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The… what the hell day is it? Ugh. 13? When did I post last? #31DaysofHalloween

I am trapped in freelance/NaNo Prep HEELLLL. Which is SO much better than any other kind of hell I could be trapped in. I’m in the middle of this gigantic freelance project, and really scrambling now to finish my character development for my NaNo novel, so I can get down to plotting! OMG!

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Oh, the foul wind of responsibility!

Anyhoo… LET’S SING!

On the Thirteenth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me:

Thirteen Bloodshot Eyes
Twelve Howling Ghouls
Eleven Chomping Skulls
Ten Roooooaaaaads to Salem!
Nine Looming Gargoyles
Eight Empty Graves
Seven Hungry Werewolves,
Six Unraveling Mummies.
Fiiiiiiive Screeching Bats!
Four Pumpkin Donuts,
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!

I’m afraid I didn’t have time to color every line today… for reasons I already whined about.  But I did procrastinate take a break today and create a little book cover for NaNo — like a soundtrack, it’s inspiring. Check it out:

SECRET   Canva

And yes, that is Tom Mison of Sleepy Hollow. He has such a sexy face, and while my hero is much more butch and large than Tom, there was something about that shot that really touched me. Love this little piece. And just for the record, yes, my heroine wears corsets, but she doesn’t wear top hats. As far as I know, I haven’t seen her in the bedroom yet, and considering her other kinks… anything is possible.

Well, I have to go finish some more work-work before I move off to getting some outlining done, so I’ll sign off for today. OH! NANO IS UP! Follow the link to see more about “All’s Fangs in Love and War!”31

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I’ve been a baaaaaad girl! And no, you don’t get to spank me! ;)

But I’ve been so involved in other things (like writing) for the past few days, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

So let’s catch up!

FIRST, AS USUAL, THE SINGING!

On the Seventh Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

Seven Hungry Werewolves,
Six Unraveling Mummies.
Fiiiiiiive Screeching Bats!
Four Pumpkin Donuts,
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!

I recently stumbled on some new outlining theories, and I’m finding them interesting, but I wonder if any other writers out there use them, as they are rather complicated. They’re spreadsheets based on Larry Brooke’s Story Structure and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheets.

There are two spreadsheets, both designed based on the above gents’ work, made by Jami Gold. One is a Master Story Planning Worksheet, and the other is the Story Planning for Pantsers Romance Beat Sheets If you poke around Jami’s site, you’ll find all kinds of materials to help you plot out your story and character arcs. Which… Looking at the former now, I think may be far too complicated for for the 50k version of my novel I’ll be writing for NaNo.

In which case, I need to try one of the simpler ones on her site if I’m going to go that way along with my usual Marshall Plan Action Sheets.

I think I spend too much time planning. But I can’t just write by the seat of my pants — I inevitably end up stumbling in the middle that way. The beginning and the end are fairly clear, but that mid-section needs to have meat! I need to put in some time on that tomorrow. Anyone familiar with these formats? How do you outline your writing?

KINKY SMUT!

I knew that would get your attention.

But first: THE SINGING!

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On the Fifth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

FIIIIIIVE Screeching Bats,
Four Pumpkin Donuts, 
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!

In other news, I’ve decided to move my 30 Day Happiness Challenge posts to a second post when the regular daily one runs long so you aren’t forced to watch me try to improve myself when you really want to read about books, writing, and SMUT. :D

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Well, I wrote the first 6 pages of a new kinky smut story for my alter ego, A. Sangrey Black. It’s a sequel to my/her popular short “If Wishes Were Shadows,” and stars the same characters. It was one of those stories that hit me like a brick… while I was sleeping. Writers sometimes are blessed with these, tales that simply bust fully formed from the subconscious, and stick. I woke up in the middle of the night, turned on the little flashlight in my Kindle, and scrawled the rather rich outline in the nearest thing I could find — my journal. Somebody will have fun with that if they ever find it someday. I sketched out the sex scenes as I had dreamed them, and feeling a little… turned on by them myself, called the idea good.

So I started writing yesterday, and six UNPLANNED pages full of video games and sex somehow inserted themselves in. I don’t know if it could be turned into a plot, exactly, but… you know I wonder, how much plot do people want in their smut? Do they ever just want smut for its own sake? There was some plot in “If Wishes Were Shadows,” maybe even enough to hang and entire novel on… but at the time it felt like a short story, and came out that way. It was my first foray into BDSM (FUN with vampires, believe me!), and I don’t think I was entirely sure of myself. But I had written this kind of kink before (back in the fanfiction days), so I thought I’d put that to use in “original” fiction.

Next comes… so to speak… the part I actually dreamed about, and it is HARD, DARK kink — as the original story was. I don’t think my publisher really warns readers enough. This isn’t what usually passes for BDSM in erotica these days. It’s goes to a far darker place, a place where it would be unacceptable for humans to go, but when you’re talking about vampires, it feels like something different. They are indestructible. They have a different relationship with pain and pleasure, a different kind of sexuality. I’ve always loved exploring that in fiction. BUT readers should really know ahead of time that it might not be to their taste, especially if they like things in the style of 50 Shades.

ANYHOOO… I seem to have forgotten my original point. Right — fully formed story from subconscious, like Athena from Zeus’ skull (ew). At the same time, I’m developing my NaNo novel, and trying to crank out as much freelance work as I can so I’ll at least have a little money for Christmas!

TALK ABOUT BUSY!!!

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Books of My Life, 31 Days of Halloween, and 30 Day Happiness Challenge!

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On the Fourth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

Four Pumpkin Donuts (not gross, but I can’t stop thinking about them!)
Three Thirsty Vampires
Two Shuffling Zombies
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree.

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Day Three: Reach out to someone you know and praise them. Yeah, this went well. I told my mother she was a kind, funny person. This was the resulting conversation:

Mom: Are you talking to the cat?
Me: No, the cat is upstairs. And the cat is not named “Mom.”
Mom: Oh! Well, thank you, that’s very sweet. We really need to clean up down here. (Down here being my basement office.)
Me: You can’t just take the nice sentiment?
Mom: Well, that’s what I’m thinking about.

And… that’s my relationship with my mother, boys and girls. BUT I did my duty, and I’ll continue to do it tomorrow.

One Meaningful Thing That Happened to Me in the Last 24 Hours: My cat was doing her thing, being an excellent mouser, but whenever I have the opportunity, I save the potential victim if I can. Last night, I chased the frantic twosome everywhere until they had some kind of wierd Mexican standoff in the middle of the kitchen floor. Seriously. Elsie was just lying, crouched down in one corner, while the mouse sat right in the middle of the floor, staring at her. I thought it had to be dead, but maybe it figured out that if it didn’t run, she wouldn’t chase it. Anway, I took one of the old plastic bowls with holes in them we use for exactly this purpose, plunked it down on the mouse, slid a piece of thin cardboard beneath, and took it outside to the woods. I barely moved the cardboard before the mousy was GONE.

Saving a life, no matter how small, is very meaningful to me. And we always praise Elsie, as she’s always agitated and upset when we take her prey away. It’s not her fault I’m a Buddhist and a softie!

