Just a quick update this week, mainly to say that I’m putting this here blog on semi-hiatus until I catch up on all this editing. I’ve also put all of my writing projects on the back burner until I clear my editing backlog.
Of course, my freelancing work is also ramping back up after basically being out of work for the last five months, so it’s still going to be a juggling act. Something’s got to give, and when my plate gets too full blogging is always the first casualty.
I’m still not quite one-third of the way through my revision of Deliverance. Like I said on Twitter last week…
Cleaning up rambley story vomit is a long and painstaking process. It’s making me wonder if slowing down and editing as I go, rather than fast-drafting and then editing this way, might actually make this whole process faster overall? I may need to rethink my process when it comes to future projects.
Over the weekend I watched an interview between Neil Gaiman and Tim Ferris in which I was reminded of Gaiman’s process, in which he writes his first drafts longhand (in a very nice journal using very nice fountain pens that probably cost more than I make in a year), which forces him to slow down and be more thoughtful as he goes (rather than vomiting the story onto a screen), and then revises as he types up his manuscript. I’ve actually emulated this process before (a few chapters of Kindred Spirits were written this way), but alas, I’ve got an undiagnosed something-or-other going on with my right wrist (it’s like carpal tunnel, I think, but on my pinky side) that would prevent me from doing an entire manuscript this way. Plus, I’m trying to turn books out faster, and I’m not sure this method would lend itself to that.
At any rate, that interview is over 90 minutes long, but it’s worth every minute if you’re fan of Neil Gaiman.
In lieu of these updates, I’m lining up some guest posts from some fellow authors you might not have heard of, but whom I think you might enjoy getting to know. Watch for the first of those, from J.K. Bovi, author of Zombies, Y’all and other Southern-fried paranormal adventures, next week.
And although none of this is especially prank-worthy, considering the date I feel like I need to say that none of this is an April Fool’s joke.
And speaking of April Fool’s Day, did you know that every year on this date, Bill Waterson and Berkely Breathed get together for a collaboration as Calvin & Hobbes take over Bloom County? That’s not a prank, it’s a gift (and if you’re too young to even know what I’m talking about or care, you seriously need to get off my lawn). Click here to see this year’s strip.
Finally, please enjoy this photo of deer grazing on our front lawn, sneakily taken through the kitchen window blinds so as not to scare them off.
It was 2012. I had recently seen The Rite, featuring a certain dark-haired Irish actor playing a super-serious priest-in-training of Eastern European descent. I was writing Dominion of theDamned, which featured a super-serious vampire doctor of Czech origins. While I tried to match a number of different faces and voices to Aleksandr Konstantin as I worked my way through the book, it was Colin O’Donoghue’s face that kept resurfacing any time I tried to summon a vision of Alek. And it stuck.
Of course, by the time I finally got around to writing the soon-to-be-released sequel last year, I had several seasons of Once Upon aTime under my belt. All that exposure to Captain Hook did nothing to interfere with my vision of O’Donoghue as my Alek — on the contrary, it made him more fun to write.
A lot of research went into the character of Alek Konstantin, particularly when choosing his name. I settled on an Eastern European spelling of both Alexander, which means defender or protector, and Constantine, which means steadfast and constant. Taken together, his name means steadfast protector, a perfect name for this vampire doctor with a tortured past who still believes in his Hippocratic oath and has made it his personal mission to free humanity from both their vulnerability to the zombie virus and their oppression at the hands of his own race.
You can read all about that mission, the motivations behind it, and how a young nursing student named Hannah Jordan plays into it in Dominion of the Damned, available in both paperback and ebook. And you’ll get to see how that mission is going once Deliverance of the Damned hits stores in a few months!
Deliverance of the Damned revisions are well under way (that’s the sequel to Dominion of the Damned,, my Walking Dead meets True Blood post-apocalyptic zombie/vampire mashup, in case you’re new around here). I’ve got six chapters all cleaned up and shipped off to the editor (still a.k.a. my husband).
The good news is that he shouldn’t have a whole lot to do, so his edits shouldn’t take long. The bad news is that there are 36 chapters plus an epilogue (38 if I end up splitting up two extra-lengthy chapters), so at the rate of two chapters a day I’m currently managing, this is going to take a few weeks.
