word wrestle

A Fall of Diamonds, 60,667. Doing well with revising the novel. The total word count bounces up and down day to day since sometimes I delete more than I add. Still thinking about fast-drafting The Serene Widow, but maybe not this month (I’d set myself an August 31st deadline–loading the gun as usual to shoot myself in the foot.).

I’ve reached a point in revising where I need to pay purposeful attention to shaping each and every scene. Having a completed first draft makes it possible to get a panoramic view of the whole thing and then narrow down. I’ve got to get a better grasp of what kind of novel I’m writing and in what genre. Historical fantasy is what I think it is, but what’s the core story? Is it a romance or an adventure saga? Right now I know what it’s not. It’s not a mystery or a thriller or horror. I’m leaning heavily toward romance.

I’m in Part Two now. The part that comprises the bulk of the story and must be strongly structured to drive the narrative into Part Three and its eventual conclusion. I have three main characters, three story threads, and the book will be in three parts. I’m looking at 150,000 words, maybe 180,000.

That’s frightening.

Happy writing!

attitude is everything


My mind is as dry as desert sand, but I insist that the muse get off her skinny butt and do something. Work progresses slowly on rewriting The Foreigner. To keep the words building, I set the timer and write for 15 minutes each day to start, and if I surpass the quarter hour, then I keep going. Word count so far is 21,537. I’ve done a lot of cutting from the original version, and I’ve got a new ending now.

I wasn’t happy with the original ending–it was romantic and not real given the circumstances in the story. The story now ends more true to life.

Is the Prologue necessary? I’m thinking no. It does establish an emotional tone and introduces one of the two main characters, and provides motivation too, but it doesn’t raise any questions. It could be woven into the narrative. I like the idea of an epigraph, if I can find the right one.

Today I prepped the fence plot for planting–bellpeppers and something else. Have not decided what. Maybe the banana pepper.

Tomorrow is another day.

first quarter plan


Sunless again, but my mood today isn’t as sullen as the sky. Yesterday was fairly productive. Hand wrote the bathhouse scene in The Foreigner, a rough rendering, but you can’t improve what you have not written. Going to type it into the manuscript today.

Since February is almost over and the final month of the first quarter of 2020 approaches, I took a look at my first quarter plan:

  • Finish edit and rewrite of The Foreigner by 3/31/2020
  • Edit short story, We Love You More, for atmosphere
  • Edit A Useful Blind (beta read comments) and figure out Act 3
  1. The Foreigner word count 16,697 edited from 31,067 finished 1st draft manuscript. Goal: 40,000 words
  2. We Love You More, 2,618 words. Ready to go.
  3. A Useful Blind, 20,149 words, completed the beta read comments.

The Foreigner has priority and my fingers are crossed that I get it done by March 31. We Love You More is waiting for my first choice market to open in March, and A Useful Blind needs the third act rewritten.

I’ll give myself a B.

not so sure now


March is coming up and I’m stuck on The Foreigner. The confidence I had in January has evaporated, but I’m still hoping to finish the rewrite by March 31. It’s a dull day outside, the sun smothered somewhere in the sullen February sky. More rain is predicted. The only rain I want is a rain of words stacking up on the novel. The good news is I thought of a new scene this morning. I’m hoping to write it today.

My MacBook Pro is dying.  Too much of my time is wasted watching the beachball spin, think the clock is on its last tick, but I can’t run out and buy a new computer yet. So I’m writing by hand the way I used to. There is something soothing about writing with a simple pen and paper.  It settles my brain and I can stare off into the distance without a blinking cursor in my face. One thing I wish for is to write faster, but I imagine that comes with time.

I have seven short stories ready to go, but the places I want to send them are closed right now. The earliest open-for-submissions date is March 15 for one of them and the rest of the markets on my list have April and May open dates. I made up a submissions calendar so I don’t forget.

I have not posted much here because I’m thinking of changing the blog to something else–publishing non-fiction articles about subjects that appeal to me. I’m thinking one feature article a month. We’ll see.

Happy writing.



In the Hollow, Edward R. Hughes

My writing projects have kept me busy. I try to be productive, but I’m more like the squirrel on the wheel—running, running…not getting anywhere.

