BOOK REVIEW: Kadee Carder’s “Insurrection”

Hello, all! I have had this author on my blog talking about this series at least once. It piqued my interest. Though I am solidly in the Historical Fiction/Romance genre now, my earliest reading love was mysteries and science fiction. So, this novel was not a departure for me, but a return to my roots, so to speak.

Before I get into my thoughts about the book, let me give you some idea what the book is about. First, I should tell you it is published through Clean Reads, which means it will not have any language, or gratuitous sex, or extreme violence or gore. I will tell you that there are intense scenes. I would rate the violence as mild to moderate, no language, and there is some amount of sensuality, but that, too, is mild and very well done.

Instead of me telling you about the book and risking spoilers, let me share the author’s back blurb:

Insurrection

Saylor had been told she was a stain on the cloth of mankind. When she and her sister orphans Micah, Denise, and Patricia are apprehended upon the high seas, they find themselves imprisoned on a Caribbean island filled with strange noises, dazzling beaches, and a secret military base. Wavering between terror and ecstasy, Saylor develops her inner warrior while facing an enemy exposing her indispensable abilities. In order to rescue her sisters, impress the hunky Australian, and protect innocent lives on a global scale, she must master techniques of fighting an army created to destroy with a single, scorching touch – or die trying.

My Thoughts

First, it is important to note that this is Carder’s debut novel. That alone leads me to applaud her for the following: her character and story development are very well done.

The characters are deep and three dimensional. They almost leap off the page. Saylor, the lead character, seems so real. (I should note the story is written in first person.) We come to know her journey and experience her emotions alongside her. But it doesn’t end there. We can see the other characters and their struggles as well.

And the story had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing, but not so many that I was confused. A nice balance. The more I got into the book, the more I believed in this world created for me to enjoy.

I am eager to get into the second book in the series to find out what will happen to these characters that I have become attached to. That is key. People care about characters. You can have a great story, but if you don’t develop good characters in the story, your readers won’t be as invested. Character in the front seat, plot in the backseat.

I will note that there were some craft issues that were minor in the novel. Probably only notable to other writers. And, for a debut novel, they are not unexpected. We are all on this journey to grow and hone our skills with each novel. In the grand scheme, they do not detract from the story or the characters, so they will not keep me from recommending this book or giving it:

RATING ~ 5 Stars

 

 

 

 

 

In case you are interested…

If you like reading YA and/or books with a sci-fi flare, this is one to check out. So, I will include the buy links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

also available on iBook

My Inner Editor vs. My Ability to Review

 

I have recently decided to do more book reviewing. Now, I have reviewed books before. Even on this blog site. And I reviewed books for class assignments in school. But as I grow as a writer and as a self-editor, I have learned that it can affect my ability to review another author’s work.

The Inner Editor

I have honed these editing skills so very carefully over these last few years. And I treasure them. They aid me in my writing and they are invaluable to me.

BUT….

They have been crafted to suit my voice as a writer, my style. These things are not universal. Sure, there will be other writers that align somewhat with my style, but no one will write with my unique voice. And, yes, there are things that are universal about the craft of writing that are part of what sets off alarm bells for this inner editor, but more than you think is tied to voice and style.

The Reviewer

In order to give an appropriate review of another author’s work, I must be willing to set aside this inner editor, turn it off, if you will, and sit with an open mind. Especially if the author’s work is in a totally different genre than I write in. Then I can let myself become immersed in the story, follow the characters along the plot, and decide the merits of the book based on those things (character development, plot elements, etc.).

And, if I’m not careful, I might discover that I have become lost in a world not of my own making, but of a tale woven and spun by another authors words. If I can just flip that switch and shut down that editor.

There is a journey to be had.

“The Lady and The Hussites” COVER REVEAL!!!

It is that time. Later this year, The Lady Bornekova will receive it’s long overdue sequel, The Lady and The Hussites. I have thrown myself into this book, laboring over these precious characters, their continuing stories, and the research that creates the backdrop. And now it is time to let you see the cover.

The Cover. I worked with Cora Graphics once again. I do so enjoy working with her. She is both extremely talented and so easy to work with. I can not say enough good things about her. She has done most of my covers.

The Story. ***WARNING!!! This blurb may include spoilers for The Lady Bornekova****

Their story continues as the Hussite Wars rage on…

Karin and Pavel arrive safely at his parents’ home in southern Bohemia, but things are not as they seem. There are secrets between them. A wall goes up. And then Pavel is called into battle.

