Pre-Order Announcement!

It’s my day on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog and I have an announcement!

Spellbound Scribes

A little while back I shared the cover reveal of my upcoming young adult novel, Blackbird. Well, I’m very happy to announce the publication day and the pre-order links (if you’re so inclined)!

BlackbirdWhat if YouTube warned of the end of the world? Would we even take it seriously? Or just assume it was some lame, internet hoax?

Maggie has her first college finals to prepare for; she doesn’t have time for pranks and conspiracy theories. But a super flu has broken out on campus and her dorm mate keeps coughing, threatening to get her sick before she can get through the tests and get home for Christmas.

More and more people are coming down with the super flu and the vaccines aren’t working for everyone and when one of her professors is dragged out of the classroom by cops and doctors, Maggie realizes she’s waited too long to leave…

View original post 48 more words

How to Know When a Writer Should be Writing

Gonna be better about cross-posting! This was my week on the Spellbound Scribes’ Blog. Come laugh at my pain!

Spellbound Scribes

If you’ve been following along, you know that I had grand plans to write a new, dark, witchy, Ireland inspired book. And you also know that a natural disaster kind of derailed those plans for a while. Well, we’re finally, finally getting back to normal around here. Schedules are familiar, husband’s clients are getting back on track, things still feel a little like Bambi learning to walk, but we’re getting there.

giphy

And I’ve had enough time away from writing to feel refreshed and like I should be ready to get back at it. My editor has Blackbird, which I’ll have back soon, but going over edits and writing something new can be done; I’ve done it. It’s nice to have two totally different projects like that to work on so you can take a break from one to the other and not overload yourself.

So naturally I got to work…

View original post 902 more words

Cover Reveal and Pre-order Links!

Oof, it has been a minute since I last posted here. I am sorry about that! But at least I’m coming back with something fun and exciting, right?

If you’ve been following me on other outlets then you know I’ve been working on the very first companion novel to my Ash & Ruin Trilogy. I finally have the release day set and the cover is all pretty and creepy, just like we like it for our apocalyptic adventures!

So, are you ready to see it?

At fifteen years old, Gwen’s world has ended. Not because she’s gone through a break-up. Not because her parents are ruining her life with a lame curfew. Not because her grades are struggling. Not in the way a fifteen-year-old’s life usually ends.

At fifteen years old, Gwen has burned the dead bodies of both her parents and fortified her home against the plague-spreading monsters who killed them, waiting for her sister, Maggie, to make her way back home in the apocalyptic landscape that is the world now.

At fifteen years old, Gwen’s world has ended, but she’s not giving up. She’s not giving up on life, her home, or her sister. Because all you have left when the world ends is hope, so that’s what she’s got, a BB gun and hope.

Hopefully it’ll be enough.

Dandelions 1 kobo

You can pre-order your ebook copy now at these sites (more to be added as soon as they’re live):

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | ibooks

(It, along with all of my other books, are available on all of Amazon’s sites, but there are so many to list, so just do a quick search for it and you’ll find it!)

Revising, editing, and all the rough drafts.

As I sit down to work on yet another rough draft, I thought it might be interesting to read about how I revise and edit a new book. Because I also offer manuscript critique services, I see a lot of books before they’re ready from new writers. It’s always hard to know when a book is done and it’s time to let it go out into the world and flourish or die by its own merit, but you do need to spend a significant amount of time on it before that happens.

1b9ad802f3dd3d0439a7e7a62f47460935f1c893

First, I outline the story. When I was a new writer, I didn’t outline because I lost the urgency to tell the story, so if you’re not an outliner, don’t freak out; everyone is different and things change from book to book.

Once the outline is done, I fast draft the book. This means I write daily, usually taking 1-2 days off a week so I don’t burn out, until it’s done. There are some days where I might just get 500 words or 1,000 words, but my goal is 2-4k words a day. But, again, every book is different. As long as I make some progress, I’m happy.

tumblr_m2n195fzei1rpsfhko3_250

Then, when that first draft is done, I back up my work in 2-3 different places. I like to email myself the document every day so I don’t ever lose any work. But when I finish, I email myself again the completed document. I also save it to a memory stick. This way, if something happens to my computer, my book is safely stored in two places that can’t also be damaged by whatever killed my computer. When I was writing my fourth book, Fire, my hard-drive crashed and I lost about 20k words because I wasn’t in the habit of emailing myself on the daily, just at the end of a draft. It was devastating. Never again!

