Happy Book Birthday to “Embracing the Demon!”

Embracing the Demon front coverHAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO ME! Embracing the Demon is officially out in the world.

This book was both easier and harder to write. Easier, because I had a better road map of where I wanted to go with it, and with the series. Harder, because expectations. This is the first book I wrote knowing that it would be published. It’s the first book I wrote on a deadline. For the first time as an author, I was answerable not just to myself, but to my editor.

But that will be contemplation for another day. Lots of stuff going on in honor of the release. It’s day 2 of the blog tour, and Embracing the Demon is being spotlighted at Simply Kelina. You can also enter The Demon Within giveaway from there. Once again, thank you to Bewitching Book Tours for putting this together.

Also today, I’m guest blogging at Scandalicious about the challenges of writing strong female characters.

I’m also guest blogging at Lost in a Book about why demons are so super awesome (and not just because I write about them)!

It’s been a busy day!

Embracing the Demon Blog Tour, Day 1: Creatively Green and Fangtastic Books

Kennywood Comic Con pic

First day of the blog tour. Today I’m guest blogging at the Creatively Green Write at Home Mom blog, and Embracing the Demon is being featured on Fantastic Books.

Read about how I manage my writing time by breaking all the rules here.

And read a little bit about Embracing the Demon and a short excerpt here.

Attached to both of these blogs is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Three copies of The Demon Within are up for grabs. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Once again, thank you to Bewitching Book Tours for putting together this whole shindig.

As for me, it’s been an eventful weekend. Yesterday was Kennywood Comic Con, which was a lot of fun. I met some great artists there, and I got to spend the day talking about The Demon Within and Embracing the Demon in the shadow of the Racer roller coaster.

But then this morning I got a phone call from the cat sitter. Annabel, our 14-year-old calico, was acting very lethargic and didn’t want to eat. The sitter took her to the vet. Twelve hours and a $600 vet bill later, we’re still no closer to knowing what’s wrong with her–and unfortunately she has not improved. So I’ve spent the day stressed and weepy.

So send some good vibes her way. Tomorrow will bring more blog tour stops…and hopefully better news.

Blog Tour for “Embracing the Demon”

Blog Tour Banner

I’m going on tour! Well, a blog tour that is.

From June 18-July 2, I will be embarking on a blog tour. I’ll be doing some guest posts, some interviews, and there may be a new excerpt or two in there somewhere. Special thanks to Bewitching Blog Tours for setting this up. I’m super excited!

There’s also a giveaway involved, so stay tuned…

Here’s the schedule:

June 18 Fang-tastic Books
http://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com

June 18 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom (Guest Blog)
http://creativelygreen.blogspot.com/

June 19 SImply Kelina
http://simplykelina.blogspot.com/

June 19 Roxanne’s Realm
http://www.roxannerhoads.com/

June 20 I Smell Sheep (Guest Blog)
http://www.ismellsheep.com/

June 20 Jazzy Book Reviews
http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com

June 21 Dark Treasury
https://www.audenjohnson.com/

June 21 Teaser Addicts Book Blog
https://teaseraddictsbookblogblog.wordpress.com/

June 22 Mythical Books (Interview)
https://mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/ 

June 22 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
https://jbbookworms.blogspot.com/

June 25 Authors’ Secrets (Interview)
http://www.tenastetler.com/category/authors-secrets-blog/

June 26 Stacking My Book Shelves!
http://stackingmybookshelves.blogspot.com

June 27 Other Worlds of Romance (Guest Blog)
Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romances
http://lindamooney.blogspot.com/

June 27 Paranormalists
https://paranormalists.blogspot.com/

June 28 Saph’s Books
https://saphsbooks.blogspot.com/

June 28 Lisa’s World of Books
http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/

June 29 Urban Fantasy Investigations (Guest Blog)
http://urbanfantasyinvestigations.blogspot.com/ 

June 29 T’s Stuff
http://www.tsstuff.net

July 2 Rose Shababy (Guest Blog)
http://therealroseshababy.com/

July 2 Ramblings of a Book Nerd
https://booknerdramblings2015.blogspot.com/

July 2 The Book Junkie Reads (Interview)
https://thebookjunkiereadspromos.blogspot.com/ 

 

Noir at the Bar(crawl), May 6 in Baltimore

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Are you going to be in the DC/Baltimore area on Sunday, May 6?

