The turn of the tide

Two years. That's how long it's been since I last wrote a bit of of fiction. Let the taste of that roll around in your mouth a bit. Kind of bitter, eh?  I was going to school for an MBA at night and on weekends, while working and generally being a member of my family.  There was simply no room to write for fun and maintain any level of sanity. All the writing since the spring of 2011 involved term papers, case studies, threaded discussions, and the like. Ask me about APA format. I may begin to twitch.

I attended Centenary College here in New Jersey, and though it was relatively local, I chose to complete my studies online via the ol' Interwebs. I figured it would fit into my pretty busy schedule.  Little did I know just how much more work would be involved with doing it online.  The advisor warned me - she said would be a lot more writing.  She wasn't kidding.  It was a lot more everything. Look at it this way. Most working adults who go for an advanced degree the traditional way spend three hours per week in a classroom, plus time on homework and team assignments.  When you do it online, they want to make sure you put in the same amount of time or more.  Definitely more.  

On a rainy Saturday in May, I walked beneath and out Centenary's hallowed gates of learning, adorned in a cap & gown - a weird master's degree gown.  There was a guy with a really big scepter, and a troupe of musicians dressed in colonial-era garb playing the processional.  The honorary degrees were given out, and one honoree -- a Centenary graduate some 70 years prior -- talked of "courtin' and sparkin'" on the one piece of furniture that remained from her days at the school.  The keynote speaker was... I can't even describe it.  Let's just say the dean had to interrupt the fellow.  The graduates were ultimately brought on stage - there were a lot of students graduating with a B.S. in Equine Studies - curious about the overall demand in that field.  At the very end, they hooded me, and with a handshake and a smile, I walked off with my fake diploma.  The real one should arrive in the mail soon.

It has been two years since I last thought about zombie mermaids.  That's twenty-four months since I indulged the voices in my head. Would those voices come back?  The other night, I dusted off Ghost Fishing, reread much of it, and found myself editing the crap out of it. It turns out those voices never left.  It turns out.... those voices are cranky.  They have turned into Jeff Dunham's, Walter.


Still here...

Yes, I am still here. Not in the "writing every night" sense.  I have been pursuing my MBA, and have seven more classes to go - I'll be done by next Spring, thank you very much.  But young and talented Rachel (whose videos you may see below) is closing in on her Bat Mitzvah date. It's just over a week away, and things are fast, furious, and frantic around here.

So, no, I am not writing.  My novel writing status posted on this blog have stalled, but to keep my chops somewhat sharp, I am reading... a LOT. There is always a book on the night table (or on the Nook on the night table) and an audio book in the car.  As Stephen King says, if you cannot write, then read.  And so I do.

I miss the writing, though. Sorely.


Rachel Sings Love Story

Here she is. Rachel playing guitar and singing Taylor Swift's, Love Story at her recital this weekend. She sang through a nasty cold, and only coughed during the first verse!

And because she coughed, she wanted me to record it again at home. She's awesome!


Children of Midian is PUBLISHED!

Woo-hoo! In the midst of the snow, work, family, finishing up my Financial Accounting course (yech), and physical therapy (can you say, L5/S1?), I managed to land the plane that is Children of Midian. The runways required a bit of foaming, but what can you do? In my last post, I talked about the process of rewriting this novel, and promised I'd have it published by January 21st. Well, it is January 21st, and the novel is, by hook or by crook... published.

First, an aside. MRI's. Not a fan. And I generally forget that I am not a fan. Them: Are you claustrophobic? Me: Nope. Then I slide head first into the metallic sausage casing and panic sets in.

Oh no. I can't go through with this. I'm going to press this button. I can't believe this is freaking me out. What am I going to do? Breathe. Think of something happy. Think of what I need to do at work when I get back. Oh, no. Oh, no. CLANK! CLINK! BRRRRRR! CLANK! BRRRRRR!

Yeah, that was my Friday. Any-hoo.... Back to the post...