tumblr_mtvgm3vqtq1sjnl71o1_500

Then I walk away. I close the file on the computer and I don’t look at it again for at least a week, sometimes as much as six months. Again, it depends on the book (and deadlines). But I get away from it and do other things. I clean the house, I read other people’s books, I relax. I do things that have nothing to do with the book I was writing. I may even start writing (and finish) another book before I ever come back to it. There’s a few reasons for this but the main reason is so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

You just spent a couple of months to the better part of a year focused on this one story, it’s been loud in your head, the characters alive and and controlling. If you come back too soon, you’ll remember everything and you won’t see mistakes, you won’t find the plot holes, you won’t pick up on the weaknesses or the thin characters. You need to read your rough draft as though you weren’t the one who wrote it.

tumblr_nca0sivsar1s2wio8o1_500

I like to print out a copy of the MS to go over it the first time. This way I’m not working on it in the same medium that I wrote it. I am familiar with it on the computer screen, so my eyes and mind might trick me into reading it the way I wanted it to be, not the way it is. By printing it, it becomes a new book and I can take a bright red pen to it and make corrections and notes to transcribe back on the computer. That’s the second draft.

Now, depending on the book, this is the right time to give it to beta readers to go over. I like to have at least two readers, but three is ideal. You want readers who will give it back to you in 2-4 weeks. This gives you another break away from the book, but also ensures your readers focus on your book so they don’t forget what they read in the first half because they took so long to finish it.

Wait to make any changes to your MS until you hear back from all betas. This gives you the chance to see if critiques are just personal preference or if you really missed something because they all mentioned the same thing(s).

tumblr_o9u5tmu3t41sarywjo1_500

Now I go over the book again, this time on the computer, comparing beta notes, seeing if I agree or not. If I agree with a change, I have to make sure I thread it through the whole book. That’s the third draft.

Now I put it on a tablet to read it as an ebook. You may need another break or you may be ready to just dive in. So, again, I’m reading it in a different medium and more like any reader who bought it would read it. I use the highlight and note function to keep track of issues and changes I want to make. Once I make those changes, I’ve got a fourth draft.

Only on the 3rd or 4th draft does my editor get the book. Because I self-publish, I pay my editor for her services, so why in the world would I send her a book before it’s ready? I wouldn’t, and neither should you. I often get MSs that are not ready and people are paying me a fee to go over the book and 90% of the time, most of my notes could have been caught by the author or by a beta reader to be addressed for free.

yayomg-ways-jack-skellington-is-better-than-santa-5

Once I get my MS back from my editor and implement the line-edits and content-edits, I am up to the fifth draft. Guess what? It goes back for a proof-reader to comb to make sure we didn’t miss any tiny mistakes.

So, in the end, I’m publishing the 5th or 6th draft. I don’t always use beta readers because sometimes I’m up to the 5th, 6th, or 7th book in a series and I can’t expect friends to do that much work for me. But the first book in a series? A stand alone? A trilogy? Yes, I use beta readers for all of those.

You will get to the point where you start to hate your book because you’ve read it so many times, but that’s what it takes to polish it, to develop those characters, to make the plot compelling. This is the work that goes into a book. Getting that first draft is the easy part, making it a book is where the hard work really is.

tumblr_n297ecqz8v1shh1bso1_500

Writing is re-writing. This is the rule you should be living by.

Cover Reveal: The Seventh Matilda Kavanagh Novel

Hello my loverlies!

I’ve been waiting to share this cover and title reveal with you for ages now. Seriously, I had both ready before I even started outlining the new book. But this week I crossed the 50k word mark in the book so I think the time has come.

First, the official release date will be October 25, 2016. So if you’re able to come to Comikaze this year, it will be available that week, just in time!

Here are the pre-order links if you’d like to be a superstar and get that:

AmazonSmashwords | Kobo | Barnes and Noble (coming soon)

Now, without further delay, the seventh Matilda Kavanagh Novel:

wycked

She’s be manipulated, hunted, and caged, now Mattie is fed up and ready to take on the establishment. It is time for a regime change. It is time to expose the lies and crimes of those in charge.

At least that’s what everyone else wants. Mattie just wants to avenge her parents’ death and find a moment of peace. But in order to do that she will have to help her friends with their plans to overthrow the Los Angeles Coven and the Grand High Witch and her cronies.

But with nightmares and anxiety plaguing her, can Mattie do this and keep what little of her sanity she has left? She’ll find out when she enters The Witch Trials of Los Angeles. 

More Carrots than Sticks

My day on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog. Maybe you need to hear it, yes you, who is doing a great job even if your boss doesn’t think they need to tell you so.