Oh, and thanks to all the rain we keep getting, we keep having to spend all the pretty days like today out in the yard cleaning up the never-ending supply of dead leaves, so that’s slowing things down, too.
SO many leaves
I tried to convince Mr. B. that we should just get a leaf blower and blow them all into the woods and be done with it, but he thinks that would just make the fleas and ticks worse by giving them more places to hide and breed, so he’s determined to gather and burn them. At least it’s good exercise and an excuse to spend my days outside.
But one day soon I shall get through these edits, and then I can get busy drafting Desolation of the Damned, which I’ve already begun to sketch out. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could get this entire trilogy done and published this year? I sure think so.
Back in December, I removed most of my indie titles from non-Amazon retailers and enrolled them in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Prime Lending Library. That enrollment will end on March 4th, and I don’t plan to renew it.
That means, if you’re subscribed to Prime or KU, you’ve got until March 4th to borrow and read the following titles:
This collection of Twilight Zone-esque shorts includes flash fiction set in the Trilogy of the Damned universe, a short story that has been favorably compared to works by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King), and fan favorite Eucha Falls, my creepy pasta-inspired novelette about the haunted site of an abandoned amusement park.
Happy February! Groundhog day has already come and gone and while January seemed to drag on forever, now that it’s gone it’s like, wow, where did that month go?
I’m still struggling to get my rhythm back with any kind of consistency. A big reason is that we’re still getting used to having a larger-than-we’re-used-to home and property to care for, and figuring out how to juggle that with writing and everything involved in running an indie publishing business alongside a freelance business. It seems like something always crops up that needs to be taken care of now.
Case in point: some largish critter (like, larger than a rat) has been nesting inside our walls, and so we’ve been setting out a live trap every night in the hopes of catching and removing it. For the first couple of weeks the trap caught nothing, but it still required regular tending. And then this week we caught three(!) ‘possums.
The first two (shown) we relocated to a creek many miles from here, and then after the third (not shown) we had a talk about how we don’t want to get rid of all of the ‘possums on our property since they’re beneficial to have around (not to mention ridiculously cute), so we let the third one chill in the trap while we plugged up the hole where they’d been getting into the house (praying as we did that we weren’t trapping any inside), and then let that one go. But dealing with all of that ate up three mornings this week, which is the time of day that I do all of my fiction writing.
We’ve also got a ton of yard work to do. My husband’s been doing the bulk of that himself, bless him, but if we’re going to get the property cleared of leaves and limbs before mowing season starts, I’m going to have to step up and start helping. I spent an afternoon last week (in between ‘possum-relocation excursions) helping to rake and haul leaves and the next day I was so sore and exhausted I wasn’t good for anything.
So, basically, Real Life Makes Writing Hard. News at 11.
Actually, I wasn’t good for nothing during that recovery day. I used my time to revisit my author brand and ideal audience and all of that necessary marketing stuff. After a day of researching and thinking, I feel like it’s all starting to come together. I think these last several years have been mainly about figuring out who I am as an author and a writer, and now I’ve got a a better handle on that and have a lot more confidence to write the kinds of books I really want to write. And I think you’re going to be seeing that emerge over the course of the next year or so as I make some changes.
I know y’all don’t really care about changes to the web design or my visual branding, but that’s coming, eventually. More pertinent to your interests is the slightly new direction I’m taking with this horror novella series I’m currently writing. It might not be that wildly different, but it’s definitely got a harder edge than anything I’ve written before.
Ironically, though, this series is probably thematically also the most Christian story I’ve ever written. Not that that means it’s clean and safe. Far from it.
Anyway, there’s also the Southern Gothic YA novel that’s still simmering on my back burner, and I’m also ginning up ideas for the kind of spooky Middle Grade stories that I loved so much when I was a kid.
But those are mostly just seeds I’m sowing for the future. On a more immediate timeline, I’m also still thinking about how all of this applies to my newsletter, and how I want that to be a gift — something fun that you’ll look forward to every month — and not a sales tool. I had wanted to send out a new issue in January, but I feel like I need to put more thought into it first.
So this brings us full circle back to the problem of how to juggle all of this with the day-to-day responsibilities of living and care-taking a large property. As much as I thrive on rhythms and routines, I think I’m in a season where I’m going to have to release any expectations along those lines and just fit my work in where I can. As for example, it’s Sunday morning as I’m writing this post. I don’t normally do any work on Sunday mornings, but I’m squeezing this post in between a Bible study and the pre-spring cleaning I want to get done during this wonderful warm spell we’re having. And later today I may try to squeeze off a few paragraphs of the novella in between laundry and vacuuming.
Ultimately, I just need to suck it up and recognize that I’ve been spoiled and that having entire days and weeks to devote to my writing and business is a luxury and not actually a necessity. I just need to let go of the notion that certain tasks need to happen during a certain time of day.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
Meanwhile, I will be sending out the new-and-improved newsletter soon–and it will likely include the first peek at this novella I keep talking about. If you’re not signed up to get that in your inbox, you can remedy that by clicking here, or just enter your e-mail below.
How did your January go? Are you fully back in the swing of things or are you still struggling to find your way in this new year like I am?
My first new release of 2019 is out and available pretty much everywhere e-books are sold!
Women’s Work is a short story duo featuring two tough heroines that have captured my imagination, and I hope they’ll also capture yours. Here’s the official description:
A woman’s work is never done, and rarely is it easy — a sentiment that’s keenly felt in these two quick tales of urban fantasy and horror from Jean Marie Bauhaus.
In The Box, retired monster slayer turned single mom Keely Brewster hides out in a small town where she hopes to raise her little girl in peace. But leaving her old life behind proves harder than expected when a mysterious package shows up on her front step.
In Night Driving, Mae always loved driving at night. But this particular drive might be one of the most important of her life. And for her violent husband, it might be the last.
Enjoy these haunting creations from the mind that brought you Eucha Falls, Midnight Snacks and the Restless Spirits series.
My goal for the new year: become as relaxed and chill as this good boy.
Happy new year, folks! I hope you’ve managed to get off the post-holiday struggle bus and start getting back into the swing of things. As rarin’ to go as I thought I was for 2019 to get started, as far as actually getting off my butt, my new year didn’t really get started until this week. But so far, it’s going pretty well.
2018 really kicked my hinder. I talked some in my last post about how stressful and chaotic it was, but I don’t think I fully realized the toll it had taken on me, or just how burned out I was, until I had an opportunity to really slow down and rest during the last half of December. I was a complete emotional mess in the days leading up to Christmas. I spent a lot of my break just being lazy as h*ck and refusing to feel guilty about it. I did a lot of journaling, but other than that and the necessary stuff around the house, I allowed myself to do ZERO work–not even to think about it–until after New Year’s, and then I spent the first few days of January just thinking about what I want and hope for for 2019.
My word for the year is “Health.” I have some chronic health problems I need to address, and I need to get better at taking care of myself. Part of that means eating healthier. I’m not doing anything drastic like Whole 30 or anything crazy like that (if you’re doing Whole 30, more power to you, and I wish you success. I did it once, and once was enough), but simply trying to be more mindful about what I put in my body and making healthier choices on a day-by-day, meal-by-meal basis. One positive thing I got out of Whole 30 was the idea of stopping whenever I’m tempted to consider the impact what I eat will have on my health and on how I feel, and to ask myself if it’s worth it. Sometimes the answer is yes (with pizza and homemade baked goods the answer is always yes), but surprisingly often, the answer is no.
It also means moving more. I’m not going crazy with that, either, but I definitely feel better and tend to be in a happier mood when I fit some movement into my day. Currently that looks like doing yoga most mornings and occasionally before bedtime. I started doing yoga on my break, mainly because it seemed like a good way to settle my mind and my overwhelming emotions, and I kind of fell in love with it. By now I’ve been at it long enough that it’s starting to be a habit, and my day doesn’t feel complete without it. I’m also becoming bendier and less prone to carrying tension around in my muscles, which is helping a lot of my aches and pains.
