- First chapter = all flashback. Hoo boy, it was violent, graphic, and awful. It was detailed. And it had zero emotional anchor to the story since I came right out of the gate with That Terrible Thing That Happened In The Past. Never say never, but in general flashbacks/past emotional traumas can be noodled throughout the story 99% of the time.
- First chapter = all massive infodump. Explainy-explainerton here, going into minutiae of a character’s day/occupation/dietary habits, and nothing really happened. No one – NO ONE – wants to hear about that, no matter how skillfully I described their morning bathroom routine.
- The piece de resistance: flashback PLUS infodump. Oooo. Ahh. Because if those two crutches don’t work separately, they’ll work great together, right? Right?? (hint: not right) Also: no one wants to read a 30 page opening chapter, which is what it takes to fit both burly flashback plus morning shave-and-shower routine.
- No one meets until Chapter 4. Also not good. In the romance genre, we need those main characters to have their meet-cute/meet-crazy/meet-scary in the first chapter, not (as I once did) 60+ pages into the book after aforementioned flashback + infodumping occurs. Maybe they could meet in the second chapter, tops, but only if you’re a super famous/established writer whose legions of fans will tolerate wading through more than 25 pages before the Interesting Meeting Happens. (This error/advice is more specific to romance. I’ve seen literary fiction and fantasy/sci-fi where this rule does not apply and that works just fine. YMMV.)
- Thinking/saying/doing repetition habit-tic. I didn’t pick up that I had this tendency until I saw it happen in a really good writer’s book, and it drove me nuts. Then I went back to my first manuscript (which has since been burned in effigy and no, it was never published and never will be – it was probably the worst book ever written in the history of books) and found too many instances of this habit. Here’s what happens: The character first thinks something internally, then says it in dialogue, and finally then goes and does the thing they thought and spoke about. In case you’re wondering, that would be the opposite of deep POV if I broadcast the character’s actions and motivations like that. It’s the writing equivalent of bludgeoning the reader over the head with The Obvious.
- “Just.” 500+ instances in 1 early manuscript. Just don’t do it.
- F*%#. 300+ page manuscript, at least 4 f*%#’s per page. Per one of my long-suffering editors, I needed to de-f*%# the whole manuscript. Needless to say, word count plummeted after I purged 90% of the cursing.
- Not developing characters before starting the first draft. Trust me when I say going back and redoing a manuscript because an event changes is relatively easy. Redoing a manuscript because you didn’t know anything substantial about your character and their background? Fixing that is really hard. BTDT. Put in the homework early and do that 10-page character interview up front. Get to know them first. Write a few paragraphs of a situation they might find themselves in and how they would typically react. At least figure out what they call their private parts so you’re not having to come up with ten other ways to say “peen” in the manuscript.
- Writing to market. I once tried to write something I thought would be popular but it wasn’t something I enjoyed writing. It was glaringly obvious how crappy that manuscript was. Trash can.
- Comparing my production to any other writer. What is it that makes us feel inferior to full-time writers when we have full-time-other-jobs? My pace is different from your pace is different from their pace. And that’s all okay.
- Pushing until it’s not fun. Hey. Don’t write if it’s a chore or you’ll resent doing it. You will notice, editors will notice, readers (if you get that far) will notice. Your product might be passable enough to get to market, but you’ll always know how it made you feel. My favorite book still gives me the excited tingles, I loved the story so much. And no, it wasn’t in a mainstream genre. That’s okay. I’m proud of my work and that matters.
Okay. I’m going to bare my soul and do a blog post in the hopes that my mistakes will help keep others from making the same mistakes. Without further ado, I give you: all of the writing mistakes I’ve made (to date) (not complete). Please enjoy, with my sincerest condolences.
Wow. It's been months since my last post. My poor brain has been locked up tight and all that creativity purged for the past however long ... many months? (A very long time in my estimation.)
Do you ever try to keep going no matter what? Life, work, writing, activities? Maybe all at once? Guess what? Sometimes you can't keep pushing that rock up the endless hill.
But I'm stubborn. Tough. Right? A physical and mental endurance specialist. You're talking to the person who will run for 6 hours on a trail and who takes call for 2-3 weeks at a time. From the outside, it looks like I'll never stop.
Until I do.
While training for a big race in the past year, I got tired. Really tired. Finally, I gave myself permission to take a break for a week. I stopped beating myself up if I didn't hit those mileage numbers. And when I resumed running, my legs were fresher.