Do you want to hear some amazing readings from some of the area’s best authors?

Do you like pizza? Or beer? Or both? (C’mon, you know the answer is yes to at least one of those!)

Next Sunday, May 6, I’ll be appearing at “Noir at the Bar(crawl)” at Zella’s Pizzeria in Baltimore, MD. Nik Korpon, the Baltimore-based author of the new post-apocalyptic thriller Queen of the Struggle, will be hosting, and the readers include:

–Andrew Novak
–Damien Angelica Walters
–Michael R. Underwood
–Ronald Malfi
–Sujata Massey

And of course, me. You’ll be getting a special sneak preview of Embrace the Demon. I can also neither confirm nor deny that I’ll have some ARCs (advance reader copies) to raffle away.

Noir on the Bar(crawl) is an ongoing reading series spanning the Mid-Atlantic, and I’m super excited to be a part of the Baltimore leg.

“Embracing the Demon” Publication Date, and Appearances

Embracing the Demon Cover

The Embracing the Demon publication date has been delayed, just a little; it will now be coming out in June 2018. (I don’t have an exact date yet.)

I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I’m so anxious for the book to be out in the world, and I was looking forward to debuting it at Awesome Con in March (more on that in a second), but…to be honest, I’m kind of relieved. I finished the ARC draft of Embracing back in November, and was immediately bombarded with the holidays and all they entail. A March publication date wouldn’t have given me a lot of time to pitch guests blogs, do interviews, and just basically make a nuisance of myself on the internet. Moreover, it wouldn’t have given my publisher much time to submit the book to reviewers and trade publications. So yes, those extra few months give me a lot more breathing room, and I hope this book release will turn out better for it.

(Also, look at my cover. Isn’t it purdy? I got a wee bit obsessive about certain details in this cover, and I’m sure my editor was thisclose to strangling me–only the fact that he’s in California, and I’m in Virginia, prevented my demise. Also the fact that I owe him three more books. But I think it turned out for the best. I may actually like this cover better than the one for The Demon Within.)

As part of my promotional efforts, I’ve lined up a couple of appearances later this year:

Awesome Con
March 30-April 2, 2018
Washington, DC
Walter E. Washington Convention Center

“Noir on the Bar” Reading Series
May 6, 2018, 7 p.m.
Baltimore, MD
Location TBD

I’ll put these up on my Appearances page as soon as I can.

Website updates will likely be coming soon, with some additional information about Embracing the Demon and, hopefully, an excerpt–will have to check with the publisher about that one. And hopefully, I won’t wait three months to update my blog again *bashful face*.

More to come!

Interview on The Attic Ghost Blog

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Hey guys! I know I’ve been MIA lately; I’ve been hard at work on my revisions for Embracing the Demon, which are due at the end of this month. (As in, a few days from now. Cue freakout.)

But I did want to let you know that I am being interviewed on the Attic Ghost blog today, talking about my writing, why I gravitated to the urban fantasy genre, and (of course) my cats!

Thank you to author Kathy Finfrock for featuring me!

Fantasy Demon Within Movie Casting: William Moseley as John

One of the questions I get asked a lot as a writer is, “Who would you like to play [insert character’s name] in a movie?

This is always hard for me, because I have very specific ideas about what these characters look like, and very rarely does an actor look/feel exactly right enough for me.

But one actor I’ve seen gets pretty close.

Presenting William Moseley…a.k.a. my fantasy casting pick for John.

 

John Pic

Picture by Faye Thomas, from William Moseley’s IMDB page.

 

You may remember him as Peter Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia films, but as you can see he’s grown up quite a bit since then. (And the years have been quite kind!)

He’s not a complete match for John: John has light brown eyes in the books, while Moseley’s are blue. And if you decide to do a Google image search–which I wholeheartedly encourage–you’ll have to sift through a lot of pubescent photos of him to get to the more recent ones where he has more of a John vibe–John looks like he’s in his mid-30s, so the younger Moseley just had too much of a baby face.

But this is the first time I’ve seen a picture of an actor that I’ve felt that spark, like, “Yes, that’s who I’ve been seeing in my mind!”

Have his people call my people. We’ll do lunch. (More important question, do you think he can do a passable American accent?)

Word Constipation

 

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Do you like it?

 

So…Embracing the Demon. Dale, book 2.

I’m frustrated.

