bookmark_borderJust Say The End, dangit!

I am barely 7000 words from my goal. Yet, there it sits. I know, now, I think, maybe, where the end will happen. It will take many more words than those 7000 and that’s just fine. A lot from the beginning will face the chopping block and come out the loser.

The end will be the conclusion of the cliffhanger I mentioned earlier. It will end with survival but with the big “Now What?” question hanging. Just enough to entice the reader to be interested in Book Two but not so much that Elena will hurt me.

I’ve not written much in the past few days. I just feel as if my time is up and I still have a lot to say. Annoying.


Cliffhanger, n. – An episode that ends in suspense

Since I know that Simple Sarah is Book One, and as I near The End, I am wondering where is the best place to end it. I can end it with a big cliffhanger, leaving the reader clawing my email box with demands for the next book. Or I can end it on a good note, leaving the reader satisfied yet calmly wanting to know happens next.

Personally, I hate it when a book ends with a huge bang and there be tough questions left unanswered. I say bad things about the author. Really bad things about their parents, too.

But now, as an author, I understand why sometimes it is a good thing. In terms of sequels, you want something (called a hook) that will make the reader want the next book. Some say that a good cliffhanger leaves some questions unanswered as applies to that book/episode, not a preview to the next. Others say cliffhangers in books are not good because, unlike the old radio shows or regular films in the movies, the next book will be at least 6 months away.

Most agree that a cliffhanger can be good (they were talking mostly about television series’ end of season) but most fail miserably in the first episode of the next season. Three sites that I looked at all mention the season ending in Star Trek: Next Generation when Riker tells Worf to fire at the Borg ship that has Picard as Lucotus. The season ended with that word: fire. Then the first episode is a total dud. Nothing happens with that shot, literally. All that mentioned this were rather pissed about it. And I agree.

It isn’t just the cliffhanger itself that can be bad, but the strength of it and its follow through. Riker saying Fire was heavy. He was ordering the crew to attack a vessel on which their own Captain was aboard. We watch Eureka on the Sci-Fi channel (I refuse to spell it the “new” way). One season ended with Sheriff Carter being fired. Big ending and he kinda deserved it. We spent the off season wondering how they would get him back. The cliffhanger was enough for us to look forward to the next season, yes, but it wasn’t OMG!! worthy. And when the season started again, they didn’t resolve his employment status that first episode. I think it wasn’t until the second one. The follow through was great. Kept the suspense.

Perhaps that is how I will end Simple Sarah. On a tense note but with few questions left unanswered. And that means that I must get to writing the next book! Oy.


Simple Sarah is now over 70K words! I want it to get to no less than 100K before I say “The End”.

It is progressing nicely. Editing will be easy-ish I think. This is a book I have written and rewritten so many times a’ready, ya know?

Thing is, at 70K, I am not very far into the book, story wise. There’s still a lot to go. I am now rethinking of where the stopping point will be. Since it is Book One, I am wanting to end it nicely but at a spot where folks will want to figure out what will happen next.

I know the graph on the side says “Trilogy” but I am thinking it will be only two books. The middle one was to be Lea’s story in the form of storytelling as they travel along. But it’s a bad idea. Instead, it may wind up being just two books with Lea’s story standing on its own. I will have to advise readers of the chronological order vs order it should be read.

Details! The devil is in ’em. And I hate it.

During editing, I will be working on the synopsis. I hate synopsiseseses, too. If I had to do a synopsis now, it would be far too long and not say much but say everything. And I have to do it right because synopsises tend to be what is put on the back of the book to entice the reader to fork over nearly $17.

bookmark_borderHard at Work

Honest, I am. Simple Sarah, the novel I’ve been working on (and finished twice) is over 43,000 words. I am still on track to get it done by the end of March, editing in April, and submitted in May. That is my goal. I want to finish it with no less than 90K but hopefully over 100K.

I like this version the best. I think it has finally come together. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the side-threads and just concentrated on the MC, Sarah. This also feels so much more like a Fantasy rather than a Romance which was my goal.

Once Simple Sarah is submitted, I will pound out another Butch Girl book. Either Harri’s or Nikki’s story. They are so intertwined, I am tempted to do just one book. But I don’t think that would be fair to the reader. Harri’s book has to take place in the summer. No choice there. Nikki’s can take place at any time.

(thinking, so there will be smoke….)

Perhaps do Harri’s and end it in the Fall then do Nikki’s immediately after. It would mean, however, that Harri’s book would have to be read first. There’s a Great Something that links them together that is solved in Harri’s book. So to read Nikki’s first….I dunno. Hell, gotta finish Sarah’s story before I even get to theirs!

So, if you have been following along, that means I have a goal to finish and submit three books this year. Sarah’s will be submitted in May. One or the other of the BG books will be submitted in July/August and the other November. By then, the editing process (that is assuming Regal Crest will buy it) for Sarah should start shortly after that.

bookmark_borderScreeching to a Halt

After many days of words just flowing off my fingertips (2000-4500 word days!), they are now non-existent (38-44 word days). Yesterday I struggled with a single paragraph and got nowhere. Every time I did a word count, it was less than the last one! Today, I got that one done, only to be stumped by the next one. I am this close (…) to just chucking the scene and moving on.

