Looking Back at 2017

I know, I know, there’s still more than a month left of the year! I shouldn’t be so eager to close it out, right? But I’m always a lot less productive in the final month of the year. Between the holidays and my birthday and the kids out of school . . . It gets harder to get anything done, at least in terms of writing.

So with the fair certainty that I won’t magically be finishing another book in the next 30+ days, I want to look at what I did accomplish this year. Because it’s quite a lot, and listing it makes me feel better about myself and the coming laziness.

In 2017, I:

  1. Published Brynnde, which went on to strong reviews, good sales, and won a cover design award
  2. Republished my Sherlock Holmes stories as a collection and simultaneously put out an audiobook version
  3. Finished Hamlette
  4. Edited books for paying clients
  5. Wrote a short script for an indie director
  6. Had a short story accepted to a fairy tale anthology; it was released earlier this month
  7. Wrote and published a new Sherlock Holmes story (really a Moriarty story)

That’s a pretty productive year, especially for me, someone who isn’t a very fast writer.

However, I didn’t accomplish everything I originally had on my list for the year. Though I made progress with Changers 2, I still haven’t finished it. So going forward, these are my goals:

  1. Finish The Great Divide (Changers 2)
  2. Finish Faebourne
  3. Write Epiphanies
  4. Write Merry/Annette (title subject to change)

Wow, that’s a lot of work. Deep breaths. I can do it. Might take a while, but it can be done.

How has your 2017 been? Do you think you’ll accomplish anything in the last month? Are you already looking ahead to 2018? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

WIP Wednesday

Yesterday, for no real reason, I started writing about my life. Here is some of what came out:

The decision of whether to go buy candy was always a big one because at any time the sno-cone truck might come by, and if we’d spent all our money on candy we wouldn’t have any for sno-cones. A sno-cone was fifty cents, and you could get extra syrup or a cream syrup topping for another quarter. The thing was, if for some reason the sno-cone truck didn’t come on a given day, you may have waited in vain when you could have gone and bought candy. It was a constant internal wrestling match, and it started fresh every morning.

I’m still torn over the spelling of sno-cone. But that’s how I recall it being spelled when I was a kid. Anyway, I like it better than “snow cone” or “snowcone.” In Southern Louisiana they call them “snowballs.” But I want to be true to my childhood, and where I grew up we said “sno-cone.”

In writing, little things matter. Every word lends a style and feeling to the work.

Nah, No WriMo

So I had originally planned to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. Alas, I was overly ambitious on that point. I’ve only just finished a manuscript and released a short story, and every time I complete a major project (or two), I need a few days of down time. But NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow for any down time at all. Add to this the fact that I’ll be away on vacation in a couple weeks, and it just doesn’t seem fair to myself to attempt NaNoWriMo. I’d only be setting myself up for failure, disappointment, and unnecessary guilt.

Still, I’m cheering on all of you who are devoting yourselves to writing this month! I know for some, NaNo is the one time in the year you really do focus on the craft. If so, good for you! Since I write—or should be writing—all the time, my year is just one writing month after another. And while I see the value in dedicating myself to a project that needs to be finished (*cough*Changers2*cough*), November just isn’t going to work for me. Maybe I should pick another month for that kind of focus, though there’s something to be said for knowing a lot of other writers are in the same boat. An externally imposed deadline works way better for me than one I set for myself.

Anyway, I refuse to feel bad. This has been a very productive year for me, and my best in terms of book sales since 2012. This year I:

  • Released Brynnde
  • Compiled and released my Sherlock Holmes stories as both ebook and audiobook
  • Attended a fabulous workshop in France
  • Finished and found an agent for Hamlette (in large part due to the aforementioned workshop)
  • Had a short story accepted to an anthology
  • Wrote and published yet another short story

That’s a pretty big year in terms of writing and publishing! Or it is for me, at least. I’m not a fast writer, so to have done so much in one year is major for me. That said, there are still a lot of things waiting in the wings, not least of which is Changers 2. Also, Faebourne, which is another Regency romance like Brynnde, and Epiphanies (the follow-up to Hamlette).

At the moment, I’m workshopping what I have of Changers 2 with one of my critique groups. I’ve started Faebourne but am not very far along, and Epiphanies is only an outline. I have my work cut out for me! But I won’t be doing any of it via NaNoWriMo. Not this time. I’m going to take a little breather and then jump back in—when I’m ready.