Quarter 4 Status Report (so far)

Worked hard on Possessed, (3rd draft) but ran into a block and set it aside for a bit. Figured out the block, but have not had a chance to get back to the manuscript—too many distractions. Will get back to it in December, I think.

Had a short story rejected. Bleh.

Had a proposal rejected. Bleh.

Revised another short story, but it’s still sitting in its folder, and sketched out another short story, but have not written it. Still ruminating on it.

Received back beta comments on my gaslamp murder mystery novella, but have not reviewed them yet.

Had another short story rejected. Bleh.


October was a patchwork quilt of writing work with only minor success in making progress. November looks like the dreary dumps. (Skipped NaNo this year.) December—maybe Possessed.

On the upside…

Enjoyed reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Beautiful writing, engaging characters, compelling story.

Took an excellent workshop, Writing the Romantic Novella, taught by Catherine Chant

The painting above by Pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Robert Hughes, reflects my mood this month perfectly.


bats and pumpkins


October 23, 2019

Chilly this morning, but turned warm and sunny in the afternoon. Winter is gradually settling over southeastern Alabama, trading off with the dying days of the summer season. The summer heat, temps in the nineties, hung on until late September. Now we’ve got cold mornings, warm afternoons, and sometimes chilly, sometimes warm nights. My garden is sprouting cool weather brassica–swiss chard, cabbage, kale, romaine and butter lettuces, and my writing is drowning me in weeds and brambles, but I’m pushing through. I’ve been buried in words and paper for most of the year and have neglected the blog, not so much because of the writing as my indecision on whether or not to keep it. If I keep it, I’m planning to revamp it into something else other than a writer’s journal. We’ll see.

Yesterday I spent all day on a manuscript that started off as a paranormal romance but has morphed into a paranormal suspense. I received a rejection for a short story–oh well–and have two projects hanging fire on my Kanban board. I’m not doing NaNo this year–need a stress-free November, but I do have a November project that I’ll be writing. NaNo free doesn’t mean work free. Maybe I’ll take December off. I say that every year, but it doesn’t happen. If I’m not writing, I’m lost.

Maybe it’s just because it’s October with November jump-scaring at the gate, but I’ve got a hankering to write a ghost story. I’ve written two already, but they’re not spooky enough, darn it! Worse, I’ve no idea for another, but my mind keeps pushing the urge so I’ll be spending some time looking at moody images at Pinterest and hope something sparks.


missing the scary


The Death of the Gravedigger, Carlos Schwabe

One thing I’ve noticed in recent horror fiction is the lack of scare. The horror is present but it’s not as visceral as horror fiction used to be, not as scary. What’s being published is good,  that is well-written, but I’m not getting that gut-deep intuitive fear that embeds itself in my consciousness while reading recent horror fiction. These days I see more scare in the crappy horror movies being produced by the streaming networks than I find in fiction, and by the way, what’s with the saturation of body horror movies on these networks? They’re not scary either; they’re just gross and disgusting and I refuse to watch them, but it’s sometimes unavoidable since body horror also pops up in other horror films. 

When I say scary, I’m thinking Stephen King-Peter Straub-Ramsey Campbell scary. I love a good chill-inducing when you’re alone story, and while I’ve read some good horror fiction over the past years, I’m missing the scary. 

On the writing front, the YA collaboration novel is still in progress, and I had a horror flash fiction published in the Charmed Writers 2019 Flash Fiction anthology. Yesterday I brainstormed a ghost story. I’m a pantser at heart, although it hasn’t served me well over the years.  Even though I only had a character and an idea to go on, I wrote an opening paragraph anyway, a good one too, but I don’t know where the story’s going to go from there. I’ve written about 25, maybe 30, (not sure since I haven’t counted them) short stories so I do manage to find my way to the end. 

I’ve tried to plan my novels so I won’t run into writing blocks, but it’s mostly a hybrid effort–some  outlining, some pantsing, depends on how much I already have in my head. I try to lay out the major action and hope to discover the fine details along the way.

