With EVO Ghost in the hands of the ARC readers and ready for release on March 1st, I was expecting to crack on with book two of the Indigo Flame Series, The Red Archer. I’m not in the mood to be writing high fantasy, so I decided to make some notes on another urban fantasy that has been niggling at me for a while. The notes gathered in momentum, and I’m well into the writing process.
About my new project:
This project is an urban fantasy based around five sisters. There will be five novellas, each from one sister’s perspective, and all leading up to a full length novel with all of their POVs. Despite them being novellas, the sister’s stories require a lot of note-taking for various reasons. Each one does not lead into the next (the novellas can all be read out of order), but the full novel will be a sequel to the five novellas.
Titles and Covers:
All five e-covers are currently under design. I have titles for all which will be revealed with the cover and blurb reveal, and the series will be called Sisters All.
Changes to Publication:
I am taking a different approach with the release of the novellas: all five will be released at the same time. There are two reasons for this: 1. I like the idea of all five being available as they can be read out of order, and I know it’s going to take me much longer to write the sequel novel. 2. I am seven months pregnant and won’t have the time to deal with five publication events with a new baby.
The whole process is going to be flexible, relaxed, and in my own sweet time.
This will be an incredibly short post. Why? Because the only solid writing plans I have for 2018 is to publish EVO Ghost. I have a release date… 01/03/18!!
After the release, I will probably work on The Red Archer, Indigo Flame #2, but I won’t make any commitments to it for 2018. Whatever happens happens. I might use April’s CampNaNo to finish my new novella, but again, no commitments in regards to a 2018 release. I will not be participating in July’s CampNaNo or November’s NaNoWriMo this year.
Keep your eyes peeled for ARC reviewer call outs for EVO Ghost in the very near future. I can’t believe this trilogy is drawing to a close. It has been quite the journey. I started writing pieces of EVO Nation way back in 2011, really set my mind to it in 2013/14, and published in 2015. Now, in 2018, Teddie’s conclusion is here.
I hope everyone who celebrates has had a fantastic Christmas and not worked too hard over the festive period. Writerly Bookish Stuff has been quiet for a few days, but is now back with a bang. I have the pleasure of hosting author, Kayla Krantz, and she is here to discuss that dreaded self doubt and how to overcome it.
Over to you, Kayla…
Doubt—a writer’s greatest enemy. At one time, every writer (even the greats), have doubted their ability to wield a pen and create something worth reading.
Don’t believe me? Check this quote from Stephen King:
“I’m afraid of failing at whatever story I’m writing—that it won’t come up for me, or that I won’t be able to finish it.” ~Stephen King, Rolling Stone Interview (2014)
So, what can you do?
First and foremost, accept that you’re going to have those doubts and acknowledge the fact that you ARE a writer. Even if you haven’t been published. From the moment you pick up a pen, you’re a writer…even if you just write for yourself! If it makes you happy, then it’s worth the wiggle of discomfort that it may give you.
For all the books that I’ve written, I still feel self-doubt almost every time I launch a new book. When I’m waiting to hear back from my betas, I literally hold my breath when a new email comes in with feedback. The very first book I launched back in 2016, Dead by Morning, was my pride and joy. I had a lot of fun writing it and didn’t really begin to worry about it until editing came. Re-reading the content, I began to wonder how people would perceive it and if I should release it out into the world. Even to this day I still have doubts about the story and whether someone else could’ve written it better. It’s a thought I wrestle with every time the book receives a review of less than three stars but I keep it out in the world because I poured my heart into it.
Self-doubt is a sign of a good writer! When people have just a hint of doubt, they’re more likely to reach out and get advice and support. This leads to stronger and better stories in the end and possibly more networking opportunities for the writer. Writers who are over-confident have a tendency to believe their story is perfect from the first draft and that they won’t have to work on revisions—these are often the stories that need the most work.
When you pick up a pen and feel that self-doubt creep in, push it to the back of your mind and write! Every writer will have their lows where they wonder if their story is good enough to go out into the world and it is! Will it be perfect at first? Of course not, but that’s what revision and supportive friends are for! There are a number of fantastic writing sources online geared to help you perfect your manuscript.
