Panster and Proud

I’ve been an advocate of pantsing (writing without an outline) for a while, but I’ve hit a roadblock—probably THE roadblock—for this method of writing: I don’t have an ending. Or, I did (and liked it!) but when I read through it on my fourth (fifth?) editing round, I discovered how TRULY anti-climatic it was and how everything settled nicely into place. Too nicely. Almost Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn easy. No big fight. No nibbling on nails to know how it’s going to end. Everything just kind of… worked out.

Who wants to read that?

NO ONE.

Now I’m faced with the sucky part of the pantsing lifestyle: finding the missing obstacle. The story itself hasn’t changed; the ending is still the ending. But I need to make it harder to get to which means interweaving a new obstacle or broadening the current one (I tried that, but my characters didn’t seem to go for it). So, new obstacle it is.

I went back and forth on whether I should leave the (okayish) ending or chance a rewrite and rework a good portion of the story I’ve been writing since the beginning of last year. Not a long time in the scheme of things, but it usually takes me about a year to produce a decent project and I’m already past my own deadline, so to rework stuff would push it out even farther out. Then I thought—psshh, who cares? I’m not letting anyone read it. (This is the same lie I tell myself with every book. Helps diminish anxiety so I can write for myself and not the audience.) I was okay with no one reading it until I realized I’d be letting the characters down. They depend on me to tell their story, after all. What kind of author would I be if I didn’t tell it right?

So, I’m reworking BTT.

But it’s going to be BETTER.

SO MUCH BETTER.

Pansters, I wanted to share this with you so if you ever reach a point where you have to double back and maybe cut out a lot of awesome stuff for even MORE AWESOME STUFF, don’t let it get you down. It happens. And don’t let a plotter swoop in and convince you that this is why you need to outline. You don’t. You just have to believe in your choices and trust yourself. Trust your characters and trust the process.

If you do that, you’re golden. 😉

Seeing is Believing

I’ve stopped visualizing which is a big no-no when you’re a dreamer. The key is to visualize. Always, always visualize so you know what your goal looks like. So you recognize it when you get there. I’m not sure when I stopped visualizing all the things I wanted. Feels pretty recent, like the past couple of years, probably when social media blew up and my confidence took a backseat to fear. Or maybe I stopped visualizing when I had no (or very little) sales on my first book. And my second book. And my third. And my fourth.

It’s hard to keep the image of sitting on Ellen’s couch (yes, I imagined this. Shut up) discussing my widely popular novel and laughing over all the trials of getting there when literally no one is buying it. I had this whole idea how everything was going to happen and when it didn’t, something shifted. Me, I guess, and with my lack of readers it became harder and harder to picture myself there, on that couch.

Which is BAD.

I need to start up again. If I have any hope of actually making it, I  need to picture myself next to Ellen,  being my charming and witty and wonderful self (and not having panic attacks. Stupid anxiety). It’s the only thing that’s going to get me there, imagining the future I want.

And you need to keep it up too. Whatever your dreams are. Visualize it. See what it looks like so you know where you’re going. It’s VITAL and I haven’t been doing it as much so I’m going to start again.

What about you?

Do you visualize your dreams?

Engines Ahead?

I’m writing this (YA) contemporary romance and it’s proving harder than I thought. I think it’s because I can’t rely on major action-packed events to build the romance like I did with my series. I have to depend on smaller exchanges and a lot of conversation and I keep thinking a lot of conversation is bad thing. But how else do characters get to know one another? They talk.

Right?

In times like these, I deflect to the classics. My classics. Eleanor & Park and The Sea of Tranquility, obviously. Love stories that I love, love, love! Love stories that I pocket for rare occasions: the how-to’s of good romance. Not harlequin. Not BSMD. I’m not into punishment or alphas or how tattooed of a bad boy asshole he is. Yuck. It’s not real. I like real. I like genuine.

E&P is real. TSOT is real.

I believe their stories, probably because they’re written with authenticity. That’s what I’m trying to do with Autumn and Alex. I’m trying to be really real with it but I feel like I’m just jumping from scene to scene with them chit chatting around the central ark. I don’t know. I guess I’m not used to writing a straight romance without aliens and monsters and threats getting in the way. So why the switch? I have no idea. The heart wants what it wants and I guess this is it for now.

Anyone else try a new genre having a wee bit of trouble? Or extra doubt?