It also means resting more. I thought I had a pretty good handle on slowing down and resting when I needed to, but I took this rest assessment and discovered that I actually suck at resting. Apparently just getting to bed on time (most nights) and letting myself be lazy on Saturdays isn’t as adequate as I thought. So I’m trying to fit more types of rest into my life. Yoga is part of that. I also got out my guitar and started practicing again, and I dug out my coloring books and pencils and started a new embroidery project, because it’s easier for me to be still and quiet and not let my thoughts spin out of control and wear me down if I can keep my hands busy and have something visual to concentrate on. And I’m trying to take advantage of this freakishly warm winter to get outside and into the woods more often. Oh, and I’m trying to spend less time on my phone, except for when I’m using it to read or listen to books or podcasts.
As far as my working life goes, this looks like being more gentle with myself and moving at a more relaxed pace. Last year, I let myself get sucked into this hustle mindset of trying to do all the things and get them done as quickly as possible, and I blame that for the burnout I was feeling by the end of the year. I’m just not made for hustle. I’m wired to be slow, thoughtful and methodical, and when I forget that, or try to force myself to be different, it’s always a recipe for pain and suffering. I also let myself get pushed into believing I had to be a lot more ambitious than I’m actually wired to be, to come up with a vision for my life that, when I snapped out of whatever spell I was under and really examined it, was sheer insanity and not the kind of life I want for myself AT ALL.
Side note: one thing I discovered about myself last year is that I’m an Enneagram 9 (head to the Lazy Genius’s Instagram and click on her Enneagram story highlight for a quick primer on the Enneagram, if you don’t know what that is), and 9’s have a tendency to “merge” with people we spend a lot of time around, meaning we tend to internalize their goals and ideals as our own. I realized I was spending a lot of time following influencers whose ideals and goals are great for them, but terrible for me. So I had to spend some time culling my feeds and eliminating all of the voices that were leading me down an unhealthy path, and I also had to spend some time just staying off of social media altogether and getting really quiet while I figured out what I actually want and what is actually best for me and my life. And going forward, I now know I need to be really careful about the voices and influences I allow into my life. But on the flip side, I can use this tendency for good by surrounding myself with people who are positive influences and will help steer me in the direction I want to go.
So I’m trying something new this year. I’m not setting any concrete goals for myself, I’m not going after any big dreams. I’m not actively investing in personal growth or trying to change myself in any big way. Instead, I’m just going to let myself relax this year and really get to know myself, and get used to being comfortable in my own skin. And I’m going to just enjoy my right-now life without trying so hard to change it. Because while it’s not perfect, it’s actually pretty good. I’ve already accomplished a lot of things and I’m living out the result of several dreams having already come true, but you wouldn’t know it, because instead of letting myself slow down and enjoy any of it I’m always looking ahead and chasing after the next big thing. But I have this theory that if I just relax and enjoy my life and just keep doing my work at a steady pace, it’s all going to work out the way it’s supposed to. So for now, I’m just going to allow my life and career to unfold one day at a time without trying to force anything to happen, and to be led by my own intuition and instincts instead of by the proclamations of gurus and experts.
What does that mean for my writing? It means I’m going to take a more relaxed approach, for one thing. This is the first time in three years that I don’t have any official deadlines or contractual obligations to fulfill, so I’m going to enjoy that freedom and follow the muse where it leads me. I’m going to allow myself to have multiple projects going at once, bouncing back and forth as inspiration leads me, instead of forcing myself to focus on one story from beginning to end. I’m going to work at a comfortable pace and not worry about a production schedule or setting arbitrary deadlines for myself. Stories will get done when they get done. Books will come out when they come out. And hopefully, I’ll rediscover the joy of creating for creation’s sake instead of focusing on what the end product will look like and how well it will sell.
Currently, I’m working on two novellas. One is a stand-alone. The other is the beginning of an experiment in serialization–I’m planning to release this story as a series of shorter novellas, and eventually bundle them together into one larger volume (or volumes, depending on how long it ends up being; I’m thinking this could turn into an ongoing series) a la what Hugh Howey did with Wool.
I started this new series this week on a whim, although it’s been percolating in the back of my mind for quite a while now. If you’re a longtime subscriber to my newsletter, then last year you got the chance to read a short story called “Night Driving,” which I’m getting ready to release in e-book form alongside another short I wrote last year. This new series will center around the main character of that story and pick up about six months after those events. I’ve got a couple of scenes in the can and I’m really in love with these characters and this story, which popped up more or less fully formed in my head over the weekend. I’m also really excited about the possibilities of where I can go with it. It’s a supernatural thriller, and it’s going to allow me to explore some themes and questions relating to my Christian worldview in ways that won’t be too explicit or preachy. So anyway, since that’s what I’m excited about, that’s what I’m focusing on right now.
