My New Book Drops Saturday!

Time has flown by so quickly! It seems like just yesterday that I was writing It Takes Two to Kringle! Truthfully, it was last November, but I haven’t kept track of the time.

It’s time, however, for me to release the book into the wild. So, on Saturday, the third book in the Kringle Chronicles, a series of holiday romance novels, will be available for sale on Kindle. This book features enemies to lovers, faculty romance, a quirky small town, a challenge, and Santa Claus. And Krampus. (Let’s not forget Krampus!)

Check out this book and treat yourself to an early Christmas!

Brainstorming Characters

Oh, did I mention? I’m working on something new …

I’m working on a new novel, based on an idea I had in graduate school.

In it, librarian Nina meets a Prince of Faerie while he is slipping through her backyard naked. A Fae scorned casts a shadow across their dalliance, and Nina must brave the Faerie realms to rescue Prince Dain. If the landscape of Faerie doesn’t tear her apart, her adversary will. It will take all of Nina’s wits and all of her heart to save her lover.

I have the bare bones of plot; now what?

Now all I have to do is everything, starting with developing the characters. That to me is the place to start because I’m very character and relationship oriented. This is going to be today’s task and it’s going to require off-computer time.

Let me explain — I draft and edit on my computer using Scrivener and I proofread using Pro Writing Aid (now that I have it). I use Atticus for formatting and design covers using Photoshop and Canva.

But when it comes to character design, I’m in a different mode. I write and I write until I have the character developed. I interrogate my characters to find out what my subconscious tells me about the character and what I need to work out.

What do I need to know about Prince Dain?

A character sheet for writing tends to center on basic questions:

  • Role in story
  • Appearance
  • Motivation
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Internal and external conflict
  • Habits and gestures
  • Background

Which is necessary but not sufficient when writing a supernatural, alien, or other “other” (sentient dogs, etc.) Other things about the character must include how the character interacts with the other (i.e. our) world, which means figuring out the differences between us and them. Thus, character gets intertwined with worldbuilding.

In this case, there is a large body of folklore and stories, and it’s up to me to design this world borrowing from the stories. I know that I will include the traditional trickery/honesty of the fair folk, so: Irish legend, yes; Laurell K Hamilton, no.

From there, who is Prince Dain? This is what I have to find out. I only know at this time that he’s one of the fair folk, he has some sense of royalty, yet is a dilettante who crafts exquisite things and wanders through the crack between worlds, which is in Nina’s back yard. He is somewhat arrogant but charming, and at the beginning of the story very romantic but a bit fatuous. (I want my audience to question romance vs love.) He’s gorgeous, of course (and a ginger, which is one of my weaknesses when I am looking at pure male beauty). Ahhhh…

I’m back now. I need to have some conversations with my characters now.


I looked at depositphotos for a male faerie picture. I saw none. So the realm of Faerie is all female like the Amazons, only with flowing robes?

Getting Back Into Writing

I haven’t done a lot of writing lately

I really haven’t done a lot of writing lately. I’ve been tired and dragging, taking lots of naps, doing a lot of editing of prior works. This means I have about 5 novels that I could submit today if I were in a submission cycle, two needing beta readers, and one that I will finish at Camp NaNo this year. Hopefully.

I feel like I’m losing the knack

It’s been so long since I’ve written a novel start to finish that I don’t know if I can do it again. Of course I can; it’s only been six months. But when I write that down, six months seems like such a stretch. I’ve been editing things for that long, which uses a different set of muscles, as it were.

To be fair, I have almost completed a serial space opera of novella size, so it’s not like I’m not writing. In fact, that whole last paragraph sounds stupid if I take that into account, doesn’t it? It’s not like novels are a whole different beast than novellas, is it?

Ok, never mind

There is a tend to aggrandize novel writing over other forms of writing. I’ve never had anyone ooh and ahh over short stories. Novelists are a rare breed (hint: No, they’re not) and what they do is mysterious. So non-novel writing is, indeed, writing.

I must go write. Bye!

