Monday, December 29, 2014


If you follow my other blog - The Writing Spectacle - you already know what's going on with me lately.  And from all appearances I am a busy dudette. 

The only thing I know is that I run in spurts.  I was kinda busy.  And then, after my edits were sent, I totally lazed out.  Of course, it doesn't help that I'm easily distracted. I took Christmas Eve off on purpose.  Then Christmas was a big distraction.  And that's okay.  It's a freakin' holiday.  But then I frittered away Friday doing woods work.  Then Saturday, I read all day.  And yesterday, I read some more while watching the Harry Potter marathon.  (Started reading Sorcerer's Stone again in the midst of that... cuz Potter.)

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is even the seemingly busiest of us can get distracted.  I'll get back to work today.  Promise.

What kinds of things distract you?  How do you get back on track?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

No Wicked on Christmas Eve

There's enough wicked in the world right now, so I thought I'd give it a rest for today.  After all, it's Christmas Eve - when everything should be about peace and joy and love and junk. 

Here at Sanderson, Inc., we're having a laid back holiday - like usual.  I finished this round of edits on Dying Embers last night and will be sending them off to the editor this morning, so I won't be working on THAT for a bit.  I might actually write some stuff.  Or I might get back to editing another book so that it'll be ready to send to the editor when I'm at the jumping off point for publication of a second book. 

Hubs is quietly working on his computer.  Today he might start cleaning the new car.  (It came with about a pound of dog hair in the back seat and something gooey in the ashtray.)  Or he might just relax.  Whatever he wants to do.

Today, I might read. 

Tomorrow, I have a ham to bake.  Everything else is either pre-made or quickie-cook.  I even bought cheesecake for dessert (because I am feeling just that lazy). 

What's on your agenda for today?  Are you busy-busy, or is today a day of rest before the big event? 

And if I don't see you tomorrow, have a joyous day - whether you celebrate a holiday or not.  :hugs:

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Long Look Back and Moving Forward

Next month will mark the 11th year since I started writing seriously.  Well, actually next month marks when I started what would become my first novel.  I didn't get serious about it until a month later when I realized I'd been working on it more diligently than anything I'd started before.  The rest is history, but hey, maybe you'd like to see some of that history.

So, here are my timeline of books written - and partially written - in as close as I can remember to the order I wrote them in:

2004 The Comet - which then became several other titles before being shopped as Spectacle... which then became Fear Itself.  (suspense)

2005 Caldera - which is now Nature of Destruction.  (suspense)

2006 Be Careful What You Wish For - unfinished (SF)

2006 Blink of an I (dystopian)

2006 Wrongful Termination - written but not edited - working on it (suspense)

2007 Redemption - unfinished (SF)

2007  Nanotechnology - now Bloodflow - written and working on edits (suspense)

2007  Cut & Dried - unfinished (mystery)

2007  RTL (dystopian)

2008 Manhunter - now Dying Embers. (suspense)

2008  Fertile Ground - unfinished but still working on (suspense)

2009 Djinnocide - written all the way through one way, then all the way through another way (both in 3rd person).  Rewritten all the way through in 1st person. (urban fantasy)

2010 Unequal - written but not edited, but I'm working on it (dystopian)

2011 Darklings Rise - unfinished (fantasy)

2012 Djinn 2 - written but not edited - will edit in 2016 (urban fantasy)

2013 Sleeping Ugly - unfinished (urban fantasy)

2014 Djinn 3 - written but not edited - due to edit 2016 (urban fantasy)

2014 Arthurian UF - this one is partially done and I'm still really excited about it, but now I'm way too busy.  Maybe in 2015, I'll find time.

So there you have it.  With a few short stories scattered along the way, and a few miscues on damn near everything, and a few started but never got more than a few pages in, so why mention those. 

Several of these have been queried and submitted, to no avail.  So that's why I'm moving forward with self-publishing.  I believe in my books.  All of my books.  The reason I'm moving ahead with Dying Embers is that right now, it's the one I thought was closest to being ready for publication (boy, was I wrong... so much editing... ugh) and it's also not currently out with any publishers. 