Three Things I’m Thankful For: 1.) My Cat, 2.) Books, 3.) Coffee

~~~~~~

Anyway, I did this thing I found in Entertainment Weekly yesterday, that I’ve always found interesting. (If you want to see how my favorite author of all time, Diana Gabaldon, did it, you can find it here. And yes, I have every one of her recommendations on my TBR list. *G*)

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The 3rd Day of Halloween and Day 2 of the 30 Day Happiness Challenge

On the Third Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

Three Thirsty Vampires
Two Shuffling Zombies
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree.

W00t!

10660150_751841564886522_5848497325654354255_nDay Two: Write down one meaningful thing that happened to you in the last 24 hours. This is a tough one. Meaningful… how? In a profound way? In a simple way? In a shallow way? I mean, my life is fairly uneventful as a rule, and profound things don’t happen often. Simple things do, like waking up in cool weather with my window still open, snuggling under my heavy blanket. That happened this morning. In a shallow way, it’s “meaningful” that I’ll be getting a pair of boots that I’ve coveted for a long time that a friend needed to sell almost brand new for a reasonable price, and I came up with the money, which I sent out today… I don’t know if these things count.

Three Things I’m Grateful For:

1. The ability to write. I may not be one of the Great American Novelists, but I feel honored that I have at least some small talent with which to tell stories and express myself.

2. Books. It’s a damn broad category, but my life would be completely bereft without books. I adore them.

3. Cheese. I love cheese.

That’s just how I’m rolling today, folks!

It’s… Almost Friday. Day 2 of the 31 Days of Halloween, 2014 Edition! And the 30 Day Happiness Challenge.

I wasn’t around yesterday, so I didn’t get to share my new song! (I make it up as I go along, so… enjoy the madness. *G*) I also changed the holiday to Samhain (Sowen) for both rhythm and spiritual purposes — to include those pagan folk who celebrate this great season as a wonderful Holy Day!

On the first day of Samhain, my true love gave to me
A Severed Head in a Bare Tree

On the second day of Samhain, my true love gave to me
Two Shuffling Zombies
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree.

Yay! It’s so wonderful here in the Adirondacks this time of year. The leaves are right at their explosive color peak, we stopped for fresh, handmade apple cider donuts at the orchard stand up the street, and I’m snuggled up at my computer in my favorite black watch flannel nightgown, wearing my fingerless writers’ gloves against the chill. My favorite weather! This is also my most productive writing time of year — I am a happy camper in the autumn. And did I mention I LOVE HALLOWEEN?

nosferatu-coffin-o

I mentioned The 30 Happiness Challenge in the title. Well, I believe it originated with Pop Sugar, based on some “happiness reasearcher’s” appearance on the Oprah show. That aside (not a fan of this kind of thing as a rule), and borrowed this version from a great book blog called Herding Cats and Burning Soup. It can’t hurt to work hard on changing your attitude!

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WELCOME TO DAY ONE

Three things I’m thankful for:

1. My family — without their love and support, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now.

2. My heath — As precarious as it remains, I am so much better than I was a couple of years ago!

3. My computer — My entire universe revolves around this precious thing: My work, my social life, my Geeky Habits. This machine is a universe that I live in and love.

Well, that was nice! I can’t wait to see where this 30 day thing takes me!

~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Goals:

* Write article (1,000 words due tomorrow)
* Write out short story I outlined
* Continue work on new novel — today, finish character notes, if possible

And of course, to read before bed. :D Have a great one, everybody!

Whoopieeeeee! And notes on the agony of authorship…

First of all, is everybody ready to start singing the 31 Days of Halloween pretty soon? I love doing that.

In other news, I actually made some REALLY good headway into my characters today, just outside on the back porch, working on the exercises from Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. It’s even better \than I imagined! I bought a used copy a while ago, and just never got around to using it. Now I am SO glad I did, because it’s helping me get insight into my characters that I might never have done otherwise.

I’m only on chapter three of the workbook but I’m already working on adding heroic qualities (I had to write paragraphs about Jamie Fraser, my favorite hero, for the practice exercises), opening extra character dimensions, and creating internal conflict. I haven’t filled out my usual reams of character dossiers yet, and just from doing these exercises for both my heroine and hero, I have a very good idea of who they are that will inform the rest of the details.

One of the tricks I’m hoping to learn is how to take a played premise (the epic urban fantasy vampire romance, which — wow, I adore, but how do you ever find a good one without recommendation by someone whose taste you trust, or which is written by an author you like) and make it fresher. Those of you who know me know I’m not out to write THE NEXT BIG THING — I don’t expect to become one of my heroes in the genre — I just like to tell a good story. I’ve sold small, steady numbers of my stories… I’d like to sell more of the next ones.

I’ve heard people say the genre is TOO played, that there simply ISN’T a way to make the story fresh that anybody will care about, nobody wants to read about vampires or bad ass heroines anymore.

Honestly, while I care about that on a practical level, I don’t care about it on a creative level. I’m sort of stupid that way. I really want to tell the story I want to tell, once it gets rolling. I only hope that I can create something that entertains more people than I have in the past. I love my stories. I know they’re not awesomeperfectwonderfulOMG! But my readers have told me they like them.