Radek and Zdenek are pulled into the conflict of the Hussite Wars despite their best efforts to remain neutral, while Stepan finds himself ready for bloodshed. With tensions mounting within their circle and throughout their country, what will become of Pavel and Karin? Can they find their way back to each other?

Can Karin and Pavel hold onto each other amidst the hardships of war?

The Collaboration. This novel is another venture with the Clean Reads company. It really is a blessing to belong to such a collection of authors. They are so supportive and encouraging. As well the staff (including owner, Stephanie) are everything you could want for them to be: helpful, knowledgeable, professional, yet still personable. I am so fortunate to be able to work such fine people.

Here it is…and so, I have rambled on about all these things. Now, I present to you the unveiling of this cover:

Anyone want a FREE Novella?

That’s right, Readers! The novella I have put together for my newsletter is finished and ready for delivery to your e-mail boxes! This little read is up for grabs today. My monthly newsletter has gone out to those who are currently signed up, bearing this precious package for download. And anyone who signs up for my newsletter in the future will be able to nab their own copy.

If you are a print person, it will become available in the near future on Amazon.

Here is a peek into the novella’s makings:

Disillusioned by war and prejudice, can this southern belle trust in love?

Claire Crawford is nothing she should be. Put off by the War between the States and her own experience with the slaves on her father’s plantation, she longs for something more. Under the control of her parents, there is not much room for anything but submission. Still, she dares to defy them and reach out to a sharecropper’s family on her father’s land.

The war changed Henry Garrett. And he has plans of going beyond his father’s humble farm. He will do whatever it takes to make those dreams come true. Nothing will stand in his way. Until he meets her. Drawn to the southern belle he would rather despise, he is soon caught up in a situation not of his own making. How much is too much for the one he loves? Dare he sacrifice his dream?

I wrote this as a gift to my readers. You are what keeps me going. Yes, I love writing and honing my craft. But you, my readers, are the reason I keep chugging through difficult scenes and the reason I dial up the tension, hoping to give you an experience that is unique, the experience you are seeking when you pick up a book–an exciting story with twists and turns, characters you can relate to, a plot that is interesting, and something different.

Here’s the link to sign up and get that novella: Sara’s Desk List

And, so, with that, I wish you happy reading.

FEATURED GUEST: Author Kadee Carder and Her New Release!!!

Hey, all! Today I have a returning guest–author Kadee Carder. She has a new release. Just premiered May 9th actually. It is in the same series as the book she spotlighted several weeks ago when she was on my blog. Now, you all know I love my Historical Fiction/Romance, but there is a special place in my heart for Science Fiction…it was one of my first loves as I got into reading. So, I am just as eager to hear about the continuation of this series as anyone else. So, without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Kadee…

A Guest Post by Kadee Carder

Many sunsets ago, while Texas trees blossomed in the crisp spring air, my dad stood in our garage, drilling a hole through a softball. He threaded a yellow cord through the hole and tied it in a firm knot, then strung it up on a wide, horizontal branch from a big shade tree in our grassy back yard. “This will help you fix your aim,” he’d said. “Grip the bat, line up your knuckles, and swing away.” I spent hours in the sunshine and wind, smacking my Louisville slugger against that softball, as the ball flung itself up and around the branch. The harder I hit, the faster that ball flew.

See, I’m left handed. And while I adored the sport of softball, which I’d played since first or second grade, as a young teen I still struggled to hit strongly and consistently. Throughout the hours, I tired of the line up, grip, wind up, swing, follow through, wait for iiiiiiit, unwrap, and begin again of the practice. So as my creative mind wandered, I thought, what if this thing were ON FIRE and it was about to KILL ME?! You’d want to smack that sucker right into infinity, yeah? Me too. And that’s one element of how I created the idea of the “oxinal,” the killer artificially intelligent sentinels in my Insurrection trilogy.

My process of writing usually begins with a character, too. Often, that character has some element of myself that I like or dislike, and I make that bigger. What would I want to be? What do I not want to be? Let’s inflate that and go from there. Characters drive stories, and I hope my readers fall in love with my characters and root for them as they deal with the consequences of their decisions. These characters must accomplish some important task, and I’ll put them through the wringer to get through it. Because…well, life’s like that. Can a hero be a hero if he never has to help anybody? Heroes get to rise above the ashes, and that’s the real adventure.

