Monthly Archives: June 2016


I’m going along pretty good with the new novel. Mostly, though, I’m doing preparation.

I figured out this method with Blood From a Stone, my NaNoWriMo book of last year. Because I only had 2 weeks to do NaNo, I had to have a road map. I usually pants the thing, and I end up going off on tangents and side roads, getting lost. War Mage‘s first draft is a lot like that. It’s why I ended up with 6 drafts before sending it to the editor (and I know I have issues there).

So with this one, I’m doing up a main plot, and then sub-plots. I happened to be reading a book at the same time called Blueprint Your Bestseller, which describes this method that I stumbled upon. Instead of calling them “plots” the author of this book calls them “series”. You have a theme, which is the main series, and then other series that point to the theme.

I always start out with a theme. Homecoming‘s was Home is where your heart is. War Mage’s is Friends can be found anywhere. High Road‘s is It’s better to take the high road. A lot of times my titles allude to the theme. Heavy-handed, aren’t I?

There can be only one theme in the book, and every scene and series has to point to it. The first draft of War Mage showed me that I had scenes that went no where, scenes that had no place in the book, and characters that were repetitious and similar. Using the method in Blueprint, which was written for rewrites, I can tear apart War Mage and put it back together, with a main plot and subplots. (Sorry, but I’m going to use those terms instead of “series”.)

What I’ve been doing mostly is character sketches and subplots from the characters. Some of them want to be furniture, so I’m doing quick physical descriptions of them and their attitudes. When stuck, I use StoryMatic or The Positive Traits Thesaurus or Negative Traits Thesaurus to get an attitude.

Other characters want a life of their own, so they get the full treatment. I have tiny composition books I bought at Dollar Tree; they come in a package of 3 for a dollar.

char book

I have a character sheet that I downloaded from some writer’s site I don’t remember, but it goes into excruciating detail. I don’t answer all the questions – except for Brent, I really should redo his character sketch. I pick and choose some questions and put them in the little composition books. For example, one question is, “Does he want to have children?” My character, a staff sergeant, is going through a divorce according to the subplot. Does he have kids? How many? What are their ages and names? What are they like – brief traits? How does he feel about them? I fill up a small page with these answers, which spurs me on to other questions, and rinse and repeat.

From the characters come the subplots. I am an index card freak. I write out the scenes on index cards and put them on a ring. Staples has what I normally use, and they can be found sometimes for $1-$1.50. I bought oodles of them on sale, so I have a box full of them. I write out or keep in mind the subplot’s main point – the “where am I going with this” idea – and then I write out the scenes. Then I thread them among the main plot on the ring.

index card

This card is using the subplot named “Sergeant” (at the top) and goes into a scene. I don’t give a lot of details because then I’m writing the scene, I believe. I give enough to whet the muse’s appetite, or to spur on what I was thinking of at the time.

Sometimes, though, I get the urge to write. I’ve prepared the first few scenes, so I know where I’m going with those, and those are the ones I write. I’m still in chapter one, but I’m on scene three. I need to make “looking at profiles” exciting.

Appearances, definite dates

Welcome if you’re new. Here are my appearances in the New England area, the definite ones:

New England Author Expo, July 27 from 4 pm-9 pm, Danvers, MA
RI Comicon, November 11, 12, and 13 from 10 am to 8 pm?, Providence, RI
RI Author Expo, December 3, from 10 am to something, Cranston, RI

I’ve also started on War Mage’s third book, tentatively titled The High Road. I did the planning like I did with Blood From a Stone, my NaNoWriMo book last year. I got together index cards and wrote out the main plot. Then I wrote out the subplots and their results. I gathered all the index cards together and put intertwined the subplots in the main plot. I only have five subplots, one not very well defined, but I’ll let the muses work on it.

I will admit, this method worked really well for Blood, because I could keep on task and each index card was vague enough that they let the muses and my mind think up the details. With Blood, I dictated it, so I really didn’t have the time to stop and rewrite like I do normally.

