Winter Project 2015 – Part Four

Atmosphere
There’s a howling wind outside. A storm is splashing rain against the windows. This kind of weather is perfect for writing, at least for me. Not sure if it’s a genre thing or not, but the gloomier the better. I’ll often accompany my session with music. Something calming, like George Winston. Solo piano music isn’t just relaxing for me, it really stirs my thoughts, and sets my creative brain into motion. What sort of atmosphere do you try to maintain while writing?
The First Forty-Eight
Today, I’m working on chapters nineteen and twenty. At this point in the story, local search parties have gathered late in the evening. Flashlights dart about in fields and wooded areas. When someone is missing, the first forty-eight hours are vitally important. Piecing together the clues in that time frame, figuring out what was happening in the person’s life in the days before, could very well be telling of what happened to them. Investigators are working on several leads in the case, and the story is beginning to branch out into a wider scope.
Character Sheets
One of the things I need to do that I’ve completely forgotten is the character sheets. You know what they are, right? Basically, just a profile of the characters. Everything from eye color, to height, to personal hobbies and interests are listed here. It’s very useful, because I cannot count how many times I have to skim back through the pages of a story trying to remember what color someone’s hair was. Sometimes, I’ll even include pictures, making it look like an official police profile, which is fun. Maybe I’ll work on that after today’s writing session.
Words On The Page
You ever hear other writers explaining how easy writing is? You know what I mean. Just keep writing until it’s finished, put those words on the page, put one word after another, etc. It makes the process sound so simple. Just sit down and hammer aimlessly on the keyboard. It’s never perfect the first time, you just need to get the story out. Don’t edit as you go. Finish writing the book first. Whatever you have to do to finish, just finish. This is really good advice, but not all authors are the same. Take me, for instance. As I’ve stated above, atmosphere is imperative to my process. Music. Quiet. I’ll usually write early in the mornings, and again in the afternoon. A tactic that coincides with my daughter’s sleeping habits, but one I wouldn’t have thought of without the monthers (more on that here).
If any of these things aren’t present during my typical writing session, chances are good that I simply won’t write. Sure, I might end up making notes, tweaking my outline, etc. But any actual writing might not happen at all.
Now, some authors may be suffering from the First Draft Blues (Here and Here), but for the most part, atmosphere is a major contributing factor to my word count success. Not that word count is the most important thing. Your session could have been only 300 words, but you wrote and that’s what’s important. They could be the best 300 words you’ve ever written! Every little success should be celebrated.
Speaking of putting words on the page, it’s time for me to get back to it!

Need a word count calculator?  Here You Go!

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Winter Project 2015 – Part Three

Visualize
What is it that makes us writers? Where does it come from? The same can be asked of a painter, who visualizes scenes onto a canvas from his mind. It’s an interpretation, the original conception is always much different than the end result. It takes practice, trial and error, and repetition to get to the point where the physical creation adequately represents the artists original vision.
Throughout the planning process for my new novel, there was a strong scene that played out in my mind repeatedly. Anytime I thought about the project, this scene would jump into my head. It was a quiet one. Sunny, on an old country road. The only sounds were of wind rustling the autumn leaves, and the crunch of bicycle tires on gravel. The rider was smiling, carefree, so lost in thought that she didn’t even notice the car approaching from behind.
Interpret
That’s the way it was. When I sat down to make some notes, or even to write, I could hear the crunch of those tires, feel the crispness in the air. This scene did actually occur in the novel a couple of chapters ago. The end result wasn’t exactly what I had originally planned, mainly because the time of day was wrong for it. In fact, it wasn’t daytime at all.
It didn’t feel like the scene was totally lost in translation, though. As a matter of fact, I think it turned out better than what I visualized. It was darker, more tense than before. That’s a good thing.
Wherever that scene came from in my head, as with any scene, all I can do is try my best to interpret it with words and hope that I create a moment that you as the reader can see, or feel. For me, making the reader feel is worth every word. It’s worth celebrating. That’s why I do what I do.
The Words
Today, I’m going to be writing chapter fourteen. I’ve been sticking to my new writing routine (more on that here) and things have been going really well, word count wise. It’s nothing like the what the Monthers push out on a daily basis, but it is more than what it used to be.
Selena and Jameson have their hands full today, not only with the investigation but with the TBI and local authorities as well.
The coffee is hot. Scrivener is open. George Winston’s Midnight is playing on the radio. The weekend was long, and I’ve been feeling pretty sick. I can’t stop the words, though.
It’s time to get back to it.

Tanglewood Release, Plus A Free Gift!

