Category Archives: WIP

King of Blades, Day 8

I’m starting out today with a word count of *checks Scrivener* 19,201. Should it be higher by now? Oh yeah. Why isn’t it?

Well, let’s take a look at the weekend, shall we? Quite apart from the hellscape that is the current US political situation, I put up King of Blades for pre-order on Amazon. Then I got some excellent advice about the free stories (“A Gentle Fall of Snow” and “Beneath Their Own Blue Sea”) I’ve been making available to newsletter subscribers, and I put them up on Amazon as well for 99¢ a pop. Why? Well, I’m working on the basis that not everyone will want to sign up for my newsletter, but they may want to read the stories anyway so I should make a legal copy available to these folks. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. And judging from the sales I made over the weekend, this was a good move.

Then I wrote 500 words of a short story I wanted to submit to a market (got the rejection today so I’m going to write it anyway and sell it myself like “Snow” and “Sea”). Then I had to update a bunch of pages on the website to reflect the new books, then put out a newsletter and let people know where they could get the free versions of “Snow” and “Sea,” as well as pre-order King of Blades. In between all this I had to adjust my Amazon ads, do laundry, go food shopping, make dinner, and yeah, work on King of Blades yesterday.

So, not quite where I wanted to be at in the book today, but I got a lot done anyway, so that’s all good. Onward!

King of Blades, Day 3

Today’s word count: 3,009
Total word count: 15,364
Approximate words to go: 64,636

So, today was surprisingly productive, despite the fact that every single member of the J Crew insisted on sitting on me at some point during the day. Which is fine, now that I can dictate, but Jasmine likes to squirm around while I stroke her ears, Jeremy insists on resting his big head on the keyboard, Jessie leaves me with one hand, and Jemma wants to be combed (and believe me, she needs it). JJ is the only one who’s content to just sit on my boobs/belly like he’s doing right now, unbothered by my hand movements as I type. If they were all like this, my writing life would be a lot easier. As it is, I’m going to go out on the patio tomorrow so that I can get a couple of solid hours in without a furry little feline trying to grab my attention or demand that I put kibble in his bowl (to be honest, that’s all JJ, but he’s an old guy who needs to keep his weight on so I’ll feed him separately if he wants it).

I also decided to be a complete loon, not learn a damn thing from Shadow of the Swan, and put King of Blades up for pre-order at Amazon. The release date is October 27, so as long as I stick to my writing schedule more or less and maybe have a couple of 5K days in there I should have the first draft finished on October 5, which will give me more than enough time to get everything through edits, polished and in publishable shape by October 23 (aka Upload Day). Once they finish chewing on it and give me a link, I’ll add it to the new King page here and make it available on social media.

And once the first draft of King is finished, I go back to Cross Current and start work on that. I said I was going to publish three more novels by the end of the year, and by God I intend to stick to my word.

So, this is what the rest of 2020 looks like for me

The contract job is currently at a halt due to lack of work (hardly surprising) for at least May and possibly longer (seeing as a significant amount of Texans completely lost their shit and started crowding into public spaces on Friday during the state’s “partial” reopening, I’m bracing myself for a large spike in new COVID cases here in two weeks). But Ramón is still working, and I’ve spent the last eight months paying off almost all of our debt, so we should be able to weather it financially. And frankly, I need a break after the non-stop pace of the last four months.

What this also means, however, is that I can — ta da — go back to being a full-time writer for the foreseeable future! I sat down and worked out the following schedule (which may have to be adjusted if the contract job restarts at any point):

  • May: Finish Shadow of the Swan and Shifter Woods: Growl (Esposito County Shifters 4).
  • June: Let SotS cool, finish King of Blades (Two Thrones 4), edit and publish SW:G.
  • July: Let KoB cool, edit and publish SofS, finish Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2).
  • August: Let UP cool, edit and publish KoB.
  • September: Edit and publish UP.

