Tag: destroyer

Edits, Edits, and more Edits

One of my New Year resolutions was to make sure that I was keeping in touch with the outside world at least once a week with more than just a snarky FB post or two, and in that vein, I made a promise to myself to blog every Friday come hell or high water.

Yeah, that didn’t last too long. But in my defense, I’m in the middle of edits on Destroyer and I know that my readers would much prefer that I finally FINALLY get Destroyer out the door rather than blather away here about non-essential stuff.

Which brings me to my very short (*yeah, right) blog post about the hell pit authors call “Editing”.

To be fair, just about every author has their own take on editing. I know some authors who swear that they write a clean enough draft the first time that they hardly have to cut anything at all. I know others who live by the Stephen King ‘cut 10% rule’, and others who almost rewrite the entire book during the editing phase.

I’m somewhere in between all those examples.

When I first started out, I was a seriously wordy mofo. The original draft of Watcher was over 118,000 words . . . crazy. That’s like the size of a epic fantasy right there. Most novels these days and definitely first time novelists in the genres that I write in come in around the 80,000 words range. Paring Watcher down to its final 78Kish was, well, you can imagine not entirely a barrel of laughs. Protector was more like 90K pared down to right under the 80K mark, and Betrayer ended up being even smaller at around 77K (don’t quote me on that).

Now on my 6th book, I’ve come to recognize some home truths about myself :

  1. My writing has gotten tighter 
  2. I’m still a wordy mofo, but I know the signs when I’m going off the rails
  3. Pacing is my Achilles heel
  4. Editing for me is still more about stripping out than putting in
  5. I hate writing in 1st person; all my series moving forward are likely to be 3rd person only
  6. Thank god for my editor, Amanda

One of the ways that I’m probably different from a lot of authors is that I don’t prescribe to the vomiting method of first drafting. The OCD in me cannot cope with regurgitating the first thing that pops into my brain and leaving it alone on the page. Simply put, I can’t write dog poo and leave it there for 300 pages. It’s like a needle at the base of my skull wheedling away until I go back and try to make whatever rubbish I just wrote better.

My advice to first time writers would be don’t do this. It’s bad for flow, it’s bad for productivity. I’ve killed and stalled out more lovely passages by going back than I care to admit to. The only saving grace is that I’ve learned not to go back and tweak until after I’ve gotten the new word count down for the day. I leave editing for when my creative brain is mush.

That’s my coping strategy, but it comes at a cost. My productivity is much slower naturally and paired with my current eye issues, really drags down my word count. Yes, I’m neurotic about this. Having said all that, when it comes to the editing phase, my draft is already cleaner because I’ve done edits along the way. Occasionally, a real corker will get through. I’m going to show you an example right now. Don’t laugh. I actually recognized that it was a corker and highlighted it to come back to later (a rare occurrence) because it was so horrible that it would’ve been going down the rabbit hole to fix it. As it turns out, I cut it entirely.

Here you go, Shining Ones fans –

“Wait!” I held my hands up, glancing between the two guards. Moredcai raised his palm and gave them the signal to halt. “There can’t be any harm in you at least telling me a little bit about this place.”

“Fine, if it is a history lesson you want then a history lesson you shall have.” He paused and gave a pointed look to the guards who stayed by my side, but didn’t take a hold of my arms. I exhaled slowly. “But try to run off or do something foolish and it will not be pleasant. Come.”

Brusquely, he turned and started off again, but this time his pace was unhurried. His words followed behind him like a wafting, lazy swirl of smoke –

“Lucien’s – shall we call it pet project – saw its humble beginnings take root in the eighteenth century. Not in this country,” Mordecai waved his arm around airily, “this one was barely a step above the savages, but there were other men in Europe, emboldened with just enough knowledge to make them dangerous, but perfect for Lucien’s plan. He allowed them to think it was their idea – rather ingenuous given that your kind were full of superstition and fear back then. It was far too easy for him to corrupt the more hungry ones.” He pointed to the oil portrait of a man dressed in old-fashion garb kneeling in a cave, a naked and well-proportioned woman reclining in repose at his feet. “Dashwood was always a bit too pompous for my liking. Thick as a plank as well, but keen.” Mordecai carried on past the painting leaving me to follow behind him. He pointed out the other portraits that lined the hall. “They all were. Eager for forbidden knowledge. An appetite for power beyond that which they already had. Arrogant, exceedingly rich, greedy, but also easily manipulated when their egos were stroked. As all powerful men are. That made it easy for Lucien. He had them exactly where he needed them.”

 

OH MY GOD. CAN YOU SAY SHOW DON’T TELL? Also, cheese factor 150%.

First indicator should’ve been the size of this paragraph. If I have long drawn out paragraphs, I know immediately I have a problem because I’m a short and punchy sort of writer. Most of my paragraphs are 3-4 sentences long.

Second indicator is that it does in fact read like a history lesson. BORING. History wasn’t fun in high school, it’s not gonna be fun now. As much as I’d like the reader to know about the history behind the fabricated Hellfire Club in my story, this ain’t the way to do it.