Spellbound Scribes

Before I became a writer, I had a number of other jobs. Some were pretty good, others really weren’t. Obviously, none of them were my passion, but the ones that were especially bad were so because they were the kind that stole pieces of you, every day, until you were little more than a hunched over, dead-eyed employee, who was just waiting for enough PTO hours to take a mental health day.

Some jobs are just tough and that’s okay, they need to be done, and often those are the jobs that pay pretty well because of how hard they are on you, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. But what makes those jobs bearable or unbearable is the work environment. At my worst job (and best paying), I had a manager look at me and say, “No one should need to hear ‘You’re doing a good job!’ or ‘Nice work…

View original post 681 more words

I am giving Patreon another shot – For realsies this time.

patreon banner

Some of you may or may not remember I attempted to dip my toe in the Patreon pool last year. But it was like joining Twitter for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing or how to make it work for me, so I failed miserably at it and let it die.

Now I’ve replanted the seeds, fed it water, put it in indirect sunlight and am going to nurture it until it grows. Which is to say, I will pay attention to it and actually put up posts and make it a real thing worth supporting.

So, if you’d like some exclusive fiction from me, please consider becoming one of my patrons. If you pledge at the $3 dollar level (or higher, which is awesome), you’ll have access to read patron-only-posts. I’ll be posting various things including short fiction, serialized short stories, you’ll get to see cover reveals first, maybe even first chapters of soon-to-be-published books. Starting this Friday, I’ll post the first segment in a mildly NSFW short story set in the Taryn Malloy/Brimstone War universe from my alter ego, Leila Bryce Sin. It’s a fun, sexy, summer read set in Vegas.

Please be aware this is going to be raw material. It won’t have the polish and shine of going through the editing process that my books do. But maybe that’s not a bad thing? Maybe it’ll be interesting to see something different? For it to feel more personal? Kinda like things are here on the blog. We’ll see.

Not everything I post will be NSWF, mild or otherwise. I’m going to use this space to workout some ideas, feel out new characters, revisit old ones and old universes. So you might be treated to flash fiction or short stories from my previously closed series, like The Elemental Series or the Ash and Ruin Trilogy. Or even side stories from The Matilda Kavanagh Novels.

If you pledge at $10 or higher, I might treat you to extra little things. This is definitely going to be a learning experience for me and I hope you’ll bear with me and stick it out to see how it goes.

Be sure to read through all the levels to see what kind of investment you’d like to make, what kind of rewards you’d like to get. I think I’ve made it fair and worth your while. At least, I hope I have.

But it doesn’t matter if all you pledge is $1, your name will be included in the acknowledgements of every upcoming book I publish, so long as you remain a patron when they come out. Because every dollar counts.

So yeah. Hopefully I don’t disappoint. Hopefully you like it. Hopefully I’m good at this.

Check it out here and sign up to become a patron!

Mourning the Loss of an Artist Unapologetically

My post this week on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog. I had to go back and add a bit about Alan Rickman and it’s really not enough. But I know how much that man meant to me so I’ll leave it as it is. I’ll probably watch Dogma, or Galaxy Quest, or even Robin Hood quite soon. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sit through Snape’s death scene without completely losing it. It is difficult enough to watch it just because he was my favorite character, but now? Oof. I can’t even think about it without getting choked up.

Spellbound Scribes

Sunday night we lost a great artist. The ripples that went around the world as people found out about David Bowie’s death built into a current that pulled so many of us down. It’s always a little strange when a celebrity dies, someone who you probably don’t even know, but their death touches you as much as losing a friend. Sunday I lost an idol I never got to meet.

I saw so many people openly express their grief, myself included, while others seemed to apologize for their feelings. Embarrassed for being sad over the death of someone they didn’t even know. I get it, it’s kinda of like heading off the teasing before anyone can say something to you like, “You’re a little too upset over this.”

But you know what? No, we aren’t.

I wrote about my experience of hearing the news and while I took the time…

View original post 472 more words

It’s only forever, not that long at all.

“Today is a sad day.” That’s what my husband said to me when I woke up this morning. He’d been up for about an hour and had already heard the news. He knew it would be hard for me to hear so he wanted to tell me before I saw it on social media or some bubbly newscaster pretending to be sad as they read the prompter.

When my husband said, “David Bowie died last night,” I just stood there, my mouth hanging open like and idiot and stared at him. After a few moments all I could say was, “No.”

david-bowie-labyrinth-165429

No. Not David. Not Ziggy. Not Jareth.

Can’t be.

He couldn’t have died.

I was just wearing my new “I move the stars for no one” shirt, so happy and proud to show my love for the man, the legend.

