Blog

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NaNoWriMo

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Yes!  It’s almost here again.  THE MONTH!  The time of year when it feels like you simply have to write every single day.  The month when you make any and all excuses to sneak away and tap out a couple of words, or, if you’re lucky, actual, complete sentences.  The month when your husband is always looking for you, the house is a constant wreck, and you never know what’s for dinner because…WRITING TAKES PRIORITY.

Which it probably should all the time, but hey, life usually gets in the way.

So this year, like last year, I’m coordinating a group of writers from my local Romance Writering chapter- NEORWA – in a friendly contest (ahem, we came in second last year) to see who writes the most words.  It’s a great way to get moving on a new manuscript, or finish an old one (or several-yeah, I’m talking to you- Judy McDonough).

My master plan is to write manuscript #4 in a new urban fantasy series I’ve been working on for a little over a year, fleshing out the next story in the series and  completing one of the major storyline arcs.  The total number of books will be 7, with a possible shorter epilogue, depending on how things finish up in book 7.  It’s a nice break from the Shadows series, with a totally different vibe, and gives me a chance to play around with some new themes and ideas that I can then translate back into other concepts and character development for Shadows.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress! -L

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Sometimes It Is All About The Destination

 

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The day we arrived in Charleston she was underwater, as she often was, after every drenching summer rain.  It was disconcerting, dodging the hordes of tourists, umbrellas braced against the downpour, winding our way around knee deep water at every intersection.  Charleston, I’d thought, would be a proper setting for my story, rich with history and culture, but looking around at the drenched crowd, now I wasn’t so sure.  Scouring the travel logs, it had seemed far more exotic than rural, dusty Ohio (although the two ended up melding seamlessly into not dissimilar small towns).

Charleston, it turned out, had everything I was looking for, and I was hoping for just a little bit of this city to rub off on me, so I could take it home and pour all her little details back into my story.  I hadn’t expected the cobblestone streets, or the crushing crowds, the smell of horses mixed with sweat, or how close the stately mansions were to the Battery.  Or how close the ocean was to everything.  Experiencing this first hand changed everything in the book in subtle ways.  In better ways.

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I discovered some great new settings for book two; King Street shopping area was trendy and busy and I’d have never thought to include it in a book unless I’d actually walked up and down it.  Standing on the Battery at sunrise helped me fine tune my character’s reaction during a confrontation she had on that very site.  The wedding cake antebellum mansion, now a B & B on Meeting Street, turned into perfect house for my bad guy, while driving the roads north of the city helped me create a realistic travel timeline for my heroine.  The smells, the feel, the taste of the city all were translated, in some small way, back into the book. None of which would have been possible sitting at my desk.

Now the only question is how soon until I can go back?

Happy writing and traveling! -L

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Release Day!!!

 

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“The only way to their future is through the past.”

I am ridiculously excited about today!  In a pinch-me kind of way! After years of work, and about fifty- probably more- edits, this story is finally ready to be unveiled.  I’ve been asked for a longer excerpt from the book, so here it is:

…Ian moved quicker now, but Logan didn’t back away, fueled in part by her own curiosity and because nobody pushed her around. When his golden eyes locked on hers, a strange, sweet feeling swept through her.

The man…dazzled. With his fallen angel beauty framed by hair the color of copper and a body that flowed as gracefully as smoke. But it was those eyes, she decided, eyes as gold as Midas that did it for her, slanted above a smile as dangerous as a predator’s. A wondrous feeling blew through her, like she’d missed him, like her heart had been broken a thousand times and now was finally whole. He was how home feels when you don’t even know how much you’ve missed it until you step through the front door and there it is. Waiting for you.

“Who the hell are you, Grant?” She managed, as he stopped a few inches away. The fierceness of his gaze set off another sensation, and as need curled through her, she reeled. It was as if she knew. Knew what his mouth tasted like. His weight on her body. Because she’d felt them before. Staggering forward, Logan found herself caught by capable hands. “Oh God, what’s happening to me?”

His breath feathered her ear. “You’re curious, aren’t you? You feel it, don’t you?” Logan stood helpless, held in place not by him but by something inside her that made it impossible to leave. And when he reached out and tucked a stray hair behind her ear, a gesture so tender, yet so achingly familiar, she couldn’t breathe. “You always had the most beautiful hair.”

“What kind of games are you playing, Grant?” Logan managed.

“Unfortunately for us, Miss Dean, this is not a game.” Clouds covered the sun, cutting off the nimbuses that fractured the gloom, plunging the room into shadow. It was a sign, she thought, of something momentous. Or at least, she was going to take it as a sign, which meant pretty much the same thing. Right about then she realized they weren’t alone.