That would give me three 80+K novels and one novella for 2020, which is not bad. And yes, I know my timeline seems insanely short, but all those books are partially finished (21K on SofS, 4K on KoB, and 5K on UP), so it won’t take as long as it would do to finish a brand new book. Hell, SotS is supposed to be 80K and I can finish the remaining 57K in three weeks if I push.

But wait, I have stretch goals!

  • September: Edit Deep Water (Olympic Cove 3) for re-release at the end of December, finish One Sweet Christmas (novella) for holiday sales.
  • October: Finish Cross Current (Olympic Cove 4), edit and publish OSC.
  • November: Let CC cool, finish Windrider and the Deuce (Two Thrones Novella 2), release all four Shifter Woods novellas as a box set.
  • December: Go on a fucking cruise and let my brain relax, edit CC and WatD, release DW once I get the rights back, release CC and WatD a week later.

Which would give me four new novels (SotS, KoB, UP, CC), one re-released novel (DW), three novellas (SW:G, OSC, WatD), and a box set (Shifter Woods) for 2020. Kinda challenging, but I also have to make up for the dumpster fire that was 2019 so I may as well go for it.

Behind the Iron Cross update and release date

I’m currently on the home stretch with about 10K ahead of me for Behind the Iron Cross, my MMF historical romance set in between-the-wars Berlin. Which is good, because I have three betas who are threatening to camp out on my doorstep until I turn over the manuscript. It’s nice to be wanted.

That being said, this puppy is going to need a LOT of editing, partially because it’s been in progress since 2012 and partially because I need to doublecheck a lot of the historical bits. Also, I may be watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix for setting and costume inspiration (Babylon Berlin, by the way, is a FANTASTIC show and I highly recommend it if you like historically set police procedurals). With this in mind, I am formally setting the release date for BtIC as October 23, 2018. I know this may disappoint some people who were hoping to get it next week, but I’ve got to give the story the editing time it needs. Besides, you’ll be happier with the end result if I make sure it’s spandy clean and tight as a drum.

And after that, I immediately launch into King of Blades (Two Thrones 4). Because that is definitely my most popular series at the moment, and right now I really, really, REALLY want to get back to writing some fantasy. Soon, Hellas — soon.

And thus, it’s August

And while I’m running around like a headless chicken trying to get Shifter Woods: Snarl and Behind the Iron Cross done and out, I’m also participating in a rather cool Instagram event called Romance Writers August hosed by Jen Ellis where we post something about a specific topic each day in August. You already know who I am so I’m not going to bother recreating Day 1’s post, but here are all the other posts and I’ll make a point of posting each new day’s pic here as well for the rest of August. And now, back to work, whee…

Still a casting director in my own mind

So you may have noticed that Shifter Woods: Snarl isn’t out yet. There’s a good reason for that–I’ve been having the very devil of a time finishing it. For some reason (which we will get to in a moment) I haven’t been able to get the characters to talk to me and tell me why they’re doing what they’re doing. This means that I can’t write about them because I don’t know them; I’ve already trashed three chapters because they were going nowhere and doing nothing for the story.

And then it hit me last night–I didn’t cast Jack and Kate in my head. Because I think very cinematically (frustrated screenwriter here), I always mentally cast my characters because then I can set them loose the in the story, “watch” what they’re doing, and write it down. I thought that coming up with a cover for SW:S meant that I could just use the models for my mental casting, but since I’ve never seen them move, talk, or emote it simply was not working for me.

So, last night, I cast Jack and Kate (oddly enough I’d already cast Kate’s father and a lot of the supporting characters–I was being ridiculously stubborn about my leads, though). Et voila, I woke up this morning with a VERY important scene that broke my block and will lead to the rest of the storyline. Which is a freaking relief, let me tell you.

Oh, my casting? Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure Richard Armitage is either a wolf shifter or part elf in real life, judging from those points on his years, and he’s very good at playing conflicted yet dead sexy characters so he’s a great choice for my Alpha wolf without a pack. And while I know there’s been a lot of controversy around her for some of her tone-deaf role choices, Scarlett Johansson is really the best person to play Kate–she’s good at being snarky, she can handle action roles (there’s going to be a chapter where Jack and Kate team up to find a little girl lost in the mountains), and she looks enough like the cover model that I won’t have to change anything to make Kate and the cover coincide.

