Goals: December 2017

November Nanowrimo went really well. Tamara and I finished our draft (81K) of The Seventh Symphony in two weeks, making a new record for us. With all these drafts in my hands, it looks like December and January will be months of revisions, my favorite part of writing.

In November my goals were:

  1. WRITE THE SEVENTH SYMPHONY first draft with Tamara-CHECK! We did it easily. Now the draft will stew while we revise the earlier book, The Eighth Octave, to match any changes needed due to the new branch of the story.
  2. WRITE NEW BOOK IDEA, possibly titled Myra Justice-CHECK! I managed to get in about 8000 words on this, two chapters or so.
  3. Odds & Ends-CHECK! I got through a big push on the Alaska Essays editing project, getting through line edits. Now I’m heading into the photo editing part of the project, a whole new kind of problem solving for me.

December Goals:

  1. RIVER RUNNING REVISION with Tamara- We wrote Book Two in our Indigo Elements series in October. Now we need to revise Book One to mesh with it. We have a list of 26 items to fix or change, ranging from smaller, one sentence matters to larger, stickier ones such as magic system clarifications.
  2. LIGHT & SHADOW REVISION- I plan to take the second half of the month to work on Light & Shadow. I have not read it or looked at it in a few months, after doing a big revision and rewrite.
  3. WRITE NEW BOOK IDEA- I’m going to continue drafting this new idea, though again, I don’t expect to get very far.
  4. ALASKA ESSAYS- I’m going to make a big push on the organizational edit for the Alaska Essays volume I am “producing.” It’s a diverse project that involves co-ordinating various writers, editors, and contributors. I’m glad for my work with Flashdogs that helped prepare me for this kind of project!

Another cover treat. Here’s a sample cover I made for The Eighth Octave (just for fun):

teo3

 

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The Infernal Clock

My flash fiction buddies have been up to their old shenanigans, and after a random episode of tweeting brilliance, David Shakes came up with another cool flash fiction book concept, The Infernal Clock, a horror story for each hour of the day.

My hour, assigned late in the game, was 2 a.m. I have played around with horror as an exercise over the years, but I admit, I find it one of the hardest genres as a writer. My story, Karen’s Babies, was one of many stories I have written in my life to which I didn’t want to attach my name. But, I took a deep breath and did it anyway, as an exercise in detaching from my creations. Just because I wrote something dark and twisted, it doesn’t mean I am dark and twisted.

Right?

I had the privilege of working with David Shakes and Steph Ellis, the curators of this volume, to produce the final product in e-book and print form. The incomparable Tamara Rogers made the cover.

get e-book here

get print book here

INfernal Clock Kindle Cover

 

 

Upcoming Flash Fiction Contest at LCP

Alert to all FlashDogs, FlashMonkeys, FlashDragons, and other flashy types!

In honor of the release of our latest books, Tamara Shoemaker and I are co-hosting a ONE-TIME FLASH FICTION contest on the Luminous Creatures Press Blog.

The contest submission dates will run from June 28-June 30, 2016, so mark your calendars! The prompts will be posted on June 28th, and then you’ll have two full days to create a story of 100 words or fewer to enter. The theme will be fantasy, since the new release books we are celebrating are both fantasy stories. More information and a photo prompt will be posted on June 28th.

To see our rules, please visit the Luminous Creatures Blog here.

Please note: you do not have to be a writer to enter this contest; Tamara and I are hoping for entries from anyone who is interested in winning a free copy of our new releases, whether you’ve written anthologies, novels, flash fiction, or only your name. Come one, come all! It’ll be fun!

Preeminent Flashdog Mark A. King has agreed to serve as our judge. The winner will receive paperback or ebook editions of our two new books: Embrace the Fire, by Tamara Shoemaker, a YA novel set in a classic fantasy world with dragons, elves, and other creatures, and Sterling, by Emily June Street, a fantasy romance with an intricate magic system.

 

Flashdogs

Happy Monday! The next FlashDogs flash fiction anthology, TIME, is up and available for pre-order. I have two stories in here, one co-written with Tamara Shoemaker. I also donate my time for formatting for The FlashDogs.

The proceeds of these anthologies go to an international literacy charity. Learn more about The FlashDogs here. You can also get fantastic merch from their website.

The fabulous FlashDogs art is by Tamara Rogers:

TIME Ebook Cover

“Time may wait for no man, but The FlashDogs shepherd it with aplomb in their third anthology of flash fiction. Let this intrepid pack of cutting-edge writers fill your mind—and your hours—with their super-short stories of past, present, and future. Featuring an impressive roster of flash-fictioneers old and new, this collection has a bit of everything–romance, dystopia, comedy, tragedy–all spread across a changing timescape inspired by three photographs.”

January 2016 Goals

In December my goals were:

  1. Finalize The Cedna. Done! It is out and you can get it here!
  2. Promote The Cedna. Well, I did as much as I could stand, but as ever, book promotion is a hated but ongoing task for me.
  3. Sterling revision. Done and sent out to 2.5 editors/readers.
  4. New writing. I read two half-done manuscripts, picked one to resume, and have started daily work on it.

And my goals for January will be:

  1. New Writing: I’m going to devote the next month’s writing days to the manuscript I picked last month. Right now I just call it “Glitter” but that will not be its final name.
  2. LCP flash fiction contest: Luminous Creatures is running a month-long flash fiction contest over on our website. See the prompts here.
  3. Revise Tales of Blood & Light Book Four: It’s a big, sprawling mess.
  4. The Gantean and The Cedna boxed set: I’m making an ebook boxed set for the first two Tales of Blood and Light books, which are really like a “duet” within a series. Still working out some cover snafus.
  5. Flashdogs : TIME: I’m expecting to received the next Flashdogs manuscript any day now. Once I do, I’ll format it for ebook and print! Its planned release date is the Chinese New Year, Feb. 8th.

