This weeks excerpt comes from a book that is still in the editing process, but that I hope to publish potentially by the end of the year. What is Rag & Bone about? Well, I’ll tell you!
Rag & Bone is the story of Avery Carstairs, a teenage boy who finds himself utterly alone after a deadly virus wipes out everyone and everything he has ever known. Life has become less about living and more about raw survival, and we watch as Avery and his dog, Tilly, try to make a place in this new world.
In this excerpt we join Avery in the middle of his journey. He is young, he is alone, and winter is coming sooner rather than later. Will he survive? Or will the Ruger virus succeed in destroying humanity in it's entirety?
The world was a quiet place, but it hadn’t always been that way. Two years ago there had been the steady buzz of electricity, the muted conversations from the television, the honk of car horns and the revving of engines. Now there were only the whispers of nature, the sounds that nobody had ever really regarded as more than glorified background noise. Now there was just the faint hiss of the wind blowing through trees, water flowing over rocks, and animals prowling through under brush. Sounds that became more prominent, that were brought more to the foreground now that everything else had fallen away.
So here we are, a week into a new decade and a new year! That is pretty wild, but at the same time also kind of nice. It’s always interesting to start over with a new year, to try and do things differently to see if they work better.
One thing I always try going into a new year is getting organized. Getting there is, of course, the easy part. It’s keeping things that way that I tend to have a bit of trouble with. This year though I have a lot more going on than usual, so I decided it was time to fall back on a trusty college lifesaver: the planner.
A co-worker of mine gave me a little planner for Christmas, and I keep it in my car so I can write down things that come up while I’m out or at work. To keep track of my many projects and things this year, however, I needed something a bit larger. After a lot of searching, reviews, and generally exhausting the strangely vast world of information on planners I settled on The Legend Planner.
It came today.
I am very impressed.
It basically allows me to keep track of my goals (yearly goals and three months goals), my inspiration, my moods, my month overall, and my week broken down. It’s pretty, it’s efficient, and it will probably save my life a few times over the course of 2020.
Besides the planner, I’m also trying to just overall more organized with my work as far as writing goes. I want to set aside dedicated time, and make achievable goals for myself each week. I tend to write a lot at once, burn out, and then take a break. I don’t want to be that person anymore if I can manage it.
I have a lot of ambitious plans for myself in 2020 though! First there’s the publishing of all three Rust books. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve been told more or less. They plan to try and get all three books out this year, which is super exciting and I’m so ready for it.
The biggest challenge there is combining what would have originally been books one and three into one solid novel, and also doing re-writes and editing on what is now book three. I’m not happy with it at all, so it’s going to take some considerable work to get it where it needs to be for publication.
Besides the Rust books, however, I have a bunch of other stuff I’m working on. I went to finish at least three to four other novels this year. I don’t mean just editing them or polishing them up, I mean full out writing them. I have one already near completion, but the rest have to be written into a first draft.
I also want to get better with editing this year. I’ve never liked to self-edit, and I want to set aside each week to do a couple of hours worth on different novels. So that’s another thing for the planner!
It’s going to be a busy year, but I think it will ultimately be a good one! When I have a publication schedule for the trilogy I will share it, and if I have any publication updates for the other books I have I will share that as well! Who knows, maybe 2020 will see me self-publish something else!
What are you guys doing for 2020? Are you writing a new book? Publishing? Let me know!
So I wanted to start out in 2020 doing something a little bit different. This is going to be a busy year, and it’s also going to be a year that focuses a lot more on my writing in several different aspects. There’s the publishing process going on at the moment, as well as writing and editing other novels on the side. That being said I really want to show case the things I’m working on, and more specifically the things that will be readily available to the public sooner rather than later. That means I’m going to attempt to post a weekly excerpt for you folks to read so that you can get a bit of a glimpse into what is coming up and what my writing style is like.
We’re going to kick things off with a little blurb from what was once Before That Winter, but what will soon be combined with A Crooked Mile to make the first book in the new Rust trilogy. This is a book that nobody but myself, my two previous editors, and my new publisher has seen before. So this little blurb is completely knew to everyone else, which I think is sort of exciting! Anyway, without further ado, the first weekly excerpt of 2020 (I will try to post one every single week, likely on Saturday evenings seeing as that is when this one is appearing)!
