Books by Melissa Bowersock

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Rush to Publish

Rush to Publish
We’ve all heard the old maxim, “Act in haste; repent at leisure.” This is true in a lot of things, most especially in publishing. Why more so in publishing? Because when we authors act in haste, we’re not just saying something inappropriate that will be forgotten in time; we’re not just acting badly in one instance that eventually will be forgiven. We’re putting our words out there on paper (or on screen) forever.
Forever.
This issue has cropped up fairly often lately. I do beta-reading, formatting, and editing for quite a few authors, and I see the result of this rush to publish more than I like. I read one friend’s story that, for the first 80% of it, had nice pacing and flowed along fairly well. Then, as if a switch was flipped, the last little bit of it suddenly turned into “telling, not showing,” more like an epilogue than the natural ending of the story. I told the author I could not, in all honesty, give his story a decent review because it seemed unfinished, as if he had just quit on it. He confessed that he knew he needed to flesh out the ending more, just hadn’t gotten around to it.
Then why publish?
I helped another author format a book for paperback via CreateSpace. Once we uploaded the file to CreateSpace and had the online proof reviewer available, she perused that for a few pages and called it good. She was ready to hit the publish button without even taking the time to check through the entire book or order a print proof to review. I cautioned her on this and luckily, she listened. Once she had the physical proof in her hands, she realized the book was anything but ready. We went through another major read-through and edit, then still found a few scattered typos even after she published.
One more author asked me to take a look at his newly-published eBook and gifted it to me for that purpose. I was shocked to see an error on the cover, no front matter at all, no copyright or publication data, and too many formatting errors to count. I understand doing a soft launch, publishing and then asking trusted friends to read and comment before the full-blown official launch, but even for that, the book should be as good as the author feels s/he can make it. Sure, we can always tweak it, but at least get it as close to a finished product as possible.
The problem with the rush to publish is not just that readers will see an unpolished “not ready for prime time” effort, but that this unprofessional version could be floating out there in the ether for a long, long time. Whether readers have bought a paperback or an eBook, if the first version was so glaringly unfinished, how likely are they to try the next (hopefully perfect) version? How many of those paperbacks will get recycled at the local used bookstore, and how many of those eBooks will lie fallow on Kindles or iPads, forever unedited? These ghosts of impatience and incaution could be in circulation for a long time, reminding readers of the author’s lack of professionalism. Like duck-face Facebook pictures, these unpolished embarrassments can come back to haunt the author again and again for years.
Believe me, I know well the urge to finish up a book and call it done. The very first book I sold to a publisher was one I worked on tirelessly for the better part of a year. It was an historical romance (western) about a half-breed trying to find her place in the world. Born of a Cheyenne warrior and his captive white wife, the girl was raised on the Great Plains as a Cheyenne. When, at the age of thirteen, she and her mother were recaptured by the US Cavalry and sent to New York to live with the girl’s grandparents, where she was forced into the new and alien culture, reconditioned and disguised as a young, well-bred white woman. At the age of twenty, she fled the white world for the unsettled West once more, searching for her Cheyenne family and hoping to find the one place in the world where she could finally call home.
My original plan had been to be as authentic as possible in the representation of the Cheyenne culture of the time. I had a pile of books on the Cheyenne and had copious notes on the structure and organization of a Cheyenne village. However, by the time I got to that part of the story, I was so sick of it all that instead of writing the detailed experience I had planned, I settled for a truncated version that skipped most of the essence of the Cheyenne culture. I rushed to finish the book and start sending it off to publishers.
Luckily for me, the publisher that bought the book wasn’t happy with the final page count. After they’d accepted the book and sent me my advance, I got a brief and unapologetic letter saying I needed to add 70 pages to the book. More luckily for me, this was a few years after I’d finished the book, so I was able to go back with a fresh view and add all the detail in the experience in the Cheyenne village that I’d left out before. Seventy pages later, the book was complete, and was finally the book that I had originally wanted it to be.
The rush to publish is something most of us have to grapple with at some point or another. K.S. Brooks talked about her own experience with this in a post called Letting a Manuscript Sit. It’s nothing new, but the problem is that it’s seductive. We get tired. We get bored. Maybe we already have an idea for a new story brewing, and we want to get on with it. We want to finish the one we’re working on and check it off our list. Don’t do it. Readers can tell. I had one friend tell me that he read a book where he could tell just about every time the author reached the end of his day, because the quality of the writing fell off appreciably. At the start of the next chapter, it would come back fresh and alive, but later on would flag again. Readers can tell.
If you’re tired, bored, or have less than full commitment to your story, don’t rush to finish it. Put it aside and do something else. Come back when you’re fresh. And whatever you do, don’t publish if you have any niggling thoughts about, “I can fix that later.” Don’t do it.
Think about those duck-face Facebook photos.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on December 30, 2014