The other novella–which might be more of a novelette–is a horror story inspired partly by my own experiences with sleep paralysis, and partly by all the murder documentary shows I watched last summer when we had free satellite and no streaming memberships and the only decent channel was Investigation Discovery. I’m not as excited about that one, but I’m having fun writing it.
I’m also still working on outlining and world building for the YA Southern Gothic I got inspired to write last year. And don’t worry, Dominion of the Damned Damned fans, that hasn’t fallen off my radar. Getting both the new version of Dominion and the sequel, Deliverance, published this year is still high on my priority list. I’m still awaiting the final six chapters of Dominion from my editor-slash-husband, but he also needed a break, and currently he’s distracted by trying to figure out what to do about some raccoons that have apparently invaded our walls and ceiling and keep waking him up in the middle of the night with their antics.
But I’m hoping to get Dominion back out there soon, and then I’ll turn my attention to revising Deliverance. As for writing the third book of the trilogy this year, though, I’ve decided to put that off until next year. For one thing, Deliverance is pretty harrowing and ends on kind of a bleak note, and my emotions need a break from that universe. For another, I truly have no idea how to get these characters out of the bind I left them in. I know the answer will come to me eventually, but it won’t do any good to try to force a solution. But knowing my tendency to think about stories other than the one I’m working on, there’s a really good chance that the answer will come to me while I’m writing something completely unrelated.
One thing I won’t be doing a lot of this year is marketing. Last year, I made book marketing a big goal and spent a lot of time and energy (and a little bit of money) trying a number of different tactics. And it made not one single whit of difference to my book sales. In fact, if anything, my overall sales went down. According to smart people who are a lot farther along in this journey than I am, active marketing is pretty useless unless you’ve already got a large back catalog of books, and at this stage of my career I’m better off putting all of that time and energy into writing and producing more books. So that’s what I’m going to do, which takes a whole slew of marketing-related projects and activities off my plate (as far as fiction goes, at any rate. I’ve got a nonfiction book coming out soon, and marketing tends to be more effective for nonfiction books, so I’m not entirely off the marketing hook, alas. But nonfiction marketing also tends to be way easier, so it should balance out).
One thing I’m still undecided about is my newsletter. Last fall, I had both decided and announced that I was going to move from a monthly to a quarterly newsletter. But I don’t think I really like waiting that long between issues, and also, that’s when I was viewing my newsletter as a marketing tool. But now I’m starting to look at it as a way to connect with my readers in a more personal way, and a way to share bits of my life and cool stuff I’ve discovered, rather than a way to say “Hey, here’s a new thing I wrote, please read it.” But (again) I’m also wondering whether it would be better to do that via newsletter or here on the blog. Right now, I’m considering moving to an every-other-month schedule and sending out a curated newsletter filled with stuff I think you’ll like. What do you think? Would you like that? Or do you already get enough of that sort of thing in your inbox?
Which finally brings me to this here blog. I know this sort of post is really old fashioned. This post is more Livejournal circa 2003 than 2019. This post assumes you’ve got a long attention span and, even more audaciously, that you actually might care about what’s going on with my life, and that you care to know not just what I’m working on, but why those projects. This is what blogging used to be, and why I got into it in the first place, and I miss it. From other grumblings I’ve been hearing, I know I’m not the only one. As people grow more and more weary and disconnected from social media, I have a feeling that this type of blogging might come back into vogue. I know that I certainly plan to do more of it in this space. Not real often, because, let’s not kid ourselves, this post is really long, and I’ll honestly be surprised if anyone is still reading by this point, and also because it’s taken me all morning to write. But once in a while, maybe, when I’m full of things I want to say.
What do you think? Do you miss this lengthier, more personal style of blogging? Would you like to see more of it from me? Or do you want me to stick to short, fluffy entertainment articles and announcements? I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’d like to see here, and also in the newsletter. And I’d also love to hear how your new year is shaping up so far. So leave a comment below!