Alec’s first glimpses of Rust, Montana were in the dark. They had flown from Colorado to the airport in Billings, where they picked up the car in the short term parking lot. They stopped to have a meal at an Italian restaurant his father picked out, and after that they were on the road for several hours heading on toward home. Everything outside the windows of the car was snowy, a blanket of white seeming to cover the entire world. The landscapes were beautiful though, lots of mountains and rolling hills, though after a little while Alec fell asleep with his head resting against the cold glass of the window.
I can’t believe that we are only two days away from a new year and a new decade! How wild is that? I decided that I would do one last blog update for 2019, and talk a little bit about what is coming in the next year.
The first, and biggest, thing is the release of the Rust trilogy with One Odd Bird Press. As most of you know I published A Crooked Mile independently through Amazon back in the spring of this year, but it has recently been pulled thanks to my new contract. If you already read this book, trust me when I say it is going to be bigger and better on the re-release! We’re combining A Crooked Mile with book three (Before That Winter) to make one cohesive novel and start to the trilogy. A Different Shade Of Blue will likely follow quickly in publication, since it is already finished and just needs revision, with book three somewhere up ahead. I have it written, but it needs a lot of work so that will take some time.
As of right now I don’t have any potential release dates, but when I do I will certainly let everyone know via social media and this blog!
I finished other novels in 2019 that have yet to see the light of day, though I wish very much to change that. I’m interested in working more on revising and editing Rag & Bone, and I’m a short bit of writing away from a first draft of A Shark In Lola’s Pond. That’s another I’m interested in editing and getting out there fairly quickly. Not to mention I need to get illustrations done for Bookish, and I also want to start revamping and tweaking my NaNoWriMo novel The Heart of War. I think it has potential, so hopefully we might see that too!
Mostly what I want to do is set myself a good writing schedule. I’m applying for a new job that would change my schedule if I got it, but I will still be able to write around it. It’s just a matter of finding a new groove. If I get hired, that is. That remains to be seen since it hasn’t even posted for application yet.
The point is that once I know what is going on heading into 2020 then I can make a solid writing schedule for myself. It worked well for me this year, setting monthly goals and personal deadlines, and I’d like to continue that. For now though my priority is the Rust trilogy, followed by polishing up some other finished works to get out there into the world.
2020 is going to be a good year, I can just feel it! Things are on the up, I think, and I’m just really excited to bring more of my words into the world. For those of you who followed me this year and who fell in love with Alec and Ramona, I thank you so very much. It’s been a crazy time, but I feel very lucky and very elated!
If you follow my Facebook, then you would have noticed an announcement a day or two ago about the publication of A Different Shade of Blue being put on hold. I gave no explanation at the time, as nothing was set in stone, but as of today I feel that I can finally put it into the world: I’ve been talking to a publisher and they have offered me a contract!
I know, right? I’m in a total state of shock right now too!
I was approached several days ago by a small indie publisher who had received information about A Crooked Mile from a different publisher that I had solicited over a year ago. I don’t know who told them about me (I know the publisher name but not the specific person), but I thank them immensely! They felt that my story might be a good fit for this publisher, and they requested to see the entire manuscript. Caught completely off guard I gladly sent them the full, which was the last edited version that became the book I self-published. I mentioned that it was part of a series, and after reading book one they requested to look at the other three.
Long story short, they talked to me about some extensive editing that would need to be done and some ideas that they had. It was decided that books three (Before That Winter) and one (A Crooked Mile) would be merged together into one single novel to kick off a trilogy. They will be followed by A Different Shade of Blue and then the Ramona story that is currently called The Way Home. A lot of work will have to be done to make all of this happen, but honestly I’m over the moon.
It feels good to know that someone enjoys and believes in these characters and their stories the way that I do. Especially since this came out of left field and I didn’t see its approach from ten feet away. It’s certainly a surprise, but the best kind in my humble opinion. They have a great marketing plan focused on utilizing all different types of online media, and they seem to have good heads on their shoulders. They’re people who are familiar with the business in many different ways, and that makes me feel comfortable handing all these words of mine over to them.
This obviously means that, for now, A Crooked Mile has been pulled from publication and everything going on with A Different Shade of Blue has been halted. Once I know more about everything I’ll of course let all of you know too, since this experience is a newish one for me.
