Friday, March 31, 2017

Executive Decision Time

First, I received my final round of edits from my awesome wonderful editor last night.  The edit letter started with the following:  "Awesome!! NATURAL CAUSES is a winner - and I know it's early, but I can't wait for another Dennis Haggarty Mystery! Well done, you!!"

The email carrying that awesomeness also contained a bit about scheduling for Wish Hits the Fan.  If I can have WHTF to her by the 17th of April, she can get it done before she gets tied up.  Otherwise, she can't start working on it until May 29th.

Panic ensued.

It didn't last long.  I thought about what I had left to do on WHTF and what I still need to do on Natural Causes to get it publishable by the 13th.  Then I made the Executive Decision that I would not be sending her WHTF until 5/29.  

No worries for those expecting this book to be out in August, like I promised.  I will still meet that deadline.

If I send it to her on 5/29, she'll have those edits to me on 6/29. Two weeks on my end to input those edits, send it back to her on 7/13.  Three weeks to get the second round back from her on 8/3.  Two more weeks for final edits and polishing and formatting will put the release day at 8/17.  Tada.

And my stress level dropped precipitously.  I can now focus on finishing Natural Causes and getting that out to y'all on or before 4/13.  Then I can take my time and do WHTF right.  Whew.

Leaving me free to stress about other things.  LOL

Any questions?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How I Edit w/ My Editor

I said something in Monday's comments about addressing this in today's post, so here it is. 

First, I hate track changes.  Loathe it.  Everything all crammed over on the right side of the page, so I have to glance there and then glance at the writing and then glance there and then glance at the writing.  Bleh.

My editor, bless her, doesn't make me use track changes.  What she does is put her notes and comments right in the manuscript.  In pink font.  All I have to do is scroll down. I see pink, I stop.  Then I fix it in my manuscript file. 

I keep her marked up file and my clean file separate.  Both open.  I find the problems in her file, tab over to my file, find the pertinent sentence and fix it.  Voila!

Yeah, it's probably more steps than someone else might take.  I've had people suggest that I just accept the changes and make that file my main file.  Or something.  Nah.  For safety's sake, I keep the files separate.  I mean, what if I accidentally accept a change I didn't mean to accept and then I've got to go find it again and... The idea gives me a headache. 

This is what works for me.  It seems to be what works for her.  She's never indicated any differently, so we'll stick with this.  If things change, then they'll change.  And I'll roll with it.  For now, though, I'm set in my ways.

What's something you're set in your ways about?

Monday, March 27, 2017

How I Edit

Since I finished the first pass of edit notes on Wish Hits the Fan yesterday, I thought I'd take a moment and talk about editing.  Or rather, how I edit.

As you may already know, I write the entirety of the book before I edit anything.  Well, that's not strictly true.  I do edit as I go along, but it's unconscious editing.  As I type, I backspace when I make mistakes or when I think of better wording or whatever.  There's a lot of backspacing in there - as Hubs could probably tell you because he can hear the difference in the keystrokes between me writing and the telltale clicks of the backspace key.  I don't even notice it anymore.  Except when I make the same mistake after the backspacing and I hit that backspace key again like it was a bad little key.

Once I have a whole manuscript from Chapter One to the final words (I don't actually type THE END until the book has passed through editing.  It's a quirk with me, I guess.) I email the book to my Kindle.  Then I grab my handy-dandy five subject notebook (thinner notebooks are too thin, I like heft beneath my hand as I write) and head for the recliner.  I open the file of my manuscript and begin reading - making notes as I go.  In red.  Always in red.  (Another quirk.)

> = something needs to be edited here
R> = revise
D> = delete
E> = expand
I> = italicize
?> = wtf did I mean here?
GoM> Gun on the mantel*
>> = major note

Then I write down the line in question, so I can find it during a search of the manuscript later.

I> Well, isn't that just peachy? 
D> drew in a deep

Sometimes, I underline the problem and put a '( with the change' at the end of the line...

> cock and bill story  (bull

Sometimes the problem is bigger than a ( will handle, so I drop down a line and write out what I meant...