The new goal is to bring this out on 7/31. Let’s get ‘er done.

The one where I’m on USA Today’s HEA blog

Or as I like to put it, SQUEE!

USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog has me on today with an interview talking about To My Muse, where I get my ideas from (everywhere), what distracts me (five cats), and what I looked like back in the 1980s (there’s a picture. I warn you). So if you want to know what makes me, me, go on over and check it out!

In other writing news, the rights to Storm Season have reverted to me and I’m bringing out a re-edited edition of it next Tuesday, including a spandy new cover! I’m also distributing ARCs for reviews tomorrow, so if you’re a blogger/reviewer and you’re interested, DM me with your preferred ebook format/email or fill out the form here.

And finally, I’m putting the finishing touches on Shifter Woods: Snarl. The plan was to have it out by 6/12 but it got bumped by Storm Season, so you can expect to see it on 7/4. I’m experimenting with the common wisdom that Amazon promotes you more widely if you bring out a title every 30 days, so that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of the year. Right now, the schedule is:

  • June: Storm Season (Olympic Cove 1)
  • July: Shifter Woods: Snarl (Esposito County Shifters 3)
  • August: Behind the Iron Cross (historical MMF)
  • September: Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2)
  • October: Shifter Woods: Scream (Esposito County Shifters 4)
  • November: King of Blades (Two Thrones 4)
  • December: Two Thrones holiday novella

It’s not as insane as it sounds — Storm Season is already done, SW:S is a novella and almost done, Behind the Iron Cross is 80% done, and I have the plots for all the other books and novellas already worked out. Let’s see if I can pull this off!

So I have the flu

Or at least I assume I have the flu, judging from the symptoms — stuffy nose, muscle aches, lack of energy, low fever, and every bad thing or decision in my life coming back to haunt me in 4K HD. Whee. So Ramón will be heading off to the shops in a bit to pick up basics so that we can eat today, and I’m drinking lots of water, eating healthy stuff when I can muster an appetite, and trying to add at least a K a day to To My Muse because I’m insane like that. Don’t worry — I’m taking breaks as and when appropriate. Also, ignore the number on the graphic at left — I’m currently up to 23,289 words and I’m hoping to crack 25K by tonight.

The cats are also making it their mission to drive me completely nuts. You know how you get those heartwarming stories of moggies who can tell when their owners are ill and will curl up next to them, providing body warmth and quiet support? Yeah, I have one like that (Jessie, my silver girl). The rest are either yelling at me for food (JJ), running through the house like their tail is on fire and acting like a complete idiot (Jeremy), crawling in between me and my food for pettins’ (Jasmine), or climbing on me because I’m their favorite perch (Jemma). I keep having to go upstairs and hide in my room because Jasmine won’t go up there, Jeremy and JJ will go straight for the space heater and sprawl there, and Jemma prefers to snooze under the bed, don’t ask me why. Only Jessie will come in, check on me, then settle down next to me within petting range (if I’m in the mood, but only then) and take a catnap.

It doesn’t help that the temperature is dropping quickly and we’ll be below freezing by tonight. We just had a plumber come out yesterday to fix one of the outside faucets that had developed a fatal failure during our recent freeze (when you turned it on water started coming out from BEHIND the brick fascia of the house). Luckily it wasn’t too horribly expensive, but I did throw on enough clothes so that I could stagger out and make sure that, yeah, he’d disconnected the hose (which apparently caused the problem). I may go back out in a bit and wrap the damn thing with a towel for insulation. And we still don’t know if the pool pump took any damage from the freeze. I know, first world problems, but that’s still a $600+ expense I’d like to avoid if at all possible.

In other news, I got my hair cut. And since it’s wavy it means that once I’d washed the salon product out of it (shown at right — my hair is never that straight unless a stylist has blown-dry it using one of those big round brushes) and let it dry naturally it bounced above my shoulders. Since it was down to the middle of my back before this is something of a change. Ramón keeps saying I look like I did when we lived in Montreal back in 1994, and it’s nice not to have to keep it in a pony tail all the time.

