Wednesday, July 27, 2011


In my last post I wrote about breaking one of my cardinal rules. I am now in my second draft stage of my new horror story.  For me, the second draft is expanding on the bones I created in the first.  The storyline does not actually change.  It is enhanced by adding tiny little details like in Zombie Apocalypse:Redemption  I've named the levels in the silo after Dante's Inferno.  The circles of hell as someone's idea of a joke.  My main character, Dr. Donna Cairn's lab is on the level "Anger" for the fifth circle of hell.  This is a second draft add in.

I also, in the second edit, fix grammatical errors, extra vowels put in place, some missing words, and double check the pacing.  I was aghast at the amount of these little items in my story.  Fifty in the first thirty pages!  My fingers were really flying on the first draft.  I also add scenes which will heighten the reader's anticipation here and there...just a little jump or rise in their heart rate, if a particular part needs it. Of course back in my typewriter days it was different.  Everything was written in notebooks, crossed through and written over before sitting in front of the typewriter.  Thank God for computers!

It's sort of like high school, when your language teacher asked you to write an outline.  I hated having to do those things even though I think and write linearly. It's 1,2,3, then A,B,C, and then a,b,c.  I approach editing the same way, but not writing.  Strange huh? I write the major events in the story, add very few tidbits of fluff in the first draft although some scenes are pretty fleshed out they could use some uphm.

I've talked with thousands of authors over the years and each have their own approach to writing.  Some have to have a precise outline and follow it down the line to the end-every line perfectly the way they want them.  Others will write scenes in full and then later sew them all together-each scene is perfect. Others, like me, write from beginning to end and then from the bare bones expand and edit.  There are probably a thousand ways writers approach stories.  This is just mine.

How do you write?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Broke One of My Cardinal Rules

I had the best intentions, honest I did.  My last blog I said I was going to sit on "Zombie Apocalypse:Redemption." I broke one of my cardinal rules this morning...I started fluffing and editing the story.

All it took was a suggestion which hit home from fellow author Thomas Wilson.  "Up the Ante."  After reading the story this morning, he was right.  The beginning needed a scene or two to raise expectations and the anxiety level of the reader. I've added 2,000 words and haven't stopped yet.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Done, Done...Well Almost Done

 Yesterday I wrote "THE END" to Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption.  YEAHHHHH ME!

It's been a long time coming with life getting in the way.  What I thought would be a three week project at best, turned out to be almost six weeks and counting.  As any decent writer will tell you writing "the end" at the end of a first draft is only the beginning.

Now begins the rest period when I let my story sit and I walk away from it for a week.  It will sit in my hard drive, flash drive, and dropbox for that long.  Long enough for me to forget bits and pieces of the story while I focus all my attention on another work in "Surviving Hank."  The main character is the one I use for the "Know Your Character" tab up top.  This story has been developing my one part of my brain while other issues took precedence.

Next week in between and after wedding ceremonies, I will print out a copy of Zombie Apocalypse and go through it and check for typos, grammar errors, and flesh it out.  I used to write novels copiously and then spend hours painstakingly editing and cutting the manuscript down to size.  Now I do the opposite.  I write sparingly just some good bones with sketchy details.  It's my BOOM, BOOM, BOOM rhythm.  Think huge kettle drums pounding.  But as any artist or musician knows it takes orchestration, tempo, lulls, and peaks.  The same is true with writing a good story.

In a previous post I talk about the rhythm of the stories I write.  It takes creative juices flowing, blessing from the muse, and the stubbornness of a bull  to fully complete a good story. Once I put in the rhythm, this will the end of the second draft.  At this point I will wait forty-eight hours to reread the changes.  I will make the changes and tweak it one final time.  Then another week it will sit on my hard drive, flash drive, and dropbox.  Once this final read is over, I'll deem it publishable and I'll use readers as a sounding board, or scrap the project. 

I can hear you now...what a waste of time. This is a point of view and for me an arguable point. Each time I write a story I stretch my creative talents.  I try new techniques.  I stretch my boundaries like actually writing horror.  But most importantly, I become a better writer.  Why be mediocre when you can be the best you can be?

In this day and age of self publishing too much trash gets published.  I know many writers will be offended by me calling their babies trash, but ask anyone not related or a friend of the author. While the image of self-publishing is changing too many authors rush the process and put out a substandard product they later regret.  Once it's out there, it's out there for the whole world to see. 

So, I'm done, done...almost done with Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Smashwords Promotion

As many of you may have heard Smashwords is having a Summer/Winter promotion. I have joined with both titles I have posted there.
New pricing until end of July. Beat the heat and grab a book to curl up with.

Escape from Second Eden  -75% off -your cost is $1.00
The Sacrificial Lamb
-50% off- your cost is $1.50

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Separation of Writing and Faith

Today I started a new weekly blog, Pastor Jo Says. I am dedicating this particular blog to writing, authors, and the like. All faith issues will appear in the new blog although, my tag line for this blog will remain the same.