Like I've said before - but it bears repeating - this is MY journey.  Every writer is different.  For instance, I'm what they call a 'dirty drafter'.  I don't edit while I write the first draft.  (Well, no more than rewording as I go along if I catch something in the moment - like writing this blog post.)  Which is why there's a lot of stuff up there that says 'not edited'.  You mileage probably varies wildly. 

And it's also why my production looks like it slowed down.  I've been trying to edit the things I never really edited.  So no new writing for me until I eat my peas.  (Yeah peas = editing for me.)

So there ya go.  My writing life in a timeline form. 

Thoughts?  And please keep your snarky to yourself.  If you don't understand this is how I and I alone write, keep it to yourself.  It won't be posted anyway.

My blog, my rules.  I don't come to your house and tell you how to exist.  So there.  =op

I still feel like I'm missing someone - like the movie Home Alone, when the parents THINK they have all the kids, but they left one behind.

Friday, December 19, 2014

True Crime Friday - The Shift

Today I'd like to talk about the show The Shift.  I only just found this show earlier this year on REELZ and then they took it off the afternoon crime show lineup.  Now I find out it's not on anywhere anymore, and hasn't been in production for years.  Crap.

Anyway, it's a show following the work of a team of homicide detectives in Indianapolis, as they try to solve the murders that come their way.  Each show usually does one crime - from the call through the investigation and interviewing.  Sometimes they get their man, sometimes they don't.  Always it shows their dedication and commitment. 

I find the show fascinating because it provides a glimpse into real police work. 

I'm a little bummed they stopped making it.  I'm definitely bummed they stopped showing it because I know I haven't seen every episode yet.  And I got my mom hooked on this show in June.  I know she hasn't seen all the episodes yet.  Lucky for you - if you haven't seen it yet - snippets of the episodes are available at the above link.

I wish I'd found it sooner. 

Anyway, if you stumble across it in your TV surfing, give it a whirl.  If you're into true crime, like me, you'll enjoy watching. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wicked Wednesday - The Cannibal of Ziębice

This story just goes to show you that sometimes the nicest person you know could be inviting you to dinner - as the main course. 

Karl Denke lived in the town of Munsterberg, Germany in the early 1900s.  And from the historical accounts, he was nice guy.  He helped people.  He attended church.  He was even good to all the little children - earning himself the nickname 'Father Denke' amongst the locals.  He didn't drink or carouse with women.  Plus, he helped the indigent and the homeless and the needy.  What a great guy.


One night in 1924, an indigent man showed up at the police station covered in blood, claiming the lovely Father Denke had tried to kill him.  When they went to Denke, he said he had attacked the man, but only because the bum attacked him first.  Still, the police needed to look into the case and brought Karl to the station.  The next morning, they found that good ol' Karl had hanged himself.  Still, it was just a bum's word against such a fine, upstanding citizen.


When they went to Karl's apartment, they found quite the butcher shop Father Denke had going on.  A full-service one with all the tools and equipment necessary to dismember a human body.  And they found one hell of a larder - complete with body parts pickled in jars.  All told, they figured Karl had taken apart and processed at least 40 people in his little shop. 

I'm guessing that's where all the homeless people went after he 'helped' them.

Nice guy, eh?  Kind of makes you wonder what the guy next door is doing at all hours of the night.  And what's that smell?  Wasn't it nice of him to bring you some homemade sausage last week?

Yeah, I'm not hungry anymore either.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Busyness (Or What Passes For It)

From roughly 6am to 9pm, I am awake (except for a cat nap).  That's 15 hours I have, every day, to get stuff done. I don't work outside the house.  I'm not a squeeky-clean housekeeper. I don't cook elaborate meals.  I don't do my nails, or my hair, or put on makeup.  (Takes me about 15 minutes from closing the bathroom door to opening it fully clean and dressed for the shower thing - less if I don't blow-dry the hair.)

So, I should be able to whip the writing out lickety-split, right?

Generally, I write about 1500-2000 words an hour when I'm on a roll.  Let's say on average 1200 to be kind.  That means I write a 100,000 word manuscript in 83.3 hours, roughly.  If I wrote for 8 hours a day, that's about 10 days.  Too bad the best I've ever accomplished is a 5 hours stretch - after which my hands turn into crab claws and I'm mainlining Aspercreme.  During a NaNo-like marathon of writing, I average about 2 hours of writing a day before I say uncle. 

