Work in Progress

 

 

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Daniela Ark of www.danielaark.com is doing a monthly feature on WIP (Work in Progress) and has invited me to post. The idea is to talk about different aspects of WIP, and really, anything else. Thank you Daniela for inviting me along! Strange enough, this is exactly what has been going on in my writing life – Oh Work in Progress, it never ends!

Recently I was asked to make a list of everything I am working on, even ideas of things I think might be awesome. Surprise, surprise, I may have some sort of attention deficit disorder (probably – not may have – most likely) and I also have four pages of work in progress!

Yikes! Where did it all come from and, where, oh where is it going?

I think we can all agree that a lot of ideas are so much better than Cover_Curse-of-the-Seven-70s.pdfnone. But let’s talk a minute about how to organize them. First of all, Curse of the Seven 70s is out and ready for you to review! What? You haven’t done that yet? Well, go do that, and then come right back… I’ll wait…

 

Next, Sweet Life of Dead Duane is nearing the final stages in editing! Yes, you will see this next paranormal romantic comedy out in the universe sometime in Coming soon!your lifetime! Good news!

Now we come to Housebreaking Werewolves. I have already spoken a bit about this book in the information section on my books… what? You haven’t seen that yet? Well, when we’re finished here, you can go there and check it out.

Housebreaking Werewolves was going to be the third paranormal romantic comedy I have written, but Pete, my leading man, isn’t cooperating. Nope, he isn’t. Apparently he doesn’t want to have fleas, chase cars, or smoke expensive cigarettes. Pete wants to solve the mystery of why women are killing themselves all around him, why the police are looking at him like it was his idea, and perhaps the biggest mystery of all, what the heck happened to him in the last two weeks? 

So, here’s my question to you, what’s an author to do when her characters write their own story?

I would love to hear your thoughts! 2

Rot Around the House

These last two weeks we have undertaken a major project around the house. Oh, we didn’t know it was going to be a major project at the onset, but it is turning out that way. Such is life.

New windows and new siding for our 1941 home. And it is going to look amazing. It really is. Okay, maybe not as amazing as this castle, but a girl can dream, right?file000959955204

Our team of workers have been tearing off the 25-year-old vinyl siding, ripping off the clapboard underneath…and discovering ROT on corners and walls. On one wall, the only thing holding the window in place was the old siding. When our guy took the old window out and removed the old siding, and the studs and guts of the wall crumbled away. We also found a pipe that wasn’t connected to the drain…for how long, we don’t know.

 

I started thinking about how the vinyl was functional, but dangerous. It covered years of rot, dangerous stuff, and allowed it to continue eating away at our house for quite a long period of time. And then I began to wonder if whoever put the vinyl on in the first place, knew about the rot and just decided to cover it up. That’s a long rabbit trail to start down.

It got me started on the idea of rot in character building. When I write my characters, I try to make them as real as possible. Sometimes I start a story and the characters are already there, waiting to take over, telling me which words they would use, how they would enunciate, what their quirks are, who they are – it all comes flowing out on the page. That’s golden when that happens.

Afraid human hiding behind the dark board
Afraid human hiding behind the dark board

But other times my characters are a little harder to uncover. It’s a process. It takes time. I begin to wonder what they’re hiding, where’s the rot…

In my novel, Curse of the Seven 70s, Varo’s brother shows up and brings with him the weight of a thousand souls he’s destroyed. He brings rot like no other. It’s stifling and horrific, and no one wants to get lost in the oppressive cloud of witnesses. Is there something underneath the veneer to make this character stronger somehow? Is there a softness couched behind the visible rot? Maybe.

Just for fun, here’s an excerpt…

 

VARO WRINKLED his nose. Something about the stench
made him nervous, like a thousand stakes piercing his heart
at the same time. He reached for Cassandra as much to steady
himself as to stop her from venturing any further into the
strange thickening mist. He grabbed hold of her arm a little
harder than necessary.
She turned and hissed, “What?”
“We should go back inside. Right now.”
Cassandra squinted into the shrouded dark. “But something’s
out there, and we need to find Howard and Taffy.” Her voice
sounded hollow.
Panic edged its way into Varo voice. “We need to get
inside!” He took a few steps backward, dragging Cassandra
with him.
“You’re hurting my arm!” She jerked away from him and
bolted into the mysterious fog, disappearing before his eyes.
“Damnation!” Varo cursed. A wisp of vapor curled by
him, then another, and another. Soon he was hemmed in by
a dense cloud. It morphed and split into ghostly susurrations
crying out in unison. Their accusations shook his bones. He
fell to the grass and covered his ears. “It wasn’t me!”
Out on the shrouded lawn, a woman screamed.