Children of Midian is an upper middle grade boy-friendly fantasy/adventure, though such a category doesn't really exist on Amazon and the like. So you'll find it in the Young Adult section for the most part. Here's the little bittie pitch for Children of Midian:

When a dark secret thrusts Elliot Hanson into the ethereal land of Midian, the fourteen-year-old army brat discovers friendship in a community of lost children. He also finds a legion of werewolves set against them. Feeding on imagination, these ruthless killers serve an even darker leader who intends to destroy every last child, leaving Elliot with no choice but to fight for all their lives.

And the longer description, which I quite like, questions and all:

How do you defeat the bad guys who exist only because you believe in them? Now, imagine there isn’t a single dull-minded adult around. What would you do now? This is the challenge facing fourteen-year-old Elliot Hanson, an army brat who careens into the ethereal land of Midian from which he cannot return.

Aside from his younger sister, he’s got no friends in their new hometown. Yet, this is exactly what he finds in the children of Midian. He also finds a legion of werewolves set against them by the evil Lycaon. What’s worse, rumors are flying about a weapon to wipe Elliot and his new friends off the map. He can’t let that happen, even if he finds a way back home.

But then Lycaon’s wolves capture his parents, and his sister joins him in Midian. Now, it's no longer just the children of Midian who need help. Can he thwart Lycaon's plans and save everyone before it's too late?

The novel is available on Amazon as well as Smashwords. Smashwoods has all formats - Kindle, Nook, iPod, PC etc, etc.. Once it is accepted into the Premium Catalog, it'll be available from other retailers, including Barnes & Noble.


The Rewrite has Landed

It's quite remarkable what happens when you set out to revise a novel you first wrote years before. At least, it was remarkable to me. I wound up rewriting an absolute ton of the thing. About two years ago, I revised the Children of Midian, but I don't think my heart was really in it. I'd spent far too much time with the characters, having moved onto a second novel of a "planned" trilogy.

The first "final" draft had several problems. First, it was bloated. I can't say it any simpler than that. No matter what I did to the book, it only got longer. I seemed unable to murder my darlings.

I also discovered that the book wasn't quite as YA as I thought. A few agents provided me some excellent feedback on that very point. And so I learned the real difference between Young Adult and Middle Grade. I also found that neither Middle Grade nor YA are tidy little categories. Midian presented some darker themes than one might expect in a MG boy novel. Given the character ages, issues they faced, and some of the "dark matter", this was an upper middle grade novel. Go ahead. Try explaining that in a query letter.

The dawning realization that Midian was MG also led me back to my original problem. The book was already too long for a YA novel from an unpublished author. How was this going to work as Middle Grade fiction?

Novice that I was, I decided to split the first novel into two middle-grade-sized books. Big mistake. I had written one story, not two. Choosing a dividing point was like throwing a dart at a double-pane window. Don't get me wrong. I knew I needed to add a little something to make it "work". I wrote a new chapter to help augment the first half and to let it stand on its own. The end result? Two smaller halves, neither of which really stood on their own.

I wound up stitching it back together before leaving the book for dead a couple of years ago. Yet, the real problems remained. The plot was too confusing. The kids were melodramatic. Elliot--the protagonist--was sort of likable, but he was just kind of... meh. Above all, there was simply too much gunk--too much stuff I had been too stubborn to remove because I thought it was so neat and indispensable.

I picked it up a couple months ago and reread it. Though fairly horrified by large swaths of the what I'd written, I spotted what drew me to write the book in the first place. So, I decided to give revising it another shot.

I once asked my daughter, "What do you do when life hands you lemons?" She was probably eight at the time, but her answer lingers with me. "Suck on 'em." There would be much lemon-sucking, which completely explains the faces I pulled as I went through the process of rewriting the book.

The Peanuts cartoon atop this post is about where my head was at.  Here are random thoughts that swam in my brain during the process.

1. Get to the point already.
2. He's a total wuss. Can't have that. (about the protag)
3. Cute, but who cares? 
4. Kill it.
5. Did you forget you cut that scene? (upon finding references to aforementioned cut scene)
6. OMG - he/she is turning again. (characters kept turning to SEE things)
7. Great. That's the author, not the story and characters.
8. Hungry.
9. You suck. Whose idea was this?
10. Hey, look, the word-count is way down.