That means a 100K book takes me about 55 days to complete, if I really push it.  Actually, it's more like 6-8 weeks to write the first draft of a novel for me - writing avg 1000 words an hour for about 1.5 hours a day.  And for me, the first draft usually ends up at around 68-75K. 

Right now, I'm not writing, though.  I'm editing.  And I'm averaging about an hour a chapter.  And I'm finding that right now, I can only do about an hour of editing before I get the urge to stab myself in the eye with a pen.  Hour in the morning, if I'm lucky.  An hour at night.  Two chapters a day - on a good day.

I guess I'm at that point where I'm wondering where the other 13 hours of my days are going.  I can push it.  I know I can. I also know I'll be a surly basketcase when I finally finish and poor Hubs doesn't deserve that.

Apparently, I have scads of time laying around that are being wasted on non-writerly things.  Yes, yes, I know - all work and no play makes Jack a really weird, axe-wielding psycho.  I need to ramp up.  I can do this.  And I can do it without going all whacko-bananas.  I just need to put my head down, quit whining, and do my work.

I will have this edit done and back to my editor before Christmas.  I will be ready to get into the cover design stuff after Christmas.  And I will start polishing up the next manuscript while I'm waiting for my editor to get back to me.

The plan right now is to have this sucker live by March, with subsequent books ready to go on the quarters - July, September, December.  Right now, the tentative schedule is: this suspense, another suspense in a different 'world', a mystery, and - if things don't work out with Baen - my urban fantasy published by next Christmas.

Might be a little insane to think that way, but I can do this.  After all, I'm not as busy as I seem.  Right?  ;o)

Disclaimer: This is how I do things.  Your mileage may vary - and it should vary.  No writer approaches writing in the same way. 

Disclaimer #2: The aforementioned publication schedule is for books I have already written all the way to THE END.  I don't want to think about how long it would take me from start to finish on a new book.  (Especially since I will be writing new words while I'm editing and polishing and promoting from here on out.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

True Crime Friday - Ripped from The Headlines

Last Saturday in Mississippi, someone called to report a car on fire.  When responders arrived, they found a woman burning alive.  Someone had knocked her on the head, doused her with lighter fluid - including spraying it down her throat and up her nose - and lit her on fire.  She lived long enough to supposedly give information to the responders that may help catch her killers.

One report I read said she had burns over 98% of her body.  There was little chance of her surviving, but she hung on long enough to say something to the people who were helping her.  I hope it was enough.

See now, this is something a writer cooks up in their head to make their killer extra vicious.  It's not something normal human beings do.

In fact, it's something this writer did to make her villain extra vicious.

And the fact that someone out there thought this was a thing to do to someone for real makes me sick.  And it's creeping me out that a plot point I dreamed up for the book I'm working so hard on editing has a mirror in reality.  I never dreamed anyone would actually do something like this. 

In my story, the villain gets what's coming to them.  I hope the animals who did this get what's coming to them, too.

Anyone with information on the murder is urged to contact the Panola County Sheriff's Office at 662-563-6230.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wicked Wednesday - Pig Farm Murders

I don't know if any of you watch the show Criminal Minds, but they had an episode a while back about two brothers who were killing people and feeding them to their pigs.  Of course, the show made it even more twisted and gruesome, but it was based on some very real events.

Yes, events.  Plural.  It's happened more than once.

One I remember distinctly because it happened in my home state of Michigan.  Back in 1985, two men from the Detroit area decided they were going hunting up north.  They ended up in the Mio area.  From what I read, it seems like the two townies decided to hit a bar in Mio one night.  Trouble ensued as it often does when rural folk get a 'you ain't from around here, are ya' mentality.  It ended with the two men dead, their bodies dismembered, and then the pieces fed to pigs. Two brothers were arrested and convicted of the crime.