It all reminds me of one very important piece of advice of which every writer needs to take heed: grow a hard shell. Love your sweethearts, but be ready to watch them die. Stand by them, but be willing to hear what critics (especially editors and those you trust) have to say when they are offering you notes on your work. Now, I would add a caveat to that. I have a standing rule to NEVER read comments on Amazon, Goodreads, or the like. I have found almost universally over the years that there is nothing positive to be learned from reading what is written about your work there. In fact, there seems to be a rather large and vicious contingent of trolls (some for every writer, of course, not just me. BY FAR. You’ll notice the more readers a writer has, the more trolls they attract) that will have truly nasty things to say about books that don’t seem to have anything to do with writing, that are flat out wrong in factual criticism, or are just excuses to say something mean. I have yet to read one that might have an effect on my writing. Of course, I love positive feedback, or even constructive criticism, but trolls can BITE ME.

Unfortunately, I did get a face full of troll once on one piece that I really loved. I loved the characters, the world, the sex… and I violated my own rule of reading comments and got a few that really hit hard in ways that didn’t even make sense to me. One was flat out wrong — maybe I didn’t write that part well, I don’t know. But people, when you do your comments? Putting, “That was just dumb and offensive, because x stupid reason” (not the actual quote) does nothing but kick the writer.

Of course, trolls don’t care about that, do they? But the thing I allowed to happen was to let those comments kill my love for that universe, those characters. Did I write something offensive? Were the characters and their lives stupid? Did I rip them off for taking money for it?

This is why we need such thick skins — there is that, and worse out there. And I’m not even involved with the big publishing houses. If you want to get into bed with them, expect FAR worse!

Cling to your babies. Love them with all your might — but go after them with a sharp paring knife. Give the knife and the story to someone you trust to wield it, but without mercy. You’ll be better for it.

And there are some writer guts on the table for you this lovely Monday at the end of September!

*Steps Out of the Rabbit Hole* and Outlanderyammer

Hello, followers and other sorts of readers! Long time no see! Mostly because I haven’t had a lot of news for the last year or so. I’ve been buried in “real life,” doing freelance work, traveling, being ill, and assorted other non-fiction-related annoyances that insist on interrupting.

I realized that followers might be getting mixed up, and receiving posts both from this blog and my Outlander Geek blog, Outlander Yammer. I simply had to start that blog, because the Outlander series are my FAVORITE books of all time, and seeing them brought to screen by such an amazing cast and crew (with the help of their original creatrix, Diana Gabaldon) has been a singular pleasure I never could have imagined.

Outlander

So if you joined to follow my Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/General Book Flailing and have been getting Outlander Yammer, sorry! I’m not quite sure how to fix it. I will definitely still be posting there during the show’s hiatus starting next week and DRAGGING ON AND ON FOREVER into next year.

If you haven’t seen it yet, have any interest in Scotland or Scotland-based love stories, YOU MUST SEE THIS SHOW. Even if you never picked up the books because they are just TOO monstrous for your taste. This is seriously the greatest romance story ever told, about the most amazing marriage in literature, imo.

I’m back with a purpose, beyond pimping my new favorite TV show. Hopefully. I’m starting to write again, and hopefully the urge won’t run out so fast this time, and I won’t get buried under bills, requiring that I take MORE freelance jobs! Of course, the holidays are coming, and I do really need the cash… *sigh* The lament of the distracted fiction writer, eh?

I do have plans to do NaNoWriMo and produce at least a Shite First Draft for my new novel, and after that, finish two that I’ve had languishing. I MAY have an A. Sangrey Black M/M romance in the works, but nothing solid yet. Cross your fingers if that’s your kind of story!

So that’s it for now. WATCH OUTLANDER! *runs away*

Happy 4th of July!

It’s a good day to think about what it really means to be an American… I mean, you know, if you are one. *G* For everybody else, Happy Friday anyway!

doggie4thTrying to do some Camp NaNoWriMo, so maybe you’ll hear more from me soon!

Bewitching Blog Book Tours Review: The Unwanted by Jeffrey Ricker

The Unwanted 300 DPIThe Unwanted
Jeffrey Ricker

Genre: Gay YA fantasy

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Date of Publication: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1626390485

ASIN: 1626390487

Number of pages: 264

Word Count: 91,556

Cover Artist: Sheri

Bold Strokes Books | Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indigo

Book Description:

Jamie Thomas has enough trouble on his hands trying to get through junior year of high school without being pulverized by Billy Stratton, his bully and tormentor. But the mother he was always told was dead is actually alive—and she’s an Amazon!

Sixteen years after she left him on his father’s doorstep, she’s back and needs Jamie’s help. A curse has caused the ancient tribe of warrior women to give birth to nothing but boys, dooming them to extinction—until prophecy reveals that salvation lies with one of the offspring they abandoned.

Putting his life on the line, Jamie must find the courage to confront the wrath of an angry god to save a society that rejected him.

@~~~~~~~~~~@

Heather’s Review

You know, it seems like I preface all my reviews with confessions or admissions lately. Well, THE UNWANTED by Jeffrey Ricker is no exception. Before I tell you about my response to this page turner, I have to admit that it hit a lot of my annoyance/avoidance buttons were pushed by the blurb on this book — do you ever wonder how many books you’ve missed because you let the blurb turned you off? Or if you’re an author, how many readers you lost because your blurbs sucked? Yeah, me too.

Anyhoo, I admit, I’ve become a anti-YA reader. There are rare exceptions, of course, but unless certain people wrote it or recommend it to me, I stay far away. Then there are coming of age and bullying stories. I think they ARE important for the age groups they’re meant for, but I’m a grown up, and I don’t really need those lessons in my entertainment. BUT, this particular blurb had a difference — I was pulled in by the mention of a mash-up of all those things along with … CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY. I immediately jumped at the chance to review it. And boy, am I glad that I did.

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