Category Archives: Writing

My website has been a complete mess

Weeks ago, I began to run into problems with not being able to log into my website. We tried all sorts of fixes, hoping to figure it out for ourselves, but I also needed to use my time to handle edits on Captured in Flames since that had to get back to the editor for a final pass. It had a tight deadline if I wanted to stay on track with my publishing goals. I told myself I’d redouble my efforts on the site once I turned in the manuscript. Well, I got the book finished in time for the editor this past week, so that’s the good news.

The bad news is that we (my father who was helping and myself) finally relented and contacted the website host who concluded my site had been hacked. They said I had the option of hiring a security specialist to clean it up or use a backup file. I didn’t want the expense of a specialist so I told them to go with the most recent backup before the problems began. Unfortunately, many of those files were corrupted. The best one to use was all the way back in April of 2016!

I thought about it for a bit and finally succumbed to the inevitable. Without my website, I can’t reach my full audience to keep them updated. They took that old backup and got everything running again yesterday afternoon. Of course, that meant I was back to an old theme, plugins, widgets, outdated pages, banners, etc. It drove me crazy to look at it all and know some readers might stop by the website and wonder what was going on with it. The most recent post was from April 2016, so you get the idea. I had only one Dragon’s Breath book out and none of the Dark Destiny Series. A lot had happened since then.

For those of you who don’t follow me in my Facebook fan group, I had another baby boy a little over 15 months ago named Dean. He’s great and I love him so much, but like his big brother was at this age I cannot get near a laptop without a meltdown. He loses his mind if he sees me on it.

Thankfully, Dean is much better at taking naps and going to bed at night. My firstborn, Adam, saw it as a challenge to make him sleep and keep him down for the night until he was three years old. Now that he’s four, he is much better about that and even good at entertaining himself while I work (usually). The second boy still wakes 2-3 times a night, especially when teething, but he can be relied upon to go to bed on schedule. This allows me to sneak time to work on my book during his nap and after he’s in bed (assuming there is nothing else pressing that must be done while he’s sleeping like shower). This is how I was finally able to get back to writing again.

Anyway, I worked on the website until 1:30am last night updating my theme, pages, header, and adding back the posts between 2016-present that I felt couldn’t be lost (I skipped dozens of others). They look like new since I couldn’t carry over the comments or even back date them. Also, though I checked boxes declining sending notifications of those re-posts, I have heard some people still got them. My deepest apologies for anyone who got slammed with those updates and I promise there will not be anymore since I managed to knock them all out before bed! And if it’s any consolation, Dean had an usually restless night (likely due to teething), so I got woke up every hour until around 8:00am when he was wide awake and ready to face the day. I’ve ran on fumes and coffee since then.

Today, during Dean’s nap today I got a lot more done on other necessary modifications like my Contact page, security stuff, and book pages. I still have some minor tweaking left to do, but the rest of it isn’t urgent. I’m switching my time back to working on formatting Captured in Flames so I can get it up for pre-order as soon as possible. Also, I really want to post the first two chapters in the next couple of days so you all can get a taste of what’s to come.

Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience and promise I’m working every spare minute possible.

Self-publishing and expectations…

Recently I had a visitor to the website who asked several questions about my self-publishing experience. There wasn’t a good way to keep my responses short, though I tried at first. Instead I’m putting my answers in a regular post so that anyone else who is curious can read them as well. Here goes:

“Could you please talk about your experience?”

Publishing is a lot like riding a rollercoaster. Some days I’m on top of the world writing good stuff and hearing back from readers who enjoy my work. Thanks to all those awesome people who commented on my last post! Other days I might have trouble moving forward while working on a scene and/or catch some criticism of one of my books that makes me think I’m the most horrible writer in the world.

There are days I can’t imagine having any other job and that it’s the absolute best. Then I have days where I question why I released my stories for anyone else to read because, obviously, I completely suck. What was I thinking letting anyone see the crazy ideas that come into my head?

Writers have to be deeply in touch with their feelings in order to produce quality work. This is important, but can also make the whole experience more difficult from an emotional standpoint. If a reader is disappointed with your latest book you feel like you let them down though you honestly wrote it the way you believed it had to be written. I thank God for all my encouraging fans. They’re what has kept me releasing the next ones, though I’d probably never stop writing regardless.

“How you went about it. What was the process like? What pit falls did you encounter?”