And guess what?
All the people in these groups have struggled with self-doubt of their own so they understand exactly where you’re coming from. Sometimes, connecting with people who understand your feelings on that deep of a level can be the perfect way to help you overcome it as well.
You might think that meeting certain goals such as getting a number of reviews, being traditionally published, or winning an award may give you more confidence. And it might. For a while at least. But that self-doubt will begin to creep back in and you’ll go through the same cycle all over again. For a writer, it’s just the nature of the beast.
The number one cure to self-doubt is to write and keep writing! Write your heart out and use that self-doubt to pour all your emotions and vulnerable pieces of yourself into your characters, your world. The more of yourself you put into your work, the more realistic it will be after all.
Never let your self-doubt bring you away from writing. If you have an idea, put it down on paper no matter what the little voice in the back of your head says.
In the end, it will be worth it. I promise!
Proud author of Dead by Morning, fascinated by the dark and macabre. Stephen King is her all time inspiration mixed in with a little bit of Eminem. When she began writing, she started in horror but it somehow drifted into thriller. She loves the 1988 movie Heathers. She was born and raised in Michigan but traveled across the country to where she currently resides in Texas.
Today’s guest post comes from horror author, Phil Price. Phil has joined me today to discuss all things horror. Give yourselves five minutes with a cup of tea, and join us for some tried and tested tips on penning horror stories. Perhaps don’t turn off the lights…
Over to you, Phil.
How to Pen Darkness
Of all the various genres out there, horror is the one that excites me the most. As a reader, you want to be able to connect with the author’s story, hoping that the words conveyed spark your imagination. Other genres do this too. A good romance may bring a tear to your eye, or a fantasy yarn may ignite your imagination. However, horror is a genre that preys on your senses. To lie in bed at night, pulling the duvet up to your neck, checking the window for unseen ghouls, is not an easy feat. Plus, there are many types of horror out there. Serial killers, men in masks, vampires, demons, and ghosts, are but a few of the things that lurk in our imaginations as horror.
So, how do you write it? Tough question. I have written three horror books, centred on vampires. The market is flooded with these mysterious creatures at the moment, as it should be. Nothing should get the horror juices flowing like a good, old fashioned vampire. From Count Dracula, to Mr Barlow, for me, that is what horror is all about. Conveying that subject onto a page is the tricky part. Words on a page are just that, words. Turning the words into a scene that will draw the reader in, is no mean feat.
Many of my readers have given me different feedback. Some, said the stories terrified them. Others said they were not scary in the shocking, jump-out-of-your-seat scary sense. More of a creeping dread that settles over you whilst reading. I, like many horror authors, have taken their inspiration from the great Mr King. He has cornered the market on what scares you. Vampires, killer clowns, haunted hotels, apocalyptic worlds – King has done it all. And many of these stories have come from his own experiences. With this in mind, that is what I try to do, weave a tale from what scares me, what excites me, and what will make readers want to indulge themselves into my world.
Setting the scene is always the most important part. It’s very easy to type, “The killer came around the corner and his knife was big and menacing.” Great. There is a killer out there with a big knife, looking to harm us. Does it ignite your senses? Hell no! The environment needs to be just right to convey the fear that the reader yearns for.
So, if you said:
‘The corridor was a darkened funnel, littered with boxes and bodies. A fluorescent bulb, flickered sporadically, throwing shadows along the low-slung space. An over-powering stench coated Tim’s throat, thick and cloying, making him want to wretch. Making him want to run. A noise in the darkness raised gooseflesh on his arms, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling to attention as the noise came again. Far off, a low shuffle of heavy feet, drifted towards him, the edges of the corridor seeming to darken further. A silhouette appeared around the far corner, dark and brooding. As the light pulsed once more, it caught the edge of the object in the figures hand. Shimmering briefly as it ran along the serrated edges of the blood stained knife.’
Now, many readers might not find that scary. However, some may. It should pull the reader in further, almost placing them in the corridor with the next victim. And that’s what I would say to anyone about to start their own horror story. The person reading your book, needs to be in your book. When they are at work, or at the shops, they need to be thinking about the next chapter, hurrying back home to get the next slice of the pie.