First Day, First Paragraph Tag

first-day-first-paragraph-tag.jpgJoleene Naylor tagged me like, weeks ago, but sometimes I’m forgetful and I remember things at the last moment. Like that I was tagged to do the First Day, First Paragraph Tag for January. But WOOP for being #1 of 2017, bitches!

Anyway….

 

 

Those who have been tagged have to:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the next month.(If I tag you now ((Loni)), you will post February first. )
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you. (Thanks, Joleene!)
  4. Explain the rules, like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

I’ve decided to tag Loni Townsend because she’s brilliant and funny and creative and I dug her book, This World Bites. You should check it out too.

This is from my current WIP, Better Than This. I finished it like, yesterday (last minute, remember?) so I’m still not sure if this is how it’s going to go… but, well. Take a look:

I hate Leo Warskowski.

Correction: I hate Leo Warskowski with a passion.

Last week he took a Sprite from Amber’s lunchbox and poured the whole thing into her back-pack. The whole bus watched and no one stopped him. No one said a word. The week before he made up a song about Carrie’s weight and sang it at the top of his lungs, over and over again until we got to school. We had to listen to chants of ’fatty, fatty, can’t you see/cookies and donuts are not fat free’ for over twenty minutes. Carrie cried the entire day.

Thoughts?

This is like the seventh or eighth revision. I’ve lost count. And after another comb through the WIP, it’ll probably change again.

 

Anyway, thanks again for tagging me, Joleene, and for forcing me out of my introverted cave of shyness. I owe you one. 🙂

 

Blood Moon Rising and Savannah, Bitches

I was supposed to advertise this, like, a whole bunch last month, but with my 31st birthday *cough I’m still 26 cough*, an awesome trip to Savannah, and a whole lot of working OT and being somewhat stressed at work, I didn’t. Time got away from me and here we are in October, the very month I was supposed to talk about because it is the month of the Blood Moon Rising. And thirteen nights of Halloween. And pumpkin-spice everything season. But mostly that first thing. Because Blood Moon Rising is a month-long event of celebrating authors (and their works) of Fantasy, Sci-fi and horror. You know, the things I write. 😉

Here’s the rundown: every day an author takes over with a few days highlighted for interactive activities, special talent days—stuff like that. Some people do giveaways. I would like to do one if I ever figure out how to, but until then, it’s a whole bunch of my writing up there for me. If you’re interested, my day is this Tuesday, October 4th. I’ll be posting a few short stories, some Q&As and various segments from my dark fantasy romance, Rozmarie & Josiah. I’ll  also be posting throughout the day (literally on the half hour) and would love it if you would stop by. Or hover in the corner and watch silently. Either way works.

But you should definitely think about swinging by at some point to check out all the cool people and things. It’s a month-long event, filled with tons of different authors all doing different activities, all sharing their fantastical, science-fictiony, horror-tastic works. And word has it there are prizes. Even a Grand Prize that readers like YOU can win. All you have to do is hang out with us for a bit, comment or like, and you’ve thrown your name in that hat. It’s that easy. I’ll also be there, lingering creepily in the background, hanging out with the fellow weirdos as well. You know, where I belong 😉

Alright, now onto all those awesome Savannah pictures you had no idea you’d be seeing until this very moment:

Because Batman is a history buff…

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Fort Jackson

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Here we go!

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…something, something, history…something…

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good view of invaders?

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and a tunnel of doors

Onto the city!

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I mean, I had to

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…which we later found out was haunted…

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When they say ‘fried quail’ they mean literally fried quail.

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part of SCAD

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graffiti from a bathroom

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And there you have it. A quick picture tour through “the most haunted city in America”, which is interesting since St. Augustine makes the same claim…

Remember, Blood Moon Rising is a month long event – so it’s happening now! Be sure to think about dropping by this Tuesday (Oct 4th) and maybe even acting on that thought. I’d love to feel your invisible presence. Yes, even you my silent stalkers  🙂

P.S. You should *totally* go to Savannah. It’s awesome.

P.P.S. And get the pralines from the River Street Candy Store. Possibly the best thing you’ll ever do. Trust me.