WIPjoy #29 + 5 More Answers

29. What’s something that’s creepy in your WIP?

Well, there’s a ghost. But it’s not a very creepy ghost. I think the second death in the manuscript is creepiest. It happens off the page, and the main character sees it on the news, and I think it’s probably one of the creepiest situations in the book.

***

 

 

Yesterday I started this little list, too. So let’s do five more answers.

6. Favorite place to write.

London? When I can get there. Really, anywhere I can get away. I love retreating in order to write. But I do most of my writing in Little London, which is my home office. You can see a video of it on my Facebook page.

7. Most overused word.

My thesis advisors pointed out that I used “just” a lot. I don’t know if that’s still true; I try to be cognizant of it. I think I use “was” too much. A lot of my revisions and edits involve going back and trying to remove as many of those as possible by replacing them with stronger verbs.

8. Most overused punctuation.

Depends on the genre! When I was writing The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, I definitely was fond of my semicolons. When writing young adult, I tend to possibly use exclamation points more than absolutely necessary.

9. Long or short sentences?

Again, depends on genre. My upmarket work has much longer sentences than my YA. Romance is in between. But truly, a good book will have a variety of sentence lengths and structures to keep in interesting.

10. Plain or purple prose?

Fairly plain. I do embroider a bit now and then, but that’s usually because I’m following a character’s thoughts. Thoughts can be complicated!

WIPjoy #25

25. Antagonists – What’s something that keeps you up at night?

Ophelia: I worry sometimes that I won’t be recognized on the street. That the paparazzi won’t want pictures of me. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re no longer worth anything to them.

Eoin: Ophelia.

Interviewer: Oh! In a, you know . . . hubba-hubba way?

Eoin: What? No. She snores. I see now why Bryce slept in a different room.

I should set a book in Southend-on-Sea . . .

WIPjoy #23

23. Protagonist – Last dream you had?

Nerissa: Well, I describe it pretty clearly in the book, I think. You know, the whole bit with my dead dad coming for a visit? I’ve probably dreamed since then, but if so, I don’t remember. The dad thing took up a lot of headspace.

Hullo again to Southend-on-Sea! Thanks for visiting!

WIPjoy #22

22. Antagonist – Favorite snack food?

Ophelia: Oh! Are we being interviewed? Well, I don’t really snack, you know. My figure and all.
Eoin: I like pickled onion crisps. While watching a match on the telly.
Ophelia: And Welsh red ale. He loves that, too.
Eoin: You don’t approve?
Ophelia: I never said I didn’t.
Eoin: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Ophelia: Let’s not do this in front of the interviewer.

Ophelia Dey gives a strained smile. Eoin—once her brother-in-law, now her husband—looks away, clearly wishing to be elsewhere. Ophelia is used to this scrutiny, but Eoin clearly is not. He lived in his brother’s shadow for so long that the spotlight blinds him. You could almost feel sorry for him. But not quite. There’s something about him—about them both—that feels skew-whiff, and it’s more than grief or a sudden change in circumstances. There is something wrong with these two people, but as an interviewer, I can’t find the right question to draw out the poison.

WIPjoy #21

21. Share an intriguing line.

I suppose there is a *slight* difference between lines I absolutely love and those that are intriguing. Anyway, I don’t know if this one counts as “intriguing” but:

“Treason,” I croaked, and wondered if ghosts were allowed to send messages through newspaper puzzles.

WIPjoy #20

20. When your WIP is a movie, what would the credits sequence be like?

I’m going to assume end credits here. I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say the book ends on a somber note; it’s based on Hamlet, after all. So there would be a slow fade out, and some deceptively slow, sweet music—or something moody, anyway. But then the rock beat would kick in.

There wouldn’t be outtakes or any of that stuff, but I think we might have a parchment background with some Shakespearean (Elizabethan era) writing? Or the actual names might be in a stylized calligraphy on the parchment? In any case, something that ties back to the source material. Sketches or faux paintings of the main characters in Elizabethan garb that then fades into them in modern clothing or something.

We could also possibly do something where we see Nerissa on the job. (If you read the book if/when it comes out, you’ll see what I mean.) There’s potential for lightheartedness there so that the whole movie doesn’t end on a down note.

Really, though, I don’t see my WIP as film material. Some books are (The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller definitely is), but this one . . . I don’t know. I’m not sold on the idea.