I would also say, be brave, be creative. Don’t hold back at all. Think about what scared you as a kid and spill those emotions into your work. Others will identify with it. I hope this has been insightful. I hope above all, that you are reaching for your laptop, inspired to get cracking on the next big thing….
Phil Price was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1974. He lived in various places until his family settled in Rednal, Birmingham in 1979. Growing up with and older brother and sister he always flirted with reading as there were always books lying on shelves around the house. Then in 1997 he embarked on a travel expedition that took him from Greece to Thailand, via East and Southern Africa. Sitting in dusty bus stations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi gave him the opportunity to ignite his imagination fully. Since those far-off days, he has never been without a book to read.
He toyed with the idea of writing a book in 2009. After writing a few short stories he caught a whiff of an idea in his head. It grew and grew in 2010 until he had enough to begin. Marriage and two children came along, with the story being moved to the back burner for periods of time. However, during those periods of writing inactivity, the story continued to evolve until it just needed to be written down.
The book was littered with places that had influenced Phil’s life. From the Lickey Hills in Birmingham, to the Amatola Mountains in South Africa with other locations, in-between and far beyond. The book was finished sometime in 2014 and was left on his computer, until a chance conversation with an author friend made Phil take the bold step to publish his story, Unknown. Unknown was re-published in 2017, as part of The Forsaken Series. The Turning is to follow on from Unknown, with a third book currently in post-production.
Welcome to December, folks. I’m so ready for the Christmas season. I just love it!!!!
Anyway, back to the post. This past month has been NaNoWriMo crazy. I bet those who haven’t participated are sick of it by now. Those of you who did have a bash at it, I hope you’re happy with the results.
I made it to 11k words. Not great, but I’m okay with that. NaNo was always going to take second place to my EVO Ghost edits. I managed to finish the edit, and now, I’m prepping to send copies to my betas. Whoop!
I had a weird month in regards to my NaNo writing. I started off writing a science fiction novel, and finished writing a zombie comedy. I can safely say that I’m happy with the concepts for both, but it just wasn’t the right time for writing my science fiction story. The narrative was too serious and dark to be writing alongside the EVO Ghost edit. I needed something a little more light hearted to balance it out.
If you like Zombie Playlist, I reckon you’ll like this new one. I’ve already got a title that has well and truly stuck, but more on that in the future.
Here’s an excerpt of my Zombie novella:
“What brings you all the way to Hero Fest?” I ask.
“I used to do L.A.R.P. You know, live action role play,” she replies.
All three of us scoff.
“Of course, we know what L.A.R.P is,” Milton replies.
“Well, there was a terrible accident, and the organisers couldn’t continue. Health and safety reasons, they said.”
“We used to use farmland offered by a local farmer whose son was a Warlock. The land bordered an estate house, but that was strictly out of bounds. One guy tried to scale the fencing into the estate, and well, there’s no nice way to say this… He got impaled.”
Milton, Hugh, and I gasp.
“…Up the asshole.”
“Holy Yoda.” My own clenches in sympathy.
She sighs. “You just can’t continue with an event once someone gets impaled up the asshole, can you?”
Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming the author of The Game Begins, Rebecca Howie, to Writerly Bookish Stuff. Rebecca is here to talk about the dreaded writer’s block and how to overcome it.
Over to you, Rebecca…
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Let’s be honest: being a writer isn’t easy. From bad reviews, nit-picking beta readers who make you feel like a wanna-be sham, and spending hours formatting your shiny new novel for Createspace only to have it rejected because of the margin sizes, it’s easy to see why some people decide to pack it up and keep on at their day job.
But before you reach the final stage, before you hit PUBLISH and send your book baby out into the world to fend for itself, you’ve got to write that first draft. And while you’re at it, you’re probably going to come across writer’s block.
I was lucky enough when writing my first novel to avoid it, but that was only because I didn’t actually know I was writing a novel until I was halfway through and thought ‘Screw it, I’m going to publish it’. But on my second visit into Sam’s world, it hit me, and for almost half a year, I couldn’t get anything written.