 

 

 

They Write the Books Continued: Gabriella Messina

Due to some awesome advances in technology, I was able to gather Gabriella’s Q&A for you. So, as the final day of (me participating in) Fall Fantasy Conclave is here, let’s end it with some good ol’ juicy details from Bloodline’s author, Gabriella Messina:

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Bloodline

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Gabriella Messina… I’m the author of Bloodline, a paranormal fantasy novel, and the Kate Gardener Mysteries series, which I’ve dubbed “semi-cozy mysteries”. I’m also a writer of blog posts, articles, and other freelance writing assignments… my “day job” if you will. I’m a mom to an active five-year-old and if I’m not writing, I’m probably walking or playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. LOL

How did you get into writing?

I used to make up “movies” when I was a kid… Jotting down the titles of stories, casting them, putting music to them… but writing was never something I really thought about until after I left college. I had gone for Theater, but after a very disappointing sophomore year, in which I kept getting passed-over for parts, stuck in the back doing tech and construction work, I just got fed-up… Really, my thinking was that I couldn’t do it, that I’d been kidding myself about being able to perform, so why waste the money, you know? So I took a break and traveled. And it was while I was in Florida that I had two breakthroughs… the first with a wonderful acting teacher in a workshop who not only showed me that I could act, but that I was good (I did a monologue as Jackie Kennedy and she actually cried at my performance). The second breakthrough was when I started teaching myself to write screenplays. My mystery series featuring the character Kate Gardener was born during this time. Once I saw that I could create these great worlds and flesh them out, and that other people enjoyed them, initially in my family and then among friends and peers… Then I began to look at it as more than just a whim.

How did you come up with the idea for your story?

My first novel, Bloodline, was born as my original screenplay “The Devil Inside”, which I wrote back on 2005. Oddly enough, the origins of the story were in a reviewing of The Lost Boys and a listening to a lot of Def Leppard. I started thinking about a werewolf movie that the two Coreys might be in… Over time things changed… In its earliest incarnations, Sam Karolyi was a guy, Vincent was just “Krem” (and may have been a vampire), and the story was set in LA. Then a peer reviewer said something in a critique that sent the whole story in a new direction. He said that the script had a lot of good elements, but needed something to set it apart, and that maybe Sam should be a girl. And that set me on a new path with the story. Sam became a girl, “Krem” became Vincent, Ivan morphed from wise old friend to cantankerous grandfather, and the whole story shifted to the East Coast, to New York City.

Kate Gardener Mysteries also began their lives as screenplays, or more accurately teleplays, as it was created to be a television show. The idea sprang to life about a year after I took a trip to London. I started jotting down possibilities for characters and plots for a series… And the series went through a number of changes, too… At one time, I was going to set the “show” in London 1893! But eventually I settled into the current time and format.

Who are your favorite authors?

Anne Rice… She has essentially built an entire 30+ year career off a handful of vampires and their world, and she still is able to continue building that world, book after book, all while branching out into other genres with equal success. Plus she’s a really cool person, you know? Answers questions, talks to fans… She’s really, well REAL.

I’m also a big fan of Joss Whedon. He writes great female characters that are flawed, funny, and fierce and feminine. And his style is kind of iconic now.

If you could only recommend one book, which would it be?

Audition by Michael Shurtleff… Even if you have no interest in acting or public speaking, the stories he tells in this book and the tips that he gives for being prepared and approaching an audition can be applied in so many different ways in your life, whether you’re going for a job interview or doing a live broadcast. Sheesh!

*Bonus * What one person (living or dead) would you share a meal with? And why?

My late grandfather… Just to have the chance to sit and eat spaghetti and meatballs with him one more time.

************

Thanks for sharing, Gabriella! And for joining me here for the first (hopefully annual) Fall Fantasy Conclave.

And to all my authors: Chrishaun Keller-Hanna, J.L.Hendricks, and Gabriella Messina– it was a pleasure hosting you! Good luck in all your endeavors and may your sales hit a record high!

Fall Fantasy Conclave Welcomes: They Write the Books: Garbiella Messina

Thursday already, guys. THURSDAY. Has the week been flying for you too? Friday is around the corner, but before we can get there, two things:

1.) I see you all of you promoting one another for the Fall Fantasy Conclave, and I have to say, it is *AWESOME* to watch! Just knowing how you Indies are supporting and encouraging each other they way you are makes me proud to be one.

2. Help me welcome my third and final Author I have the pleasure of promoting during this week long  promotion-support fest: Gabriella Messina!