I have worked with a publisher before for Endless Numbered Days, but that experience ultimately left a lot to be desired. While they did offer editing and cover design and that sort of thing it was clear that authors were expected to do marketing entirely on their own and the company itself didn’t really utilize social media to garner sales at all. While those folks were nice and believed in my story, it wasn’t exactly how I thought that it would be. I have much higher hopes for this situation, and I think that these ladies are really passionate as both authors and readers which will motivate them to make each book the best that it can be.
Right now the biggest hurdle will be fusing two novels into one good, cohesive story that melts nicely from one part into another. I’m sure they have some good ideas about that, and as I am a terrible self-editor their guidance in this particular matter will be well met. Once things are in motion properly and I have an idea of dates and that sort of thing I’ll make sure to post in all the appropriate places.
If you purchased and/or read A Crooked Mile in its original format, I implore you to give the new version a chance when it arrives! It will be better, I think, and will give a lot more insight into the characters and how they got to the point they were at when we arrived in their lives in book one. It won’t just be a rehash of the first book with a new cover, not at all, and I don’t want anyone who loved the first book to miss out!
So yes, that is the big news and it’s super exciting for me! I also want to thank Mandi and Jess for all their hard work helping me edit A Crooked Mile and for the work they also did on Blue. Also a big thanks to Mandi for her gorgeous cover art that gave us so much grief when it came to formatting, and at least now she doesn’t have to fret with Blue! I couldn’t have published the first book at all without their help, and I hope they know how much I appreciate everything they did for me, these books, and these characters!
2020 is going to be a good year, guys! I can just feel it in my bones!
I did not publish my very first book until almost halfway through the decade. Endless Numbered Days was published in the early summer of 2014, after a couple of years of tedious work on it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to finish a novel before then, I very much did, I was just a time in my life when there was a lot of other stuff going on. I had just gone back to college after some time off, and was setting out to obtain a degree that I had thus far taken absolutely no classes for. Switching to criminology from English and creative writing was a big step, but at the time it felt like the right thing even if I was undertaking a lot of course work. It was also during that time that I was attempting to finish END, which had been my NaNoWriMo novel a couple of years prior. I wrote in my spare time before and after classes, working around homework assignments and spending extra time getting ahead in mathematics. As soon as I finished the first drift I began to query, and things just went from there.
I ended up working with Martin Sisters Publishing, a very
small independent publisher full of great people who were just as excited as I
was to see my book out in the world. It was very encouraging, though despite
that encouragement it would be quite some time before magic happened again.
Ultimately looking back I realize that I was very, very
unmotivated in my writing for a rather lengthy period of time. I had some
pretty nasty writers block, so much so that I worked on the same thing for a
couple of years just trying to get it right. It wasn’t until 2017 when I sat
down to write A Crooked Mile for NaNoWriMo that I found my footing again.
Man, did it feel good.
Something about A Crooked Mile sparked my motivation back into existence in a way I hadn’t seen in years. I was suddenly overcome with ideas, and I wrote that first draft in about 11 days. It was invigorating, and it helped me make a lot of decisions. Even though I have a job where I work six days a week, and even though writing will likely never pay the bills so to speak, I knew I wanted to finally fulfill my childhood dream of being a writer. I want to write stories that people love, I want to create characters that people can identify with.
So I simply just started to write more.
I wrote the upcoming sequel to Crooked, A Different Shade of
Blue, in another whirlwind of frenzied writing and ideas. That was followed by
the prequel, Before That Winter, which I wrote during the month of February
this year. I also finished a second manuscript in February, a post-apocalyptic
novel which was a genre I had never wrote in before. It was crazy, but it still
felt so good!
Then the ideas just…..kept coming. I wrote them all down,
did outlines, tried to pace myself. I’m just a few chapters away from finishing
yet another, and that’s not counting my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. 2019, it
seems, was all about the writing for me and I honestly loved it! Now if I could
only feel that way about editing….
What I hope for in 2020 is the release of a couple of books
and the completion of a couple more. I’m trying my hand at different genres and
ideas, everything from horror to mystery to romance. Will any of it make me
rich? I doubt it, but this is what I want to do for me. It’s therapeutic to let
all these words out, and to see my name stamped on the front of a cover that’s
going into someone’s hands. I want to write just one persons favorite story,
that is my ultimate and most fervent goal.
I’m not sure yet how much I will actually accomplish in 2020, I only know that I really want to try. Editing is hard for me, but I want to get better with it. I want to have a better turnover rate, I want to publish more titles in a shorter span of time. It took me 5 years from the publication of Endless Numbered Days to the publication of A Crooked Mile, and I don’t want to take another five years for the next.
What are your goals as a writer for 2020? Or as a reader? Let me know!
For me the writing process begins with a simple idea or a thought that catches me off guard. Every now and then these ideas just come to me out of nowhere, completely unprompted and just right there at a moment’s notice. More often than not, however, something in the world around me triggers a story idea that I otherwise wouldn’t have come up with on my own. It can be something as simple as a place I have visited, other times it is brought on by a person or an emotion evoked from a situation. I’ve written several stories before, including two full length novels, after experiencing a sudden and devastating loss in my life. While I tend to write best (in my opinion) based off of actual experiences, I think I prefer those stories that just came on suddenly and take shape all on their own. They feel like things I’ve worked that little bit harder for, if that makes any sense at all.
It’s everything that comes after the initial idea that requires all the work and effort. I used to try and be the type of writer who gets an idea, sits down, and just starts writing without anything to go on. After a while though my story would be all over the place with no real direction to lead the way, and that would result in frustration and a lot of unfinished pieces. It took me a couple of years to figure out that I’m just never going to be that kind of writer and that it’s okay. Everyone is different, and I just had to find a way of doing things that worked for me.
After I get that first glimpse of a story idea, I write it down. If I don’t write it down I’ll forget it promptly, which is what I absolutely don’t want to do. I keep two different notebooks with me at all times, and a pen on hand too. The smaller notebook is for “jotting”, which is just where I pen down the quick flashes of ideas, thoughts, or lines that help me piece together the puzzle. The larger notebook is for “plotting”, where I start to layout the stories bare bones and what steps I need to get to in order for it to be worthy of publication. It can be a little bit overwhelming when I first begin, but all those steps and details also keep me motivated to get to the end, which is what I’m always trying to do.
Once I have the basics down, I start the oftentimes grueling process of doing a layout for the story. It’s here that I start to create the characters and the location(s), because those are my preferred jumping-off point. I can’t put the characters into situations just yet, because I have to first know who they are. I think about the story I want to tell, what the context is, and go from there. I give them names, ages, places of birth, backstory information that might come in handy later, and what they look like in my head so I know who I’m writing about. Location is a huge thing for me too, I often shape the entire story around a central location, so getting to know the main setting is very important to me. It seems like a lot at the time, especially when I don’t know much of anything else about the story yet, but it’s what I need to get going.
From there I consider how long I want the story to be, or at least what my end goal is as far as word count goes. I don’t always reach the desired word count, and other times I exceed it (which is rare, I won’t even lie), but it’s another motivating factor for me. Once I kind of have any idea of the scope of what I’m trying to write I put together a layout of each chapter as a sort of guide to get me to the climax of the story. This takes a considerable amount of time usually, and if it’s a story that requires historical or accurate real-world context it can take even longer. This is also the point where I do my research on things that will be included in the story, and flesh out the characters and the place a little bit more. It is also almost a given that at some point in the story I will deviate some from the layout I created, by thinking of things I want to include or how I want to flesh out this plot point or that scene there. When that happens it’s perfectly okay, it doesn’t throw me off at all, I just have to watch myself and make sure I’m not straying too far from the storyline I want to convey.
I’m one of those people who can knock out the first draft fairly quickly if it’s a story that I’m totally immersed in. It’s the rest of it that gets me big time. I’m not a good self-editor, and I have a hard time picking up on my own flaws. I have friends who thankfully beta-read/edit/critique for me and me for them, so that works out pretty well. It’s just all the tedious stuff that comes with working a first draft into a properly good novel that gets me big time, but I try my best!
Everyone has a different writing process, and I think they’re all pretty fascinating! What’s your process like? Did you go through a lot of trial and error before figuring out what works best for you? Let me know!