And I would if I had a clue where I was going.

bookmark_borderMedieval Research

Oh my brain!

I’m doing some reading on medieval life. I decided I wanted to read scholarly writings rather than re-enactment stuff. So using my cool iPod Touch and an “app” called Stanza, I downloaded some ebooks from Project Gutenberg.

The reading is…interesting. With the dates they were written and the dry subject matter, reading is tough. There’s a lot to swim through to try and glean what I need from it. Then add in that a lot of what was assumed about the “Dark Ages” has since been proved wrong. That time period wasn’t as “dark” as we once thought.

But that’s not what I am looking for. I am looking for the feel, the day-to-day life, the experience of living in that time period. What were the roads like? What was traveling on those roads like? How did they live? How did people living in towns get their wood? What happened to the ashes? To the trash? Where did they get their water?

Sigh. Sometimes I think I am asking to know too much. That knowing too much I may add in too many details that the readers doesn’t really need to know nor want to know. Sigh.

bookmark_borderUpdate #Whatever

I have been properly fussed at for not saying much here lately. So here’s some updates.

– Knee is doing better. It’s only been 9 weeks but I think I expect it to be normal already. I started PT (finally!) and although it is painful and I gripe a lot, I know it is for my own good.

– Mike is great! He’s not a year yet and is on that cusp between puppy and adult. He’s still only about 50lbs but he should put on muscle mass soon. He may get to 70lbs tops. I don’t need him for weight bearing so it’ll be just fine. I keep wanting to get started on his official training but haven’t. Not sure why. My gumption level is low for most things.

– Joella has fully recovered from her own joint problems. Well, as much as she ever will. We give her an anti-inflammatory each day and she gets a ton of supplements. Joint wise, she’s doing good. Skin wise, however, she’s having a tough summer. We were late with the flea stuff and I think she is reacting to them. She’s chewed a chunk of her back raw. It’s about the size of my hand overall. She’s had several baths with lots of cool rinsing afterwards. We are using Calendula cream on the wounds and started giving her benedryl to help control the itching. No, we won’t do steroids.

– The Johnson Horde descended and retreated last week. We had a blast! Kev, Col, and Ryan went on a Segway tour of the NC Arboretum while Lorna, me, and Kelli explored the Bonsai Exhibit and explored some of the gardens; Lorna, Kev, and Ryan went to Gray, TN for a day long fossil dig while me, Col, and Kelli went to the Silver Armadillo to get beading stuff and then to the Asheville Aquarium to see the fish tanks; all of us plus a young friend went to see the Asheville Tourists (an awful game that rained so we left early); and we played Uno, talked, and laughed (usually all at once!) at the cabin they rented. At times their visit was relaxing while at others it was exhausting. I was tearful when they left but didn’t let that stop me from napping most of Friday. I wished they lived closer but perhaps the distance is why we still like each other so much.

– In June, Lorna and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. Wow. 19 yrs. Bless her heart.

– Writing – well, yes, I am writing. Truly I am. I missed the GCLS Con this year because the Johnson Horde was here at the same time (and the choice between the two was easy). I miss the battery charge I get from attending. I am working (still) on Simple Sarah. I keep wanting to make the Setting more real. At the moment, it is just a flat surface, like a green screen in the movies. I need to help the reader see what is going on behind everything.

– We have some sad news but I will share that later, perhaps tomorrow. Not ready quite yet.


I have a crick in my neck. And, quite surprisingly, I don’t have a matching headache.

Usually I get a massive headache anytime I “overuse” my neck from doing silly things like turning my head while I go down the aisle in the grocery store. Or keeping my head bent for more than two pages while reading a book. Or turning my head more than a few times while driving. Silly me for abusing myself that way.

I can turn my chin to the right all the way and can turn it to the left about 1/3 of the way. I can bend my neck until my right ear almost touches my shoulder but can barely go left of center in the other direction. I can bend my chin down most of the way but only a little way backwards. When I try to walk, my head is tilted to the right and looking down. To hold my head upright while walking is horribly painful, even by my tainted standards. So the few times yesterday and today that I have to walk through the house, I put on my neck brace (I have a new one that is awesome!). It helps some but mostly helps me keep my head level. I can sit with my head and neck supported and manage to keep it fairly level without the brace.

Because when I keep my head in that position, you guessed it, I got a headache! Luckily it was a very minor one that I caught way early. I’m also taking high doses of muscle relaxers so that helps, too.

Today I read the Oath of Gold, book 3 in the Deeds of Paksinarrion series by Elizabeth Moon. Good read. The books are a big influence on my writing of Simple Sarah although in re-reading it (for the fourth or fifth time) I can see how much the two differ as well as how they are so similar. I re-read it to try and find where and how Moon “shows” instead of “telling”. Her infodumps are subtle but there. I like how she describes things using all the senses and not just visual. She likes smell the most.

