Category Archives: Book planning

Thoughts about works in progress and how they develop. Back stories that may be interesting to the readers and some of the character development.

Gearing up for NaNo

Old Hillside Cemetery in Reno Nevada – the Civil War plot for those who served in the Civil War.

It’s the middle of October and time to start getting organized for this year’s NaNoWriMo.  I’ve been working on my character sheets for the next novel in the Funeral Singer series.  I have an outline and the next step is to organize all this in Scrivener so that when I start writing on November 1st, I will be ready to knock out a bunch of words from the get-go.

November is not without additional challenges to the writing.  I will be out of town three days of it and Wizard World Comic Con in Reno will take another three days out of the writing time although I will still try to write each day, even if it’s in a notebook to be typed in later.

In spite of that, I love the extra push that writing during NaNo gave me last year and I hope to have as great an experience this year.  If you’re a writer and haven’t gotten involved with your regional group for NaNo, you might be missing out on the “we’re all in this together” group feel that writing, even online, at the same time and comparing word counts with others incentive that you get from the program.  It’s a great boost and it really helped me to turn off the internal editor and just write.  The first draft needs work, but you’ve got a book when you’re done.

So over the next month, I’ll post about my progress on the next novel during NaNo.  I do have a title and the story line is really a good one, I think.  But then I’m a little biased.   Suffice it to say that Gillian Foster will still be dealing with the consequences of the first book while learning more about her “gift”.  I’m looking forward to the story myself and can’t wait to learn what she has to tell me.

Speaking of Funeral Singer, thus far, the first novel of the series, A Song for Marielle has been pretty well received, although I’ve only gotten eight reviews at this point.  Seven are on Amazon and one is on Good Reads.  I really encourage any of you who have read the book to please leave a review on Amazon and/or Good Reads. For any author, the reviews are important feedback as well as a way to let other readers know how a book is received.  Thank you to all who take the time to leave reviews.


“Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle” is LIVE!

BookCoverPreview-FuneralSingerI am so excited to announce that my book is now published at Amazon in both paperback and e-book for the Kindle.  While this is not the first book I’ve written, it is the first one to be published.

My thanks to everyone who has supported my efforts on the book and is following me.  My heartfelt thanks to the beta readers and editors who helped me whip it into the shape it is.  If I’ve missed any spelling or punctuation errors, it is entirely my fault although after eight times through you’d think I would have caught them all.

You can check out the information on my book at my launch page.

Or just go straight to the book page on Amazon.

Here’s the best part.  Today only (September 1, 2015), the e-book version of my book can be downloaded for FREE.  This is my way of introducing myself to you and giving you the opportunity to read it soon.  I do ask that if you enjoy it that you will at least rate it at Amazon and maybe even write a review.  Even if it’s not your cup of tea, please leave the feedback.  Reviews are really important to all writers, so it will help me out tremendously to have a few reviews, good or not so good, on the book.

Thanks and I really hope you enjoy the read!  Feel free to post comments and questions here or on my Facebook page.

Counting Down to Book Release

funeral-singer-smWow!  It’s nearly the end of July and I am still editing “Funeral Singer” to get it ready for publication.  I’ve had it out to my second round of beta readers and have gotten some great feedback on it.  I am hoping to see a little more in the next few days.   I am still making some changes as I go through and make spelling and punctuation corrections.

It definitely pays to have other eyes on the manuscript because I managed to miss quite a few things in the last two edits I did on the book.  It is so easy for your brain to just correct or ignore the mistakes you make in your own writing.  I took a class on proofreading once where the advice from the teacher was to read your work backward.  This takes away the familiarity with the project and you are more likely to catch the errors.  Other suggestions from writers are:   1) Change the font type and size so it doesn’t look the same.  2) Print the entire manuscript out and read through it with a highlighter, marking the errors.  3) Read it out loud a few times.  This also helps with hearing the dialog and if it sounds natural.  4) Use an automated reader program to have it read the book to you so you can listen for odd phrasing, omissions and other errors.  This one is really strange to listen to since there is no inflection in the reading.

In a few more days, I will be ordering my first Proof copy of the book so I can read through it to make sure I caught everything.  Once I feel comfortable that I’ve done everything I can do to get out a clean copy, it’ll be time to finalize it and release the book.  Right now, I am targeting mid-September for the release, but it won’t fly until it’s ready.

One of the things that took a little time was writing the book blurb.  These are the back pages of the book where you give a little synopsis of the story to give the potential reader an idea of what the story is about.  This is an art and a tricky skill to develop. You have to wonder how much is enough?  How much is too much?  Have I put in any spoilers?  Will this be enough to entice someone to read it?

I am excited to get my first novel out in the world and I hope that it is well-received by those who choose to read it.  No matter how you look at it, it will be an adventure.  Look for release information to come up next month.

Writing Status and Coercing the Dragon

Here I am at the start of February and I still have lots on my plate, so to speak. I am a little disappointed with myself that I haven’t worked on my WIP, my young adult novel, since the first week of January.  After the month before NaNo when I completed my fantasy novel and the month of NaNo where I wrote my paranormal thriller and started my YA, I had hoped to complete it in December, but got bogged down with the holidays and other projects.  Then I wrote a little in January and started on the first edit of Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle.

Sending the Bird into the Beta World

The good news is that the first edit is completed and the book is now out with a few beta readers for the first feedback.  I admit, I am a little nervous about setting my little bird free in the big, bad world, but I hope that the beta readers are enjoying it and will be gentle with the comments.  But I also want them to be honest.  Only if the feedback is honest will the writer grow and learn from the process.  Yes, I hope people like the story and my writing, but I am not perfect and even the best attempt to catch all the problems in a story by the writer is not going to manage it.  I’ve already found things in just glimpsing through it after I sent it out that I need to change or didn’t get caught in the edit.