Need to get started on today’s work. This week I edited my contemporary romance, Runaway Heart, and another horror short story, Dead, Baby! Both are on the cooling off shelf for the next couple weeks. 

Today I’ll work on the new ghost story, and I might take a look at the finished draft of my fantasy historical, A Fall of Diamonds, to see what I’m thinking.

Happy writing!

giving up


Burgundy sunflower from my garden–a nice surprise.

The subject title is a little clickbait-ish, but it’s sorta true. I’m giving up discipline, except for one thing. I’m tired of fighting the battle of having a writing schedule because I so often don’t keep the appointment I’ve made with myself. Either I’m still doing other stuff when the appointed time rolls around, stuff I can’t just drop and race to my desk, or something else gets in the way. I make it to the desk, but I’m always late. I don’t want to be late. Once in a while I’m on time, but it won’t happen every day. If this were a salaried job, I’d be fired for tardiness.

The one exception to making sure I write daily is the YA book collaboration agreement  I’m in with two other writers and that book does have a due date so no fooling around. But as for my other novel projects–omg. There’s too many of them–finished and in need of rewriting and editing or unfinished and in need of completion. I made a list. There’s 15 viable ones, 8 finished and 7 unfinished. I’m not counting the stories in my file cabinet with not much done on them beyond notes and a page or two of a beginning. (Sigh)

So I’ve decided whichever one of those fifteen speaks the loudest to me each day–and they all chatter at me like a room full of talky cats–that’s the one that I’ll work on that day for however long it shouts at me. If it shouts at me long enough, I’ll finish it. Not that day of course, but in time.

Here’s the list:

Finished (needs editing/rewriting/polishing)

  • A Fall of Diamonds (Angharad fantasy series)
  • A Useful Blind (Steampunk murder mystery)
  • The Bone Box (Horror novella)
  • Errors of Choice (Contemporary)
  • Loose Daddy (Literary)
  • Possessed (Dark Paranormal Romance)
  • Runaway Heart (Contemporary Romance)
  • Shadow Walk (Dark Fantasy/Horror)


  • A Haunting of Roses (Angharad fantasy series)
  • A Lamentation of Swans (Angharad fantasy series)
  • Chained (Fantasy Historical Romance)
  • Death of a Young Woman (Contemporary)
  • The Foreigner (Literary Fantasy)
  • The Friendship Killers (Thriller)

When I enter my office, I’ll write, whatever the time and for however long, depending on what I’m doing–writing, editing, rewriting, researching. Going to stop wrestling with the clock.


writing cruise

St. Maarten

Last October I signed my first book contract, a collaboration with two other writers. To kickoff the project, in March, we went on a ten-day writing cruise to the Caribbean, my first time visiting that part of the world. I loved it!

We sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, March 3, on a lovely Saturday on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and arrived at St. Maarten three days later. I usually take river cruises with Viking. This was my first time on an ocean cruise and I was anxious about it–the ocean scares me; all that water and not a stick of land in sight, not to mention I’ve had a lifetime of ocean nightmares, but on a city-size cruise ship, you forget you’re on the ocean. I took a break from the writing and left the ship to snap a few photos. Didn’t take a water taxi to the town though, we were only there for a couple hours.

More to come…

Day 30


Winning NANO is a kick to the creative ego, but it’s such an ordeal! Really I’m not stressing myself out in November next year, going to take a break. I’m sure I’ll be writing, but not under the NANO gun. The last few days I let the words spill on the page as haphazardly as they came, doing my best to hold back the perfection demon, the brain freeze, and the sinking despair that strikes when you feel like you’re writing crap and you know you are. How are you going to fix it and will you ever and is it even fixable?

NANO isn’t about getting the novel perfectly written; it’s about getting it written in any way that gets the novel done in 50,000 words (or more)! I’m happy to have written a good draft–yes it’s a crazy quilt of scenes, but I made it to a satisfying end. I thought I’d be writing right up to midnight today. The manuscript has great potential (as does every manuscript, I think). Was going to take December off, but not. Going to dive into editing and revising A Fall of Diamonds while it’s still smoking. I’d like to have the edits and revisions completed by 3/31/2019.

Happy writing!