Gabriella is the author of the Kate Gardener Mysteries series and Bloodline, a contemporary fantasy shifter novel:

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Unfortunately, due to a little technical difficulty, we’re flipping things around a bit. Instead of the Q&A first, we’ll be taking a look inside Bloodline, as that was the attachment I was able to open. 😉

Excerpt:

 

“Nice shot.” The Hooded Man’s voice was surprising: rich yet with a touch of softness to the timbre. Sam watched him walk to Franco’s body. The Hooded Man crouched for a moment, looked steadily at the body. 

“I’ll call… for help.” Geez, is that my voice?  The Hooded Man didn’t respond and Sam started to wonder if he’d even heard her. Sam reached into her pocket for… the phone.  The phone that got tossed. Shit! 

“There’s only one way to help him now.” The Hooded Man stood up, raised his weapon and aimed it at Franco’s abdomen. He fired, the bullet blasting into his body just below the sternum.  Sam quickly raised up the gun and trained it on him. “Put the gun down!” 

The Hooded Man glanced toward her briefly but seemed untroubled by her clipped order. Franco whimpered a final time and was still.  “Any minute now.” 

Sam kept the gun aimed at him as she looked at Franco’s body. The skin color had changed, taking on a silvery sheen. Sam closed her eyes, opened them. The body seemed to be moving, a subtle gelatinlike shudder. Beads of the silvery sheen rolled off the body like sweat, soaking into the ground below. 

He’s… it’s melting. The fuckin’ body is MELTING. Sam backed away and leaned against a nearby tree, the gun lowered at her side.  The Hooded Man continued to watch the body until nothing remained but a darkened patch where the body had been. He holstered his weapon and pushed back the sweatshirt hood, ran a hand through his wavy black hair, causing longish pieces on the top of his head to stand at odd angles. He looked to be in his early thirties, but a kind of dark maturity gave him an air of timelessness.

 His eyes were dark, a rich coffee brown that nearly verged on black, with heavy black eyebrows rising above them. She’d been a little over-generous in her height estimation; with the hood back, he was tall, but his wiry build gave him an illusion of greater height.  He watched Sam for a moment before he stepped away from the melting site and joined her by the tree. “You all right?” 

Sam was silent, staring at the spot where Franco, or whatever he had become, had melted away.  The Hooded Man watched her a moment more, then reached into his pocket, pulled out a piece of soft white cloth. He reached over, dabbing at the blood that had trickled down her neck from the cut Franco had made. He dabbed once, twice; as he reached to dab a third time, Sam shivered slightly, grabbed his hand. 

She watched his face relax a bit as he released the cloth into her hand. “That was a little close, wasn’t it?” His voice had a bit of an accent, maybe Irish or something. That wasn’t going to help her concentration.  Sam blotted at her neck, glared at the handsome man in front of her.

“Close, yeah, thanks. What was that?” 

The Hooded Man glanced at the melting scene then looked back at Sam. “Some poor bastard infected with LV.” 

Sam stopped blotting. “LV?” 

“Lycanthropic Virus.” 

Sam gave him a blank look. “I’m sorry, I left my medical encyclopedia in my other coat. What does that mean exactly?” 

“A virus which causes Lycanthropy.” 

“Lycanthropy, I see.” Sam moved away from the tree, began to make big circles as she scanned the ground searching for her phone. She stopped suddenly. “Wait a minute. Is that, like, werewolves?” 

“Like, yeah. What are you looking for?” 

“My phone.” She groaned, resumed her search. “Werewolves, huh?

Not to antagonize the crazy person or anything, but when was the last time you had a CAT scan?” 

Her phone appeared in front of her face. Sam looked up at the Hooded Man, took the phone from him. “Six months ago.” He raised his other hand; Sam’s Lorcin pistol hung before her eyes.  Sam hesitated a second, then took her gun, tossing him a small smile in thanks. “Uh-huh, well, you need another one.” 

She started walking away from the scene and toward the low-level noise and movement of Broadway. The Hooded Man followed her.  “You know, after what just happened, after what you just saw, I would think you’d be more open-minded than this.” 

“I’m a New Yorker, I was born open-minded.” Sam picked up her pace, keeping it steady and brisk as she reached Broadway and started up the street. 

“So, what happened to Sick Boy?” 

“Who?” 