Monday, June 11, 2018

New Release: The Field Where I Died

Have you been fascinated with a place you've never visited? Or with a historical event that happened well before you were born? Many of us have, but what does that mean? Could the reason be more than simple curiosity?

I'm pleased to announce the release of my latest book, The Field Where I Died, a novel that examines these questions and more. Here's a brief summary of the story.


Devon Muir has always been fascinated with the Civil War.  When he discovers that his fourth great-grandfather fought at pivotal battles like Antietam and Gettysburg, he is compelled to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps and experience the battlefields on his own. What he doesn’t count on is dreaming about a battle every night—and being killed every time. Now his exploration of battlefields becomes a different kind of quest as he struggles to understand who is the soldier he becomes in his dream, and who is the woman whose face he sees as he lays dying.

Sound intriguing? If so, you're in luck because The Field Where I Died is only 99 cents through June 17, 2018. Here's a great chance to add it to your summer reading queue (or, for my Aussie friends, sitting cozy beside the fireplace) at a bargain price. After that, it will revert to its normal price, $4.99.

For those of you waiting on a new book in the Lacey and Sam series, I'm working on Book 13 as we speak. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book Cover Marketing Ideas

Once you’re got your excellent kick-ass book cover, what do you do with it beside plaster it all over your blog and Facebook page? Believe me, there are plenty of fun ways to use it for promotion, marketing, and just plain getting attention.
book cover e-magnetsMagnets
Make business card-sized magnets and give them away at your next function. You can buy sticky-backed magnets from Amazon or any office store, print your book covers on card stock and stick them on. (Or Avery makes printable pre-scored business card sized magnets.) You can also buy full-sized sheets of thin magnet “paper” (available from Avery, Staples, and other manufacturers) that will go through your printer. You can make the magnets any size you wish, then just cut them out with scissors. The strength of this magnet paper is not as strong as the business card model, but it will definitely stick to a refrigerator. In the picture at left, the larger ones are business card-sized while the smaller ones are cut from the full sheet.
If you’re not into DIY, you can also have custom magnets made up by many online companies like Vistaprint. (See the IU Book Cover Resource page for links to all these items.)
Bookmarks
e-bookmarksBookmarks are always an excellent way to get your books out to the public. Include one in every book you sell and give them away at book fairs and book signings. As with the magnets, you can do it yourself or have them made custom by online companies like Zazzle or Uprinting.com. If you’ve got more than one book out, you can put two or three book covers on one bookmark, or you can highlight a single book by including the blurb or good reviews.
Other Items
Zazzle.com and places like Cafepress.com also offer all sorts of promotional items like mugs, buttons, bumper stickers, mouse pads, clothing, water bottles, clocks and tablet cases. You can really run wild with all of this, but of course there’s a price. Most of these things would be too pricey for giveaways, but they could come in handy for contests, raffles, and book launch prizes.
book cover charms and pendantsBook Charms
I found these little book charms and love them. They don’t work for every book, however, just because of the size. If your book cover has a lot of complex images or a lot of text, they will probably not translate well to this size. But if your book has a simple design and very sharp, clear text, it will work. These from Etsy come with a bail (your choice of styles) for hanging on a chain or a thin ribbon bookmark.
3D book covers3D Images
Finally, get attention with your book cover by doing something different. Ninety-nine percent of the book covers you see online are just flat rectangles. Good-looking, informative, yes, but not exactly standing out from the crowd. Several software products will allow you to turn your ordinary flat cover into a stunning 3D book. Cover Action Pro is an add-on to PhotoShop and is pricey, but the result definitely pulls your book out of the sea of rectangles. As always, you can do it yourself if you’re up for that, or contact a good cover designer or digital artist.
Book Cover Contests
If you think your book cover is really special, there are several book cover contests, but they may be less productive than authors might like. For most of the ones I found, the prizes are recognition only, no real monetary value.
The Book Designer holds a monthly e-book cover design contest. They remind entrants that this contest is primarily educational, and that by submitting your covers, you are agreeing to invite comments, commendations, and constructive criticism. The covers submitted are featured on the website along with the opinions about the designs.
The American Institute of Graphic Arts holds a yearly book and book cover contest called 50 Books/50 Covers Competition. Again, you must be a member in order to enter your book or cover for consideration. There is an entry fee of $45 per book. Finalists will have their entries published in AIGA’s Design Observer.
What other uses for your book covers have you found? What have you tried, and what worked and what didn’t?
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on January 13, 2015

