Tag: the shining ones

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
 
 

Dragon Con or Bust

Well, the time is upon me.

In three days, I leave for the land of awesome, that is to say, Dragon Con. Most of you know that this is my first time and like any first, I’m full of fluttery anticipation, yet at the same time, stamping down on a whole lot of trepidation. It’s big. There’s lots of people. The crowds will be of epic proportions. You know, all the chaos is that a 5 day nerd convention full of 80,000 people.

Yeah, let that sink in.

80,000 people.

Yikes.

And while it may be like running the gauntlet and my tired old body hasn’t recovered from the jet lag from being in the UK, I’m still ready to embrace the crazy. It helps that I have lots of author friends also going, and we all plan to be propping up a bar in a hotel at the end of each day. It’s what we call Author Therapy 101. But if you’re around, or if you’re tempting to come even for a day, come look me up. I’ve offered to take any member of my Fan Club out for a drink, or several if they come hunt me down. I extend that offer to you, too.

This is where you can find me:

Title: The Plot Thickens: Mystery & Suspense in UF
Time: Fri 01:00 pm Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Often a mix of genres, Urban Fantasy tends to typically contain an element of mystery and/or suspense. Our panel discusses why they feel this component necessary to the stories they wish to tell.

Title: Open vs. Closed: Worldbuilding in Urban Fantasy
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Chastain I-J – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: In Urban Fantasy, the supernatural is either known to the human world or hidden from it, & our panelists will discuss which approach they use & why.

Title: Guardians or Adversaries? Angels in Urban Fantasy
Time: Sun 10:00 am Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Our authors explore the fascinating concept of angels on Earth, discussing their roles in the human world.

Title: Magic, Psychics, and Superpowers–oh My!
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Embassy EF – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: There is magic, then there are superpowers and mutants. What is genetic–and is it still fantasy, or is it really science?

 

With that said, wish me luck, and as always . . . see you on the other side.

xo Shawnee

 

Back from the Dead

*whispers* Hello, yes, it’s really me.

I know. I’m as shocked as you are.

Where the hell have you been?

I’m glad you asked. I think the appropriate answer is everywhere.

Since October, I’ve  . . .

  • Become a USA Today Bestselling Author
  • Written 2 books (more on that)
  • Re-vamped this website
  • Attended a half dozen cons and book events
  • Written some ’80s short stories

And that’s just off the top of my head. No rest for the wicked, right?

So I haven’t been active on this blog, but you might’ve seen me around on Facebook or gotten my newsletter every two weeks. There aren’t enough hours in the day for everything, but hey, I’m trying.

What’s going on now?

I’m finishing off edits on The Shaded Veil, the first book in my ’80s epic fantasy mash up. It’ll be available in the Shades of Fae boxset come July 10th and you can grab it there until mid-October at which point it will come out of the set. It will be releasing as a stand alone in early 2019 once the next book in that series is ready to go. There will be three books in total in the Shaded Veil trilogy. I’m having a blast writing them so I’m eager to get back to that series once the Shining Ones is done.

Speaking of, I’m back on Destroyer next week. It’s already partially written, but I’m almost afraid to go back for fear that I’ll throw it all out. But I won’t. I know everyone is waiting for the end and it’s coming. Destroyer will be out before the end of the year. I’m hoping for October so fingers crossed. It’s later than I would’ve wanted by about a year, but I had to shuffle around due to other commitments. Life gets infinitely easier once this book goes off to the publisher next week.

And yes, I haven’t mentioned Love Like Blood and the Night Kind series. Some people have looked for it outside of the original box set it was in. It’s not available yet, but I’m hoping for sometime next year if I can get Dorian’s story written since he’s the first book in that series. I’m not good at juggling series unfortunately – I have a tendency to get world contamination – but I’m shooting for 4 books next year. Wish me luck.

Other than that, all is well at Chez Small. We survived the flooding so thank you for all your concern and prayers. We were lucky – some of our neighbors weren’t. The neighborhood still looks like a warzone, but everyone is doing what they can to get back to normal. Climate change is real, folks. The year we’ve had so far in Virginia is bringing that home. It’s been like living in a disaster movie, but humankind endures. That sums it up nicely.

I’m also desperate for a dog. I’ve now gotten to the point where my grief over Hazel is far enough in the rearview mirror that I can actually look at dog videos without bursting into tears. So yay me! Anyone with dog advice is more than welcome to chime in or drop me an email. I’m hoping we’ll be a dog family again by the Autumn.

Anyhow, back to the writing den. I’ve got a newsletter to get out and some final edits to go over.

Thanks for your patience, everyone. See you on the other side.

xo shawnee

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Ahhh. The day when the whole world becomes Irish. And invariably hungover.

That aside, it’s Friday, which is blog day. Sometimes I rant. Sometimes I just have news and updates. Today’s post is more of the latter and less of the former. Luckily, I’ve been too busy with book stuff to really notice what’s going on with the world, but I did see that Donald Trump is trying to intellectually hamstring the American people by defunding public arts and humanities aka Sesame Street and everything else that PBS and NPR has to offer. 

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? WHY WOULD YOU TAKE AWAY SESAME STREET?

If you want to save Big Bird, I’d suggest you sign the petition here.

And if you’re feeling really generous, go give NPR some money love because god knows they are going to need all the help they can get. Try this link.

Okay so let’s resume normal broadcasting . . .

What else is going on so you ask? What is looming on the horizon?

Hang out with me tomorrow night, Saturday, March 18th from 5-6PM EST

Yep, that’s right. I will be one of several authors taking part in the Book Nymph PR’s March Round up party. I’ll be online to talk about all things the Shining Ones, my upcoming paranormal romance novella in the Sultry & Sinful anthology, and also doing a reading from my new project, code name “Felix and Rose”. There might be some games and there will definitely be prizes now that new Shining Ones t-shirts have arrived hurrah! So maybe I’ll see you there.

Shining Ones t-shirts have arrived. WOO HOO.

Technically, you’re not winning a t-shirt. It’s the only image I had. Sorry!

If you didn’t see my post on Facebook, I’ve got brand new Shining Ones t-shirts. Technically, they are meant to be for events and shows BUT if you really REALLY want one, I will ship them to you if you can’t make it to one of my events or shows. The cost is $16 and that includes shipping & PP fees. You will need to paypal me – shawnee@shawneesmall.com and don’t forget to tell me which Unisex S, M, L, X-LG size you’re after and your postal address. 

There’s going to be a release party for Sultry & Sinful: The Femmes of Paranormal.

Yep. Us authors love to party. It’s online, of course, but you should come join us, it’s going to be awesome sauce. Tuesday, April 18th starting at noon. I’ll be on from 1-2PM EST so sneak a peak while the boss isn’t looking. Be forewarned – this is a saucy lot. There may be NSFW content. Just sayin’. In addition, there are going to be some amazing giveaways including a grand prize for one lucky winner that includes a Kindle, books and a $50 Amazon gift card.

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Sultry & Sinful, why not? It’s only $.99 during pre-order. Support your indie authors, and we’ll keep writing awesome stories (again these are scorching hot – just so you know).

Okay, that’s it for me. Have a festive St. Paddy’s and remember to drink plenty of water, folks.

xo shawnee