For how I went about it, you must keep in mind I was writing for a few years before I published and that Darkness Haunts was not my first book. It was simply the first I thought worth sharing with the world. So when I made the big decision to publish I waited nearly a year from the time the first draft was completed before self-publishing it. I queried agents, entered it into ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards), and also learned everything about publishing I could.

I researched cover artists, editors, ebook formatting, paperbacks, and a lot on marketing. Though I refused to change to a genre that might be more salable (people were saying urban fantasy was a dying genre), I did study my market so as to gauge my expectations. I also followed other authors and read about their experiences, soaking up every bit of information I could.  At the end, I even changed the title to something more fitting and catchy than the original.  It wasn’t Darkness Haunts until two months before I released it.

Continue reading

For a better visual of the Airborne scene in Darkness Divides

I wanted to wait until most people had a chance to read Darkness Divides before posting this.  It’s a video of the same plane (Casa-212) and type of parachute Melena used in the book.  The main difference being this takes place at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina during the daytime (plus the troops are using proper military procedures instead of Mel’s improvising).  You can see how Melena would have strapped her pack to the front of her similar to the way they do.  These troops are probably carrying upwards of 100 pounds on them, which makes it rather awkward to walk.

I’ve actually jumped on the same drop zone this video shows about a dozen times, often using that plane, so I did draw heavily from those experiences for the novel.  Hopefully this gives you a better idea for what it would feel like to do it.

 

Direct link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAwIzpHfOaY

Writing Dark Scenes

Dark forestOne of the hardest parts of writing Darkness Haunts has been the dark and emotional scenes.  I had no idea how much it would take out of me when I first plotted the story out.

In this first book of the Sensor Series, there are are several scenes that have required me to dig deep within myself so I could put to words what I saw in my head.  Not only that, but I wanted to make sure the reader would be able to feel as if they were experiencing the moment with my character. It has required me to revise and edit these parts over and over until just the right words were put together for maximum impact.  Even now, I’m looking over the scenes again for what must be the dozenth time and tweaking them some more.  Every time I go through , I find ways to make them even more vivid and powerful.

Poor Melena really gets put through the ringer in this novel.  You’d think I enjoyed torturing her, but there really were some things she had to go through in order to grow and become what she needed to be for future novels in the series.  She doesn’t start off weak, don’t get me wrong, but in the beginning she isn’t fully prepared for dealing with the supernatural world.  She has some knowledge and experience, but not enough to fully navigate it once she is in deep.   Her resistance to letting anyone help her causes her to get into some very difficult situations.  She’ll get out of them, but not without painful consequences.

It is in those consequences that I have had to write the most difficult parts.  As the author, I have to fully imagine what it would be like for a person to go through such gut-wrenching events.  They aren’t exactly situations I’ve been through myself.  At least, not on the level she faces them.  Some are emotional, but others are physical.  She has to fight not only for her survival, but also for a friend she is trying to save.  It means putting herself in the line of danger and learning who she can trust.  For her, none of this is easy.

You may be wondering what these things are I speak of, but of course I can’t really say (no matter how much I want to) because it would spoil the book for you.  Just suffice it to say that this novel is no fairy-tale.  It’ll have a satisfying ending, but not before you get taken on a rough ride.

Developing Character Backstories

Woman in red cape<— Yep, I like dark and mysterious photos.  This one looked like it needed to be posted.  Now, on to the main subject.

I think every writer has a different way of handling backstories for their characters.  In the beginning, I kept those data sheets many writing guides recommend using.  They are good for you to list basic details of each individual, but it’s easy to fill up the page as more information comes out in the story.

As the novel progressed, that wasn’t enough.  Several of my characters had long histories in my head and I wanted to write them down so no important details were lost.  This was also important because the plots for future novels were developing in my mind and I needed to set them up.  Basically, little hints were dropped in Darkness Haunts giving an idea for what might come to pass (or already had) for certain characters.  It’s not meant to be a complete picture, but enough to get the readers wanting to know more.  Further details of character backgrounds will be revealed over the course of the series and sometimes their past will return to haunt them.  What series doesn’t have this happen?  It won’t be too cliché, though.  I promise to make it fun.

At this time, I have the plot written for book two, a solid idea of book three, and a vague idea for book four.  It’s entirely possible a fifth book could be conceptualized, but I’m waiting to see how things go.  There is already a lot of material to work with, so I’m sure ideas won’t run out too soon.  It’s not uncommon for many writers to not know exactly how far they plan to go before stopping. I do like staying in one world so I can continue to build my characters and add new dimensions to them.  That the story doesn’t have to be confined to one book, though I may try and write a stand-alone someday.