“The kid who robbed the store, who was hit by the bus.” 

Sam stopped suddenly. The Hooded Man had walked on a few steps before he noticed that she had stopped. He backtracked to stand in front of her.  Sam looked at him warily, placed her hand near the gun in her pocket. “You. You were there, by the vendor. The man in black. Who are you?” 

“Vincent Kremer, at your service.” He bowed slightly at the waist, adding a flourish with his right hand then smiled.  He has a nice smile, nice everything actually… oh, what the hell, Sam? You’re just one big hormone anymore…

Shook her head, banishing the thoughts away and focusing in again on Vincent where he stood on the sidewalk. She frowned. “Why were you there? Were you following that kid? Oh, wait, let me guess… He was a werewolf.” 

Vincent grinned. “You’re catching on.” 

“Good Lord.” Sam rolled her eyes and marched past him, continuing up Broadway. Vincent hurried to catch up to her, talking all the way. 

“Jekyll and Hyde. The beast within realized. The virus enables the physical transformation; drugs eliminate the ability to control it. Result – a short, violent life spent preying upon the homeless, the sick, the weak, spreading the evil as they go. A physical manifestation of everything dark that lurks within.” He paused, seemingly for breath, as they neared St. Paul’s and Vesey Street.

“You know, that bastard had been running around for two days. Gutted a junkie in the Bowery the other night.” 

Sam stopped walking, her gaze fixed on the sidewalk ahead of her. “The Bowery, huh? Now that’s funny.” 

Vincent frowned, puzzled, “Why would that be funny?” 

Sam looked up at him, a matching frown on her own face. “Because someone was spotted leaving the scene that night. A man like a shadow.” She paused, letting it sink in, looking him up and down.

“A man in black.” 

 “Oh.” Vincent looked down at his clothing. “I suppose my wardrobe is a bit incriminating, then.” 

Sam nodded, started walking again. “A bit. Now, I’m torn between hauling your ass in on murder charges, or my personal favorite, me walking this way and you not following me. So -” 

Sam turned to look back at him, but Vincent was gone. What the hell, c’mon with the disappearing people! 

Sam noticed something laying on the ground behind her. It was just about in the spot where Vincent would have been standing if he hadn’t high-tailed it out of there. Sam wondered what did it… the threat to haul him in or that she encouraged him to go away. 

Sam bent to pick up the small piece of folded cardboard. A matchbook, plain and white, half the matches gone. She opened it and despite her tiredness, the aches and pains setting in already from the altercation with Franco-thing, the fear and anger and loneliness she felt right now with Ivan locked away in the hospital… despite all that, she smiled. 

Written on the inside of the matchbook cover were the initials VK and his cell number.

***************

Thanks for sharing, Gabriella!

Come back tomorrow for a *possible* Q&A (technology pending) or check out some of Gabriella’s other works, like the Kate Gardener Mysteries series:

The Memory of Trees (Kate Gardener mysteries Book 1) by [Messina, Gabriella]

On a crisp September morning, a jogger stumbles upon an horrific scene in a London park…

When forensic photographer Kate Gardener steps in for her injured supervisor, the brash American ex-pat finds herself at the scene of a truly brutal murder. The naked, castrated body of a young pharmacist has been found at the edge of Regent’s Park.

Get it here

De Profundis (Kate Gardener Mysteries Book 2) by [Messina, Gabriella]

As faithful parishioners gather for Vespers on All Saints Day, a beloved priest is bludgeoned to death in the church sacristy…

Though he is no stranger to controversy, the priest’s death sends shockwaves through the community. Allegations from the past come to light when a young seminarian, the victim of sexual abuse, is found hiding on the church property, his clothing covered with blood.
Forensic photographer Kate Gardener has her doubts about the young man’s guilt, and her hunches are seldom wrong. The twists and turns of this complicated and controversial case throw Kate into the path of the members of a notorious dining club…. and a very handsome young architect. Romantic entanglements must take a backseat to the case, however, as the investigation intensifies and the inquest into the death of Neville Crane looms.

Together with Detective Sergeant Richard Pierce, Jimi Khan, and the rest of the team, Kate must overcome her fears and face the ghosts of her past in the race to piece the clues together and catch a brutal murderer before he strikes again.

Get it here

Thanks again for sharing, Gabriella, and for participating in the Fall Fantasy Conclave!