I knew I wanted to write a second book; I knew I wanted it to be a sequel to The Game Begins. And I knew that I wanted it to touch on the previous book’s events instead of pretending like nothing bad had happened. But could I write it?
(That answer is obvious if you make a visit to my blog and see my lack of writing updates, and that up until October, had the release date for my second book as ‘Coming Soon’.)
So, how do you overcome writer’s block? What possible solution can there be when you haven’t written a single word in almost a year?
Here are some of the things I try, and sometimes find helpful.
Take a Break
Accepting that you’re stuck isn’t actually the be-all and end-all of your WIP. Taking a break, even for just a few hours, might be all you need to get focussed on your story and the scene that’s trying to derail you.
Consult Your Notes
Keeping a note of the ideas that come to you at three in the morning is a great idea for finding inspiration, and if you already have a few notebooks filled with your sleep-deprived ramblings, now might be a good time to take a look.
Who knows? Maybe the next NYT bestseller is in there somewhere.
Read/ Watch TV
This might be the only time procrastinating isn’t a bad idea, but reading someone else’s book is a great way of getting your creative juices flowing. It can help you with pacing your novel, character development, and even when to end a chapter (which I struggled with a bit at the start of this new book).
Watching TV, on the other hand, is another great way to get ideas for your story. And when I was writing a particularly tricky scene in A Woman Scorned, I turned to ABC’s Castle for help with portraying the symptoms of PTSD, because I knew that one of its characters had gone through something similar to my own.
I know the last thing you want to hear is ‘rewrite’, but taking a second run at the WIP that’s trying to psyche you out might just be the thing you need to work out the plot hole that’s been bugging you, or changing the tone or pace or point-of-view to turn the story into the one you’ve actually been wanting to write from the beginning.
If all else fails, stop. Don’t justify forcing yourself to write, or making yourself sick with the stress of it. I lost count of how many false starts I made while trying to write AWS, and although I have a folder filled with character notes and defunct plot points, I’m happier with the characters now than I was when I started all those earlier attempts, so moving on to a different plot or story might just be the thing which gets you back on track.
Rebecca Howie is a procrastinating writer from Scotland, who prefers spending her time in fictional worlds rather than the real one.
She self-published her first novel, The Game Begins, at 18, and it reached 2nd in the Teen and Young Adult Detective category on Amazon after its release in February 2016.
I’ve had a much more productive month than the last two. Not everything I missed last month got finished this month, but I’m happy with where I am at.
I finished what turned out to be a MAMMOTH, structural edit. Wow, that really was one of the hardest edits I’ve ever done. I’m blaming it on Ghost being the third in the trilogy. Everything has to play out, tie up, and have a grand finale feel about it. I put the pressure on myself big style.
I still have pages of notes to implement from the read through of books one and two, and notes I jotted down during the first edit, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Another two fabulous authors guest posted on Writerly Bookish Stuff this month. Don’t worry if you missed them, here are the links:
I was adamant that I wasn’t going to participate in NaNo, but I was struck by sudden inspiration and characters who kept pestering me. I told myself that even if I don’t get to 50k words in a month, I will be further than I would have been if I left the story unwritten. I’m trying to hit my daily targets in the mornings, so I’m free to get back to the EVO Ghost edits in the evenings.
First and foremost, the EVO Ghost edits will continue. I would like to have sent the manuscript to my proofreader by the end of the year. NaNoWriMo has to come second to this, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try my hardest to hit that 50k.
November brings with it another two fabulous authors to Writerly Bookish Stuff:
Nov 10th: Brianna West on The Importance of a Book Cover.
Nov 24th: Rebecca Howie on Overcoming Writer’s Block.
Zombie Playlist Paperback
I’ve swiped all previous goals for the completion of the paperback. It’s almost ready, but if you haven’t realised it yet, I do everything arse about face. It’ll get done… eventually.
I am joined today by the talented author, Katie Masters. Katie is here to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, because us writers and readers know there is nothing worse than a flat, two-dimensional antagonist to see a story fall on its face.