R> That's the best I know how to explain it.
      ^ lame and doesn't sound like Tryg


?> enslaved again... That last one
     ^WTF were you going for there? **

When I get all of that written in my handy-dandy notebook, I bring it back here, open the file and begin following my own directions.  I check off each line as I complete it - in black ink.  If I see something I can't complete right then, because it refers to something later in the manuscript, I make a big black ( in the left margin so I can go back later and make sure I really did fix it by the end.

After I get all the notes entered, I send the whole thing back to my Kindle again and start over, catching anything I might've missed or anything I might've screwed up while I was fixing other stuff.  Lather, rinse, repeat until I think I've gone about as far as I can go on my own.  Then I send it to my editor.

And that's how I do editing.  It's different for each writer, I think.

Hope you found this glimpse into my editing insanity interesting.  ;o)

*Gun on the mantel refers to a writing thing.  "If you put a gun on the mantel in the first act, you need to fire it by the third act" or something.  (Not sure who originally said it, but it's true, so I use it.)  It means don't put in something important if you never use it later.  Or, at least, that's what I mean by it.

** I refer to myself as 'you' when I write edit notes.  It just works for me.  Quirk #3, I guess.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What More Can They Do to Him?

We were watching an episode of Evil Lives Here on ID the other night.  (If you haven't seen that one, it shows the events surrounding a murder or murders from the perspective of a family member of the suspect or some other person peripherally associated with the case.)  In this particular instance, they were speaking with the wife of a man convicted of murdering and raping a 17 year old girl. 

They got him and he's doing life without parole.  Which is always good. 

Anyway, after he was in prison, his wife and her friend finally opened up his locked shed and found all manner of disturbing stuff inside, including what one could assume were trophies from his other crimes.  Throughout the show, they'd hinted that maybe the one girl wasn't his only kill.  So, it made sense there would be other trophies. 

What didn't make sense was near the end of the program when the wife said something to the effect of 'well, he's already doing life without parole, what else can they do to him?' 

Derp.  It's not about what they 'can do to him'.  It should be about justice.

They could provide closure for the families of all the other women he might've killed.  They could close out some cold cases.  They could bring justice for those other victims. 

I mean, the first thing we couldn't figure out was why the police never opened up that damn shed during the investigation of that man and the wife ended up opening it after the conviction.  Umm, police work a little maybe?  Holy shit.

They talked about all the 'gifts' this guy had given to his wife and their daughters that could've been taken from his kills.  Nothing was done about that either.  (I know.  I used the google-fu and checked around to see if he'd ever been tried for anything else.  Nope.  And sure enough, they said that at the end of the program.  He's NEVER been tried for other crimes.) 


And it wasn't like he only committed crimes in the state where he was originally convicted.  He was a long-haul trucker.  He could've committed crimes in multiple states - which, unless I miss my guess would make this federal - but no one has done anything.  Yeah, they can't add more years to life, but that isn't the point.  They could find a crime he committed in a death-penalty state and use the treat of that to get him to pony up the details of his other crimes, but no.  Not doing that either.  He's just sitting there, getting older, wrapped in the knowledge that he got away with murder(s).

This happened back in 1994.  23 years. 23 more years of people never knowing what happened to their sisters, their daughters, their loved ones.  Imagine their pain. 

Then imagine how, with the technological advancements of 2017 vs 1994, all of those trophies could help investigators figure out how many other women this dude raped and killed. 

But nope. 

I know the end of that thoroughly pissed Hubs and I off.  It was a whole WTF, jaw-dropping thing. 

Oh, wait a second... That's right... His victims were supposedly hookers and runaways.  (The girl he was convicted of killing was a runaway.)  I guess someone assumes they don't deserve justice.  Umm, yah. 

That's messed up.

What do you think?  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Officially Official Natural Causes Cover and Blurb

Okay, so yesterday I finalized both the cover and the blurb for Natural Causes.

Murder is never natural...

As the new police chief in the mountain town of Last Ditch, Colorado, the worst case Dennis Haggarty has investigated dealt with vandalized decorations. Life is slow and laid back, exactly what he and his new bride, Jillian, need after the debacle in Serenity. But when a hiker stumbles onto a gruesome scene in a secluded ravine, the calm world he’s trying to build for them fractures. Now he’s faced with determining whether a cougar attack is actually man-made mayhem in disguise, who’s lying to him, and how to take down another killer with no regard for human life. 

Tough luck for him, he’s not certain he could pull the trigger again—not even to save his new life.