TanglewoodCover_f_paths.inddGood news for Montana Marrenger fans.
The Runaway Train is having a free run until 10/23 starting TODAY!
It’s my gift to you in celebration of my newest release!
Tanglewood, the third book in my Montana Marrenger Mysteries, has finally been published! Here’s a free sample for Tanglewood, if you’re wanting to check it out here first.  Enjoy!

 


Chapter One
November, 1994

“When’s Dad coming home?”
Maggie whirled around to find her little brother standing in the kitchen doorway.  His brown hair was tussled and there were pillow crease marks that made a bizarre tapestry of lines and circles along his cheek.  “You’re up early, Aiden.  Are you hungry?”
“Yeah,” he said in a squeaky voice that made her want to scoop him up in her arms.  He pulled out a chair from the small kitchen table and climbed into it.  “Where’s Dad?
“He’s at work.  Don’t worry, though.  He’ll be back before you know it.”
She turned towards the window.  The soft glow of morning revealed falling snow outside.  It was heavier now, and she just knew they would get another couple of inches added to the three feet that accumulated overnight.
Wind swirled up out of the trees lining the back yard.  The birch and cedars were the beginning of a large expanse of woods behind the house.  Their skeletal limbs trembled and creaked against the gusts.
“Daddy hates it when it snows.”  She washed her hands in the sink, observing the winter storm that had every school in the county closed.
“How could anybody hate snow?”  Aiden turned a confused expression towards her.  “I love snow!  Everyone loves it.  You can have snowball fights, you can build snowmen… You can even build a snow fort!”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”  She stepped away from the sink, pulled a carton of eggs from the fridge, and cracked one into a cast iron skillet that had already been heated up for herself.  “It’s not that Dad hates snow, exactly.  It’s more that he hates driving in it.”
Aiden followed her movements with wide eyes.  “Why?”
“Well.”  She glanced at him and smiled at the superman pajamas that rose up just underneath his knees.  “Driving in the snow can be kind of tough.  It’s hard to see the road.”  She scrambled the egg with a spatula.  “Hey, I thought we got rid of those pajamas?”
“Nope.”
“They don’t fit you very well anymore, kiddo.  We should put them in a box and take them to Goodwill with the other clothes from last winter.”  She scooped the egg onto a plate, poured a glass of orange juice, and set them on the table in front of him.  “I thought dad told you to do that.”
“He did.”  He forked the eggs into his mouth as though he hadn’t eaten in a week.  “It’s just that these are my favorite.”
“That may be true,” she said while cracking two more eggs into the skillet.  “But somewhere out there is another little boy who may not have any pajamas to wear at all.  Just remember that.”
He gulped the juice and wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve.  “Maybe his mom and dad should buy him some.”
She aimed the spatula at him with her eyebrows raised.  “My point exactly.”
Hail pinged against the window, startling her.  Outside, the wind howled and the snow blew across the yard in sheets.
Aiden was oblivious to the raging storm outside.  “Do you think Dad will help me build a snow fort today?”
She glanced at the digital clock on the stove.  Their father had never been this late coming home from work before, and the thought of road conditions made a spark of panic race along her spine.  Her hand shook when she scooped the eggs onto the plate.
“Maybe.”  She said in a soft tone she hoped didn’t betray her worry.   The thought of food suddenly made her stomach churn, but she dug into the eggs with a fork anyway.  “Maybe all three of us will.”

Chapter Two
February, 2011

His breath came in short stabbing rasps.  Branches grabbed at his sweater.  Twigs slapped against his face.  It was useless to even try to be quiet when every cracking stick under his boots exploded in the stillness of the woods.
A sharp incline to his left revealed a glittering stream.  He grabbed onto a branch to keep from sliding down the hill.  His steamy breath blossomed in the frigid air as he examined the chilly water below.
Had the stranger followed him this far?  He wondered if he should turn back, climb into his pickup truck, and head to the warmth of the fireplace at home.
A snap sounded somewhere behind him.  He heard the crunch of snow.

Available at Amazon

 

