Samantha Arthurs

author, reviewer, here for a good time

Novels Are Coming (and other things I’m updating about)

I realize it’s been awhile since I posted here, and there are a few reasons for that. The first reason is that COVID really threw me off and put a damper on my need and want to be a creative person. With so much going on in the world and adjusting to the new normal for now, I just couldn’t get into anything. I’m slowly starting to regain my creative identity though, which is a good thing!

The main reason, however, is that I felt like I was really struggling with my publisher. Nothing was going forward with the Rust trilogy, and there was very little communication. Last night, however, I received an email that the publisher is folding because of COVID related money issues. They just can’t keep afloat right now, like a lot of businesses, and they’ve now released us all from our contracts with them. While it is disappointing to have spent eight months waiting for them only to have nothing to show for it, I’m also relieved that I can now move forward with the books as originally planned. I released A Crooked Mile a year ago in April, and then signed a contract with them before A Different Shade of Blue ever came out. I had intended to release it at the end of last year, but obviously had to pull that idea (and Crooked from being sold) in order to be part of the book deal.

Now I can resume my work on editing Blue, and move forward with it’s publication which is exciting! I’m really hoping for a release date around September 14th, which gives me about six weeks to get things in order. I was in the middle of hard edits when I stopped working on it myself, so I’m just simply going to pick right back up again. I’m going to buckle down hard on editing, and my cover designer has agreed to do the design for Blue as well which is fantastic! She did such a great job on the cover for Crooked, and I know she’ll knock it out of the park again for Blue!

Now comes the next question: when will the other two books be released?

A Different Shade of Blue is coming soon!

The third book in the series needs a serious overhaul in the storyline, much more so than the first two books needed. My main objective is to start tearing it apart piece by piece, and reconstructing it into a story that really fits the character better. I want to give her a great send off, and I want the readers who got to know her in  book one to see her grow and evolve the way I originally intended. Knowing all of that, and also knowing that NaNoWriMo is looming nearer and nearer, I’m hopeful that maybe we’ll see that one by the end of the year of the first of 2021.

As for book four, well, it’s place in line has shifted a little. I’ve decided instead of releasing that as the full blown four novel, I’m going to take it back and place it before book one as a sort of book 0.5 type of situation. It’s shorter than the other books for sure, and I don’t want to spend too much time padding it unnecessarily just to try and make it something it isn’t. So I’ll likely release it between books two and three for a lower price, to make it both more affordable for folks and as a little treat while I’m tearing down and rebuilding the third book in the series.

Got it? Good! I hope all of that made sense!

There is so much more I have to work on too, like SO MUCH. I got my writing planner out last night and put down on paper everything that’s finished, everything that’s halfway done, and everything that’s new and that I need to start working on. With the three Rust books back in my hands I now have six books in need of editing (and I HATE to edit), as well as two things that are halfway done, and several others that are in the beginning stages.

My writing planner keeps me going.

Right now here is the tentative plan going forward:

September 14th: Release date for A Different Shade of Blue (Rust #2)

October 1st: Release date for a short story or two for Halloween (One or two spooky shorts for $.99 in honor of my favorite holiday! These will be all new original short stories, which are a quirky project that is just for fun more than anything else.)

December: Possibly a release for the third Rust book I this time frame. Whether that is 0.5 or truly book #3 I don’t know yet! Though it’s entirely possible, if I get on the ball hard enough, that we could possibly see both by then.

January 2021: Book #3 in the Rust series should definitely be out no later than this, unless something goes very much awry. Fingers crossed, however, that things go smoothly!

That is all I know for certain at the moment. I know already what I plan to work on for NaNoWriMo this year, which is always a nice way to get started, I just need to work on outlining all the plot points so it doesn’t go off the rails. I want to get to editing on other things, so there could be some more release date news in the near future. It just depends on how things are going forward with the schedules for me and my editors, and how willing they are to work on things for me. I don’t expect them to drop everything and do this for me on a whim or full time or anything like that, and I feel lucky that they’re even doing it for me at all.

