at every step. Of course, at that point I probably would've relinquished all control. Perhaps that's what happened here.  Maybe it's all about the money for this particular title. I'm still processing what I really think about this.

And, all that being said--I didn't write all week. Dang... what am I doing with my life besides watching murder shows on Investigation Discovery. I just can't seem to stop watching TV. :c/

Friday, January 25, 2013


Well, I'm successful in that I've written several times in the last few weeks, but I haven't done much editing on KM4. I think I'll try to work on it this weekend for a few hours. I really don't have any excuse for not editing, I suppose that's just the way things are working out.

I've been reading a lot lately too (another good thing, except that it takes away from my editing). I read the first book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child (Tom Cruise played the lead in the new movie). It was good. I'm now reading "Falling Kingdoms" by Morgan Rhodes. It's a high-fantasy YA... not something that I normally read, but very entertaining so far.

So, I'm disappointed in myself to learn that there are some errors in KM3. My sister's currently reading it, but when she'd done, I may fix things and re-upload. :( I feel bad about them though. Maybe I rushed KM3 a little. Oh well, I'll make it right.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Now Available: KM3

So, KILLING MOMZILLAS is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords! It feels good to release it. I've started editing KILLING MODELS... I'm only 6 pages in to the edit (out of 418 pages), but I hope that it goes smoothly. I think I said that about KM2 and it took me five months to release it. I suppose that isn't too much time in between books, considering a lot of authors spend years before releasing things. So, I think I'm on track, even if KM3 took a while. I want to be sure I'm doing things right.

I'll be releasing my novels in the following order:


I'm pretty sure that I'll be increasing my current prices soon. I've been thinking about it for a while now. I feel like it's asking a lot for an e-book to be over $5. Although, I did just buy one from one of my favorite authors for $7.99. I have to love the author to buy something for more than $5. I think it's outrageous to ask people to spend $10 bucks on an ebook when the paperback is the same price. I mean, I do get it... publishers want to make the same amount of money on a tangible product as they would on a small electronic file. They're making crazy money off e-books, I'm sure. I'd rather have a paperback in my hand for that much money. However, if I want to make any extra off my work, I'm going to have to increase my prices to at least $2.99. I'm going to keep on thinking about this. I'll let people know when prices are going up.

With the New Year, I've decided to write for 1 hour a day. I feel like I've spent the last year editing and I haven't written anything new. My goal is to continue to create new stuff, which is the only way we can grow as writers. So, I hope I can keep up with this resolution (one of many). Right now I'm working on ARABELLE WILD, which is a Regency England piece (same time period as MY DARLING BUNNY). It does feel good to write again! Hopefully I'll be able to start on book 2 of THE SPIRIT KEEPER trilogy as well. I have a lot to do! Things with work have calmed down a little, so I feel like I have the time to write on the weekends. Unless I decide to take a second job, which I don't want to do. In my heart, writing/editing are my second job. I feel like I might go a little crazy if I didn't have time to edit and write.

Now... if I could only find the extra hours to read. I don't read enough books. It's sad.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys KM3. Please leave reviews wherever you bought them!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Killing Momzillas Cover!

Okay, here is the cover!! Thanks again to my friend Esther for helping me out. :)