Lorna will be home tomorrow and can keep me entertained. I may send her to the library after some more books. Any suggestions?

bookmark_borderTime in the Dark

Our power went out last night from just before 7pm until nearly midnight. We sat out on the back porch to read and play with the dogs. The normally quiet neighborhood was filled with the sounds of kids (and adults!) playing outdoors. Once it got too dark to see, everyone went inside. We lit some candles (we have a cool lantern but I spilled fuel everywhere so we didn’t light it) and sat in the living room, listening to the silence.

And silence is loud.

No fish tanks. No whirring laptop fans. No window fan. No refrigerator or freezer motors. Silence.

There was the drip from one of the fish filters. And there was a ticking clock (which promptly was put outside; I can’t stand that sound). There was the wind in the bamboo. The sounds of traffic.

Lorna and I sat and talked about what would the night sounds be in Whitehaven, the fictional town in my Fantasy novel. Families would gather in one room until they went to bed. Unless they were rich, you’d not take a candle to your room and sit with it lit. What would you do? A single candle is very hard to use as light to read. What would the family do? They’d hear doors opening and shutting. They’d hear the occasional loud sounds coming from businesses open after dark, like taverns and maybe from the lobbies of hotels or boarding houses.

When you’d be ready for bed, you’d take your candle up to see your way. And since you’d get up long before the sun came up in order to be ready to start work, you’d bring your candle back down. Where would you keep it? Or would you use a very small lantern?

How would businesses light up their spaces? Lanterns, candles, fireplaces. There’d be someone who sold loads of wood to everyone. Where would you keep it? There’d be the candle maker, the glass maker, the potter – all businesses to support the lighting. Would cook/heating stoves be made in town or made elsewhere and brought in? Would you go to them all individually or would you purchase what you need from a mercantile type of store?

This made me realize I never envisioned a heat source for Sarah’s family shop. They had the cook stove in the kitchen but I didn’t have anything in the shop where they worked. Primarily this never came up in my visualization of the place because she’s not there when it gets cold. But when I describe (via the “show, don’t tell” method, of course) the shop, I never mention the heat source. Would it be necessary to do so?

So we discussed what we’d hear and why. What we’d see and why. And why not for both. It was a quiet talk between us but sadly took up only about 45 mins or so.

The power company called my cell phone at about ten to say it was going to be much later before the power was back on. I drug out the deep cycle battery and hooked up the air pumps for the fish tanks. Didn’t want to get up to a bunch of dead fish.

Then I went to bed. At 10:30. I wasn’t sick, either. I don’t think I’ve gone to bed that early in a very long time. I wanted to stay up and write. But the laptop drains the deep cell battery quickly, especially with the air pumps going at the same time. I laid there, staring out in the darkness, wide freakin’ awake. I did fall asleep several times but woke myself up snoring. My CPAP doesn’t have a battery back up. A little before midnight, the lights came on and I got up to turn everything off, fix the air pumps, etc etc.

And it was very loud in the house again.

bookmark_borderDeath By Deletion

I killed someone today. No, not a spider. Not even a “real” person, actually.

Simple Sarah, the novel I am working on (and have been for the past 5 yrs), had too many characters. The Sword-Swinging, Glow-In-The-Dark Priestess has had three others with her in the beginning of the book. So I killed one of them. And not even a funeral. I deleted her.

Tamara (that was her name) still exists but as I go through this rewrite, I am changing it and removing her. By the time I get to page 184, she will be gone. Death by deletion. What’s sad is that I won’t miss her. I’ll miss her horse more. Isn’t that sad? Amber (the horse) was a delicate “well-bred” who liked to crush skulls with her feet. She was a wanna-be warhorse. Tamara’s role in the book was minimal and frankly, never went anywhere. She died at the end of the first mammoth writing of the book. She never really did anything. In one re-write, she was the lost daughter of the King but, eh, that was one plot line too many.

I don’t have conversations with my characters. They don’t talk to me. Which is good ’cause I’d freak if Tamara were to be pleading for her life. Worse yet would be if Amber were to appear and start wanting to crush my skull. I’m insane enough, thank you. I don’t need fictional characters talking to me. I do, however, see them in movies. They act out a scene or something and I get an idea for how the scene works or doesn’t work. And Tamara wasn’t working. She just didn’t fit and was a named extra. (Tamara, the sidekick vs Archer #4)

The removal of Tamara caused a minor plot problem that, in fixing it, made the overall plot more believeable anyway. The overall time line has shifted by two years. Lea (the Sword-Swinging, Glow-In-The-Dark Priestess) and the other two with her are now two years younger. This is better, much better.

So, Tamara, it was good to know you. And Amber, sweetie, in reality, you were too delicate boned a horse to be able to crush skulls so well. Perhaps, if I find I miss you two, I’ll put you in somewhere in the Big Final Battle in book three. But then, I’d only kill you off again.