Monday, May 21, 2018

Double Trouble: Two New Releases!

The first long weekend of summer is coming up soon--Memorial Day weekend. Are you ready? Got your beach towel, your sunscreen and your summer reading list? Now you can add two books to that list for just 99 cents each.

If you've been following the adventures of paranormal investigators Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud, you know they get the weirdest, most convoluted cases of ghostly manifestations. In the first ten books in the series, they went from Catalina Island to San Clemente, from Los Angeles to Ireland in their quest to free tortured souls. Now, in Books 11 and 12, they continue their mission as implored by their clients.


Book 11: Spirit Walk--On the Navajo reservation, a man is found dead at the bottom of a canyon. The tribal police have ruled it an accident. People close to the man don’t believe it, so medium Sam Firecloud and his partner, Lacey Fitzpatrick, are called in to investigate. When Sam’s psychic “walk” confirms the worst fears, the clues lead him and Lacey forward, but the twisted path to the truth turns deadly when it seems the earth itself is trying to kill them. 

Book 12: Fire Walk--A property in the town of Meadeview, Massachusetts has a problem with fire. Anything that is built there burns to the ground. Medium Sam Firecloud and his partner, Lacey Fitzpatrick, are called to the small town to investigate the strange physical haunting, and their research leads them deeper into the dark underbelly of the tight knit community. The more they uncover, however, the more the townspeople are threatened by the old secrets—secrets the locals would much rather remain buried.

Sound intriguing? They are, and only 99 cents through 5/27/18. 

Now, if you're not familiar with Sam and Lacey, this week is also a good time to get introduced. The first book in the series, Ghost Walk, will be FREE from 5/23 thru 5/27/18. Yup, you read that right: FREE. 


Lacey Fitzpatrick is an ex-LAPD detective with an axe to grind. Tainted by the betrayal of her drug-dealing cop boyfriend, she’s on a quest to prove to herself—and the world—that she’s still a competent crime-fighter. In order to do that, she teams up with Sam Firecloud, a half-Navajo man who communicates with ghosts. With his talent and her research, they tackle troubling unsolved crimes, but their latest case is the toughest. They have to solve a murder—where no record of a murder even exists. Can Sam glean enough information from the victim’s ghost to unravel the mystery, and can Lacey convince the authorities that the murder actually happened? 

Come on along and follow Sam and Lacey as they unravel the mysteries! 



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Book Settings

One thing we writers mostly strive for is authenticity. That's at the basis of the old cliche, "write what you know." If we know about something, we can describe it authentically. Of course that doesn't mean we can't write about things beyond our experience, or make up some of our own, but having some firsthand knowledge is definitely helpful.

I'm about ready to release a new book, Book 11 of my Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series. It's called Spirit Walk, and it takes place on the Navajo Reservation, Sam's home territory, and involves a slot canyon. 

What the heck's a slot canyon?

If you're not familiar, it's a very narrow, twisty canyon carved through sandstone by ferocious flash flooding during the Southwest's monsoon season. Yes, we do have a monsoon in the Southwest. We actually have two summers, one dry (May, June) and one wet (July, August, September). During the monsoon months, we can easily get a thunderstorm that drops several inches of rain in minutes. 

Now imagine all that water gushing down narrow canyons of grainy sandstone. It's sudden, violent, and dangerous. 

Luckily, the result is beautiful and awe-inspiring. 

Recently my husband and I visited one of these slot canyons near Kanab, Utah. It's called Peek-a-Boo Canyon, and it was wonderful. I thought I would share with you some pictures of our adventure, so when you read Spirit Walk, you will be able to "see" the places Sam and Lacey go.



Above, the narrow confines of Peek-a-Boo Canyon beckon at the same time that they challenge. 

Left, the author's husband shows the scale of the canyon.