The beginning of a novel

I got an agent rejection for Prodigies the other day (that’s been out for a while; I guess it got backlogged) with a difference: The agent explained what she found wrong with the book.

She loved the setting and the beginning descriptions, but she couldn’t get into the characters.

I looked at the novel and realized the reason she couldn’t get into the characters was that I never gave her a chance to.

The beginning of a book, according to Save the Cat methodology, should accomplish a few things: The character in her original setting before the action begins. A theme to the book. The debate where she goes on her path — but perhaps it’s the wrong path.

My book starts with the action — no chance of getting to understand Grace, no way to see Grace in her original setting, In other words, no way to identify with Grace. 

My beta reader didn’t tell me about this, which is worrisome. On the other hand, I am learning enough about the structure of novels that I can fix this (I’m fixing this right now) and hopefully I will be able to incorporate this into new novels. 

Novel in need of resuscitation.

I’m contemplating scrapping a novel.

Gaia’s Hands, my first book, needs so much help. I can’t even explain why, except that it just isn’t up to my standards. The B story (Jeanne and Josh’s relationship) doesn’t feel quite right. The A story needs a few adjustments. The magic seems intermittent and just wedged in.

All in all, I am frustrated with this story, even though I’ve rewritten it so many times it’s ridiculous.

It’s down to a short novel. Maybe if I cut enough, it can be a novella. I don’t see it getting larger again. 

Wish me luck.

Day 4 Reflection: Dreams

It’s hard to write about dreams these days without sounding trite. Whether dreaming big or following one’s dreams, it’s been said before. 

I want to talk about dreams as the cauldron of our subconscious, where our minds process the bits and pieces of our day into scenarios that twist through our sleep. Luxurious scapes, clandestine relationships, twisted corridors with monsters from our id, these are the denizens of our sleeping hours.

When we dream, sometimes we wake with decadent stretches and a purr, a grin on our face. Other times we sit bolt upright in bed clutching our blankets. Throughout the day, we revisit the dream, mulling it over in our head trying to find meaning in it, to use it to inform our day or to banish the tendrils of nightmare.

Or to harness its power in a story. Many years ago, I suffered through a kidney infection for a few days, spending much of the time asleep. I spent the time in dreams — in one long dream that passed for hours, where I found myself in a desert commune after the experiment called the United States had crumbled into city-states. The contrast between the strife outside and the people who pledged to peace, and the hope that peace lent to those the peaceful folk encountered, stayed with me when I woke, as did the relationship between myself as protagonist and a member of the commune.

I wrote what I could remember, the bare bones of a couple scenes, too long for a short story and too sketchy for a novel. I didn’t write novels back then, feeling overwhelmed by all the words needed.

This spring, after four or five novels under my belt, I revisited that dream with all its dread and promise. I was ready for the dream, for its message, for all its words. 

The book, some seventy-thousand words long, waits for its developmental edit. Sometimes we manifest dreams into reality, one way or another.

Editing into the Future

On my second editing pass through Whose Hearts are Mountains, I realize the story reads better than I thought.

My first edit is for word use, and I mostly eliminate as many of the passive verbs — have, had, has, was, were — with some fixing of awkward sentences as I see them. This gives me at best a choppy feel for the story.

My second edit is a reading edit, where I read to hear the sentences in my head and make sense of them. The book sounds good in my head.

Whose Hearts are Mountains isn’t even the next book I’m sending to developmental edit. I’ll send Apocalypse, which is the merciless edited version of three novels, first.  But I have good feelings about Whose Hearts are Mountains that I didn’t expect I would have.

I still have to start writing a new novel soon. The only novel I have left to edit is Reclaiming the Balance, and that one has some necessary stylistic divergence (use of gender neutral pronouns for an intersex character) that I’m afraid will get in the way of its success.

I’m still wondering what I will write next. I have a few leads but do not feel passionate about any of them, mostly because they’re sequels to things already written but not yet accepted. Perhaps I’m looking for a new idea.


