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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.

New Story Out!

I have a new short story out on Amazon today. I’d say it’s a Sherlock Holmes story, except it’s told from the perspective of Moriarty. You can check it out here. Kindle Unlimited members can read it for free!

What if the famously evil Professor Moriarty wasn’t as evil as Holmes made him out to be? Hear his side in this new short story that revisits the Reichenbach Falls.

IWSG: NaNoWriMo

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

An agent has offered to represent my latest novel, which is a big step in my writing career, but my insecurities are far from over. Now I worry whether any publishers will want my manuscript. And I worry about getting the next one written in a timely fashion. I’m not a fast writer, and I have a stack of projects. Prioritizing will be key.

Question of the Month: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (though I’m considering trying to finish Changers 2 by NaNoing it). Of the ones currently listed on the NaNo site, I finished and published all of them. But I’ve done NaNo for a lot longer than the current site shows because I think I made a new account at some point. I’m pretty sure some of my earlier years I either didn’t finish or didn’t publish what I wrote. As I recall, one year I just wrote a lot of fan fiction.

BTW, if you want to be my NaNo friend, I’m mpepper.

Oh! AND . . . You can now preorder the anthology I contributed to. Release date is 11/7.

WIPjoy #31 & Final Five Answers

31. Your dream cosplay from your WIP!

My characters live in the modern world and dress fairly normally. Maybe slightly better labels than I do. At best, I could dress up in some haute couture like my characters do for the big memorial service. I like dressing up, so that could be fun.

 

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16. Weird personal writing quirk.

I can’t write with other people around. Like, even with other people in the house, no matter how quiet they’re being. I really have to have separate space. That said, I can sometimes manage it in a hotel room, so long as I can’t hear others. And I make my home office work with a very loud white noise machine. But ideally I’d have a little writing cottage separate from the main house. A bungalow or something.

17. Notebook or computer?

Usually my laptop, but not always. I keep a notebook next to me, and when I need to stop and plan a scene, I switch to that. I use a kind of flowcharting method and then write the scene on the laptop. I seldom write any actual amount of the book in longhand. Only if I don’t have my computer and really want to get something down—then I’ll pull out my notebook (I always carry one) and write in it.

18. Favorite setting to write.

I don’t understand the question. Are you asking where my favorite place to write is, or do you want to know my favorite place to write about? I guess since you already asked my favorite place to write, you must mean fictional setting. Most of my work is set in London, or at least England: my Sherlock Holmes stories, The K-Pro (an English film set), Brynnde, the recently finished Hamlette . . . I guess I should say that’s my favorite setting to write. Mostly I enjoy big houses and gardens and parks. I write about places I want to be.

19. Biggest writing fear.

That it’s all in vain. That I’ve written these books and no one cares, no one will read them. That I’m wasting my time.

20. Biggest writing hope.

The opposite of my fear: that people will read my books and enjoy them, and that my stories will outlast me.

WIPjoy #30 & 5 More Answers

30. How do your characters celebrate Halloween (or other holiday) if they do?

Nerissa isn’t much for parties, though she doesn’t mind dressing up. She thinks it’s kind of fun, actually. But she’s too old to trick-or-treat. Her ideal Hallowe’en is hanging around a bonfire.

 

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11.Your first MC.

Uh . . . I don’t remember. Back when I wrote those Fanta-C magazines, I wrote about characters from movies and television. I’d give news on what Han Solo and Indiana Jones were up to (they were identical cousins, you know, because my mom would come home for lunch and we’d watch Patty Duke reruns).

My first original MC would have been the Hemlock sisters? My best friend and I made them up: a pair of sleuthing sisters who lived with their Aunt Miranda. Their parents had died under mysterious circumstances, so the running thread was to discover how and why their parents had died. In the meantime, they solved other mysteries in their small town.

12. Favorite trope.

I use metaphor a lot. Really, though, I’m not sure I have a favorite trope (if by “trope” you mean a common theme or structure seen in many books, television shows, and movies). I have a lot that I dislike, but few that I think: I love that! I guess maybe the repressed personality that is moved to express emotion? Because I identify with that.

13. Least favorite trope.

Oh, here it is! I don’t have a least favorite because I dislike them all equally. The chosen one/snowflake (yes, even though Cee is kind of one of these); the overwrought love triangle (again, even though Cee sort of has one); the perfect MC who still somehow thinks she’s ugly or stupid, even though guys are tripping all over themselves for her. I’m sure there are a ton more that I’m just not thinking about this minute because I try not to think about them ever.

14. Least favorite OC.

Of mine? That I made up? That’s just mean, asking me to pick on one of my literary children. I love them all, though probably not equally. I think Akkad—the MC of my thesis—might be one of my least favorite characters. If I ever go rewrite my thesis, I’ll flesh him out a bit more and make him less whiny.

15. Worst writing habit.

Procrastination, often in the form of doing just this kind of thing: blogging, tweeting, faffing about online instead of writing.

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.

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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 #28 & Facts About Me

28. Protagonist – Worst way to die?

Nerissa: I would think dying at all would be pretty bad. But, you know, poisoned toothpaste is right up there on the list of bad ways to bite it.

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I borrowed this from Twitter, therefore the “Likes” thing doesn’t apply. I’m just going to answer these because I’m that self-interested. I’ll start with just five, though, because I don’t have a lot of time at the moment.

1. Age you started writing.

Well, I taught myself to read and write when I was three, but I think you mean, like, writing stories? Around age eight. I would make little newspapers and magazines for my friends to read.

2. Story that inspired you to write.

It was actually movies and television that got me started. Indiana Jones and Young Sherlock Holmes and animated Disney movies and such.

3. First WIP title.

Like, the first I ever wrote? Jesus, I don’t remember. I wrote these “magazines” called Fanta-C if that counts.

4. First, second, or third person?

Usually third. BUT. My most recent WIP was in first person and that’s the one that grabbed an agent’s interest, so I may be doing more like that in the future.

5. Favorite time of day to write.

I used to write from about 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. That was the ideal time. But then I had a job and kids and now I write from about 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and pick up again around 4:00 to 5:00 or so.

WIPjoy #27 & Cover Reveal

27. Side character – Your secret vice?

Rosalind: Makeup. I mean, I’m naturally beautiful, but not this beautiful.
Gwendolyn: That’s not really a secret…
Rosalind: Hers is Liam. Not that I blame her.
Gwendolyn:

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The cover for Fairy Tales and Folklore Reimagined has been revealed! My story “A Good Washing and One Nice Dress” is included. Look for preorders to be up on 10/31 and the book to be released 11/10. (Between the Lines Publishing)