Celebrity deaths are just as sad as any death, but some celebrities are more important to a “regular” person than others. David Bowie is – was important to me.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love David Bowie. I was just three years old when The Labyrinth was released (I tweeted earlier that it had come out the year of my birth, a mistake, probably due to the fact that I can’t remember it not being my favorite movie). I still have my Sir Didymus doll. Jareth the Goblin King formed my love of David Bowie and all misunderstood villains. I even carved his likeness in a pumpkin for Halloween last year because I am that big of a fangirl for this man. To this day, a good villain, a heart-broken misfit, the one who is just trying, will get me.

There is so much I want to say about this amazing man but I don’t think I have the words. He inspired me as a writer and he always will. I’ll be sad the next time I watch The Labyrinth (which will probably be later today). I am sad as I sit here listening to his music, grateful he managed to give us one last gift in his new record. But I am happy that I was alive when he was. I am happy that he’s been an influence for me.

We love you David, Ziggy, Jareth. We miss you already.

It’s only forever… Not that long at all.

david-bowie-success-anxiety

 

 

Back from the holidays

I am typing! This is amazing. I know, if you follow me, the idea that I’m typing shouldn’t be a big surprise or cause for celebration, but today it is.

On New Years Day I took a tumble.

original

Okay, it wasn’t a tumble. It was an OMFGIAMFALLINGHOLYCRAP fall. It was a fall that I was lucky to stand up from. It was a fall that I was lucky not to have a broken arm or cracked skull from. But it wasn’t a fall that left me unscathed.

My hubs works from home just like me, and he had an intake interview with a couple of potential new clients who wanted to meet on New Years Day. When you work for yourself, holidays are not the same as they are for many other people, kinda like working retail. So of course we said, “yes! Come on over!” And we started cleaning the house and grounds, putting the holiday back in the boxes and making the place presentable for new people.

One of the things that had to be done was retying one of our sun sails over our outdoor space. We’d taken it down when there were 60mph wind gusts the other week. So I climbed up on our pick-nick table to reach for the rope and tie the thing off. Now, the key to surviving anything like this is to watch where you’re stepping.

I did not.

I ran out of table.

original1

Unfortunately, I already had hold of the rope in my right hand when my foot stepped onto the nothingness. When you stumble you instinctively grip whatever you’re holding. Sadly, I hadn’t started to anchor the rope, so it was a just loose and happy to let me fall and slide my hand down the braided fibers.

I fell off the table, my leg going between the table and bench, to bounce off and land flat on my back on the cement pavers our table is centered on. It was fast and slow all at once. I don’t remember hitting the bench (though the massive bruises and swelling prove I did), but I remember having a moment to think, “You’re going to land on your back in a second,” when I hit the bench. I managed to pull my arms in and tuck my chin before I hit the ground. If I’d flung out my hands to break my fall I’d’ve broken something. If I hadn’t tucked my chin, I’d’ve cracked my head on the cement.

My husband rushed to me as I lay there telling him I was okay, just needed a second. The funny thing was, I had no idea there was something wrong with my hand. I lay there, giving my mind a moment to think about my body and listen for cues that something was wrong, but nothing screamed back with pain.

scaredycat.gif

So I sat up and laughed for a second.

Then I saw my hand. My right hand. My dominate hand.

I said, “Hey, look at my thumb. It looks weird.” I said that because it didn’t hurt. Yet. The rope had burned my palm and ripped off some skin, making it look like a puncture wound. But my thumb. Oh holy gods, my thumb. Between the knuckle and my palm I’d ripped off so much skin that I could see the vein that runs through your thumb just below the last layer of skin. If I’d taken that layer, I’d’ve been in the ER.

Because I looked at my palm and thumb, the shock wore off and the pain set in. My hand was on fire. It truly was a full burn from the rope. My hand shook and I finally cried, panicked and freaked out over what my hand looked like. And I started babbling about not being able to write today or finishing the beautiful scarf I was knitting for myself. These are the crazy, panicked things you say when you hurt yourself.

So, here I am, Monday morning, able to type and it is awesome. I promised myself, whether my outline was done or not, I was starting the New Project today, so the idea that I wouldn’t be able to added to my panic and tears. But it’s cloudy and rain is on the way and I can move my fingers and I can hit the space bar with my thumb without causing searing pain. Who knows, I might be knitting by the end of the week.

giphy

So happy new year my loves! I survived and will have new words!

P.S.

I have one slot left for January for a new Critique project. If you’d like to steal that spot, please email me at shaunagranger82@gmail.com – you can always sign up for a Feb or March slot, but hurry, I only take a couple each month. Check out my critique page to learn more about what I do.