Once I have a great couple of characters and I know what they need to do, I go to my husband and give him the plot, the tasks involved, the world, and the goal, and he helps me make it ultra cool. Because when I wrote the first draft of Insurrection, I gave my flying fiery creatures an awesome name. Are you ready for it? Fireballs. Yeah. That’s right. Let’s just say, hey, I was thirteen when I came up with the idea. So he laughed a LOT about that and said, “You cannot call them that! So lame!” Placing two fists on my hips and pursing my lips, I giggled, “Okay, then what should they be called?” He then asked me how they worked. Well, we talked through the process that a nanocomputer would use, how an inventor would make said creature fly (utilizing pulsing oxygen, in combination with fuel, and propulsion), I drew a sketch on a piece of paper, and he came up with the term, “oxinal.”

Ever since, it’s been a similar process. I’ll give a scenario, he’ll come up with a way to improve the idea because he has been watching Star Trek and Star Wars and basically every other sci-fi or action movie since he was born, and then we shape it up to make the idea shiny and fresh and just plain awesome. I’d definitely want to use all of the tech and gadgetry in the Insurrection series and I think readers will too.

To top it off, I like to put all of it in a hopeful world. I think humans are pretty incredible and can do so much more than they imagine, if they put in the work and get their imaginations get in gear. So I like to set my fiction in the future. Plus, setting the characters in the future gives some wiggle room for realistic purposes. I’m so impressed with people who can write historical fiction because you have to have all of your details correct. Instead of learning real facts, I like to create my own. (Ha! Just kidding, somewhat. You should see my notebooks and folders packed with information about military facilities, military process, tech ideas, and Australian slang terminology! Whew!)

Originally I had set the series in the 1980’s because the tech would have been mostly ahead of the times at that point, but as I tried to research I got absorbed in the era, found the tech wasn’t that outstanding within that setting, and then raised the stakes and switched gears to the future. Solar flares are an increasing risk that we deal with, and countries around the globe are currently creating emergency strategies in the event that a global disaster occurs where an electromagnetic flare wipes out our tech/electricity/power sources. Imagine what we’d do if all of our devices were suddenly useless? Imagine what we’d do if someone knew a huge flare was coming and stockpiled tech, data, and gold in a mountain? Who has the power (literally) in that brave new world? Ooh, aah! Raise the stakes!

Once all of these elements get charted out on my whiteboard, I get lost in the thrilling world of these exciting characters and their struggles. This is what’s worked best for me and my four novels so far. And then as I write, if anything starts to feel strained or slow, here’s my last tip: When in doubt, blow something up. Since we get to create these experiences, let’s make them an adventure, and build heroes the readers admire.

Indelible

We humans have to be stronger than we ever imagine, love ourselves in the process, and dig in when the ground seems to sink. We not only relish adventures, we create them. That’s the basis of Saylor’s story in Kadee Carder’s young adult science fiction trilogy, Insurrection. Volume One, Insurrection, and Volume Two, Incomplete, is now available on iTunes, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble Nook, and Volume Three, Indelible, will be available May 9th! Scintillating gadgetry, crackling romance, and endless riddles fill the pages of this trilogy, in a fresh adventure for the restless reader.

Beneath the façade of covert laboratories and military exploits, Saylor’s story twists further in this thrilling final installment of the Insurrection trilogy. Concealed identities. Puzzling truths. Cryptic alliances. Amid hasty exits and curious arrivals, Saylor pursues the answers haunting her conscience.

Dealing with the consequences of her decisions, will Saylor find herself invincible, or drawn even closer to Breame’s conniving promises? And with humanity’s existence at stake, will Saylor advance toward the brimming war, or succumb to the battle bubbling in her blood?

Saylor must decide.

Humanity will always be worth fighting for.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Look.” I squared off, planting my boots, shoving my fists in the pockets of my pink jacket. “Many of you were sent to Isla Barina, or joined Alliance, thinking your last stop would be the Caribbean. Now you’ve gotten a taste of home. I know the risks ahead outweigh common sense. Breame equipped me to take on this project on my own. I am stable, but to a certain extent, I’m extremely dangerous. I can’t promise—”

“What are you saying, Mack?” Annoyed, Logan scuffed one boot in the dirt.

“You can all jump ship if you want. No judging. It’s not even jumping ship. It’s getting out of the sinking ship and reclaiming dry land. This is the last stop before it’s too late. I’ll be fine on my own. I’ll get a plane and make it overseas and take this on. If I fail, I fail, and nobody’s worse the wiser.”