I think with this new one, I’m going to transcribe literally from my first draft, the composition notebook that I usually use. Composition books are portable, don’t need electricity, are easy to bring anywhere and I can sometimes hide my writing at work in it. Now, my first draft isn’t perfect. But I’ve found that I refer to a lot of things in it that aren’t in the second draft. The first draft is ingrained in my memory, which is why sometimes the second draft ends up being confused. Then I have a third draft to try and get the second draft ingrained in my memory. At least, this is what happened with War Mage. I went through six drafts before finally sending the one to the editor. And I personally feel that 1) it’s way too short and 2) it’s a hot mess because I went so far off the first draft. Although another part of me thinks that the character development in the final draft is the best.

I started listening to a couple of books that I had on Audible, (Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis, Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman and Butcher Bird by an author I can’t read) and noticed that almost all of them break the cardinal rule of “no info dump in the first chapter.” Also, they don’t go into the detailed description of people. Some description yes, but not the detail that my editor wants. When I listened to the audiobook version of my book, I noticed that the description dragged. It’s something I need to improve.

I dumped Hard Magic because the first chapter was the main character’s in detail discussion of how she gets ready for her day and an info dump of her backstory. I didn’t bother listening to the rest. I dumped Butcher Bird because of the bad grammar and writing. Hard Spell seems like  fun, even though the author did the info dump, it was interesting and something I need to aspire to. I noticed also that all three used the first person POV, and that Hard Magic and Butcher Bird used prologues. That’s one of my cardinal rules – no prologues. I read in a writing book somewhere something like “Prologues are scenes that don’t fit in the novel, but the author thinks are too good to get rid of.” I agree with that sentiment. In fact, in physical books, I don’t read the prologues until I finish the book, and I find that most of the time, they aren’t integral to the book.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to these days. Writing, listening to books. A book I’m reading is Blueprint Your Novel, which kind of uses my index card method but converts it into lists. I’m also reading Heretic, which is a very interesting take on the Knights Templar.


Here’s where I plan on being in New England to promote my book and books from Paper Angel Press.

New England Author Expo, July 27, Danvers MA
Autumnfest, October 8, 9, or 10, Woonsocket, RI
Big E, Some time in September – October, Springfield, MA
New Bedford Fall Book Festival, October 15 or 16, New Bedford, MA
RI Comicon November 11, 12 and 13, Providence, RI

I’m gunning for the RI Author Expo, December 3 in Cranston, RI, but that depends if I get a spot.

As for the writing…not so much this week. I was thinking about writing, but I didn’t actually do anything. I wrote in my journal for the most part, and even then I skipped 2 days. I started to work on the rewrite of Grimaulkin Rising. That has to have extensive rewrites. I’m not looking forward to that, though I want to get it done by the end of the summer.

I also have to start work on the next book in the War Mage series, and make sure that it’s LONGER. The torture isn’t going to be all it’s about. It has to be about the other magical creatures that he meets in Iraq. More dragons? Other wizards that aren’t dicks? The Black Lions? The development of his and Chrissie’s relationship? Need to get this together, start an outline or at least some index cards.

Wish me luck – I’m going to a job interview on Tuesday for a “Communications Consultant” at my company. Not quite a step up, but it’s a step over so that I can hopefully use my talents somewhere else. If I do that, then they own my creative mind and writing time will be cut even more. Maybe. We’ll see.

I have this vision…

about my display when I go to sell books.

I have on a small easel, the Paper Angel Press logo. On the two sides of the table are two 24×32 pictures of the covers of my books, hanging from a hanger contraption that is about sic-feet tall.

On the table, which has a plain black/dark green/purple tablecloth, are six copies of both books, three or so copies of other books from the Press, business cards and some other swag that I can’t think of. Oh, and Hershey’s Kisses. (That always gets people to stop – it’s something I learned in training.)

The pictures will cost $50 to print – each. The clip hangers cost me $.99. The hanger contraption is something that is in my mind, but I don’t know if they sell them. I have to search the internet for it.

I’m have to find my list of places to go and make up my list of appearances.

God, I’m nervous.