The good news is, the book is coming along. I’ve got about 40,000 words right now. I’m not stuck, and I don’t feel like I’ve written myself into a corner. My editor read a good chunk of it, and he’s happy with how it’s coming. This is good news. When we were working on The Demon Within, I basically had to rewrite the book from the original manuscript I submitted to him. Then after his feedback on the rewritten draft, I still had to go back and gut the entire middle section. It was an arduous process, and there were days when I felt like giving up completely. I figured maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a professional writer. For perspective: I signed my contract with California Coldblood in May of 2014. I submitted the final manuscript to my editor in November of 2015. Even after that, there were copy edits and minor changes, but I was mostly out of it by then.

That’s not what’s going on here.

This time, I did a lot of the work up front by writing an extensive outline of the story ahead of time and submitting it to my editor. As much as my pantser heart hated to do it, I have to admit that it is helping considerably, especially now that I’m truly in the middle section of the story (which has always been the hardest part for me). Whenever I get stuck, I just refer back to the outline. I’ve got a map to give me directions.

The problem I’m facing now is that the story is not coming fast enough, and because of that, I’m looking at the very real possibility that Embracing the Demon won’t be out until 2018.

When I sit down to write, I average about 1,000 words. On a good day, I might be able to push it closer to 1,500 or 2,000. On a bad day, I might only write a few hundred. Some days, I don’t write. I’ve heard so many writers give the advice to “write every day, no matter what,” but that has never worked for me. Writing is a job–on top of my other, full-time job. I love it, but some days, my brain just needs a break. Other days, I just don’t have time to write. Maybe I’m busy at work (the full-time job, the one that currently pays the bills) or I’ve got other appointments that don’t bring me home until late. Most weeks, I’m averaging about 4-5 days of writing time, 2-3 days off.

I know this about myself, though, so I know I should have started sooner. I was very burned out after finishing The Demon Within–and then once I’d recovered enough to write again, I was smack-dab in the middle of buying a house and wedding mania. But even beyond that…I got married in July. I didn’t start working on the outline until October. That’s on me, I know.

I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m not so great with either time management or focus. I’m distracted easily, and tend to fall down the internet rabbit hole too often.

The first draft of The Demon Within was about 100,000 words; the final was about 85,000. Then you need to factor in time for rewrites–which probably won’t be as extensive as they were on the first book, but there are still going to be scenes where my editor says things like, “Add more cool weapons” or “Be more descriptive.” In order to get Embracing the Demon out this year, my editor would have to upload it sometime in the next couple of months. You don’t have to be great with numbers to see that the math doesn’t work out.

I follow other writers on Facebook and Twitter who says things like, “I wrote 10,000 words today!” or “I only wrote 2,500 words today, I’m so disappointed in myself.” To which I’m like, WTF?!? I don’t even know how it’s physically possible to write 10,000 words in one day, and 2,500 words would be a great day for me!

Mostly, though, I’m just oozing jealousy. I genuinely don’t know how one can manage to be that prolific, especially with a full-time job (or kids, or family obligations, or volunteering, or pets, or whatever).

I wrote faster back when I was living on my own, but back then I had fewer demands on my time and distractions. It’s so much easier to write when you have no life!

But, since I have no intention of giving up my husband, my family, my friends, or my cats anytime soon, some mitigating strategies are in order.

–I’m going to be deactivating my personal Facebook account soon. It’s temporary, and I will reactivate when my draft is done. My public author page will stay up, but it’ll probably be less active. This is both for my mental health as well as time management: ever since the election, Facebook has been a hotbed of political activism and discussion. Which is great, but it’s causing me stress I can’t handle right now.

–Twitter will stay up, but again, I may not be around as much. (Twitter has never been my poison.)

–I’m going to try (emphasis on try) to start getting up early in the morning before work to write. I’m not a morning person, so this will likely be the biggest struggle. But I’ve done it before.

–I’m going to try to get to the gym more. Doesn’t directly have anything to do with writing, but it clears my head and makes me feel better.

–After I finish the draft of Embracing the Demon, I’m going to work on some things that aren’t Dale-related. I love Dale, but I’ve been in her head exclusively for way too long now. (The last non-Dale project I worked on was in 2013.)

–And if it does come down to delaying the publication, I’ll have to think about some things to put out in the meantime. Short stories? A Dale novella? A non-Dale novella? Deleted scenes? (God knows I’ve got plenty of them.)