It’s just been a whirlwind, and I’m sorry that it’s taken so long for things to get back in order. I know we’re all feeling it, but I don’t want my creativity to continuously feel stifled. I feel less like myself when I’m not writing and putting words out into the world, and I hate that so much. So it’s time to stop finding excuses and dragging myself down and to get back to work!

Thank you to everyone who has stuck around through all of this, you’re the best! I’m sorry it’s been so long between books one and two, but I promise to get it rectified as fast as I can!

To my fellow writers, I hope you’re not struggling too! Or, if you were, I hope that you’re able to drag yourself back to the surface and get back to work. If you’re like me then it feels…suffocating almost to not have that outlet. Also if you’ve published anything since COVID began, or if you’re struggling for reviews and readership, please leave me a link to your stuff! I’d love to do some reviews and buy some indie stuff from folks right now! Both for me to read (reading is my second favorite hobby after writing) and to give you a boost!

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The Quarantine Blues

Hey everyone!

I know, I know. It’s been awhile since I updated here, but with everything going on it’s just been so hard to focus and write much of anything. I haven’t worked on anything in ages, and that just seems to make my anxiety that much worse. It’s hard enough coping with that on a daily basis, but add in the stress that comes with COVID-19 and everything is just one big jumbled mess. I’m here now though, and I’m bringing a few updates with me for those who might be curious.

Things with the publisher are going rather slowly at the moment. With the virus impacting just about everything, including the daily lives of every single one of us, things are understandably moving a bit slower than normal. I thought we were about to start my editing process, but now they’re saying June so we’ll see. What should have been an March/April release of book one is now likely going to be August/September, with books two and three following shortly thereafter. Fingers crossed that remains the schedule! I’m very anxious to get the entire story of Rust out there for everyone, and that’s my priority at the moment.

I’m about to start editing the Ramona novel from the series, as it’s the one (for me) that really needs the most overhauling. I’m not satisfied with some of the choices I made in the first draft, so it’s a good time to work on correcting those things and making sure it’s the story I want to tell for her.

I have a bunch of other novels sitting around waiting for editing too. I need to get back on track, so I’m going to fill out my planner for May and try to buckle down. With the stay at home orders, the fear of getting sick, and all the uncertainty right now it feels strange to be working on writing but I need to do it. Writing is a safe place for me, it gives me solace, and so I really need to try and hold onto that instead of letting myself feel like I can’t.

My goal for the year is to get the trilogy out with the publisher, and to get at least one novel up self-published. I don’t know yet which one it’ll be, I can’t choose at the moment, but I have an idea of which one I’d really like for it to be. I also have so many things that are in limbo where I’m not writing at the moment, and I just really hope things start to ease up mentally so I can get past this hurdle. It’s the worst thing in the world to be a writer who can’t find their words. Well, maybe not the very worst thing, but it’s pretty high up there on my list.

In the mean time I have gotten back into the reading groove! I hadn’t been able to read for pleasure either, everything just felt so off (I know y’all know what I mean), but I’ve been able to get myself into a groove again. I’ve almost hit 50 books for the year out of the 115 I hope to read, which is pretty good! Not as far ahead of the curve as I’ve been in recent years, but it’s relaxing me and helping me to sort of center myself. I’ll try to post some reviews here of the books I enjoy the most as I go along.

I’ve also starting to work on organizing my personal library differently and filling out my card catalog. I’m considering doing a video tour of my book collection sometime in the near future, but we’ll see how that shakes out. My books are already in order, but I just want to change things up somehow. If I do I’ll either do a video tour, or maybe a photo tour. We’ll see!

So how are you guys dealing with quarantine, working during a pandemic, and just life in general at the moment? If you’re a fellow writer have you also hit a bit of a road block? Let me know! I’d love to hear from all of you!

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Publishing Update + The Idea Process

Hey guys! It’s been a minute, but the weather and all that jazz have me a little down in the dumps. I haven’t felt like updating or doing much of anything, but I want to get back into a routine and so here we are. I figured we’d start with a brief update about the publication of the Rust trilogy:

I know nothing.

I wish I had more to tell everyone, and I wish I had some concrete dates and ideas, but I just…don’t. The publisher is a knew imprint so I’m sure things are going to take awhile, but I’m pretty much in the dark at the moment. The original idea was that the first book would be out at the end of this month/beginning of April, but since I haven’t heard anything and haven’t been talked to about editing and all yet I’m going to surmise that likely won’t happen.

When I know something, you’ll know something. Cross my heart!

Moving on to other pursuits, I was thinking a bit about the idea process. I don’t know how other writers do things, I only know how I do them. I have never been the type of person who can say oh, yes, I want to write a vampire novel and then I sit down and just do it. I don’t operate like that, and when I DO try and operate like that it turns out to be pretty dismal at best. Like the time I tried to write a werewolf story (Crimson, for those keeping track at home) and totally stalled.

Wanting to write something and being able to execute it are not mutually exclusive for me, unfortunately. Though I do get lots of ideas, and honestly they just come to me out of nowhere.

For example:

It’s Monday, and I just walked in the door at work. As I was starting to get things ready to open for the day and idea hit me out of the blue. At first it was just a blip of something, but as I made my way around the office turning on lights and booting up computers, the idea expanded until I had to grab a piece of paper to write down the bits and bobs as they came to me.

That’s how it almost always is for me, and it’s always been that way. Something just clicks and the idea is there. Once I have the generally scope of it I can start to flesh it out, and from there I do an outline and then, eventually, a novel.

What’s your idea process like? Are you able to just take something that interests you and write it? I wish I could do that, believe me! For now, however, my process works for me and hasn’t, thus far, steered me wrong.

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A Brief Q&A!

I realize I am desperately off schedule this week, but it’s just that time of year where the weather is nasty and everything sort of melts together. In the interest of getting somewhat back on track, however, I decided to do a short little Q&A just for fun.

  1. What is the first book that made you cry? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it was probably Old Yeller or Where The Red Fern Grows. I can’t exactly remember, but those were books I read frequently as a child and that were very emotionally daunting. So if there was a book that made me cry when I was a kid it was more than likely one of the two.
  2. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I have written a four book series (whittled down to three books now), which are all connected by characters and locations. Outside of that little world, however, none of my stories are connected to one another. I’m not Stephen King here, I’ve never set out to create one cohesive world where all of my stories collide. Would that be pretty cool? Absolutely it would, but it makes no sense for me and what I’m doing. The majority of the books that I write are standalone pieces, though they do have the capacity to be expanded a bit. I just have no particular interest in trying to connect all of my books together, that just isn’t who I am.
  3. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? So many! Right now I have three books that are under contract with a publisher, which seems like a lot but it really isn’t. Especially not when I consider the fact that I have four books that are completed yet unpublished, and three more that are half-finished or in progress. I have a lot more that haven’t been seen or that aren’t even written yet than I have in publishing, which is a  bit crazy to think about. At least I have a back log of work for those writers block heavy times!
  4. How long on average does it take you to write a book? It really just depends on the story and how much I’m struggling with my own moods and schedule. The fastest I ever completed a draft of something was in six days, but it can take me way longer than that. On average I can finish a draft in a month if I’m pacing myself decently, which is about my normal. Sometimes though it can take me a few months because my writers block and moods ebb and flow and I don’t want to force things. The first draft of Endless Numbered Days took me like two years, because I kept putting it down and walking away from it. Eventually I put my nose to the grind stone and got it done, but it was a task. A Crooked Mile, however, took me about 9 days to complete. Part of it too is how engaged I am in the characters and how concrete my ideas are. If I’m learning the story as I go, well, that just takes a lot more time.
  5. Have you ever gotten reader’s block? Believe it or not, this happens a lot! There are days when I just can’t get into a book, or when I just can’t find the mood to want to read anything. I read anywhere from 100-300 books in a year on average, and part of it is just burn out. I’ll read several books back to back quickly, and then my brain demands a break. It isn’t from lack of wanting to read, I always want to read, it’s just a need to take a break and give myself breathing room.
  6. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I try and find a nice balance of both. I want my characters, and my novels, to be original ideas that are unique to me and me alone. I also want to give readers a story they want to read, and characters they want to care about. I want to be a writer who can write original stories that make readers crave more, and who they want to come back to time and time again. I think I succeed at this fairly well, or at least I hope that I do, and I hope I can continue to find this balance in my writing life going forward.