Seven Questions : Tamara Shoemaker : Mark of Four

I’m very fortunate to have not one but two editions of “Seven Questions” for the final month of the year. Today I’m featuring YA author Tamara Shoemaker, whose latest book, Mark of Four, is the first in a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world with a magic system based on the four classical elements: air, earth, fire, and water.

Tamara and I recently had the pleasure of writing a historical short story together, which will appear in the next Flashdogs Anthology, coming in February 2016. I also have to brag that I drew the “Mark of Four” glyph that is featured in this book. You’ll have to buy the book to see the glyph though!

Read on for her answers to my seven questions.

MOFcoverdraft

  • Define Mark of Four’s central plot conflict in three sentences or less.

In a post-apocalyptic world where Elemental abilities can save or squander all human life, a teenage girl with unique skills seeks to protect her family, her friends, and the source of Elemental power from an escaped criminal and his followers. (How’s ONE sentence?) 😉

 

  • What appeals to you about writing YA fantasy?

I’m in love with the vivid, raw emotions that are usually quite prevalent in them. There’s a simplicity to the character development—a teen’s first steps into the wider world. There’s usually very little qualification to the emotions; when the character feels joy, it’s overwhelming. When he or she panics, it’s straight-up, all-out, sky-falling terror. When he or she falls in love, there’s very little baggage to sort through. I guess this could be said about any YA genre, not just fantasy, but what’s a book without a little magic? Perhaps the magic holds me just as much as the honest emotions.

 

  • How did your writing change from first draft to last draft on this one?

The entire story has turned inside-out, and then outside back in again. Reading over the book now, I can see a seed of the original idea I started with, but the final draft pulled it together so much more tightly than what it had originally been. The first draft was a mess. The story was shaky and out-of-order, with Alayne rambling off on some unneeded journey over here, and random unnecessary characters appearing over there. After the story went through what seemed liked thousands of edits, and after my editor took it in hand, the final version ended up with a solid structure. The first chapter lays out the conflict nicely, and the story builds on itself from there.

Not only did the story structure improve–this book had been in existence about two years prior to its publication. During those two years of edits, I was constantly writing other material. I wrote the two sequels to this book, as well as the first two books in another trilogy. My writing style has changed and deepened and improved over those two years, so comparing the first draft to the final draft, adverbs disappeared, stage-management lessened, the characters acted differently because they were written less haphazardly, there were fewer speech tags, etc.—the little details that you don’t notice unless you’ve been an author or an editor, but the important ones that make the story better as a whole.

 

  • How many editing passes do you normally do on a draft, and can you describe your editing process a bit?

I like to say I edit until I get the story right. Whether that’s two times or two hundred times, it depends. Mark of Four was closer to two-hundred times. It morphed so much over the two years that it sat on my hard drive that it never got past the “final editing pass” until recently, and then only after I found an editor.

Even though I can’t nail down a number for editing passes, I generally finish a first draft, and then let it sit for a month without touching it so it can steep in my mind. When the month is done, I’ll dust it off and then go through and brutally mark every single thing in the margins that I don’t like about the story, from overused adjectives to a major plot holes. When that’s done, I’ll go through and eradicate whatever problem I had marked in the margins. When that step is done, I send it off to my editor for her first global edit, and then it’s a matter of back-and-forth passes of the manuscript, several times, until we’re down to the fine-tuning (sentence structure, comma misplacement, etc.). When that’s done, the manuscript goes to the beta readers, who usually catch a few more mistakes, and then it’s off to the publisher’s while I do two more final, final read-throughs, looking for anything I missed.

Even after all that, I generally find at least one mistake after the book is out in print, which, of course, is mostly to keep me humble. 😉

 

  • Do you consciously approach literary themes in your writing or just allow them to emerge as they will?

I have never sat down and thought, I’m going to write a book about social injustice. Or revenge. Or hypocrisy or anything like that. Although inevitably, those themes will present themselves in my writing. As with most stories, I always have a protagonist and an antagonist, and as those two meet and the story fleshes itself out, usually a theme rises out of that, and I run with it.

But I don’t think I’ve ever decided before I begin writing what my theme will be. It comes as I get to know the characters and how they relate to the world around them.

 

  • Where do you get your world-building ideas and inspirations?

I’ve always had an extremely vivid imagination, so a lot of it comes from the what-if questions I ask myself at night as I’m falling asleep. What if I didn’t have to get up in the morning, and I could put physical power behind my thoughts to make things happen? What if the world I’m living in is actually a dream, and I think I’m living in a dream, but I’m actually living somewhere else instead? What if the universe were contained within someone else’s world, and we’re just a speck in that world?

Some of these ideas have been used before (Horton Hears a Who?), and some haven’t. Some ideas, I’ll partially borrow from themes I’ve read in other YA fantasy works and give them a twist in my own books. Some will be mostly original with me.

The teacher in the Biblical Ecclesiastes said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” I think that can apply to literature. If there’s an idea, most likely someone has thought of it, but you can always put your own spin on it.

 

  • What is your secret super-power?

I can make a mean recipe of cookies. The earth may be dismantled, and the mountains split and slide into the foaming ocean, but if I have an oven, butter, flour, sugar, and of course, chocolate, I can whip up some yummy goodies for anyone to sit back and watch the apocalypse.

What do I wish was my secret super-power? I wish I could clone myself. Just think of all the books I could churn out if there were twenty of me, and there’d still be one or two of me left over to keep the house clean, the laundry done, and the dishes washed. 🙂

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Learn more about Tamara, her excellent freelance editing offerings, and her books on her website:

www.tamarashoemaker.org