With the relief of the edit done and another project or two that had to be completed, I’d hoped to get back to the YA in January, but it didn’t happen.  I just put it on my schedule for February with the hope that I can regain my writing pace and complete the first draft this month.

Capturing an Old Novel and Editing for Others

As a side-project, I went back to trying to get the second novel I’d written way back when converted to digital form so that I can revise it and perhaps publish it this year.  This one is a suspense romance along the lines of Mary Stewart’s novels.  I typed a lot of it in, wished a few more times that my scanner had an OCR application on it and tried at least three times to use Dragon Naturally Speaking to read the book to the computer.  More about this in a minute.  I did finally finish getting that novel into digital form this past week, so that’s another in the queue to rewrite.  I have been productive over the past two months, so that’s the good part.

I’ve also taken on a beta read/editing for another writer and that is always an interesting project.  His story is good, but it needs a lot of work.  I’m catching many punctuation and spelling errors, but also quite a few other issues.  I try to beta and edit the way that I hope that my beta readers will with me.  When something puzzles me or causes me to stumble in the reading, I make a note of it.  When the phrasing is awkward or confusing, I suggest changes or point out why it bothers me.  I think all writers have their blind spots when writing.  I know I do and I sometimes cringe when I read it through a month or so after writing it.  But while editing for someone else, I think you also become more aware of your own faults in your writing.  You see something the writer has done and realize that you also do it or something similar to it.  So you learn from the process as well.

Taking on the Dragon

Back to Dragon.

I have to talk about this experience a little bit.  I am on my third version of the program and I have resisted buying any more updates, although there are at least three newer versions of it now.  When I bought my current copy, version 10.0, it was a vast improvement on how it handled the interpretation of my words, but still not perfect.  For those who don’t know, you need to “train” dragon to your own speech pattern, so you read pre-designed texts to it so that it can learn your pronunciations and speech rhythm.  In spite of that, Dragon often stumbles when I try to read my own writing into it.  I think I enunciate pretty clearly, but sometimes it seems like the program makes a wild guess at what you just said because the words it types are so far off.

Using the program has been challenging and oft times frustrating for me.  I have given up more than a few times and returned to typing because I can type faster than the program can analyze, interpret, force me to correct and repeat the words.  I have tried several different mics with it, hoping that it will work better with one of them.

I just recently learned that it does better when I open the Dragon Pad (the word processing program within the program) than if I try to have it type directly into Word.  I then copy and paste from Dragon Pad to Word after a couple of pages of text have been entered.  After about one chapter, it begins to get sluggish, so I delete everything in the Dragon Pad, close it and reopen it and it performs better.  I find it doesn’t recognize words that end in n’t very well and I have to pronounce them with “ent” in order to get them entered correctly, so “couldn’t’ becomes “could-ent” in order for Dragon to understand.  I think voice recognition software has a ways to go to reach Star Trek capability.  I admit, I was amused when the computer had difficulty recognizing Chekov’s instructions in the first reboot movie.

So, that’s been my experience with the Dragon program.  Have any of you used it?  What was your experience?  Tell me about it.

Winner! And Moving On…


It’s official.  I can now say that I am a NaNoWriMo winner and that feels awesome!   Being able to write over 65,000 words in less than a month is an eye-opening experience for a writer who’s done it for the first time.  What it tells me, as a writer, is that I can get those words out there so that the first draft is complete and editing can begin.

The next phase of NaNo is to edit the words in December with an eye to publishing in the spring.  There’s still a lot of work to be done though.  Just writing the first draft isn’t enough to have a novel ready to go.  It needs to be rewritten in places, polished, some more research done, but I feel pretty confident about the book I’ve just completed.

 New Project

The Alcazar at Grenada, Spain. Isn’t this a beautiful backdrop for a romantically suspenseful novel?

At any rate, I am moving on and stepping away a little from both the October and NaNo novels to begin work on another two novels.  The first is one I outlined years ago after a trip to Spain and I wanted to incorporate the beautiful Spanish setting as well as the trips to Morocco and Portugal into the story.  It’s a suspense romance novel along the lines of the type that Mary Stewart wrote.  I loved her books. If I am going to write romance, then I want it to be in the paranormal suspense romance or just plain suspense romance genres.  So far, I don’t have a title, working or otherwise, for this novel so it is the Spanish story for now.

The second one is the one I first started to write about March of this year and didn’t get very far before the sci-fi fantasy one took over.  So that story, which is the one that is moving forward right now, is a young adult urban fantasy called “Dew Dropping Hour” and is set in Ireland.  Parts of the British Isles have always had a magical feel for me and the mythology of the islands have such enchantment that this is another planned series of books that really excites me.  I believe, at this time, that the series will be three books, but it could go to four.  It just depends on how it actually plays out while I’m writing it.  The overall series is called “The Isles of Magic”.


For some reason, I have a really hard time coming up with titles for my books.  I had a working title for the novel I am currently typing in from the hard copy that I had of it, but I don’t like it.  It doesn’t really serve the book well, so I am hoping to get an inspiration somewhere along the line as I’m writing it.

Sometimes I find the title in song lyrics or poetry and sometimes they just pop up when I’m writing.  For instance, the title of the YA, “Dew Dropping Hour” is from a poem by William Butler Yeats. But if something doesn’t present itself, it becomes a real struggle to find something that ties in, but doesn’t sound milquetoast.

Do you encounter a problem with coming up with good, enticing titles for your books or stories?  Let me know.