“Are you kidding?”

“Not at all. I don’t want to take anybody else down with me.”

“That’s not your call,” Logan argued.

“I feel a little insulted right now,” Micah said, whipping her head toward me. “Who says you get all the fun?”

“What?” I asked.

“And the glory,” Logan added.

“No, I’m trying to give you an out here.”

“No, thanks. I love swimming.” Logan leaned back on his heels. “And besides, it’s not up to you.”

“Fine!” I rolled my eyes. “You each get to decide. Your contracts with Alliance are being reviewed, I’m guessing?”

Logan exhaled, before a slight nod. “Possibly. The chips are still settling. Contracts have yet to be renegotiated.”

“Well, then.”

“As far as I’m concerned,” O’Leary jumped in, “I made ECB because I wanted to. And I’ve stuck around this far, so I might as well finish this war.”

Chisholm nodded. “Too many hours of training to give up right when we get the upper hand.”

“But guys,” I tried to wave them off.

“You have no argument.” Canaan radiated enthusiasm.

“We’re the team. You’re stuck with us. Plus, you need someone to run the coms. So, I’m in.”

“There’s no guarantee about this,” I reminded. “We don’t have — we may not—”

“Never had a guarantee,” O’Leary stated. “Except that we’d face dangerous circumstances. That’s why I signed up. You don’t get to kick me out the second it gets rough. Rough is my playground.”

“Yeah!” Other voices agreed, rallying.

Eight faces shifted, eyes shining, reflecting those immense stories.

“Alright, then.” I accepted, my team lining up to face the field and our Commander. “Play ball.”

Buy Links

Purchase Insurrection, Incomplete, or Indelible for only $4.99 each

Insurrection (Book 1) on Amazon 

Incomplete (Book 2) on Amazon

Indelible (Book 3) on Amazon

Barnes&Noble (Nook)

iTunes

More About the Author

Deep in the heart of Texas, Kadee Carder resides with her husband and daughters. Carder earned a BA in Public Relations at Howard Payne University and an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. She teaches English courses on the university level and plans her schedule around coffee availability. When she’s not dancing around the living room with her daughters, she helps at church activities, creates encouraging blogs, and orders pizza like a boss.

Connect with Kadee and Her Books

Website: kadeecarder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kadeecarderink/

Instagram: kadeecarderink

Twitter: @kadeecarderink

And please feel free to subscribe for encouraging blogs! Kadeecarder.com

FROM KADEE: I am giving away a free, empowering e-book to those who subscribe to my email list at kadeecarder.com. The book is called Ignite and offers a serving of inspiration, a dash of hope, and a cup of grace to help you get kickin’ on those challenging tasks you’ve got to do!

CREATING MEMES: Walking You Through My Process

Hello! Sorry I’ve been absent. Life has been crazy! And I have struggled with what to post. Then I thought perhaps I should turn my posts into more practical how-to’s for a time and give you a step by step process on how I do some of the things I do in the writing/marketing world. So, here is the first one: MEMES.

Now, I am not saying that I’m an expert at creating memes, but I have become quite learned on how to do this. And I am here to share what knowledge I do have of the process.

What is a MEME?

I found a dictionary that defines it as “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users”. There are other definitions of memes having to do with sociology and cultures, but this is the definition I am talking about. So, the pictures floating around of that same white bearded guy saying “I don’t always (whatever), but when I do, I (whatever, but makes the statement humorous).”

In the writing/marketing world, we construct memes that relate to our books in some way.

Why do we need MEMES?

Memes are a wonderful, creative, and appealing way to promote your work. If your social media posts are just verbiage about your book and a link, that gets boring. Throw in a meme, and it gets more interesting. Research indicates that photos (memes included) get more interaction on social media platforms.

How do I make one?

You can use any image building platform (like canva or picmonkey). I have fallen in love with canva, so that’s what I’m going to use. Canva.com has a free version and even a free trial month. I am not as familiar with PicMonkey’s system.

So, here’s what you want to do…

I recommend that in general, you have several short excerpts selected from your novel(s) and about 8-10 tweet length statements about the book. If you have reviews, you should also have some snippets/quotes from reviews to utilize.

Today, we’ll be creating a meme for my book coming out in June called “A Convenient Risk”. I don’t currently have reviews to use, and I like excerpts better anyways, so I will pick a short excerpt from the book:

“Oh?” Why would she bait him? She did not know. But the utterance was beyond her lips before she could stop it. Amanda tightened her mouth to keep anything else from coming forth.