And I created a listing for it on Goodreads this morning.  So y'all can go forth and 'Want to Read' it now.

If you go there, you'll see I set am O-fficial release date for it, too - April 15th.  Tax Day.  Yay.  I might have it out sooner, but definitely no later.  If I have to stay up all night for days, it will be done.

Special thanks to Silver James for helping me tweak my blurb.

I'll add the new book to all my blogs sometime soon.  Maybe this morning.  If I can muster the gumption.  It's hard to muster gumption so early in the morning.  Need more coffee...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Naming Names

Way back when I wrote Wish in One Hand, I inserted a throw-off character.  Jo needed backup, Basil sent her some, and I didn't really think any of those people would ever show up again.  Hell, only one of them even had a speaking part.  I named him Lyle.  I'm not sure why I called him Lyle.  I'm not even sure why I named the dude at all.  He wasn't supposed to ever show up again.

Flash forward to Up Wish Creek.  There he is again.  (He never showed up in In Deep Wish.)  Except I don't use a name and he's just referred to as the big dude who came to save Jo's bacon back in book 1.  He's kind of okay.  He's one of Jo's supporters, which is cool, but he's not impressed with the way Jo has handled things, so he beats feet. 

Until he shows up in Wish Hits the Fan.  Tada!  There he is.  And he's got some major problems.  He's become a plot point. 

When I was writing the first draft, I called him Castor... and then Nestor... and then left it alone until I could finish the first draft because I ain't got time for no researching when I'm drafting.  I figured I could fix the name in edits.  And then, during initial edits, something occurred to me... Did I actually name this tertiary character already?? 

Which is when I discovered one spot in book 1 where Basil refers to the dude as Lyle. 


I posted about this on FB.  One person suggested that with such a minor character placed in the first book, it wasn't that important if I used the correct name in the fourth book.  Yeah, I could've gone that way.  Except I can't.  His name is freakin' Lyle. 

And his name is Lyle because I got lazy at some point during that first book and just threw down a name without thinking about it.  Yeah, I never dreamed back then that he would be critical down the road.  Derp.

In my defense, when I wrote Wish in One Hand, I had no clue I was writing a series.  I had hopes, but no firm 'yeah, this is BOOK ONE' in my head. 

So, look at this as a cautionary tale.  Names matter.  Even when you think they don't, they do. 

*I have nothing against the name Lyle, or I wouldn't have used it for even a throw-off character.  I just don't happen to think it's the right name for who he ended up being.  Then again, I've met a lot of people who have names their parents gave them that I don't think really suit them.  I guess Lyle has to live with the name his writer-mama gave him.  And you know something?  It's kind of growing on me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Research Frenzy

So, there I am, reading through Wish Hits the Fan, making edit notes with my red pen in my big spiral notebook, when I come across a :research this: note I left for myself in the manuscript.

Umm, yeah. 

Usually not a big thing.  I go, I research a little, and bada-bing-bada-boom, I have the answer. 

Not this time.

I sat down at the computer and went through about a dozen sites to find what I was looking for - a mythical being endowed with certain specific characteristics that I was absolutely sure I remembered existing*.  Nope.  Then I dragged out my big book of mythical beings and started the slow search going page by page down the alphabetical listings.  Nothing in the As.  I thought I found something in the Bs, but not quite right.  Sticky noted that and moved on.

This is kind of a crucial point here.  Several things I've already written hinge on this particular bit of research. 

So, last night I made a realization.  If I don't find something that fits, I'm going to have to either make something up myself or cobble that other 'almost right' thing in until it does fit.  

And as I was typing this post just now, I had an epiphany.  Huzzah!  I think I know exactly what I need to do.  Bwa ha ha.  :rubs hands together in evil fashion:  Now I just need to give it a name, so Zeke can tell Jo what she's facing and then put the name elsewhere in the book where I've left little :no name thing: notes for myself.

I wrote the epiphany down, so I won't forget.

Anyway, I wasted about an hour or so last night researching this thing when I could've been making some progress on my edit notes.  It was driving me a bit nuts.  And then I went to bed and couldn't sleep because I was still thinking about it.  Which is really irritating considering it just popped into my head this morning without too much urging. 

Ain't that the way?

Ah, the writing life.