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Life List Item 61: See Niagara Falls

This is a particularly special life list item, as it was also an item on my mom’s list of things she wanted to do and see. For years she’s talked about wanting to go to Niagara falls, so for Christmas in 2018 my sister and I decided to make it happen. We booked a hotel for the following April, and set her up to get her passport card that would allow us to cross the border into Canada so we could really experience the falls properly. To be honest, Niagara Falls wasn’t anything I’d actually considered before she started talking about wanting to go, but the more I researched and planned the more excited I became. Who doesn’t want to see one of the wonders of the world!?

The three of us, along with my aunt, ended up driving from Kentucky to upstate New York. We broke the drive down into two parts, stopping in Akron, Ohio on the way up to visit with family. Despite being a bit of a long drive it was still an interesting one, and a part of the country even I hadn’t been to before. We ended up staying in a hotel away from the more tourist heavy falls area, but that turned out to be pretty nice. The hotel was a newer build, very clean, and close enough that we didn’t have to drive far to see things while still giving us peace and quiet.

Those are things every traveler can come to appreciate, believe me.

We certainly didn’t waste any time in our short two days in the area, going straight to the falls themselves. I have to admit it is pretty incredible to hear all that rushing water before you even see it, and when you DO see it? It’s more magnificent than you could possibly have imagined. No pictures do it justice, believe me, and it is just a scene that you really can’t ever adequately describe. It’s so amazing to see nature in all it’s glory that way, just completely raw and untamed. It’s humbling too, knowing that something so powerful exists in the world and that man had absolutely nothing to do with it at all.

We got our first views of the falls, and then checked out the visitors center. There’s a trolley that runs around the American side of the falls, and it is well worth the (cheap) price! The trolley is absolutely fantastic, and was definitely one of the best things about the trip! They drive you around and talk about all the sights, and you can hop on and off! We did this on our second day, and we ended up getting off at Cave of the Winds. We knew that they weren’t fully set up yet, they had only done partial construction for the season, but we still wanted to experience it so my sister and I bought tickets for the four of us.

You ride an industrial elevator down to river level, where you then walk along a man-made boardwalk right up to Bridal Veil Falls! My mom and aunt hung back, but me and my sister went as far as we could. It was so surreal! You’re standing right beside these massive waterfalls that are spraying mist all over the place, and then there were just these massive pillars of ice! I think that was one of the parts I loved most, seeing all those big chunks of ice.

Eventually we crossed the border into Canada, though we didn’t get to stay that long. My mom’s knee was really bothering her, and it was very hard for her to walk. We drove around to view the falls from the Canadian side though, and it really is the more beautiful view. You get two entirely difference experiences, that’s for sure. On the American side you get closer to the falls, but on the Canadian side it’s nicer to look at. It’s a win-win, so definitely get your passport if you’re planning a visit!

Mom ended up sitting in a coffee shop while we did some shopping and then picked up a Papa John’s pizza. Yeah, I know. We went to Canada and brought back a pizza. It’s also worth noting though that we also bought enough Tim Hortons donuts to kill a man, which is hilarious since we do have Tim Hortons here in Kentucky.

All in all we had a great time, and I think we’d all like to go back. If we do return we’ll definitely stay on the Canadian side. That was originally the plan, but my aunt didn’t have her passport so we had to move to the American side. It all worked out, but I’d love to go and do all the cheesy tourist stuff. It there is one thing I love in life, it’s a good tourist trap.

Anyway, even if this was never on your list it’s a good weekend trip if you live close enough!