Yes, this is more work, but I realized that this is a working blog now and is my website as far as my books and novels are concerned. Actually both are working blogs. I have been a lay pastor for many years counseling, teaching, and leading. With my official ordination, things have changed. The main thing being is signing my name with the prefix of "Reverend" on legal documents. It was the next logical step for me put off too long.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Do!

It has been a busy week and a half of weddings. I've performed eight weddings in as many days. This being a resort town... people fly in from all over. So far I've performed weddings at the courthouse embraced and shrouded by historic oaks, on a tall sail schooner, in a mall, one of the piers, and the rest at the beach at sunset.

Now I do not perform weddings in a church, because although I attend church, it is not mine as in I am the cleric...even ministers need pastors. I am known as a traveling minister because I will fill in for pastors who are ill or on vacation. I work for donations. It can be feast or famine. Right now, it's feast after a long famine and the roof caving in on me last month as far as expenses go.

I always thought of June being the busiest month for weddings, but so far July has beat out the June bride syndrome. My flexibility is my major selling point. I will come or go where you tell me to, change up the service from traditional, contemporary, Christian, Zen, civil, or the short and sweet catering to the bride's wishes.

Brides can be pretty specific what they want and do not want even with only a couple hours notice. Since some are from out of state, questions like where can I get flowers, where is a nice place to have the service, and a few hundred others pop up. I have yet to perform a service in the rain although several rain showers have occurred before and after the service. I do need to find a nice, quiet shelter to perform services for when the weather turns colder, though any church would welcome me. For me, it feels like an intrusion.

In short, I've had my minister's hat on all week long. "I do! I do!"

The writing is coming along slowly. The editing of others, even slower. I am fielding 120 emails, and about 30 phone calls a day. The biggest thing is that has a July promotion ongoing. I've reduced the price of "Escape from Second Eden" and "The Sacrificial Lamb" by 75%. I haven't checked on sales this week, but I'm praying.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Adventures in Life

Well life has been a roller coaster over the past month...that's putting it mildly!

I started "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption" and was on a great roll, I uploaded "Who Stole Baby Ruth" to CreateSpace and was waiting on review approval,wrote several chapters in a couple other novels and a nonfiction I'm penning, and edited several chapters in other authors' novels. I was doing great and feeling very productive.

Murphy's Law and real life hit as an avalanche. You think you've had it rough? Try this on for size and then understand why I call myself the master juggler. Remember this is only my month of June. Luckily, college was out or I don't think I could have juggled that too. I wrote up a storm finally free of classes just as I planned to do at least for the first couple days of the month.

My father in law had a heart attack a week before final exams. Now, I don't know about the rest of you students, but final exams are stressful and, even if you spend every day during the course studying for exams, are killers. I left college each day, check on my husband and then spent hours at the hospital with my father in law. He gradually stabilized enough after a week and a half to be released back to his apartment with hospice. It was his greatest wish. Before he was released, it was an insane amount of activity and communication with family (all out of the state) and hospice. It is really difficult imparting news to his loved ones that their father was dying.  His original bed was removed, hospital bed delivered, oxygen ordered, changes in care discussed, and a million other details necessary to get him back to his apartment. He was released the day I took my last final.

I spent the next week juggling my father in law's desires of not wanting to be left alone, my husband's needs (who is also terminally ill bad heart, bad lings, and cancer), and my own personal needs...writing fell by the wayside. Family started arriving taking to heart my message, if they wanted to have a meaningful conversation with their father...they needed to hurry. Pat (his oldest daughter) came in from Arizona and spent a couple of days fussing over him and in her own way...saying goodbye followed by Mary (his youngest daughter). When Mary came in for the weekend she gave me time off from part of my vigil and I wrote more to the stories I was authoring and editing for others. I desperately needed this break even if it was only for two days. "Who Stole Baby Ruth" had some formatting issues which I haven't addressed yet.

The night before my father in law died, the PVC pipe leading to my well broke. I shut down the power to it and my water heater vowing to fix it within a couple of days. I figured it would only take a couple of inches or PVC pipe and new couplers. I had talked with my husband's oldest brother who told me he was on the way from Michigan, driving, and he planned to have the memorial service in a couple of weeks when everyone could come. I breathed a sigh of relief at another break from hectic activity. I could fix my pump and have water in my house and possibly write!

To top all this off, we've had wild fires. Even though the actual fires were miles away in another county...smoke lay like a blanket over us like a fog of unbreathable air. We had short evening rains, which made matters worse. The filter on our air conditioning unit filtered most of it out so my husband could breathe easier. Now, I was facing having to take him out in it. With the arrival of brothers and sisters all wanted to dine with him and visit. Now, my husband is on morphine for pain control, oxygen, nebulizer treatments, and inhalers. The smoke made it almost impossible for him to breathe outside. Even with his oxygen he was struggling.