*I figured out why I thought I knew this thing existed.  I'd read about something like it, but not it, in someone else's fiction and it was something the other writer had totally made up, so I can't really riff off of it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Natural Causes - Cover Art and Blurb Draft

Good morning, All!

I'm kinda brain fried after all that editing, so I thought I'd just share the cover art this morning, along with the initial blurb I've come up with.

As the new police chief in the mountain town of Last Ditch, Colorado, the worse case Dennis Haggarty has investigated dealt with vandalized decorations.  Life is slow and laid back, exactly what he and his new bride, Jillian, need after the debacle in Serenity.  But when a hiker stumbles onto a gruesome sight in a mountain ravine, the calm life he wished for becomes more about uncovering the truth, discovering identities, and tracking a killer. Before they find themselves staring down the barrel of a gun.  Again.  

Okay, it's not the best blurb I've ever written (fine, it sucks), but it'll give you an idea of what the book's about in advance of the release.

The release date?  I'm looking at April 14th.  Earlier if I can manage it, but no later than that.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

For THAT Matter

I'm at the point in editing where I'm scouring the manuscript for crutch words (overused common words authors sometimes throw down when they're too busy or too lazy to find better words). 

The first thing I do when I start looking for crutch words is make a list of words my editor has pointed out* (know/knew, wonder, took, still, just, 'by the time') and words I know for a fact I rely on too heavily during early drafts (said, thought, even, like, that).  Then I have Word count each of those so I know what I'm up against. 

This time, for some reason, the word THAT was in a 239 page manuscript 568 times.  WTF?  (And the count came after I'd already deleted a few.)  Which equals 2 and a third times per page.  AND I only counted instances of 'that' with a space after it, leaving out 'that's' and 'that.' and probably others. 

I discovered this THAT explosion about 6 last night.  I stopped work for the day at 8:30 (to go to bed) and I wasn't finished killing all the THAT.  Two and a half hours of finding and then deleting or rewording. There were like 12 on ONE PAGE.  (In my defense, it was during a conversation wherein one character dropped a lot of THATs in their dialogue.) 

Anyway, I probably have another hour left of THAT.  (You know, after I throw in the variations, I still have like 300 left.  Shoot me now.)


Not sure exactly how all of THAT ended up in the manuscript this time around.  It's usually way less.  :shrug:  I'll fix it.  I'll fix all of it.  But I probably won't have this back to the editor this morning, that's for damn sure. 

Well, I should get back at it.  I have some life things that need doing this morning before my Wednesday Mom call at 8.  I'll most likely be a raving lunatic by the time I send this up to the editor, but it will be done today.  You can bank on that. 


*She doesn't point out all the words she knows I know are a problem. She just says 'scour for crutch words' and then gives a few examples she noticed in the manuscript.  Not sure why she didn't pick on me mightily for THAT.  Probably being kind.  Or probably keeping herself from poking me in the eye with a pointy stick over something I should know better.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Editing Insanity

Okay, so I said I would juggle Natural Causes and Wish Hits the Fan.  Umm, yeah, that didn't happen.  Not yet anyway.  But I have been busting my hump editing Natural Causes.  187 pages of line editing done in 4 days.  I should have that done today and jump into the big fixes my editor suggested.  That should take another couple of days.  Which means I could have this back to her like Thursday.  Instead of Sunday. 

Yeah, I knew I could do it if I applied myself.  It's the applying myself thing that hangs me up sometimes. 

Of course, it also means that I haven't done any reading.  And virtually no marketing.  :shrug:  Things get set aside when I'm in deadline mode.

Another side-effect of editing full steam is that I sometimes am not quite right in the head.  Lucky for me, Hubs knows this.  He walked into the office last night, and I started making incoherent noises at him.  He said, "Editing insanity?"  Yup.  He knows.  The next time he came in, I started with the noises again and then we did this whole schtick together.  Nice respite from the editing slog.

Anyway, don't expect deep insights from me this week.  Unless I have a flash of brilliance that makes it past the editing insanity. 

Don't count on it.

Friday, March 3, 2017


Well, my edits came back - on time, as it turns out.  For some reason I had it in my head that when my editor said a month, she meant 30 days.  What she actually meant, and perhaps even said, was that she'd have them back to me on the 1st.  Okay, cool.  Then she reminded me that she is going to be unavailable in May.