And lastly, I fell for the infamous info dump because I was looking for filler for the scene unfolding. If I have to scramble for filler, I’ve already failed because filler is a no no. Every piece of information a writer drops in a story should have a purpose and that purpose is to propel the story forward. Some will argue that character descriptions and details that round out a character are also important and don’t necessarily drive the plot forward – that’s true – but 8 out of 10 times, if a writer is dropping information in that doesn’t somehow connect back to the plot then it just drags the reader out of flow and I’m a firm believer that that’s where bad reviews come from. Authors, you can fight me on this point.

Anyhow, you can see my point, and also, I think it’s worth letting my readers see behind the curtain.Every writer can be a hack at some point. I’m no different. It’s humbling to know that I can still produce rubbish – it keeps me honest.

The rest of my editing routine is a bit boring and I won’t bore you with those details, plus, I’ve got to get back to editing in order to get this manuscript to Amanda if I want to hit my release date. I may post more corkers for you as I go along if the feedback is positive.

Thanks for giving me a chance to ramble on.

xo Shawnee

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2020, my people.
 
A bright shiny new year and if you run in certain circles, another brand-new decade. Before you fight me over the nuance of that last statement, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of this thing.
 
First off, it’s lovely to see you. Yes, I’ve been AWOL.
 
It’s been a hell of a year and I’m more than happy to kick 2019’s ass right out the ol’ door. We saw quite a bit of upheaveal at Chez Small including saying good bye to several loved ones and saying hello to whole bunch of other unpleasant such as health issues and the like that I’m really glad that 2019 is firmly behind us. There were probably some good things that happened in 2019, but so much of what happened was overshadowed by the bad that honestly, I can’t even remember much of last year. And I don’t want to dwell on those things and be Debbie Downer especially since we’ve got this clean and crisp new page called 2020 which has so much POTENTIAL to be SO VERY AWESOME; yet at the same time, I do feel like I need to offer you guys some sort of explanation as to why my writing stalled out and why Destroyer is almost 2 years overdue. (Yep, it hurt to write that out.)
 
Back in November 2018, coming off the end of another box set, I started noticing that my eyes were getting tired and gritty at night right around bedtime. I didn’t think anything of it – I’m notorious for staying up reading past my bed time, and I’m no spring chicken either. I just figured that I was entering the scary old stage also known as “needing readers” and went about my business. As we rolled into December, my eyes got more and more irritated and I was having a harder and harder time ‘seeing’ at night. Again, I thought I was just suffering from tired eyes.
 
Then I got the first corneal tear.
 
For most people a corneal scratch/abrasion/tear is pretty straight forward. It hurts, yes, and it’s highly uncomfortable, but the eye is a quick healer and for most sufferers, within a couple of days, symptoms abate. For me, not so much. Not only didn’t it get better, it got much MUCH worse. Like a whole holy hell worse where I’d rather stay up all night putting drops in my eyes than fall asleep. What was happening, as I found out later was that my eyes were so severely dry that my eyelid was ripping the SCAB RIGHT OFF MY EYEBALL while I slept. Yep, you read that right. Let that sink in. Ripping a bandaid off your eyeball every night. And the doctors couldn’t figure out why I was waking up in sobbing pain in the middle of the night until I finally saw a cornea specialist who basically saved my life. Finally, someone who knew what was wrong…
 
Yeah, the funny thing is when you have one autoimmune disease, you’re likely to get another. Okay, not so funny.
 
 
My diagnosis? Bloody auto-immune complication. My body’s cells are not just attacking my skin and my intestines, my body has decided to rage war on my eyeballs, too. So my body is attacking the glands and things in my eyes meaning I’ve got constant inflammation and no tears and oils. Not only am I prone to spontaneous tears and abrasions (thanks eyelids, you fuckers), but I’ve got diminished vision when I’m in an autoimmune flare and when I’m not in a flare and I can see relatively well, I still can’t stare at a computer screen very long because the eyeballs dry out (thanks eyeballs, you fuckers). So that’s why my writing has stalled out and my career has come to a standstill.
 
There have been many, many times over the last fifteen months that I’ve almost thrown in the towel and given up on being an author. Nothing feels quite as bad as being in pain and watching your career tank and not being able to do anything about it. Or sitting down at your lap top and trying to write just one page and having to give up because your eyes feel like they’ve been doused in gasoline and set on fire. To say I was on the edge would be the understatement of the year. And the thing is you can’t really complain about it because someone somewhere has it worse than you. If the worst that happened to me is that I couldn’t write anymore than I should be grateful, right? That’s no way to live, I’ll tell you that for free.
 
So, what saved me? Well, other than fountain pens, probably a handful of friends and close author chums.
 
And me. I saved me.
 
Because I refused to give up. I whined, cried, complained, raged against my stupid body on a daily basis, but I never gave up. If I got one paragraph written or one page (I haven’t been able to write more than 1,000 words at a time since diagnosis), I still called that a win. And you know what?
 