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The Gyroscopic Effect

The first of anything is a scary deal. I remember when I first learned how to ride a bike. My uncle and my dad ran alongside me as my legs pumped the pedals up and down. The bike went forward, wobbling and shaking and I couldn’t tell if the bike was doing that or if all the jiggles were from me. Eventually I got the hang of it, like a gyroscopic force propelling me forward, steady on my own. (Okay, you physics wizards, I know there’s more to it than gyroscopic force when riding a bike: force, angles, equations—good Lord, let me have this one!) Soon after that, got my very first bicycle.

I’ve heard it said that a person never forgets how to ride a bike.

Detail of a road bike with a cyclist pedaling on a road. Photo is taken in low angle composition.

I haven’t been on a bicycle for over three decades—and I would never want to say that I’ve lost the knack, that stuff that propels me forward, but it is hard to come by, once it’s been gone.

I’m going to ride a bike this year. I’m not giving up.

 

Riding a bike is a little like writing a story—a little shaky at first, I mean, after all, the characters are new, the plot’s barely visible, where is the storyline going?

When I am able to turn off my inner editor, my characters appear, one by one. Some are shy about introducing themselves. They reveal their innermost thoughts and motivations in a painfully slow way. Sometimes they come up flat—meaning, are they just wallpaper? Stick figures? A bookmark to hold a place, or keep another character in line?

When that happens, it’s a signal to me to spend a little more effort on them—maybe work up a character sketch, do an interview: What’s your favorite color? What do you like to eat? What are you wearing? It takes time, but the reveal is well worth the effort.

Other characters are rich from the start. They walk into my writing room and plop down on the couch and stare at me until I stop to listen…. What are they saying? Mostly these are primary characters, arrogant characters. These are the people who fill a room, engaging everyone. They talk loud—I don’t know why. They may start singing. They laugh and I laugh along with them. They’re in a word, contagious.

The next trick is to get these characters in a room together, put them in impossible situations, present them with outrageous odds. A writing teacher once said to me, “Be mean to your characters!”

So, I write scene after scene, shaky at first, not really knowing what might be happening, what my subconscious, the universe, the whatever—is attempting to do with the words on the page, and then suddenly my fingers are flying, the critic is turned off and something else takes over. The story is off and running, writing itself, you might say.

Gyroscopic Effect on Story?

Let’s just call it that for now.

Varo is an interesting character. He came to me in shadows, unwilling to show himself fully. Oh, he was handsome—as most of my male leads are—and he was dangerous. I could tell that from the

Skeleton lying in shallow grave at Halloween

way he whispered in my ear… but that didn’t matter to Cassandra. I can’t wait for you to discover what she did when she first met him…

 

Curse of the Seven 70s available now on Barnes & Noble and Amazon

What’s so funny about a breakup?

Cassandra is in no shape to meet anyone. She’s just been dumped by her long time boyfriend for a woman with more silicone than brains. If this is what men want, no wonder he left.
But breakups are hard on a girl.
She feels betrayed.
And alone…

AS FAR AS Cassandra was concerned, if she never saw Howard again it would be too soon. How could she love him and hate him, want him back and wish they had never met, all at the same time? Multi-tasking had always been her strong suit at the university library—she handled antiquities, flustered students, and angry professors with ease—but this…this was emotional contortionism at its finest. She deserved a medal. The one-hour commute from the university to her new home on the edge of the known universe had turned into a three hour bumper-to-bumper detour through pounding rain—plenty of time to rehash their parting conversation.
Her lower lip trembled as the last words they had exchanged played again in her mind.
“The University doesn’t get the significance of my research, Cass, but they will. I only need you to store my stuff until I get a little further along.” Howard’s caramel-colored eyes bore into hers.
Cassandra was a sucker for those eyes; they had gotten her into trouble more times than she cared to admit. What was worse, they seemed to have the power to turn her legs to jelly. Attempting to shake it off, she looked at her feet.
“C’mon, Cass. Do it for me. For old times’ sake,” he whispered.
“Why don’t you store them? Why do I have to?” She kicked the stack of boxes on the curb. “This can’t all be research.”
“Taffy doesn’t like clutter. I gotta make a clean start.”
Howard stood, hands on hips and chest puffed out, in a perfect super-hero pose. But he had fallen for the wrong leading lady.
That pretty much summed Howard up: Great eyes. Great body. And absolutely no clue when to shut the hell up.

 

Get your copy of Curse of the Seven 70s today!