So, give yourself a five minute break and settle down with a mug of something hot. Over to you, Katie.
Creating the Perfect Bad Guy
(who doesn’t wear leather or own a death-ray)
Hello fellow writers! When K.J. asked if I wanted to write about creating a well-rounded antagonist (that’s a fancy-shmancy snoody writer term for a Bad Guy/Villain if you didn’t know. PROtagonist is the main character), I obviously said yes. Because if there’s one thing I love more than ignoring the sensible advice I get, it’s giving it! So strap yourselves in, set your phasers to snark and grab a drink, because today you’re all learning how to make GOOD bad guys!
When a writer—but let’s just say ‘you’, because we all know this’s about you—decides to create a story we’re given 3 options for an antagonist, that horrible thing that is stopping your hero/heroine from achieving glory, love, or an awesome dinner.
–Inner demons (aka you’re your own worst enemy)
–External forces (aka that damn mountain’s keep you from getting to your beloved cheeseburger)
–Actual Person (aka your leather wearing, death ray carrying, changed his named to Butch or Xeno bad guy. Consequently, could also be that bitch Veronica in the office who just took the last donut)
Today we’re going to focus on an Actual Person, because honestly, trying to tell you about the challenge and intricacies of an evil mountain’s thought processes would take eons. And we don’t have the attention span for that right now.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our readers have become more savvy. They want meat, they want blood, the want *gasp* depth. Gone is the mad scientist with a death ray who wants to take over the world for no reason other than ‘because’ who monologues about his master plan for ten minutes. Readers want to know the how and why of the bad guy. They want to understand. Which means you the writer have to know the reasons.
I know. That means more effort and the using of brain cells. I’m sorry. Keep drinking.
Creating a well-rounded antagonist requires, first and foremost, a background story. None of the backstory may come out in the book. Perhaps only a fraction of it will. But if your book becomes a best seller and you go to a Con to face your adoring fans who then want to know what your bad guy’s home life was like—you better know!
Your bad guy (whether a mild one or a truly evil one) needs motive, and for a motive, they need a past. His/Her family life, friendships, social status, and even hometown, all drastically shape the perceptions they have about the world, and themselves. And you need to know all of it.
What I consider a ‘well-rounded human antagonist’ is one in which we can understand why they came to be what they are, but still perceive them as ‘the bad guy.’ Said ‘bad guy’ doesn’t have to want to take over the world or murder someone or take a love interest away. An antagonist is ANYONE who stands in the way of, or thwarts, your main character’s goal.
FOR EXAMPLE: Meet Cindy.
Cindy is in accounting with our protagonist, Betty-Lou (that’s right, I named her Betty-Lou. Deal with it). Betty-Lou and Cindy get along just fine. Until one day an announcement goes up that a new manager position has come up and both Betty-Lou and Cindy are both qualified to apply.
Cindy, who was once just a fellow co-worker is now doing underhanded things to get that job. Mean, antagonist things. Spreading horrible rumors, putting salt in Betty-Lou’s coffee cup, misplacing documents Betty-Lou has to turn in, taking unflattering pictures of Betty-Lou at the company party so Trisha doesn’t ask her on a date…you get the picture.
‘What a bitch!’ you think. Betty-Lou thinks so too. Except what you both don’t know is that Cindy needs the promotion so that she can pay for a medical treatment for her son. She will do ANYTHING to get that promotion and money. So is she really a bad guy? Sure. She’s going about this the wrong way and ruining your wonderful protagonist’s life and love chances! But you sympathize. You don’t like what she’s doing, but you at least understand why.
I think in this day and age of writing, understanding the bad guy is ultimately human (or Klingon, or whatever), and that there are infinite shades of gray in the definition of ‘bad guy’, is important. You don’t have to make them likable, but you have to make them and their reasons understandable. So here’s some tips on how to do that. And no, I didn’t put them in order of importance because I’m fair like that!
1. Write a summary of the Antagonist’s past. Where did they live? Do they have siblings? One parent or two? A suburb or the city? Vegetarian or om-nom-nomnivore?