Life List Item: Complete

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Book Excerpt – Rust # 1 (A Crooked Mile)

As I get prepared for editing and cover design to start on the first book in the Rust trilogy (A Crooked Mile), I thought I’d share another little tidbit from it. Some of you may have read this book already when I first released it, but believe me when I say you’ll want to pick up the new edition when it comes out! It will be much longer, and will include a ton of material you’ve never seen before. Originally the first half of the new book would have been Before That Winter, but they’re being combined into one book to make it an even better story.

A Crooked Mile is the story of Alec Davis and Ramona Sanders, two very different people who are thrown together for a project at school. While there is a hint of a love story, that is ultimately not what this novel is about. It’s about pain, loss, sorry, and redemption. It’s about how we all have so many feelings warring inside of us, and how sometimes our demons get the best of us. I never wanted to write a cut and dry love story, I wanted it to be so much deeper than that, and I hope that those of you who read it (or have already read it) feel all the things I felt while writing it.

In this excerpt we see a moment of calm between Alec and Ramona as they work on their school project.

The maple tree had already lost all of its leaves, standing tall and bare by the back corner of the Sanders home. Alec had a forlorn look on his face as he studied it, his lips pursed and his arms crossed over his chest. Beside him stood Ramona, a notebook clutched in her hands as she worried over her bottom lip with her teeth. They had planned to start shooting more of their scenes days earlier, but life had got in the way. More specifically Alec’s basketball practices had got in the way, since he’d been staying late to try and help Bryson out, and the weather hadn’t exactly been cooperating either.

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New Projects

With the Rust series in the editing queue at the publisher, and with a few other projects finished up, I’ve now settled into this strange place where I’m working primarily on brand new things.

New things can be pretty scary.

I had an idea in the back of my mind for The Dreaming Summer for quite some time. It was never anything solid, just ideas that I wrote down and intended to form into something bigger later on. I wrote the bit of it (one page, but an important page) back in July and didn’t touch it again until a couple of weeks ago. With A Shark In Lola’s Pond now finished and a lot of other projects mostly in the rear view, it just felt like time.

I went into it with a more well constructed idea and plot, though I’m still not quite sure what feels right with the story. I’m just working on feeling out the characters and the situations, and building a brand new town for the setting.

I’m also working on building a good horror/ghost story right now, and trying to finally rework Crimson into something palatable. After as many years of struggling and re-starts as I’ve had with that one you’d think I’d give it up, but I’m still hanging onto it with both hands for whatever reason.

It feels strange to be at a point where I have more things in editing and publishing than I have in my current projects folder. Has that ever happened to you, fellow writers? Have you ever gotten strangely ahead of yourself and built up a backlog? Its’ a foreign concept for me, and definitely not something I’e ever done before!

I just hope I keep up the ideas, and keep fleshing out things as they come to me. I sure don’t want the pool to run dry, though that does happen sometimes. Fingers crossed there’s no writers block on my horizon! I’m really loving the roll I’m on right now. I especially am enjoying playing with different genres and story types. It’s nice to get out of my comfort zone!

If you’re writing, what are you working on? If you’re a reader, let me know your current reading list!

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Book Excerpt – Rust Book #2 (A Different Shade of Blue)

I decided this week to feature the book previously known as A Different Shade of Blue. I say previously known as because I’m not sure if the publisher intends to keep this title when the book is released later this year, so I also sometimes refer to it as Rust #2, as it is the second in the trilogy. Titles aside, however, this might be one of my favorite books I’ve written, as I really love the characters and I hope everyone else will love them too!

A Different Shade of Blue takes place two years after the events of A Crooked Mile  and follows the story of Alec’s little brother, Bryson. He is now in his last year of high school, and is struggling to figure out what comes next, who he is, and how to cope with everything going on in his life. It is very much a coming of age story, and the struggles that so many people face every single day.

In this excerpt we find Bryson struggling with a recurring nightmare about his brother, with a new twist involving a schoolmate who may be a new enemy or a new crush. At this point he hasn’t quite decided just yet.