Winter Project 2015 – Part Two


Titles and Outlines
Today, I’m getting geared up for chapter eight in my winter novel. The tentative title for the book is Slow the Rain, but there’s a good chance it’ll be changed. It’s not that I don’t like the title, but there are a few others tumbling around in my head that may just fit the story more.
I came up with the title while writing the outline of the book. Which brings me to something I keep meaning to mention here. Outline. Seriously, do it. It will help you get those words on the page, help keep you focused, and will likely see you reaching the end of your first draft much sooner. I hear writers complaining all the time about how they started writing a book, but then their characters started to do whatever they wanted. One author actually asked me how I keep my characters in line. It’s simple. Before I write, I double check my outline to see what it is specifically that I have to tell next, and then write it. That’s the beauty of the outline. If you do your whole book, you won’t get lost, and neither will your characters.
Adapting
It’s been a slow morning. Yesterday, my new writing routine (see last weeks post) really kicked into gear. During the morning hours, I managed to write all of chapter seven. That’s pretty good, considering I’m trying something new and different with my routine (thank you monthers, more on that here).
The only thing that hasn’t quite worked yet is my afternoon session. You see, the plan is to write early in the morning and later on during the day. Unlike the monthers, this would mean that I’m not writing 10k words a day, but it does mean that I’m upping my word count. Basically, my intention is to get the fans of Selena Marrenger more mysteries at a quicker pace. Seriously, though. Who wants to wait for a book that comes out once a year in a series? If that’s you, great, but it’s definitely not me.
Haaave you met Maggie?
The coffee is fresh. Pumpkin Spice creamer is filling the room with a pleasant, fall aroma. I’ve turned on Spotify, and am listening to the Interstellar soundtrack. It heightens the mood, stirs images in my mind.
Chapter eight follows a police detective named Norma Perry. As some of you may have guessed, I like to write strong female leads. She’s tough, but quirky. If I had to make a comparison, it would be… well, imagine a combination of Maggie’s humor and Selena’s strength. She’s a good detective, has a good head on her shoulders, and won’t back down. Especially when she’s chasing a lead.
Oh, that’s right. Some of you haven’t met Maggie yet. She’s featured in my new novella, Tanglewood. Subscribers to my newsletter got a sneak peak at the cover artwork for Tanglewood as well as a sample. Don’t worry, though. If you aren’t a subscriber, you’ll get your chance in a couple of days to meet Maggie. Yes, you read that right. Tanglewood will be released on October 22!
Now, it’s time to get back to work. I hope to finish all of chapter eight today, and maybe even start chapter nine. The baby is teething, and has been rather fussy, but hopefully I can meet my goals. Wish me luck!

Things To Come

 

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There are a whole lot of you who have read The Runaway Train, and moved along to book one in my Montana Marrenger Series called The Truth About Alex. To all of my fans out there, thank you very much for your support!

You haven’t seen the last of this case.
There. I said it. The events that take place during The Runaway Train set into motion something bigger, something a bit more complex, than the original story explains. Some of my critics declare that the only fault of the book is it’s length, but I assure you, the length was entirely intentional. Very much on purpose. Just wait. You’ll see.
The Runaway Train serves as a sort of introduction to Selena “Montana” Marrenger, and if you want to check out a sample, then click HERE AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!

The Coming Rain – Part 2

girl-rain-walk_086672Monsoon Morning is now with my beta readers!

This definitely makes me happy!  It took a lot longer than expected to get this book prepped for betas, but it’s done at last!  I just sent it off yesterday, and I’m already eagerly awaiting their response!  Patience is the name of the game here, I guess, so it’s time to do what I do best: Move on to the next project!  I’m already ten chapters into the next novella, so there’s a very good chance that it will be released around the same time that Monsoon Morning is!  Pretty exciting, right?  I know, you can barely contain yourself.  Same here.  No worries.
When I do hear back from betas, corrections will have to be made before sending it at last to my editor.  Hopefully, the corrections will not be a mile and a half long.  Nobody wants that.  No sir.
Monsoon Morning is book three in my Montana Marrenger Mysteries, and is my first full length novel.  If you’ve missed the other two books, or need to catch up, head on over to my books page and grab your copies before book three comes out!

“This is a case I won’t be forgetting anytime soon,”
-Selena “Montana” Marrenger

I’ll keep you updated with the progress of Monsoon Morning, but if you want exclusive content and all kinds of other awesomeness, you have to sign up for my newsletter!  It’s not hard.  Just a little form, an email address exchange.  No blood spilling necessary.  Trust me.  You trust me, right?  Good.
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Busy Days Ahead

I’m very excited to announce that draft one of Monsoon Morning has been completed. Right now, the second draft is being operated on with trembling hands. I’ll try not to drop the scalpel. The fact of the matter is that I want this book to be the best I can get before sending to an editor. That’s the reason why I haven’t posted anything in a week or so. Things have been busy.

Not to mention the fact that it’s freaking summer! I have been on vacation, trying to relax a bit before diving back into a school semester. So, if you are upset that I haven’t kept up with the two posts a week deal, then I do apologize. There’s no need to yell or throw rotten bananas at me. Things are going to be right back on track before you know it.

For your patience, on Monday I will be putting a little bit of Monsoon Morning up for you to download and read, or hang on your wall, or make paper airplanes out of. The choice is yours.