Below, the author hides behind swirls of sandstone.



Does it help to know the places you're describing in a book? I think so. Having experienced slot canyons, I can convey to the reader the colors, the tactile sensations, the awe and the power of the place. 

Now it's up to you to read Spirit Walk and see if I got it right.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Verbs: The Core of Every Sentence

Ok, I admit it; I’m a word geek. I love words. I love the way they come together and combine to create images, the pictures they paint. My father was an artist and I’m sad to say I did not inherit his gift for drawing and painting, but I did learn to paint with words.
My pallet is alive with colors. Nouns are my white, the basic foundations of all sentences whether subjects, objects, or extraneous things thrown in to widen the base. Adverbs are black, adding dark contrast, and must be used sparingly. Adjectives are purple where a little goes a long way, and too much simply obliterates the subtler shades. Conjunctions and prepositions are the primary colors, tossed in here and there to combine with the other words, to create the final hues and tones.
But verbs … Verbs shimmer like a rainbow. They can be dull, brown, non-descript, or they can be radiant and glowing, changing color like a hummingbird that flits in and out of the sunlight. Verbs can drive a sentence headlong, or cradle it in a gloved hand. Verbs are the very core of the sentence.
This was all brought back to me in the most wonderful way: reading — of course — a new book. A friend had told me about House of Rain by Craig Childs. The subtitle reads: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest, and it is a travelogue of sorts detailing Childs’ journey in the footsteps of the Anasazi. I was actually expecting a rather dry treatment of archaeology and was absolutely enchanted when I found writing in its most delicate and image-studded form.  Here are a handful of the colorful gems he tosses down as he goes, leaving them to wink and glitter in the dust behind him.
Sage folded and recoiled in the wind.
As the sun set, I could not help staring directly at it, the remaining half circle burning into my eyes, an apricot welding itself onto the earth.
Cold water burped up from beneath my feet.
The ceiling was made of wooden beams corbelled across each other, and they dripped with the dark syrup of rodent urine.
After a few hundred years little if anything was left on the surface, the wind having sewn the earth back together, closing over the wound of humanity.
Sycamore trees burst into maniacal white branches crawling all over the sky.
Sunrise was falling through holes in the forest, long dashes of light touching the ground.
Black fists of smoke wrenched up from orange fronts of flame…
Bedrock appeared from under the sand, whales of reddish stone barely breaching the surface.
I found myself reading with two minds: with one, I followed the story, but with the other, I paid explicit attention to his use of words, and verbs especially. As a writer, I delighted in this treasure trove of literary imagery. It’s very much like prowling a jewelry store, my eyes sliding across the glass-fronted cases until they catch on a pale shimmer of amethyst, noticing without seeing the hundreds of ordinary rings until one unique creation of precious metal and stone stops me in my tracks. Finding that one sublime melding of color and shape amid the dross of the ordinary gives a sense not only of profound appreciation but also of satisfaction for having noticed it.
Reading writing like this inspires me; it calls to me to put my own best efforts down on paper. I know that if someone else can write with such heartbreaking delicacy, I can, too. It inspires me to handle my sentences with great care, most especially my verbs. They can mire a sentence in mediocrity or they can lift it like a song. Choose wisely.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on December 9, 2014.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Release: Murder Walk

If you haven't caught up on the adventures of Sam and Lacey, you've got more reading to do. These books are a lot of fun to write and the ideas keep coming. I'm very pleased to announce the release of Book 10 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, Murder Walk. Here's what people are saying about the series:

--I don’t normally gravitate toward mysteries but Sam Firecloud, a half-Navajo man who communicates with ghosts, hooked me.

--If you like paranormal elements in your mysteries, you really need to check this series out.

--This is one of my favourite paranormal mysteries. 

And now, Murder Walk:
The best friend of Sam Firecloud’s son, Daniel, has been murdered. The boy is having a hard enough time dealing with the loss but then discovers that he’s inherited his father’s mediumistic “gift” for communicating with the dead, a gift he doesn’t want. Lacey Fitzpatrick, Sam’s wife and partner, wants to start their own investigation into the murder, Sam is more worried about his son than the unsolved case, and Daniel just wants all ghosts to leave him alone. The family is being torn in three separate directions, but the murderer is still on the loose and may come after Daniel next, because the ghost is talking. 

To celebrate the release, ALL books in the series are just 99 cents now through April 22, 2018. 





Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Release: Castle Walk

I'm pleased to announce the release of Book 9 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, Castle Walk. This time Sam and Lacey face a completely new set of circumstances as they travel to the Emerald Isle to investigate ghosts in an ancient castle. 


Paranormal investigators Lacey Fitzpatrick and medium Sam Firecloud discover their reputation has spread around the world when they get a surprise call to investigate ghosts in an Irish castle. They’re even more surprised when they learn it’s the Castle Fitzpatrick, the ancestral home of the Fitzpatrick name, and Lacey’s hopeful she can uncover some of her own family’s history. But while they’re researching that and the ghosts that Sam’s walk has revealed, they get unexpected resistance from the castle owners. If Sam is wrong about the impressions he’s received from the spirits, the releasement won’t work, and the ghosts will be doomed to walk the castle forever.  



To celebrate the release, ALL books in the series are just 99 cents now through March 25, 2018. 



Thursday, March 1, 2018

Basic Marketing for New Authors

Okay, you’ve done the hard work of writing your book and publishing it. Now you can sit back and relax, right? Uh, no. Not even close. Now the real work starts: marketing.  I know, just the word makes you break out into cold sweats, right? What do you do? How do you start? Relax–sit back, breathe, and let’s talk about the first basic things you should do.
Take/Get some author portraits. You’ll need at least one good, professional-looking photo of your authorly self. If you or a friend is good at photography, you can certainly do it for free, or you can spring for a photo session at a local studio. Don’t take that pic with your cell phone; you need a hi-res photo. Not sure how or what to do? This Do-It-Yourself Portrait article will show you. It’ll come in handy for the items below.
Write a short bio. Matter of fact, write two or three. You’ll need one short one, maybe just one sentence long, but then another that’s a full paragraph. When you start navigating the various sites below, some will want the short one while others will have room for the long one. Once you’ve got the main points down, you can always adjust the bio to match a site’s requirements. Need a little more guidance? Indies Unlimited has it for you in Writing Your Bio.
Get a website. You need a “home” that is all your own, a place to which you can refer people, an address which you can put on your business cards and bookmarks. Don’t sweat it – start out slow by browsing other websites to see what others have done, and if you find a layout that you like, copy it. (The general layout, not the content!)
A few things to remember: gear your website to you, not your book. When your next book comes out, it may not be the same genre or have the same feeling to it, and you certainly don’t want to have separate websites for each of your books. You are your platform, not the books. They will ebb and flow around you. Make sure navigation around your site is easy and obvious. People don’t like having to search for things, and the fewer clicks that get them to the information they want, the better. One thing that drives me crazy is going to a website that has a splash page at the front and then you still have to click an “entrance” button to get inside. That’s just annoying. Welcome readers into your world; don’t annoy them by making them work to get to you.
You have a few choices as far as getting a site is concerned:
  • Pay to host/design a website. Luckily website hosting is very cheap these days, so much cheaper than when I started decades ago. It’s easy to do a Google search on website hosting services, and you can compare prices before you pop on one. I realize that many folks know zilch about hypertext and coding, but really, it’s not that hard. You can actually do your web pages on Word, on Internet Explorer or on any of dozens of software programs made especially for that. If you’ve already got Word and have been using that to write, you know about WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), and it’s a simple enough matter to create your basic site by adding text and pics. If you want to get more creative, you can. If all this feels way over your head, you can hire a web page designer/administrator. The only things I would caution about going this route are (1) doing some price-checking on the services offered and (2) making sure you/they can update your site quickly and reliably. If you go this pay route, make sure to get a webpage with your own name. If people are searching for you but your webpage is www.newwriterontheblock.com, they’re probably not going to find you. Another perk to having your own web page is that you can then have your own e-mail addresses (i.e. you@yourname.com), not relying on your home internet provider or having your e-mail address change if you change providers.
  • Get a free website. There are lots of places out there offering free website hosting. They also have wizards to help you design your site. Wix seems to be a popular one, but if you Google “free websites,” you’ll get a bunch.
  • Use WordPress. You can pretty easily build your own website using WordPress. We know WordPress is also a blog (which will help you with the blog below), but you can also use the “pages” to make your own website. You can purchase your own URL (i.e. www.MelissaBowersock.com), or you can use one of their 100% free platforms which would have a URL like MelissaBowersock.wordpress.com. Carolyn Steele wrote about using WordPress to make your own website here.
  • Use Amazon Author Central. If all this website stuff is just beyond you, you can always use your Amazon Author Central page as a website. It has a lot of features and is a great place to send people that will make it very convenient for them to purchase your books. More on that below.
Get a blog. This is where you will share your hard-won wisdom with the world. There are free blog sites like WordPress.com and Blogger.com, plus they have deluxe paid versions, as well. This might feel a bit overwhelming at first, but believe me, it’s not rocket surgery. Most of the blog sites have scads of layout templates you can browse through and offer plenty of information about how to go about it. Again, check some other blogs online and see what others have done.
DO NOT think you have nothing to say. You do. You’ve just published a book. What was your journey? What did you learn? What would you do differently? Keep your blog on topic (no politics or religion), but do give readers a glimpse into your life. Post a picture of your dog or cat, maybe one of your Harley or your latest knitting project. If you have a hobby like horseback riding, gardening, skydiving, video games, baking, etc., it’s good to include blog posts about these. Sharing these things do help to round out who you are as a person. You might even develop a following of people with similar interests who end up buying your book(s). It’s a known fact that readers will buy more books from people they feel like they know and have a connection with than those they don’t.
Get an Amazon Author page. As soon as your book is up on Amazon, claim it and set up your author page. There is so much you can do with this page; it is a hub for your social media, blog, and multi-media. It’s so important that we have a resource page dedicated to Amazon Author Central tutorials.
If you’ve also published through Smashwords, develop your profile there, as well, and take advantage of their author interview page. You can learn more about the features of a Smashwords profile in Getting the Most out of Smashwords.
That’s it for today. It may seem like a lot to work on, but it’s really not if you take it one thing at a time. If you haven’t published a book yet and need somewhere to start, you can check out this post on Marketing for Unpublished Authors
This was originally published by Indies Unlimited on December 16, 2014.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Release: Blood Walk