  That night he had the dream again, his old friend the recurring nightmare. He was back in Montana, lost in the blowing snow out on the desolate and dead wheat fields. He was walking and walking against the wind, trying desperately to find his brother. Only now there was a voice on the wind, someone calling out to him and distracting him. They yelled out his name from his left and then his right, the wind carrying the sound and making it confusing. He didn’t know where it was coming from, but as he walked it did become more and more clear.

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That Time I Accidentally Wrote A Series

When I wrote the first draft of A Crooked Mile for National Novel Writing Month 2017 I fully intended for it to be a stand alone novel. I had absolutely no plans to feature Rust in any other books, and that was the end of the road for Alec, Ramona, and Bryson.

In fact it stayed a stand alone book for a full year while it was being edited and beta read and queried to agents and publishers. I never pushed it as a series or trilogy, just one book and one book alone.

Then it came time to start planning for NaNoWriMo 2018. I had a random idea then, something that just hit me out of nowhere. What if I wrote a sequel novel about Bryson and how his journey continued after book one? He was just a second character, albeit one that people seemed to like, and he was definitely the type that could be expanded upon. So, just like that, I went from having one book to a duology!

Sometime that following January I had made myself a nice chart of writing goals I wanted to accomplish, and I was brainstorming a third book that would be a prequel to both the current novels. It was an in-depth look at Alec and everything that had happened leading up to the events of A Crooked Mile. I really had enjoyed writing him, and I wanted to dig deeper into his story.

I finished the first draft of Before That Winter in about two weeks and then I thought that since Alec got a standalone story, Ramona deserved one too! So her story became the fourth and final (finally!) book in the Rust series.

It was a bit of a shock to me when I really sat back and took a look at what I had done. I had gone from a stand alone novel to an entire series without even meaning to do so. I felt proud of myself though, because I had never felt like the type of writer who could really sit down and plan out something so intricate and interwoven and here I had done it completely by accident!

I’m now working with One Odd Bird Press to publish them all this year, though we have whittled things down to a solid trilogy as opposed to four books. Alec’s story will be combined with A Crooked Mile into a much heftier book one. This will be followed by A Different Shade of Blue, which follows Bryson, and then The Way Home which is Ramona’s story of growing up and finding redemption within herself.

I’m honestly pretty proud of myself for what I created here, both the characters and the place that they all called home. I love Alec, Ramona, and Bryson and while it was hard to finally let them go, I’m glad that I got to the point where I could. Maybe down the road I’ll dust them off again for some small novellas or something, but as of now their stories are done and they are ready for the world to meet them.

For those of you who already read A Crooked Mile, I hope that you’ll purchase the book upon it’s re-release and give it a shot. I think if you liked it the first go-round that you will love it even more in it’s new volume, and that you’ll enjoy getting to delve deeper into the world of Alec Davis and what made him tick.

As of now I’ve written several other books that need editing, and one or two do feature characters and worlds that could be expanded upon. I’m not planning anything specific yet, but lightning struck once so maybe it will again!

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Book Excerpt – The Heart of War

This week I pulled an excerpt from my 2019 NaNoWriMo novel The Heart of War. It’s currently in the editing process, and I’m going to try my best to get it out there sooner rather than later.

The Heart of War is the story of Sadie and Jude Rees who met in Wales on the cusp of 
WWII. The novel begins in our present, when their granddaughter discovers a trunk in 
the attic filled with letters, photographs, and other mementos of their life in Europe
before, during, and immediately following the war. 

In this excerpt the end of the war is looming closer and closer, though they don't
know that quite yet. Sadie is trying her best to scrape by on little news and, 
admittedly, very little hope. 

            While Jude Rees was fighting his way across Europe, his heart remained in Wales. Sadie was still working her job at the munitions factory, one of the largest of the Royal Ordinance Factories for munitions that was operated in the UK during the war. They primarily made naval shells, and the nearly 20,000 employees were almost entirely women. It was their way of doing their duty for the war effort, though for Sadie it was also much more of that.

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