You know what they say about best laid plans, right? You got it. I received a call from Doug (the oldest son) saying everyone would be there over the weekend and could I contact the minister about a funeral on Saturday. So much for a break. I scrambled with the church, hospice closing out the case, calling florists, arranging for the obit in the paper, called all my father in law's local friends, and the pastor. Then I realized everyone would only be here for less than forty-eight hours at best. I went to Dad's apartment, got rid of the trash, bedding, food, clothing, and assorted other things nobody would want. Most were flying in and would be limited in what they could take with them, but figured if they really wanted some of the big furniture and things they would arrange to have it shipped home. My daughters and their husbands were a godsend. We emptied all the drawers placing items out in the open while valuables were locked away waiting for the oldest son. By the time Doug got here the next day, the funeral service was arranged and the apartment was an organized mess for a quick grab and run.

The hours before the funeral, the family gathered and divided Dad's belongings. Nobody wanted the furniture so guess where it house and my daughters. The memorial service was slated for 3PM. It was almost 2PM before I called a halt to the furniture moving effort to go home, flat tire fixed after unloading and reloading my packed van, and get my husband ready for the funeral. (Read medicines, inhalers, neubilizers, dressed, and a quick wipe down with a wash cloth for me before changing etc) In other words, flying without a parachute! We had to be at the church by 2:30 PM. My van still packed to the gills as I drove to the funeral. All the others of my husband's family had left for lunch about 1PM. This was Father's Day weekend, I pulled my son in laws away from their children to do all this moving and felt horrible about it. Doug wanted the keys to his apartment returned by Monday. Once again it was rush, rush, rush, and more rush.

At this point I still haven't restored water to my home. I was buying jugs of 2 1/2 gallons to flush the commode. While I understand it would have been easier to call a pump service or plumber to do the work, mentally I couldn't justify the cost of a $250 service charge over $5 worth of supplies to restore the water. I just needed time to work on it in daylight hours which was in short supply. I finally got water restored on Sunday...Father's Day. I had been without water for almost five days.

Everyone had gone home by Monday. Whew!  Don't get me wrong I love my husband's family, but it added stress to an already stressful couple of weeks. This was far from the ideal visiting situation also. My nerves were frazzled and was dealing with my own grief issues. I had considered calling my physician for Ativan, but didn't. My physical heart was doing a frantic two-step and squeeze raising my arrthymia issues which had me popping nitroglyercine like candy, but as always I continued on pushing like I always do. The one thing that has changed is I am not running back and forth between my father in law's place and home, but home has had a bunch of issues lately.

 I had water for two days at a slow trickle. I knew the pump was dying at this point and it did. Once again I weighed the option of calling a service provider...I actually did.  The cost was $650 versus $250 of me doing it myself. Needless to say, I went out and bought a new pump. All the fancy pipework I had done a few days earlier was cut. Keep in mind I live in south Georgia and the heat index is over 100 degrees. My #2 daughter's husband came in to help. Thank goodness. I was wilting. While I could have called one of my husband's nephews, I knew I could do it myself without inconvienencing anyone. I abhor burdening others.Wednesday night I had my first hot tub full of water to soak in. Heaven!

I awoke on Thursday in good spirits. I powered up my husband's desktop computer to find his monitor wouldn't work. I went out and bought a used flat screen. It was the video card in the CPU and a few other hitches. It has taken me three days working on this or that. The internet is one of the few pleasures my husband has left so while I ferreted out the problems, he used mine. I'm on the laptop writing this instead of my desktop. Of course, this laptop does not have Word on it and all my works and other authors' work is saved on my desktop.

We had a storm Wednesday night. Not really bad but the air cleared which was a blessing after weeks of smoke. I went outside and looked for damage the wind wrought besides the new leaks in my roof. <sigh> I had placed containers under them. I noticed the stone panels outside the office wall on the ground. Carpenter ants had made tunnels throughout the wall between the stone panels and the wood panels. <big sigh> While I had planned to rennovate my house next year, I didn't expect it this soon. I do not think Carpenter ants are covered under my homeowner's insurance. Right now, the thought of a couple pounds of dynomite come to just kidding.

It's JULY! Thank God! One more month down and a new one begins. I've gotten and estimate on fixing the office wall, the roof, and a few other hundred things which I have put in the back seat while juggling priorities.I need to sell a couple thousand novels to pay for it all! In the next month I have listed a schedule of priorities which will be done including mowing my lawn. Over the next five weekends, I'm calling in markers from my children. I given them financial support for years and am known by a number of names including "grocery fairy." I am not asking for the money back but will collect in labor. We will be taking two rooms at a time and consolidating them. Throwing out what needs to be thrown out, packing and removing via Goodwill/Salvation Army what's useable, removing all the stuff that is stored at Momma's, and reorganizing. I want my house back. It has been long enough (read 7-10 years). I also have a couple of weddings to perform this month and a family reunion on the 4th.

I will not be returning to the college except for a couple of classes here and there. This was a hard decision to make, but one made out of necessity. It's five or more hours which would be better spent on writing and home. My focus for the second half of 2011 is consolidating and simplifing, earn enough money to rennovate my almost forty year old home, and seeking God's blessings.

So how has your month been?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.