I'm happy to announce the release of Book 8 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, Blood Walk. If you've been following the series, you know the way Sam and Lacey work; he communicates with ghosts while Lacey does the research to lay the mysteries bare. Together they tackle the toughest cases. 

Here's the description:

The paranormal investigation team of Lacey Fitzpatrick and medium Sam Firecloud is keeping tabs on a serial killer case that’s baffling the LAPD: four murders in a month, with no solid leads or suspects. When Sam and Lacey offer their assistance, the PD reluctantly agrees, but Sam gets more than he bargains for when he visits the crime scenes. In addition to picking up impressions from the victims, he’s also receiving feelings from the killer himself. Sam’s unusual connection to the murderer’s mind may help them catch the criminal, but it could also lead the murderer to them. In a deadly race against time, Sam and Lacey piece the clues together to catch the killer before he catches them.


To celebrate the release, ALL books in the series are just 99 cents now through February 25, 2018. 


Monday, January 29, 2018

The Writer's Mind: Laser vs. Soup

I would guess most non-writers think that the minds of writers pretty much operate all the same way: you get an idea, you write it down, expanding as you go. Years ago, I might have thought that myself, but my last few books over the last couple of years have completely disabused me of that notion. Every project has illustrated to me in ever-greater detail that my mind can work in vastly different ways when doing this singular yet very complex thing – writing.
Generally I get the kernel of an idea, jot down somewhere between five and ten major plot points, figure out the chronology of what happens when, and start writing. As I’m writing, I go back and forth between the work itself and the story bible, adding details like the characters’ names, descriptions, background, and psychological make-up as they are revealed to me. (Yes, I’m as surprised by these things as my readers might be.) The story itself grows organically out of all this back-and-forth, stutter-step writing. There are times when the story leads me in a different direction than I had planned, and then I have to go back and amend my story bible, maybe reorder the timing of events. It’s not an exact science by any means. At least not for me.
Then in 2013, a story idea flashed inside my brain like a supernova. I mulled it around in my head for a few days, letting it evolve, but then it became too much and I had to start writing it all down. Every evening during my down time (watching TV, doing the dishes, etc.), I would get more and more ideas, more details, so every morning I would be pounding the keys to get it all down before it evaporated. I needn’t have worried. The story flashed out sudden, clear and concise, like a laser beam darting across the page. In 39 days it was done.
Whoa. How did that happen? I was as amazed as anyone I told about it. I’d never had a story come to me so fully, so clearly, so completely. And because I wrote it so fast, I just knew I’d need to go back and do some major editing, put more meat on the bones. But — no. It was about 95% done. It just needed a few tweaks here and there.
Now this is a form of writing I could get used to. No sitting staring at a blank page; no lying awake at night trying to figure the relationship angles, the story arc. Ideas filter down into the brain, put ‘em down on paper and — BOOM! — done.
Had I entered into a new phase of my writing life? Had I reached some pinnacle of efficiency? Was I going to be a writing machine from this day forward?
I wish.
The next book fell comfortably, if not happily for me, into my old process. Well, okay, I can live with that. This one had actually been about half-done and I had put it aside when that laser hit my brain. It only took three months to finish it and get it out there on the shelf. No speed freak, but not bad.
Enter my next WIP. BI got this idea to write about a female archaeologist who, while surveying a site, connects across 1,000 years of time with an ancient Sinagua woman who lived at that site. (I wrote earlier about doing some research for this.) After months of struggle, I was only on Chapter 3. Who turned off the laser?