IT PAID OFF.
 
Today, at noon, I finished Destroyer. At 92,857 words, the first draft is done.
 
Destroyer Book Cover
 
 
 
 
Even the drop of water eventually erodes away the stone, my people. So if I can do it with wonky eyeballs, so can you. Don’t give up – whether it’s your dream or your health or something that seems completely unattainable to you – NEVER GIVE UP THE FIGHT. Because eventually you’ll get there, too.
 
This is what I say for 2020. Screw all the other resolutions. Just keep this one: Keep fighting the good fight. You will succeed.
 
 
See you on the other side.
 
xo shawnee
 
 

What I did on my Summer Vacation

The short answer is . . . write.

You guessed it. I’ve spent most of my summer finishing off the “Felix and Rose” project which is now titled Love Like Blood. It’s a full length novel in my brand new paranormal series, The Night Kind, and it will be available exclusively this year in Other Worlds: A Limited Edition Collection of Science Fiction Romance and Paranormal Romance releasing on October 17, 2017.

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy, you can do so from Amazon. It’s only 99 cents for 20 books from some awesome paranormal and science fiction romance authors. It’s also available for a limited time for iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play.

So right now, Love Like Blood is with Amanda and I’m in a holding pattern while she starts her editing magic. I’ll be back in the hot seat in a couple of days, but at the moment, I’m kinda suspended in limboland. It’s a weird feeling and not one that sits well with me, but I’m trying to be grateful for the downtime because it’s not going to last long.

But as I sit here listening to the band Pink Turns Blue, my brain keeps returning to Tybee and my beloved Shining Ones characters. I have mixed feelings about starting Destroyer if I was honest. I know everyone is waiting and I’m only one step away from open revolt. I hear you. I just, well, I’m not sure I’m ready for it to end. This last book is going to be hard. In more ways than one. To say good bye to Poesy, Birdie, Haylee, and Adam will be extremely difficult for me especially knowing where it’s going to end. I’ve known since Book One how this thing was going to play out, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet, but the show must go on, right? That’s the reality of the situation. The Shining Ones was always planned to end after four books. So it’s time to pull up my big girl pants and get on with it. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

What else?

I’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis September 29th-October 1st. It’s rapidly approaching and I’m soooooo not prepared, but it’s going to be a stellar event. If you’re thinking about coming, I still have some FREE tickets so email me or PM me on Facebook if you’d like one. You’re not going to want to miss this one – last year they had over 1,000 attendees and that’s not counting the authors and their assistants. It’s probably the biggest signing of my career to date. Yeah, no pressure, there. You can read more about Penned Con on the website.

I think that’s it for now. 

See you on the other side.

xo shawnee

 

 

Back up and Running

As some of you probably sussed out, my blog has been inactive since before Christmas. Unfortunately, this was a side effect of the new website construction. All my old blog posts were imported into the new site  at the end of last year as it was being built, and rather than create more work for my developer who would then have to re-import my new blog posts, I took a hiatus. A pretty long one.

But now we’re back. Hurrah. New book out, new website, new novella coming in April, new series announcement and a big box set. Phew! Lots going on in 2017. So in order, here’s what’s been going on:

Betrayer is live in case you didn’t see the announcements plastered all over my social media. The 3rd book in the Shining Ones series is out and available wide, which means you can find it on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. You can also find it in paperback here. One more book after this, folks. Destroyer is the end of the series. And it’s going to be a real corker . . .

New website is up. I think you probably guessed that as you looked around. Not too shabby and much better for mobile and tablets. As always if you need my immediate attention, best to find me on Facebook or Twitter. And now unfortunately Instagram, too.

My new novella, The Seduction of Violette Tournaline, is now available for pre-order as part of Sultry & Sinful: The Femmes of Paranormal for just $.99. This is a steamy lesbian and menage romance anthology so you’ve been warned. But as you know, I’m more lighter on that side of things and so mine is more kitten than tiger in that respect. It’s still a good story and might have a tie in with the Shining Ones, but then that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

New series announcement coming in the next couple of months. I’m currently working on the first book in that series, code named “Felix and Rose”. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I’ve been toying with this story for a while. I’ll release more details as the book takes shape, but look for an October 2017 release. I’m super excited about this book. It really is going back to my goth roots.

Super mailing list . . . holy wow. My mailing list has gone nuts, and I’m in awe that so many of you want to keep in touch. It means a lot to me – you’re now my people. And I take care of my own so I’ve got a lot of surprises in store for you guys starting this month. Exclusive freebies, swags, giveaways until the end of 2017. Just for you. Be on the lookout for my very first welcome email on my birthday, March 14th. Woo hoo. Birthday cake for all! Well, not quite, but there will still be pressies . . . shhhhhhh.

And last bit of news. I’m now on Instagram. Unwillingly. Who really wants to see pictures of my breakfast, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll find something decent to photograph if I ever leave my desk. Stranger things have happened.

It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you guys. See you next week, maybe sooner.

 

xo shawnee