Umm, yeah, she told me about that weeks ago.  But I forgot.  So, the schedule I outlined in my last Outside the Box post?  Yeah, Wish Hits the Fan cannot go to the editor in May if she ain't gonna be able to work on it in May.  She, being the awesomeness that she is, offered me a different option.  If I get WHTF* to her by mid-April, she can have the first pass of edits done before she gets unavailable. 

I was all like 'Yay'.

And then I panicked a little.  I was all like "OMG OMG OMG, I have to work on both of these AT THE SAME TIME!!"  And so I sent WHTF to my Kindle and got my notebook and set everything by my chair in the living room.  Meanwhile, I opened NC and started entering the changes.  I was ready to DO THIS.  Except I was panicking, so neither one was getting done.

So, I went fishing.  And I chilled the farque out. 

After I came home and ate dinner, I sat my butt down here and worked on NC.  I'm 10% done with the edits after an hour and a half.  So, that means basically 15 hours of work to have the whole thing done - 20 if I run into some heavy duty stuff.  20 hours of work over 10 days (cause I want to have this back to her on the 12th) and day one is already over.  No sweat.  2 hours a day.  If I get off my lazy ass, 2 hours a day is nothing.

Which leaves me so many other hours to work on WHTF.  So, yeah, I got this.  I might have to :gasp: curtail my fishing time and maybe :shock: watch less TV, but it's all good, baby.

I'm such a sillypants sometimes. 

* Am I the only one who sees WHTF and thinks WHat The F***?  Which actually kind of works for the story and thus amuses me greatly.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Process

Cross posted from The Writing Spectacle because, duh, I was supposed to post this here and posted there by mistake.  Hey, we had storms in the middle of the night, so I was up from 2am to like 3:15am and then I couldn't get back to sleep because of the coffee, so cut me some slack.  ;o)


The Process

Every writer has their own process.  Correction, every writer has a process and adjusts it as needed.  Or maybe the adjusting is just me.  Anyway, here's how the process is working out for me...

Step One: First draft - write as many words as I can every day so that it takes me about a month to get the first draft done.

Step Two: Set the first draft aside and work on something else for a week or two.

Step Three:  Read the first draft all the way through on the Kindle, taking notes as I go in a big 5-subject notebook of anything I see that needs fixing.  This can be as small as a comma or as big as noting that I need to rewrite an entire chapter.

Step Four: Second draft - Input notes all the way through.

Step Five:  Read through the second draft, taking notes as I go and inputting them when I take breaks.  If I did my job in step three, this should be small to medium things.

Step Six: Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until I know I can't make it any better on my own.

Step Seven:  Send to my editor.  Wait a month.  Work on something else while I'm waiting.

Step Eight: Receive edit notes back from editor and input those.  Takes a week or two depending on how bad it was and how driven I am.

Step Nine: Send the manuscript back to the editor.  Wait 2-3 weeks.  Finalize cover and blurb while I'm waiting and find something else to work on.

Step Ten: Receive final edit notes from the editor.  Input those.  Also takes a week or two depending.

Step Eleven:  Read through the book on the Kindle again, checking for mistakes I made or missed.

Step Twelve: Format book for publication.

Step Thirteen: Publish

There are probably things I missed, but that's the gist.  And it seems to be working for me.

I started this particular process back in November, I think, with Natural Causes.  Step 1 was the month of November, then I jumped into Step 2 almost immediately.  Went through Steps 2-6 from the end of November until February 1st, when it was due at the editor.  Then I spent February doing Step 1 for Wish Hits the Fan.  Step 8 for Natural Causes begins this week. After I send NC back to the editor again, I'll be hitting 2-6 for WHTF and hope to have it ready to send to the editor by May 1st, which will be after the launch of NC in April.  :fingers crossed:  While she has WHTF, I'll be working on finishing the first draft of Early Grave.

Good lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Now, you may notice I don't have early readers anywhere in there.  Yeah, I don't have any of those.  I have a couple people I could send to if things got really bad and I needed an ear, but those people are also really busy themselves, so they're for emergencies only.  Anyway, I'll talk more about that Friday, I think.  (If I remember.)

Any questions?  Thoughts?  What's your process like?