As a writer I have found that it can be very easy to pigeonhole myself into one particular genre. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, most writers have one very specific area they excel at, but I never wanted to be like that. I’ve always wanted to be able to write all sorts of different stories, to put myself out there even if I don’t feel entirely comfortable. It’s hard though, I can admit that, to be able to pull that off with any sort of finesse. I admire those who are able to cross genre lines easily, and I wish very much to be amongst their ranks.
My writing usually tends to lean towards young adult, which is fine because those are the books I prefer to read. I find that young adult books are more honest and raw than a lot of “adult” novels tend to be, and anyway I like what I like so what can you do? I also tend to write things that are, at best, mildly depressing and not quite romantic but riding a very fine line in that direction.
I have always been interested though in trying to write horror novels, since those are also books I very much love to read. I became a constant reader of Stephen King at a very young age, and it just snowballed from there. I have recently come up with a few ideas for horror type novels, and I’m finishing the initial planning stages and starting to get into the realm of finally writing them.
It is honestly pretty scary.
The act of writing them, I mean. The scare factor of the future books is yet to be seen.
I first attempted to write a horror novel during NaNoWriMo a few years ago, and gave up about midway through out of frustration. It wasn’t that the idea wasn’t there, it was just that I couldn’t seem to get it come out to my satisfaction. I also went in blind without much to go on, which was a huge mistake on my part.
I have since learned from that mistake, believe me. I’m more interested these days in fleshing out an outline for the story to follow, where I put my ideas into a sequence by chapter and therefore have something to work from. I find I do better that way rather than flying blind, though things are subject to change with my varying whims. It’s still better than nothing, and I’m much more productive in that regard.
I just hope that my outlining needs and my desire to write something out of my “norm” works out for me at least marginally. I don’t want to contain my creativity in a box it can’t escape from, though I do like the things I have written as of late. I want to branch out, to see what I am capable of. If it doesn’t work out, well, that is okay too. I at least know then, and I don’t have to keep wondering what I might have done.
Do you guys ever feel like that? Like you’ve trapped yourself in a box you can’t get out of? Have you broken the cycle? Did it work out for you?
So…I actually finished the required 50K words for NaNoWriMo on November 7th this year! Iknow it seems like a lot, but I’ve actually done Nano faster than this before. One of my very first years I hit 50,000 words on the 6th of November, and then just kept right on going. It’s not often that I get into this great writing jags, though NaNoWriMo has been good to me in recent years. I’ve done some of my best writing during November, and I’m hoping that this current novel works out much the same.
Once I hit the 50k mark I slowed down a little bit and ease up the pace. I have to write a bunch of historical letters that go in the novel as well, and those will take more time. I just wanted to get the initial meat of the story taken care of so that I can focus more on the things that will take a lot more time. This novel will also require some extensive editing and probably quite a few re-writes as well, as it’s set in both past and present and requires some historical accuracy on my part.
If you’re doing NaNo this year how is it going for you? I love cheering on other writers, and you’re always welcome to be my NaNo buddy!
November is such a crazy month in general, but even more so this year for some reason. There’s a novel to write, Thanksgiving to plan for, Christmas shopping to start, and a new Maggie Stiefvater book to read and review (which I already did). Not to mention on my end there are also vet appointments, car trouble, exhausting from daylight savings time, and just general life grievances.
I don’t want to adult anymore. Is it too late to get off this ride?
This post was intended to just mark my NaNo progress. Please forgive me!
One idea I have going right now is that if I finish working on the first draft of The Heart of War before the end of the month, then I might jump back into A Shark In Lola’s Pond. That story was just getting good when I decided to take a little breather/hiatus, so there’s no time like the present to get back into the thick of it. I guess we’ll see how this all shakes out!
We are officially 4 days into National Novel Writing Month, though I have neglected to blog about it yet. That’s because I’ve been busy with writing! I’m currently creeping on up 20k, and is it’s just now past midnight I’m fresh into day four so that number will change very soon. This is my 14th NaNo, and so far the novels I’ve written during November have been published twice, with a third on the way.
NaNo has been admittedly good to me.