“What the hell is going on here, Ian?” Face burning, she stepped away from him immediately. Busted. Robert carefully looked between the two of them, a growing awareness on his face.

Grant smoothly took over. “I just drove out to see Bart’s old place. I’d hoped Miss Dean might be interested in selling.” Just like that, he became completely detached. Gone was any trace of whatever had happened between them. The moment felt stolen, instead of real. He didn’t want Robert to know. Know what, she wasn’t sure, but she did remember Robert’s final words yesterday…get the hell out of here, Ian… Her legs were still a little shaky, but as the distance opened between them, her bearings came back. Fine, she thought, two can play at that game.

“Mr. Grant was explaining to me his plans for Aviemore.” She felt Grant’s jolt of surprise behind her. “I’m afraid I’ve…” she went on sweetly, “…fallen in love with the old place, too. So, of course I can’t sell.”

It was a small victory to see that coolness crack for a second. “Then I believe I won’t waste any more of your time.” His footsteps echoed down the empty hall.

Logan held up a hand to Robert. “Give me just a sec, will you?” She waited on the porch until he opened his car door before calling out. “This isn’t over. Why did you come here, Grant?”

“You don’t want the kind of answers I’ll give you, Miss Dean. Trust me.”

She laughed. “Maybe not, but sometimes those are the only kind you get.”

Squee!!!  I can’t wait for you to read all about them.  Logan isn’t one to let things go, and Ian’s not about to walk away, but they’re about to discover that their worst nightmare is something they thought was long dead and buried.

Check it out, at $4.99 for e-book and $14.99 in paperback, available here:

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

B&N (Nook)

ITunes

Bookstrand

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Cover Reveal!

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Finally!  It’s here and I can show it to all of you!!!   It’s a day that’s been a long time coming- the cover reveal for Shadows of Ghosts!  A big shout out to the awesome marketing crew at The Wild Rose Press for their work on this- and especially to  Debbie Taylor for her awesome artwork.

But first, a little taste of the story:

‘Driving to South Carolina to claim an inheritance from a total stranger didn’t figure into Logan Dean’s long term plans. But she’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity, and her mother didn’t raise any fools. Now she’s a pawn in a vampire war and fighting to stay alive. Thankfully, she’s discovered an ally in mysterious Ian Grant. As her feelings for Ian grow, Logan comes to realize if she wants the love she deserves, she’s going to have to fight the demons of her past.

For over a hundred years, cynical Ian Grant swore to never love another woman. But from the first time he saw Logan, he knew an ancient part of his history had come back to haunt him, and the one thing he doesn’t want becomes the one thing he has to have.

Two irreconcilable lives, five hundred years of history, and all they have to do to live happily ever after is defeat the evil that threatens to tear them apart.’

Dear Readers: I’ve worked on this story for years trying to tell it the way it should be told.  After too many edits to count, Ian and Logan are almost ready to face the world!  I can’t wait to share them with you in a couple of weeks.  -L

Available for pre-order here:

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

B&N (Nook)

ITunes

Bookstrand

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Workshops

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I first began writing badly. It’s how we all begin writing, I suppose, if we are to be completely honest.  Much the same way that the Mona Lisa was not Da Vinci’s first, your best work will almost never be your first, although if you are very lucky, there may be some gems sprinkled throughout.  Last weekend, on Saturday to be precise, I had the privilege of taking a writing workshop with Margie Lawson.  I don’t have a lot of time these days, wedging precious family time in between too little sleep and too many sweets, and it seemed a bit early, driving up to Cleveland on a weekend, blinking in the early morning sun, as I used to when I migrated there on an almost daily basis. But I was excited.  Because I had a whole day to dedicate to writing. To learning. To getting better.  I hoped.

A last minute email had answered a last minute question about what I needed to take, and I took two “in process” manuscripts with me, both rather bad, but with a glimmer of promise. We learned about power words. Using power words in your opening paragraphs packs psychological power, and I circled and found I had about twenty in my first paragraph.  Boom!

Power words seemed to encompass phrases that evoke feelings- names, family ties (mother, father), loss (sick many times before), love (a thousand desires), movement; back and forward.  Things to change: make sure the first line is your main character’s POV.  Yeah, need to work on that.

Next she covered rhetorical devices, emotional levels, and my favorite part lunch.  After that we went over character descriptions, cliches, and deep editing. So. Many. Things. To. Remember.

But the main thing was learning, moving forward, using these new ideas, new ways of pulling apart your MS and putting it back together.  Making it stronger. I found that the way I naturally write seemed to meld with Margie’s, so there was a sweet alignment between what I was learning and how I was writing, stylistically. As well as some validation.  Many of the things my editor had made me cut from my first book Margie taught as writing tools, ways to increase cadence, power and emotion.  So some 20/20 hindsight there.