As for the writing? Everything inside me says I must keep writing, keep editing, keep pushing for new ideas. But like Sisyphus pushing that rock uphill, the art became harder and harder until I ground to a painful, guilt-ridden halt. Editirix extroardinaire Julie Sturgeon gave me apt advice and permission -- to stop (temporarily). It went against everything I wanted to do. It went against those guilty feeling that I needed to write during any spare minute because those minutes are precious and few and far between.
But continuing in the same direction and always pushing pushing pushing wasn't working. I had to do something different. So I (wisely) took Julie's advice and stopped almost a month ago. I removed self-imposed deadlines. I resisted the urge to compare my progress to that other authors who could have written 6 books in the time it's taken me to edit one. Because it didn't matter -- I had to try something.
You know what happened? A few days ago, something clicked. I opened that manuscript document, went back about 15 pages, and typity-type, fell back in the groove. It's slow going like knocking the rust off the gears, but my little writer brain is fresher, springier, and I'm trusting the process again.
It defies logic, but sometimes you have to go backward before you can go forward.
Giddiyup cowpokes, because Hell's Valley, my paranormal western romance series (think: sexy, psychic cowboys) set in the mountains of Wyoming is FINALLY here! Hot ranchers, chilly nights, and steamy ways of staving off hypothermia...
Click on the pictures for links to start reading now!
Honesty isn't always the best policy when you're a human lie-detector in book #1: Legacy of Lies
In book #2: Legacy Lost, when we ask our partner "what are you thinking"...do we really want to know all of it?
It's great to have a nose for danger in book #3: Legacy of Danger, but what if the danger...is YOU?
Demons from the past sure can haunt a guy, but what happens when they're actual demons? Series finale and book #4: Legacy Found (preorder now -- release date 5/14/19!)
Hey, everyone! I recently fielded a question from a reader regarding my Hell's Valley books not being available and wanted to clarify for you all. (And as a plug -- if you subscribed to my newsletter, you would already know the status update on the books...)
So here's the deal. As you may know, I had my first series, Hell to Pay, published by Crimson Romance/Simon & Schuster. I then began my second series, Hell's Valley (psychic cowboys -- yippie ki-yay), with Crimson/S&S as well. However, In March of last year, S&S shut down Crimson Romance, and my Hell's Valley series took a bit of a break as I (and many of the Crimson authors) regrouped after the sudden swerve/pivot/change in direction. (Parenthetically, I've always heard that publishing is a rapidly-changing business, but hadn't truly experienced just how rapidly it could change until last March... I still have whiplash...)
As you may know, I've recently released Hell's Valley book #3, Legacy of Danger. And I'll release the final book, Legacy Found, in early 2019. (yahoo! -- wait 'til you read it -- I pulled out all the stops!)
However, in the meantime as I publish Hell's Valley #3 and #4, I've been working behind the scenes on rights reversion for Hell's Valley #1 and #2. I finally got my rights back for Legacy of Lies and Legacy Lost and am in the process of republishing them myself. Expect to see these two books back up for purchase in the next month.
So if you're looking for Legacy of Lies and Legacy Lost, hang in there. They'll be back up on all the major retailers soon. The timing was less than optimal, but I think you'll be happy with the final product of the entire series!
It took over a year, but the final two books of my Hell's Valley series are here! (Well, book #3 will release on 10/16/18 and book #4 a month or so later. So technically not completely done but the finish line is in sight!)
As you may recall, Hell's Valley is my paranormal western series. Think: Big Valley meets Alphas or Bonanza plus the X-Men. I hope you enjoy this latest installment of this exciting story!
Here's the blurb:
Prodigal son and MMA fighter Vaughn Taggart fled his family's ranch when his burgeoning psychic abilities and disastrous decisions destroyed his brother's marriage. But his sister's urgent plea for help prior to her being brutally attached by a demonic monster and the escalating threats from the rival Brand ranch in a ploy to obtain Taggart land, have lured Vaughn back to Copper River, Wyoming—but only long enough to get his family back on track. Nothing could make him stay where he no longer fits in.
Fresh out of residency and looking to escape a darkened past, Mariah West has her hands full with a new practice in a rural hospital. Forever underfoot and brazenly challenging her care of his sister, the powerfully muscled Vaughn Taggart racks her nerves and arouses her body.
When Mariah's selfless concern for a patient makes her a pawn in the hands of the Brands, she discovers a fierce protector behind Vaughn’s wounded soul and a man with an extraordinary gift.
Now, Mariah and Vaughn must move beyond their pasts and unite to defeat the intensifying evil targeting the Taggart family--an evil that mortals can neither imagine nor fight.
Preorder links are here:
Barnes and Noble
Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to fix whatever's wrong with folks or at least duct tape them together