The Beginnings of a Novel

The outline for the new book is going very slowly …

Let me explain the general idea of the book. This is in the Archetype series, none of which has gone to developmental edit yet. A little background: Archetypes are near-immortal beings who are tasked with holding humanity’s cultural memories. If the Archetype for an ethnicity dies, all of the people whose patterns they hold die, so that an entire ethnic group (and, more likely, a large group of people of mixed ethnicity that includes that group) die.  This is why Archetypes have been held apart from humans and each other.

My series covers the interactions between one particular renegade family (unique in that Archetypes don’t generally have family bonds) and humans. The humans have their own uniqueness in that they have been gifted with abilities by (depending on who you ask) Gaia, the Maker of the Archetypes, God, or genetic enhancement.

The story I’m writing, tentatively called Gods’ Seeds, involves two threads that will come together as the story develops. But here’s a first attempt at synopsis:

The Council of the Oldest, the ruling body of the Archetypes, has announced that humans’ genetic and cultural memories will be gradually divested back to their humans, as humans have been found fit to retain them. Meanwhile, a young woman on Earth named Leah Inhofer sees horrific visions of Archetypes battling each other, with thousands of human casualties resulting. The Archetypes grow restless, knowing that their reason for existence is being taken away, and they will take desperate measures to keep this from happening. The conflict draws battle lines between Archetype and Archetype, and Leah must find the strength to stand between the two — or watch the decimation of humanity.


There’s a lot of writing in-between this paragraph and a novel. There’s character, there’s subplots, there’s relationships between characters. And there’s a lot of words — about 80,000 words on average. That’s why I’m going to write an outline, to help me find my way through the plot of the novel.

Wish me luck, and let me know if you’d read this novel!

Wrestling with my Problem Child, part 2

Through a series of edits and rewrites, the novel Gaia’s Hands (about 90,000 words) has been reduced to a tight novella with a feeling of impending doom — and impending resurrection.

I do not know where that novella came from, except that I think it was lurking at the edges of the novel I wrote, with the symbolism pointing in that direction, but my not having the guts to go there. I think there’s a tinge of my mood in the middle of Trump’s presidency and its unrestrained pro-business stance. My story has become in many ways dystopian, where fear and threats rule the day for those who are different.

The source material is almost five years old. I’ve been struggling with it for years — as my first novel, it probably lacked  voice. After some serious, intense editing and a painful and beautiful ending, I don’t know if it has its own identity yet. But it’s a lot tighter, a lot more poignant, and I hope it’s a good story.

The World Needs Your Novel

Are you familiar with NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo (or NaNo for short) is an annual writing contest where there are no prizes but a certificate and the only one you’re competing against is yourself. The name comes from a contraction of “National Novel Writing Month” but has grown far beyond its bounds, with international reach.
Every November, thousands of writers and aspiring writers unite over the Web for NaNo.  Each will write toward a goal of a written work of 50,000 words.  In October 2016 (the last year for which data is available), almost 400,000 participants worldwide participated, with 34,000 people finishing the 50,000 word goal (Office of Letters and Light, 2016). The NaNo website provides blurbs of advice from writers, encouragement emails, and forums where people can ask for advice, seek information, and at times lament lack of progress.

The motto of NaNo is “The World Needs Your Novel”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the world needs your novel to be published. With Google making research easy and the boom in potential writers, those who seek an agent may never get one and those who self-publish may find their works mouldering in a corner of the Internet. Nowadays, having your work read may be more a matter of search engine optimization than the quality of your writing.
I struggle with this all the time. I do not write for the market; I write from my heart, which is deep and quirky. My heroes are pacifists and horticulturists. Nobody has rippling muscles; my sexiest hero is androgynous. I persist, however, in writing and posting some of my works on Wattpad and sending manuscripts to agents who tell me “It’s not you, it’s me”. 
I persevere because, deep down, I believe the world needs my novel. Not in a way that makes me famous (Fame actually makes me nervous). But in a way that makes people take a deep breath and think. And feel. And look at things like pacifism, environmentalism. and love differently than before. All I need to do is get my writing into their hands.
And there we are — back to the hard part.

Office of Letters and Light (2017). Press release 2017. Available: [April 14, 2018].