So, on to editing with a fresh eye and a brighter red pen!

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Are We There Yet?

MODES OF TRANSPORTATION

I was researching how long it would take for a horse to get from Wick, Scotland, to Inverness, Scotland, and thought I might as well blog about it so when I forget in six months, maybe this will pop up in my search and I’ll save myself some time.

So…it’s about 103 miles from Wick to Inverness (never mind the fact that Loch Dornoch is in the way) and a horse can travel anywhere from 10 to 40 miles a day.  Here’s the breakdown, courtesy of Cartographer’s Guild:

https://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=19730

Roads/trails: 20-40 mpd

Off road: 15-30 mpd

Mountainous terrain: 10 mpd

Horses are capable of more than 30 miles per day, one can be ridden at a gallop for more than an hour at a time, however, this depends on the build and breed of the horse.  The 2012 President’s Cup race was won in just 6 hours 21 minutes and is 100 miles long.  You have to factor in the condition of the horse, the load carried, and any stops to be made.

Cut these distances in half if pulling a cart, and horses cannot be pushed hard for more than 2 days at a time.  Also take into account the weather, and conditions arising because of rain, flooding, snow, etc.

Take into account as well, if you are expecting your character to fight, or the horse to carry him/her into battle, fighting after a 3 day ride is not going to realistically work.   From my research, it appears a 20 mile ride is the maximum you can expect from your horse, and still expect him to carry you into battle.

For the sake of argument, my horse is a heavy built, gypsy vanner, being ridden bareback over rough, rocky terrain, and on roads only occasionally, with one rider and no pack, so I estimated 5 days to Inverness from Wick.  Give or take the weather I decide to write into the story, and any other little problems that may or may not come up.

Still trying to figure out how to get them across that damn loch.

 

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European Graveyards, Part III

Graveyards III

So as usual, life totally got in the way, as did edits, and familial obligations, and a million jillion other things.  So I am finally posting my last (for now) blog post in the graveyard series!

Both of these graveyards are located in Paris, France, one above the city, Cimetiere du Montparnasse, located at the corner of  Rue Froidevaux and Rue Victor Schoelcher and the other is very close by, under the city, the Paris Catacombs.  If you are planning on visiting the catacombs and you allow yourself an extra hour or two, you will have ample time to walk through Monparnasse before you enter the catacombs, the entrance is only a block away.

 

Montparnasse Cemetery,

Located in the city’s 14th arrondissement, Montparnasse was created in 1824.  It was originally known as the “southern cemetery”, and is the resting place of authors, artists and publishers.  It is still being used today (as recently as 2015).

 

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This was a quiet, beautiful cemetery, surrounded by the city and high stone walls, very peaceful in the middle of the hustle and bustle, you couldn’t hear anything when you were walking through except the birds.

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The sculptures were extraordinary, and the graves, almost 200 years old now, were very neat and clean, everything was beautifully tended.  Some of the famous people buried there:

Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, Camille Saint-Saens, and Charles Baudelaire, to name a few.

Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs are a series of underground ossuaries, used to hold the remains of over six million people who died between the 11c to the 17c.  In the late 10th century, the Paris Right Bank began the practice of burying its dead in the city center, a practice that continued until the 18th century.  The burial ground changed parishes several times, finally becoming the “Saints Innocents” from 1130, and becoming the city’s principal burial ground.  By the 18th c. the cemetery had been built up to over 2 metres high and filled with centuries of dead, including those of surrounding hospitals and morgues.  This led to a series of cave-ins caused by the weight of the mass graves.  From 1780, all burials were forbidden.  Underneath Paris are a series of tunnels, created by the mining of the Lutetian limestone, much of which was used to construct the city.

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Beginning in 1782, the underground passageways were designated an underground sepulcher, and the process of moving the remains began.  It took two years to empty the cemeteries, with Saints- Innocents being the largest (2 million), Saint Etienne (the oldest) and Notre Dame.  Every night, in draped black carriages, the remains were transported from the cemeteries to the entrance to the catacombs.  In 1810 the remains were organized into a mausoleum, the stacking of the skulls and femurs into the patterns seen today, and the locations of the cemetery decorations   to correspond to the cemeteries and remains.

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The walk wasn’t overly long (1.5 km/just under a mile), although there were stairs, some wet spots and some narrow places where the walls and ceiling were close, but these widened out into larger caverns quickly.  Everything was fairly well lit and we were given audio guides that kept us on track with what we were seeing, as everything was numbered clearly.  Because of the long line, you are following in groups of people, so you are never alone, and there are several rooms where there are displays and you can loiter and read and look around at your leisure.  You (of course) exit into a gift shop.

 

The entrance to the Catacombs is located at: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France -the wait is about 1-3 hours, if you arrive before it opens, your wait will be closer to 1-1 1/2 hours.