2. Write their likes and dislikes. It doesn’t have to be an extensive list. But try and get in their head. Do they like movies or concerts? Do they watch YouTube? Do they like the color pink and wear the color on their person every day?
3. Write a scene in your antagonist’s point of view. It doesn’t have to make it into the book. It’s not as hard as you think. The thing that makes writers so unique is our ability to generally be sympathetic because we naturally (in general) tend to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see their point of view. Do the same for your antagonist.
4. Use pictures and make them a profile. Now, this advice comes back from my time as a former artist, but I find I do this when I’m creating characters too. Find a picture on the internet that looks like how you imagine your antagonist then write below (or next to) it, their likes/dislikes, their height and weight, and then their ‘bio’. That’s where you put the summary I told you to writer up there in tip one. See how helpful I am!? Less work to do down here!
Well you’ve made it! Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve refilled your cups half a dozen times at this point, and you’re a real trooper for making it this far! At the end of the day, your antagonist is as important as your main character—sometimes more so, because they have a very important role: to make your character change. So make sure that your antagonist gets the same amount of treatment at your main characters.
Katie Masters’ books include Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key, and The Bone Dancer.
I’ve been making up stories since I could talk, writing them since I learned how to properly put words together, and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading obscene amounts of books, manga, and comics. Sorta in that order.
Last month, I was relieved to be able to get back to editing after an unproductive summer. This month, I’ve been lazy. I am literally a writing sloth at the moment. In fact, I’m just a sloth in every aspect of life. You know what? I’m not even ashamed.
I’m about 60% through the structural edit. I wanted to be finished with this edit, well into the line edits, and much closer to finalising a release date. If I release this year, I’ll be surprised… extremely surprised.
However, here’s what I have been listening to when I have sat my bum down to edit. This song could have been written as the EVO Nation theme song!
Zombie Playlist Paperback
The end of September goal would have been realistic if I did any formatting. In truth, I haven’t even opened the file this month. There’s always October.
On a different note, Zombie Playlist is on a price promotion from the 5th until the 12th. Get your ecopy for 99p.
You know those months where you can’t be assed with the internet? I had that month. Instagram in particular was annoying me. I gave up on my September reading challenges because it felt like it was becoming a chore. I have over ten tags to catch up on, and other than blog related posts, I haven’t been actively posting like I normally do. I’m sure a break from daily posting will help. I’m quite happy to sit back and peruse everyone else’s posts.
Blog Guest Posts
The guest posts are the highlight of my September. Did you catch the posts by Dana Fraedrich and Faith Rivens? If you need advice on world building or beating procrastination, then follow these links:
Katie Masters is stopping by on Friday to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, and Sarina Langer is joining me on Friday 22nd to educate us in all things bullet journals. Keep your eyes peeled.
Next, I do everything I didn’t do last month… or at least attempt to. There’s a lot going on at the moment, and juggling everything is hard. Even finding reading time is proving difficult. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a sudden surge of motivation.
I hope you all have a productive month whatever your goals may be.
Here is another of my Instagram picture prompts for you to get creative with. I invite you to have a go at writing a sentence/paragraph/short story to accompany the picture. Remember to link your post back to me, so I can read your creations and spotlight them in the next picture prompt post.
You can find me on Instagram by following this link.
“What is the meaning of this, Argento? Why are you shirtless?” grumbles Elder Wendall. He steps up to me, chewing his lips. “And who is this?”
Argento bows to the Wergal. “I apologise for my state of undress. I was sunbathing on the boat before the storm hit. This is Lorelei. I found her in the lake.” The crowd murmurs to each other. “She has a Sacred Sphere. It saved our lives.”
Elder Wendall steps away in surprise. “Impossible.”
I hold open my palm, showing him the orb of swirling colour. “Can you help me get home?” I ask. A loud gasp resounds throughout the hall at the sight of the sphere.
Elder Wendall snatches the sphere from my palm and eyes it eagerly. The colour fades, and the orb in his hand resembles nothing but a smooth, glass ball. “How curious. It reacts only to her touch,” he says, scratching at his wrinkly head.