It’s GOOD to have writer friends

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This is Jeremy, looking at me and wondering when I’m going to put this warm silver thing down and feed him. He’s one of five cats who do this to me on a regular basis. I’m amazed I ever manage to finish a book.

So I’m working on Palace of Scoundrels (Two Thrones #2) and Matthias is not having a good time. His ally Tomas Villiers, Duke of Kelles and fearsome guardian of the Ypresian North Border, has fallen in love with and kindasorta kidnapped Lady Sibeal LeClerq, daughter of Henrietta LeClerq, Countess of Lierde (also a powerful Terra magistra and owner of the most fertile farmlands in Ypres).

Un petit problem — Sibeal has already been betrothed to Lord Clement Reynard, heir of the Earl of Leuwen (a rather recently ennobled family, and filthy rich). Clement was originally betrothed to Sibeal’s older sister Amelie, but they had a dreadful argument and Amelie broke the betrothal and refuses to take him back. The countess offered the Reynards Sibeal instead, and she was accepted. But Sibeal is in love with Villiers and doesn’t want to marry Reynard. Unfortunately, her mother laid a sterility spell on her and refuses to lift it unless Sibeal marries Reynard, and both Villiers and Sibeal really want children.

So they toss this in Matthias’s lap to sort out, which gives both him and me a headache (there’s a reason why I don’t usually write political intrigue). I was complaining to the brilliant and talented Michelle Muenzler that I had no idea why the Countess was so all-fired to marry one of her daughters off to the Reynards but it had to be important. Glorious woman that she is, she promptly said, “It’s not her pushing this. The Earl has something on the Countess, something major that could ruin her reputation and endanger her lands, and he wants to marry his son into her (major noble) family or he spills the beans.”

Et voila, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and I knew the Earl of Leuwen’s motivation and how this whole mess got started. More importantly, I think I know how to resolve it entertainingly. Now I just have to add a touch more flesh to the problem in Hellas (there’s a reason why I’m calling this Palace of Scoundrels, you know), and I have a complete book. Whee!

Oh, while I’m on the topic of political intrigue and thrones, something has recently come to my attention and I need to swear on the head of Barbara Cartland that I had never seen NOR read Game of Thrones until this July. I’m saying this now because I’m currently on book three and thinking, “Fuck, they have a young queen called Dany and I have a young queen called Danaë. And the Hound calls Sansa “little bird.” And there’s a divine entity called Lys — FUCK. They’re going to think I’m ripping off GoT.” All I can say in my defense is that European history, language, and terminology are being called upon lavishly by both myself and George R.R. Martin, and sometimes there’s going to be overlap. But from this point onward I will do my utmost to stay as far away from the terms of Westeros as possible.

Finally

getlitAt 2:46 AM this morning I finished the second round of edits on Deep Water, wrote up the synopsis, and sent it off to Evernight. This was after a MAJOR restructuring of Act II that made the book much better but required one hell of a lot of cutting/pasting/tweaking/patching/rewriting/etc that took up a goodish chunk of last week.

See, for me writing is actually the easy part. I turn off my internal editor and just splash words on the page. It’s the editing stage where I actually have to make those words make, you know, sense, that things get hairy and my housekeeping falls by the wayside while I try to figure out how to fit this 98K word puzzle together in a way so that you actually see the story.

But it’s done and off. And yes, this is going to be an MMF story with MM, FF, and MF scenes in it. I never claimed to color inside the lines. Hopefully I’ll hear from Evernight sometime in the next few weeks or so; in the meantime I still have to finish the short story for their Alpha Shifter antho, finish and polish Iron Cross for RT2015 next week (I have an appointment with an editor and an agent and need to have a completed manuscript waiting at home in case they say, “Why, yes, this sounds fantastic, send it to us right now”), then finish the Trickster sequel, then start plotting Olympic Cove Book Four (working title Cross Current).

Sleep? What means this word, sleep?