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Graveyards I Love II European Edition

When we decided in 2014 to travel to Europe, I was a little bit hesitant to suggest that first on my list were a couple of graveyards that I had wanted to visit for years.  We were traveling with friends, and I wasn’t too sure how they’d react, so I bumped them down on my list, from number one to maybe number three or four so I wouldn’t appear too macabre.  Happily, they were on board with my plan, so we were able to visit all of them.  So here they are, in no particular order, because I apparently have no ability to organize anything today:

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic: Served as a cemetery from early 15th century until 1787 (the date on the final headstone).  Over the years, lack of space, combined with respect for the deceased (which does not allow for the moving of graves) a new layer of soil was added, and the bodies buried on top of the preexisting graves.  There are places within the cemetery that the graves are believed to be up to 12 layers, the headstones have been moved upwards with each subsequent burial, which is why the headstones are so densely packed together.

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Many of the headstones had small stones, coins or other markers on them, tokens of respect, or markers of a visitation.

In Bavaria, Germany this was a small graveyard we passed somewhere between Oberammergau and Fussen on a day trip. It was nestled in a valley between two mountains next to a beautiful lake.

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The Petersfriedhof, Salzberg, Austria dates back to about 700 AD, when St. Peter’s Abbey was founded by St. Rupert.  This graveyard is nestled in between the abbey, and the Festungsberg Mountain.  There is a series of catacombs that are accessed by a narrow set of stone steps leading to a hollowed out chapel.

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You have to climb these narrow stone steps up into the catacombs- in the Maximus Chapel at the top, there is an arched grave of a saint located in the catacombs:

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As close as I can translate, this is what is inscribed:

“The year of three hundred seventy King Rhuteni Geppidorum Gothe Hfruli beat the Hungarians and his company Maximus fifty this cave into hiding because of the promise of confession, the collapse of the spirit of daring in the provinces of Noricum, too, are destroyed with fire and the sword.”

Obviously this is a rough translation, however, I couldn’t find any other translations of this stone panel.  St. Maximus was the first archbishop of Salzberg known by name (d. 476).  Many of these graveyards were associated with a chapel, a synagogue, or a cathedral, which I’ll blog about at a later time.  Next week though, is Graveyards, Part III, the second part of the European Edition.  Thanks for reading this far!

 

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WORDS TO REMOVE FROM YOUR WRITING

Looking at that 85,000 word manuscript and wondering how to cut it down to 75,000 so you can submit?  There’s an easier way than pulling it apart and completely rewriting it, a process that takes another two months out of your schedule and leaves you cutting out important scenes and making hard decisions about dialogue and character development.  By taking a weekend (or two) and carefully combing though your MS using the “Find” command in Word, you can eliminate literally pages of unnecessary words, overused words, and “fluff” words, turning your work into the lean, mean writing it is meant to be.  Besides the list of “usual suspects” below, we all have words that we tend to overuse individually, so a running list of these is important to keep for yourself, and a final check before submitting is imperative.

“The Standards”

THAT                                       SAW, SEE

JUST                                         FELT

THEN                                       REALIZE

LIKE                                        BASICALLY

SEEMS                                     HONESTLY

REALLY                                  BEGAN, BEGIN, BEGUN

VERY                                      DEFINITELY, CERTAINLY

KNOW                                    THINK

THING                                    STOOD UP, SAT DOWN

ALMOST                                 NOD, SHOOK

HEAR, HEARD                       HONESTLY

HAVE TO                                 LOOK

Don’t overuse gestures (salute, wave, nod, high five, handshake), overtly complicated, descriptive words (vulpine, elephantine, resplendent), odd colors (butterscotch, chartreuse, carnelian), or action words that denote a special meaning (snort, chortle, snigger).  These stand out and the reader will notice.  The more innocuous a word, the more often you can use it.

And then there’s the ones I personally overuse:

ACTUALLY

PRETTY

SO (especially as a sentence starter, for some weird reason)

EVERYTHING

SORRY (and an awful lot of ‘so sorry’s) as if using them together somehow makes it all better!

ANYWAY

SOMETHING

I cut my MS down by 7,000 words by just deleting many of the words listed, and made it stronger by replacing these words with a different, more active version.  It’s honestly the easiest, fastest way to streamline your writing, without tearing it apart, and you’ll be surprised by how often you use these words, and how much better your writing sounds without them!

If you’re using Word, go to Home >Editing>Find> type in the word(s) you are searching for, and it will come up with the number of times it appears in your manuscript.  I go through and decide whether or not to delete each one, or replace, then move onto the next one, or, you could do them all at once if you wanted.  Hope this helps!

Random Spring picture, because FINALLY the sun was out!

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