Another - and this one more likely to be the inspiration for the Criminal Minds episode - happened in Canada.  One particular pig farmer seemed to have picked up women from Vancouver's seedier side, killed them, and then fed them to his pigs.  There are like 26 counts of murder against him - although he's only been tried for six.  Apparently, someone testified they found him covered in blood with a corpse hanging nearby, so it's a pretty safe bet he did it.  In a conversation he had with an undercover officer, he said he needed to kill one more to make it an even 50.  I guess he wanted a nice flashy number.  He got 25 years without parole - the maximum sentence in Canada at the time.

Pretty gross stuff.  And considering the last guy was in the habit of selling his pork to his neighbors, it kinda put ya off eating meat you didn't buy in the store, eh?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Editing Process

I don't know how familiar all y'all are with the editing process, so I'll walk you what I've done so you can see how it goes.  First, of course, you write the book.  And it starts out something like this:

Then you take a pass at it to make it better:

Then you take another pass which pretty much looks the same because you focused elsewhere, and then your beta readers get ahold of it, but they don't mess with these paragraphs (just loads of others.)

When your editor gets ahold of it for the first time, it comes back looking like this:

So it ends up like this before it goes to her a second time:

Well?  What do you think?  Personally, I think this snippet reads much better, but what do I know - I thought the first passes were pretty good, too.  ;o)

Friday, December 5, 2014

True Crime Friday - Murderpedia

The other day as I was researching a murderer for Wicked Wednesday, I stumbled across a website I'd never seen before:

Murderpedia - The Encyclopedia of Murderers

From the site: "Murderpedia is a free online encyclopedic dictionary of murderers and the largest database about serial killers and mass murderers around the world."

Looks like it separates killers by gender and then either alphabetically by last name or by country.  And when you scroll down to the United States, it has them by state.  Pretty cool stuff - if you're into that (which I am). 

BTW, not everyone in there is a mass murderer or serial killer.  Some of its just single homicides.  Still, a neat resource for writers and true crime buffs alike. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wicked Wednesday - Rural Myth

When I was a little girl, I was told a story about a horrible crime someone had committed outside a little town not very far from where we lived.

It seems two boys went out fishing one day and never went home again.  Their bodies were found mutilated and tied to a tree.  Their killers were never found.

The story always came with the spoken (or unspoken) reminder: And this is why we don't talk to strangers.

The rumor was never confirmed, but I grew up knowing it as truth.  Researching it now, I wonder if there was any fact behind the rumor, or if someone had picked up the story of the Oakland County Child Killer, and morphed it into something more grisly and dramatic and local.  (As rumors and myths will often morph - especially in the days before internet.)

I know it sounds awful to tell a little girl a story like that, but honestly, I wasn't scarred by it.  Unless you count my fascination with true crime stories and fictional suspense.  ;o)

Have you ever had someone tell you a story about the area where you live that you think might not be true?  Have you ever tried to research it online?

(BTW, my parents weren't the ones who told me this story.  I'll have to ask my mother if she remembers ever hearing it and who might've told it to me.  Probably one of my older siblings trying to scare me into being more careful about who I talked to.  Lord knows, I talked to everyone when I was a kid.)

Updated: I talked to Mom and she confirmed that this did happen, gave me a last name of one of the victims, and I found a write up of it online.  The killer(s) were, in fact, caught and they all pointed the finger at the one 'slow' kid in their midst, so he was the one tried for it.  (Although how one teenager did all those things to those two boys is beyond me.  Methinks justice wasn't quite served in this case.)  And although it happened around the same time as the Oakland County Child Killings, and it happened just north of Oakland County, this crime was unrelated to those.

Monday, December 1, 2014

And the Winner Is

First off, thank you all for entering.  And thank you all for following the blogs.  I really appreciate your being here.

As of contest close, there were 88 entries in the contest.  I took each entry, plugged it into an excel spreadsheet, then scrambled them up a little by sorting on the entry reason in Z-A order and the name in Z-A order.  Then I used to give me a number that would correspond with a cell in the spreadsheet.

The number was 47.

Which meant the winner is NATALIE MURPHY (aka Natalie Murphy-Nicholas).

Congratulations, Natalie!  Please send me your address and let me know what kind of kringle you want. 

For everyone else, remember to check back here from time to time as I'll be holding other contests along the way. 

Thanks again everyone who entered by following the blog.  :HUGS: