All posts by Lilycat

Reflections on 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, I’m taking a little time to reflect on the positive aspects of a somewhat disturbing year.

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who has read my books, posted comments or reviews, and given me encouragement over the past few years. A pall settled on the creative energy early on and at times, writing proved to be a struggle rather than the exciting, energizing activity it usually is. Your encouragement kept me going. So, once again, my deepest gratitude.

My goals were loftier than my accomplishments, but I am proud of what I did manage to achieve. While I had hoped to release three books, I only managed to edit and publish one of them, Funeral Singer: A Song of Betrayal.

My YA book, Dew Dropping Hour, an urban fantasy novel,  is still in rewrite phase as I am not happy with the pacing of the book and putting it through my critique group is a slow process. But I’ll rework it until I’m happy with it rather than release something that isn’t the best it can be.

The third book I’d hoped to release is in the O’Ceagan Saga universe. I wrote the draft in November 2016, but haven’t touched it since. That’s now on my list for the current year. It’s actually an interim novel that features the puca rather than the O’Ceagan characters, but they are in the story.

Also on the schedule for this year is the fourth book of the Funeral Singer series, which is written and awaiting editing. I plan to have that released in the spring and if all goes well, the last book in that series will be out in the fall. Of course, my schedule is always subject to the whims of life.

To top it off, I just purchased a new cover that caught my eye. So many talented artists are making gorgeous covers that I need to restrain myself. But this one called out to me and I couldn’t resist. All I can say is that it appears I will be writing a time travel and/or  steampunk novel in the near future.  Not the first time I’ve been inspired by a cover.

Along with author Margaret McGaffey Fisk, I did an Earth Day Fair in the spring and a small Comic-Con in Reno, Nevada to meet people and peddle books. Margaret, her husband Colin, and I comprised a panel on Immortality as seen by Hollywood. That was fun and drew a few more people to our table.

On the personal side of life, I did a little traveling and relaxing. In February, I met my brother and his wife in Cancun, Mexico to celebrate his birthday. Great fun, warm, and so beautiful.

Cancun to NYC theater to LA Highlander Convention – great memories…

In April, I enjoyed a trip to New York City, met with a couple of friends, and  saw three Broadway musicals. We took in “Come From Away”, “Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” with the amazing Josh Groban, and “The Bandstand”, a new American musical set just after World War II and featuring swing music. Awesome theater!

In October, I had a great time in LA at a Highlander the Series Convention with many of the actors, directors and other creatives from the series. Wonderful to catch up with everyone, old friends and new.

When you reflect on 2017, I trust your year has many special memories also. I hope the coming year will bring good times, memorable moments, and more happiness than trouble. Happy 2018 to everyone!

Lily

In the press of NaNoWriMo

It’s November 6th and I’m working on my fourth NaNoWriMo novel. This year my project is the 4th book of my Funeral Singer series. Two previous novels in it were written during NaNo. Last year’s novel is in the O’Ceagan’s Legacy series, and sadly, it is still in the edit pile along with Dew Dropping Hour. I tend to impose deadlines on myself and right now, completing the Funeral Singer series is right at the top of my list. There will be one more book in the series to bring it to five total.  But more about that later.

In this post, I want to toss out my top 7 methods to surge past the infamous writer’s block. I actually compiled these for the most recent High Sierra Writers’ newsletter, so if you’re already seen them, then move along.

There’s really no such thing as writer’s block, you know. You just have to do it. And there are some techniques that work for me. If you’re stuck trying to write something, give them a try and see if they won’t help you past the road block. However, the writer’s block at the top of the page can be a serious hindrance.

7 Tips to Break Writer’s Block

From the experiences of Rene Averett

As I’m starting my 4th year of NaNoWriMo, I’m planning to complete the first draft of my next novel. I have “won” every year so far and have every expectation of completing 50,000 words plus quite a few more in November. Even while doing NaNo, writer’s block can set in. I have a few techniques I use to get past them so I will share my top 7 tips for anyone else to try.

1. Change writing mediums: If you’ve been typing on a keyboard, try writing with paper and pen. I find that it triggers my mind into using my creative side and words tend to flow more easily as my mind shifts modes. After a page or so of writing longhand, I can usually get back into the flow of the story and to the computer.

2. Move around: Get up, take a walk, or do something physical for about 15 minutes. Your brain may just need a break. Put on some music and dance or exercise. Sometimes this includes getting up and feeding the cat.

3. Refresh and ask questions: Get a cup of coffee or a glass of water and allow your mind to think about the scene. Ask yourself questions about it. Maybe you haven’t planned it well enough. Ask the basic reporter’s questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? If you can answer them, then you might trigger the next part of your story or you can write a character back-story scene that gets you going again.

4. Take time for play: Play a game or do something creative, such as sketching, drawing, or cooking. Once again, this provides a break and allows your brain to work on the next part of your book.

5. Skip over the scene and go to one that is clearer in your mind: This works well if you’re a plotter. Often when plotting, you add scenes that you’re looking forward to writing while others are part of the necessary lead-up to that great scene. If the lead-up isn’t coming together, jump to the scene you’re really wanting to write. This often sorts out the troublesome scene in the process.

6. Turn off your inner editor: Easier said than done, but seriously, editing uses a different part of the brain and stifles creativity. Let your creative side go and just write.

7. Dream on it: If you’re having trouble with a scene, think about it before you go to sleep. Your brain will work on it while you’re sleeping and you’ll probably have the solution in the morning.

Hope these tips help you if you find yourself staring at the same line of your computer screen for a long time.

 

New Book Release and Convention Appearance

My latest Funeral Singer book is out and available now at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback! So excited about this third installment in the series. Things are really heating up for the funeral singer now.

Called A Song of Betrayal, the story continues singer Gillian Foster’s interactions with the recently departed in the ethereal cemetery as she confronts a murder victim. Zoe Sarkis’ husband killed her and fled the country. Now, she’s refusing to cross over until he is found and brought to justice. Complicating Gillian’s task of helping Zoe, she is also facing an increasing number of ghoulish figures called shades. Can Gillian help find the missing husband and learn to deal with the shades?

A Song for Betrayal is available now in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com. You can also read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. Take a look at my launch page for more information and links.

For a preview of the book, follow the link below:

Reno Comic Con

If you’re in the Reno Nevada area, Sands Comic Con is happening this weekend, September 23 & 24. I will be there both days to talk to folks and sign books at the Pynhavyn Press table. Joining me, both at the table and in a panel on Saturday, is Margaret McGaffey Fisk (Steamship Chronicles) who will also be happy to chat and sign books.

Our panel will be at noon and we’ll be discussing Immortality as Seen by Hollywood. This panel excites me as I love talking about how most of the programs that have immortal characters tend to slant it negatively. As a longtime Highlander the Series fan, I’ve definitely had discussions with people on this before. So, if you’re in town, come on down to the Sands and join us in this discussion.

5 Writing and Editing Tools You Should Apply

I don’t often post about writing on my blog, but I am making an exception today. I wrote a version of this article for the High Sierra Writers Newsletter and decided to share it here in the hope it will help other writers.

As writers, we’re more about the creation of the story than the details such as grammar, syntax, and spelling. But before you send off anything, be it a short story, poem, blog post, novel, or query letter to an agent, editor, or a beta reader, you should make it as clean and correct as you possibly can. Your words represent you as a storyteller and a professional. If there are errors in the writing, then it reflects on your ability or lack of editing skills.

I often read and edit for other writers and the problems I see are that many writers just don’t know how to spell, use proper grammar, or good sentence structure. What surprises me most is that they also don’t know what tools are built into their word processor or available on the internet to help correct these errors before they send their work to a beta reader or an editor. Some of these programs are valuable aids to improve writing. Most focus on clarity and business writing where extraneous words are in the way of communicating the information. Nonetheless, they can be very helpful to the creative writer in looking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

These five tools, available on the web or in your writing program, can assist you in becoming a better writer with fewer mistakes in your work.  In fact, they can help you with any writing you do.

Word Processor Tools

Don’t forget your word processor has a built-in spell checker and grammar checker. Turn it on when you’re writing. If you misspell a word or make a grammatical error, the program will put a red line under it. Right click on your mouse and it will display spelling or grammar options for what it thinks you are trying to type. With WORD, this is a reasonably good, but not as robust as some of the editing programs offered on line.

Are you at a loss for alternate words? Chances are your word processing program has a thesaurus in it. Highlight the word you want to replace and click on the thesaurus and a list of additional words will display. If you’re not quite sure if the word you want to select has the same meaning, then look it up in a dictionary. Many are online. Not all synonyms have the same definition.

Tools from the Web

This list comes from the NY Book Editors website. You can view the full list and information about each by clicking here. I’ve listed the ones I find most appealing and I use two of them on a regular basis.

An Autocrit analysis screen shows the length and pacing of the paragraphs in your work. In this case, I used one chapter from my book.

Autocrit

This is a subscription service costing almost $30 per month to use but it is designed specifically for Fiction Writers.  (When the NY Book Editors article was written, the author quoted $5, which would have been a bargain, but this higher price tag makes it hard for struggling writers to afford.) With the focus on pacing and momentum, dialogue, word choice, repetition, and strong writing, it can be a valuable tool worth the cost. It also finds instances of passive voice, adverbs, clichés, and filler words. Designed to help you tighten up your story, it makes strong suggestions for change, but the option to accept is always up to you.

EditMinion analyzes many areas of your writing and lists the number of times you use words, what the tense is on your sentence, and many other factors in your writing. I particularly like that it shows the character names. This is great if you happen to change the names and miss correcting one.

editMinion

A FREE, easy to use, and quick tool, this program gives you a comprehensive overview. It shows the most often used words, average sentence length, and the longest sentence by words. It also highlights adverbs, weak words, passive phrases, and clichés. While it may not be the best editor on their list, it does a good job of isolating grammar errors and it is free.

A sample of Grammerly’s information box as you correct grammatical and punctuation errors in your work. The box shows the error and explains why the change is suggested. You need to analyze and decided.

Grammarly

I use this program all the time. It is a comprehensive grammar, spelling, and punctuation checker. It makes suggestions for changes and displays the rules behind the suggested change. The program isolates hundreds of error types that are missed by word processors. It also offers synonym suggestion to improve your writing. The free version is available on line and you can also purchase a more robust version. The features in that include over 400 checks and features to improve your writing, plus 30 specific document types. You can purchase monthly or at a big discount on an annual payment.

Grammarly offers a downloadable app for Chrome, Office, and Windows that works with your word processor program, email or other online writing programs as you are typing. For my purposes, I use the free one. Given that it is a general editor, I believe some of the advanced errors it finds might relate more to business writing than creative writing.

 

Hemingway

Another program I use, this one addresses readability. Based on the concept that Hemingway wrote to a sixth-grade reading level, the application analyzes your writing and provides statistics on reading time, the number of paragraphs, and the word count. Using color coding in your text, it highlights problem areas, such as passive voice, adverbs, and difficulty to read. While I enjoy the analysis, I do find it contradictory when it tells me I write at grade 4 level but my sentences are too long and complex. For the other features in it, I think it is a useful program. You can use it online or pay $19.99 to download the desktop application.

 

 

 

This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of the High Sierra Writers newsletter, written by Rene Averett, my real name.

Catching Up and Current Status

Hello, Tribe…

I know it’s been a while since I sent an update to my blog. Bad me. But I have been busy with writing and rewriting.  That’s the good news. The bad news? I’m behind on my planned schedule, particularly on the book I am reworking.

… the YA Novel

Let’s start there. I’ve been fighting my way through Dew Dropping Hour, my first YA novel and there are parts of it that are great and parts that just don’t quite flow the way I want them to deliver. So, that is still in the works and way behind my original time frame for the novel, but better to take the extra time and get the best book I can do, I believe. Since this is the first book of a trilogy, I really want it to pop! Don’t you agree?

…the next Funeral Singer novel

I’ve started working on my third book in the Funeral Singer series, called A Song of Betrayal and I’m excited about this story. While it follows the main story line with a murderer to catch, this also begins to focus more on the through story as Gillian encounters more of the dark spirits and that story line begins to heat up.

So far, I’m at Chapter 18 of the first draft and expect it to be about 24 or 25 chapters, so I am getting close to the end of the first draft. I hope to have it done by the end of May, but we’ll see how that goes. If all things, including beta reads and editing, go well after that, I am hoping for a September release on it.

For a little glimpse into this book, here’s the first couple of paragraphs:

“Who the hell are you?”

Battered, bloodied, and angry, the petite woman glared up at me from a crouch on the ground.  A clotted slash of blood tore across half of her throat and her light blue silk nightgown bore a ragged, crimson hole where a bullet had ripped into her chest. Her walnut-colored eyes blazed with fury as her nostrils flared like an angry bull’s.  “What is this place?” she asked.

I wasn’t her enemy, but that mattered little at this moment.  Echoing at the edge of my awareness, I heard the melody and indistinct words that my physical self back in the chapel sang for her, but my full attention focused on this distraught victim of a horrible murder. Her appearance mimicked the way the Reno police had found her, not the pristine version of the body lying in the coffin for family, friends, and curious gawkers to view before they tucked her away forever.

The other exciting news on that front is that I have a cover that I think works well in the set and here it is, a first look!

My covers are all independent-looking rather than following a specific theme and that may not tie them together well. Is a tombstone on each cover enough? Let me know what you think.

And what about the O’Ceagan’s Saga sequel? I hear you asking that and it’s really in the swirl of the thought-cloud at the moment. I wrote a related, but not direct sequel to it that I plan to get edited and out this year, but the actual next book in the series hasn’t been started yet. But there will be more coming up…

….Earth Day thoughts

I had a great time at the Reno Earth Day Celebration. It turned out to be a lovely day in the Biggest Little City although spring is an ephemeral, but recurring season in Northern Nevada,  Margaret McGaffey Fisk and I talked to lots of nice people and we hope some of them will check out our books.

Book Giveaway and a Chance for a Gift Card

Ok, I want to include you on a little giveaway I have lined up. I am really trying to get reviews on both Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle and A Song for Menafee as well as for O’Ceagan’s Legacy. Reviews are one of the hardest things to get it seems and I know some people are reading them and downloading copies. But I only have 11 reviews for A Song for Marielle and 3 for Menafee.  About the same for O’Ceagan’s Legacy.  So here’s what I’m trying.

I will give away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky person who posts a review on one of those three books.  Of course, I need to know who you are and when you posted in order to enter you in the drawing, so if you write a review and let me know, I will include you. And, if you are willing to read and write an honest review, I will even send you a code to get a free copy. Just email me at lily@lillianwolfe.me and ask for the code for whichever book you want to read and I will send you a code at Instafreebie that will allow you to download a book in the format of your choice. So, you get a free book and a chance at a gift card. It’s a win-win for you no matter how you look at it.

The gift card will given away on August 31st, 2017, so that’s over three months to read a book and review it. How about helping me out?

Until my next update, thanks for reading this and have a great summer!

Lily