I'm on track for the planned release date on Smashwords to start - 1/21/2012


Midian Cometh

I love taking time off from work.  Who doesn't? Not only am I NOT slavishly doing what I get paid to do, I'm also enjoying a three week break from school.  There's been no financial accounting for me last week, or this week.  And I get next week off from that dry material as well.

The last time I had time off, I busily readied Urban Mythos for self publishing as an e-book, and I got it up on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  This week, I spent some additional time on the aforementioned YA Urban Fantasy and published it on Smashwords.

So now for my next trick.  On January 21st, I will publish my earlier novel, The Children of Midian. It needed some serious polish from whence I last looked at it, but I am hard at work readying it.  This is an upper middle grade novel, with some slightly darker themes, but still firmly targeted at the middle school reader. 

Elliot Hanson doesn’t live in an ordinary town, for it harbors a dark secret that leads him out of our world and into Midian. The thirteen-year-old army brat discovers friendship in a community of lost children, but he also finds a legion of werewolves set against them. Feeding on imagination, these ruthless killers serve an even darker leader who intends to destroy every last child, leaving Elliot with no choice but to fight for their lives.

Look for the e-book on January 21st on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and many other fine booksellers.


Support Four Debut Authors and Snag $125!

Four books
Two Days
Great Prizes

With this contest, there is something for everyone and it’s SO simple to be in on the winning!

On November 28 and/or 29, purchase 1 or all 4 of the debut author’s books listed here. Then forward proof of purchase (the receipt Amazon sends you will do just fine) to : motionsrider@yahoo.ca and get up to 4 entries into a draw for a $100 Amazon gift card!

It’s that easy, no reviews, no hoops to jump through. Just a great .99 book or two. Or three or four. AND, if the person who wins the $100 Amazon Gift Card has purchased all 4 books, an additional $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to the winner!

On top of that, 2 random commenter’s picked from 2 of our participating blogs will receive $5 gift Amazon gift cards . So, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the promo, the books, or the authors.

Winners will be chosen randomly, one entry per person, per book.

All winners will be announced on December 7th on Wringing Out Words.

“Between” by Cyndi Tefft

It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water's life isn't alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile, and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven's siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

Buy it on Amazon

“Until Dawn: Last Light” by Jennifer Simas
When darkness falls, whose side will you be on?

For the past six years, Zoë has been anything but “normal.” Struggling to accept her immortality and thrown into a war that’s been waging in the shadows for over a thousand years, Zoë must now become who she was meant to be, joining the other Chosen to save what’s left of humanity. When the endless night falls over the Earth, will she be able to save the one man who reminds her of what it is to be human, or will it be too late?

Until Dawn: Last Light is a story of death and despair, love and longing, hope and hopelessness, and the ability to survive and keep going even when it seems impossible – when you want nothing more than to give up.

Buy it on Amazon.

“The Kayson Cycle” by Jonathan D. Allen
A stranger enters a dying town and makes a desperate plea…

 The Kayson Cycle introduces the Kayson Brothers, a pair of faith healers who once wowed crowds in a traveling show but went their separate ways after a night in which a healing took a dark turn. Jeffrey Kayson disappeared into the wilderness and William Kayson, wracked by guilt, moved to the failing mining town of Calico Hills to build a nice, quiet life – one that has lasted for over ten years.

His quiet, predictable life crumbles when a mysterious stranger walks into his tavern bearing a proposal to find his long-lost brother and do the one thing that William has sworn to never do again - have his brother heal a woman. William soon learns that he can’t escape his family – or his destiny.

Includes an exclusive sample chapter of The Corridors of the Dead. Please note that this is a Kindle Single, and around 6,000 words in length.

Buy it on Amazon

“Sundered” by Shannon Mayer

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, and still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking Nevermore.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world that is bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

Now Mara must make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?

Buy it on Amazon.