I know that building a writing career is a long process, and it feels better to have a plan. But right now, I’m still grumpy and frustrated with myself. Damn kids. Get off my lawn!

 

Are You A Pantser or Plotter?

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To Annabel, it doesn’t matter whether I am a pantser or plotter, only that I drop everything to pet her.

 

For most of my writing life, I have been a “pantser.”

For those of you not familiar, a pantser is basically a writer who writes by the seat of their pants, without doing a lot of planning beforehand. A pure pantser might be someone who just sat down in front of a computer or notebook and wrote whatever happened to come out, sort of a Jackson Pollack approach to fiction.

For me, it’s always meant that I start with at least a germ of an idea—usually, but not always, a beginning and an ending—and maybe a few markers in the middle. I’ll come up with new scenes and sequences as I’m going along, but I’m often only a few scenes ahead of my actual writing. I roughly know where I’m going, but I don’t know how I’m getting there until I’m well into the book.

The advantage of this, for me, has always been the rush of creativity while I’m writing. I often find myself doing things that I didn’t expect: killing characters, creating a conflict where I didn’t expect there to be one, inventing new things. The feeling of creative freedom is awesome.

But the disadvantage is that because I didn’t have a direction, my plots sometimes tend to meander or lose their focus, and sometimes my story just isn’t tight enough. When I was working on revising The Demon Within for publication, I ended up rewriting about 80-90% of it. Even after I submitted the draft to my editor, Bob Peterson, it needed a lot more work; the middle section got completely gutted, which was another 30,000 words I had to start from scratch. It was very frustrating, particularly since I’d already been working on the book for four years before I was contracted for publication. But when my editor and I started tugging on some of the strings, I realized there were some fundamental, structural issues and it had to be gutted.

The whole process, from the time I signed the contract to the time I turned in the final draft to Bob for copyediting, took 18 months.

For Embracing the Demon, my editor asked me to write an outline before I began the book. With only a year between the releases of The Demon Within and Embracing the Demon, I do not have the luxury of completely deleting the middle of my book and spending another six months on rewrites. Bob wants to make sure we iron out any story issues before I really sit down to write. (I suspect he also wants to have an idea of what I’m writing about so that when the folks at Rare Bird Books and Publishers Group West ask about the book, he has a better answer than, “It’s about…demons? And, uh…embracing stuff?”)

An author who routinely does this kind of prewriting and planning is called a “plotter.”

I’m in the middle of the outlining process now. Not gonna lie: it’s been tough. Basically, I’m trying to force my brain to work in a way it hasn’t before, and 25 years of writing habits are hard to break. But I can see the advantages. As I’m outlining, I’m getting that rush of creativity, that feeling of possibility. I get to throw ideas at the wall and see what works! And that’s my favorite part!

My first outline was a jumble of bullet points. Bob sent it back to me with a few notes and then asked me to break it down by scene, so he (and I) could get a better sense of the organization of the book. About a week or so later, I sent it to him: 6,000 words detailing major plot developments, character arcs, and set pieces. It was a thing of beauty. Bob was going to love it, and send me on my writing journey with his good wishes.

Or so I thought.

Instead, he came back almost immediately with comments, some of them pretty fundamental to how I had structured the book. Basically, I was starting out too boring, and the pacing of the first half was too slow. And once I stopped pouting and pulled my head out of my ass, I realized he was right. The pacing was too slow, and the beginning was never going to hook readers in—and it might lose existing readers.

I was still upset and frustrated. But then I realized that it takes a lot less time to fix a 6,000-word outline than it does to fix a 90,000-word book. This was some of the toughest stuff Bob and I worked on during the revision process of The Demon Within. I’m getting it out of the way before I actually start writing the book.

It didn’t completely cure my frustration. But it helped.

Since I haven’t started writing the book yet, I don’t know how the experience will be for me. Will I feel like the outline constrains me too much, zapping the process of its spontaneity and creativity? Or will I experience a sort of freedom by having a map of my journey: freedom from fear of failure, and freedom from blank page syndrome?

I’m not the first author who’s contemplated this: Chuck Wending wrote an awesome blog post on his journey from pantser to plotter, and this Goodreads post quotes several famous authors on both sides of the spectrum. (Sidenote: That’s harsh, Stephen King. Seriously.)

Fellow authors: Are you a pantser or a plotter? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of each?