Instead of delving to deeply into my novel tonight, I wanted to post a q&a that I found on the NaNo boards. First though, let’s take a peek at the results to a “who do you write like” quiz:
What was one of the darkest moments in your writing life? It actually happened fairly recently. I’m no stranger to rejection, having submitted two different novels at two different times to a whole host of publishers and agents. Rejection itself doesn’t bother me, my skin is too thick for that, but this past year I had a publisher string me along and then ditch me and it felt awful. I had actually submitted my latest novel to them for consideration, and while I won’t name the publishing house here, suffice to say that they’re a pretty big distributor of young adult romance type fiction so I was very excited when they wanted more time to look over my novel. Weeks went by, the holidays came and went, and I finally reached out to them. They told me they still needed a little bit more time, and I gave it to them. More time slipped away, weeks again, and I contacted them yet again. They told me they would reach a decision soon.
Ultimately out of the blue one day, after a few months of back and forth, they send me the rejection letter. Like I said the rejection didn’t sting, but their waste of my time and getting my hopes up did hurt. Quite a lot, actually, and to make matters worse they then critiqued my story and told me what they didn’t like. It’s a young adult novel with a little bit of romance, but mostly it focuses on one of the MC’s depression and how he struggles hard to try and overcome it. They told me, more or less, that it was just too heavy and I should use the secondary characters more to lighten the mood and add some more fluffy aspects to it. That is not the novel I wrote, that is not the message I was trying to convey, and finally I decided to scrap traditional publishing and just publish the novel myself. While it worked out for me in the end, I really took a hit from the experience. I also knew at that point that I have to write what makes me happy, what stories I feel I need to tell, and that I can’t and won’t compromise my ideas for anyone else even though they would have taken a resubmission and, likely, published it in the traditional way.
What do you feel that you struggle with now, as a writer? I struggle with editing, and I always have. I’m just not good at it, and I dread doing it. It’s not that I don’t want to re-read my own stories, I do, but I have a hard time seeing what needs to be changed and whatnot in my own writing. Spelling errors and all that I’m fine with, but being able to see my writing from a new perspective enough to “kill my darlings” is just…hard. It’s the worst part of the whole process for me by far.
What would you say to someone who hates their own work? We’ve all been there, and you have to eventually let it be. If you love to write, then that is what matters, and as long as the act of doing it makes you happy then you have to shake off the rest. I always second guess my own writing, I never feel especially confident, but at some point I realized that I love doing this and that if I want to keep doing it I have to not be so self-deprecating. I had a pep talk with myself, and I decided that if I like what I’m doing then it’s okay to enjoy it and feel good about it. It’s easier said than done, by far, but just try your best to believe in yourself because you’re happy and fulfilled and to hell with the rest of it.
What do you wish someone told you, before you began to actively pursue writing? I wish that I had known that I never had to measure up to anybody else, but for a long time I tried to do just that. It took years of writing in different mediums to realize that I don’t have to be like this person or that person, or write as much as someone else, or in the same style as someone else. I had to develop my own way of doing things, find my own inner voice, and I never really knew that was an option for a long time. Part of that stems from just having a competitive nature, I always want to be on par with everyone at least, but you can’t do that. Once I let that train of thought go I was able to be a better writer, since I was only trying to please myself and not anybody else. I think everybody needs to know that you aren’t alone, and you can engage and interact with other like-minded writer types, but you don’t have to put yourself up against them. We can all coexist in the writing world without feeling like we’re being inadequate if we don’t do x, y, and z.
What do you do when you feel “blocked”, or “unmotivated” about writing? I simply take a break. If I’m feeling stuck, or if I’m at a point where I’m feeling a little bit burnt out, I stop for a while. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s weeks. I don’t like to force myself, because that’s when my writing starts to lag and when I start to feel down on myself about it. I would rather take a break when I truly need one and produce better work when I’m feeling motivated again than to force my own hand and come out with a heap of rubbish.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received, that never fails to motivate you? Someone out there needs your story. Whenever I’m writing something, I tell myself that if I can just finish this and turn it into a real book, that it may help someone out there in the world somehow. Maybe it just makes their day better because they enjoy the story, or maybe there’s a plot element that they can identify with that helps them in some way or another. Books and words have changed my life many times over, and if I can just give one person out there that same feeling then it’s all worth it. I want to write the book that someone needs at that moment in their own life, and it makes me feel better to think about that and it definitely pushes me forward.