This book, I’m finding, is more like a simmering pot of soup. It’s on the burner on low, quietly bubbling away, and every once in a while I add something to it. I’m volunteering at the archaeology center and actually learning artifact cataloging. I’ve completed one class on making cordage with local plant fibers, and the next class will be learning how to survey a site. All this goes into the soup. My husband and I periodically prowl the local sites near our home. We examine the pottery sherds we find (but put them back where we find them), and note the layout of the pit houses and cliff dwellings. More substance for the soup. I’m also reading everything I can find on the Anasazi (or Pre-Puebloans) and the Sinagua, the local north central Arizona line of that culture. More seasoning for the soup. The pot on the stove continues to simmer, the new ingredients melding with the original, the tastes and smells mingling as they assimilate. On a good day, I might get a paragraph or two written. The soup is just not ready yet.
It boggles the mind how one action — writing — can have such different processes and yet lead to similar conclusions. Obviously, story-telling uses many different parts of the brain. I suppose it’s all part of our human nature that this “simple” task can be so complex, so hard to pin down, and so surprising.
Update: Since this post's first publication, the particular "problem book" has been abandoned for other, more cooperative, stories. Will it ever be finished? Who knows? I certainly don't!
This post was originally published by Indies Unlimited on 11/25/2014.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Release: Soul Walk

Want a great way to kick off the new year? How about reading Soul Walk, Book 7 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series?  




Paranormal investigator Lacey Fitzpatrick and medium Sam Firecloud are making quite a name for themselves. When a TV network offers to feature them on a popular ghost series, they realize they could dispel misconceptions and bring credibility to their work. However, filming their process is more troublesome and complicated than they knew.  Their goal to research and release the ghostly tenants of a haunted bed and breakfast in Malibu is at odds with the studio’s penchant for sensationalism. On top of that, Sam finds his connection to one of the ghosts to be painfully personal, and he and Lacey struggle to keep their work, their relationship and their newfound stardom from unraveling.

All the books in the mystery series are on sale for just 99 cents each to celebrate the release of my latest installment.  If you've been following Sam and Lacey, you'll want to see what happens when they get their own TV show. If you're new to the series, try out the first book, Ghost Walk, for just 99 cents. You won't be disappointed.


Catch up on all the adventures of Sam and Lacey in the first 6 books.



Now all just 99 cents each through January 21, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Coming Soon: Soul Walk

The adventures of paranormal investigators Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud are about to take a radical turn. What's going to happen  next in their career, in their relationship, in their lives? Stay tuned. Soul Walk, Book 7 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, will be released soon. 


Paranormal investigator Lacey Fitzpatrick and medium Sam Firecloud are making quite a name for themselves. When a TV network offers to feature them on a popular ghost series, they realize they could dispel misconceptions and bring credibility to their work. However, filming their process is more troublesome and complicated than they knew.  Their goal to research and release the ghostly tenants of a haunted bed and breakfast in Malibu is at odds with the studio’s penchant for sensationalism. On top of that, Sam finds his connection to one of the ghosts to be painfully personal, and he and Lacey struggle to keep their work, their relationship and their newfound stardom from unraveling.

Watch this space for news about the release!

You haven't met Sam and Lacey yet? Don't forget, Ghost Walk, Book 1 of the series is always only 99 cents!