“Yes. As was I.” His voice was thick.

His confession stirred something high in her chest. Something that spindled and twisted. Something pleasant. It was but a taste, and she wanted more. But how?

Your excerpt should not give away big pieces of information (some is okay), but it should be enticing and intriguing.

Okay. So, let’s go to Canva.com and log in. Then we need to select what size our graphic will be. I usually go with Facebook post. Then we need to find a picture that goes well with this excerpt. I looked through some of the photos of blonde women (like my character) and decided on going with a fleur de leur kind of feel to the background.

So I searched for “design” and scrolled through until I found a design I liked. I set it in the picture, then changed the color of the design to go better with my cover. Then I copied it to add it to the top of the frame as well (just to add dimension). Then I grabbed my cover from the section UPLOADS. You can also upload photos into this section if needed.

I set my cover into the design. Then I decided it needed a frame. There is a section that says “frames”, but I didn’t like the way those worked. So, I searched for “frame” and found one I liked better, set it in place, and changed the color to better suit the design.

Next I went to BACKGROUND and chose a background and…you guessed it, changed the color again, to make it lighter so the excerpt will be more visible when I set it in place.

Now, it’s time to put in the excerpt. Select TEXT, choose one of the three text samples there. Put in your text in place of the text that pops onto your design. Then adjust the font and size as you wish. And the color even.

It’s very important that you add one more set of TEXT. In one corner, you need to include the following:

Author Name, Name of the Book, and Your Website

This way, no matter who shares your meme, it will always connect back to your website.

And voila! We have a meme!

Be sure to name it (I name it after the book and number it – e.g. ACR1 for “A Convenient Risk”, first meme) Then download it. I usually do it as a PNG.

Now, where do I put that?

You can share these memes on your Facebook page, your Facebook author page, your Pinterest pages, Twitter, and in Facebook groups that you are a part of (I recommend that you join Facebook book groups associated with your genre).

So, I’ll take the meme, and I’ll post it. But I’ll also type one of those tweet-length statements and a link to the book’s page on my website. Like so:

A marriage of convenience, a ranch at risk, and one of America’s most famous outlaws… Read more about “A Convenient Risk” at: http://saraturnquist.com/convenient-risk

And there you have it!

THE MUSE: Don’t Wait For Her, Track That Lady Down

In this season of my life (in the midst of grieving for the loss of my mom), I am having some difficulty finding the writing muse. Mind you, this is not the first time that muse has been tricky with me. Sometimes I find that the house has to be perfectly straight, all my mom chores done (like that ever happens), and I have to be in my office, at my desk, in the zone, with the right music, and my mouth in just the right position…you know what I’m saying?

Well, life doesn’t really allow for that, does it? If I waited for that, I’d write maybe two sentences a month. We can’t always wait for the muse to come to us. We gotta track her down. That calls for a little flexibility and a little determination.

Flexibility

Yes, it would be nice if everything could work out as in my above scenario. But I have had to learn to quiet those OCDish tendencies in myself (or just change my locale to a coffee shop and escape the nagging mom-to-do-list-voice in my head) and focus on my work. That calls for flexibility in my environment. I have found that, with a little flexibility, very few things have to be in place for me to get writing done. Truly only two: my computer (with Scrivener in the “compose” mode – if you don’t know about this, you need to find out) and my music with headphones. I have discovered that with those two things, I can write almost anywhere. Today I’m actually at my friend’s house…she is baking up a storm and her kiddos are screaming like banshees. But I’m still writing.

Determination

I’ve talked about determination before. As a writer, it is essential. You are going to be the one who cares the most about your work. And whether or not it gets done. So, when you sit down and can’t get going, you have to make the decision to “make it work” as it were. Journal about something completely off topic from your manuscript, write through a writing prompt you find on the internet, free write about one of your character’s opinions about something…just write. Get the pump primed. Then return to your manuscript. You might discover that the muse has shown up. Writing as a career becomes a job. It’s not just a hobby. If you want to be serious, you have to write whether you feel like it or not. The requires determination.

So, what’s it gonna be? Are you going to be the kind of writer that only writes when the mood hits you? When the inspiration is present? Or will you find that flexibility and determination to make a real go of it? To make it more than a hobby?

A LITTLE OFF TOPIC: Dealing with Grief

Hey, everyone…sorry I haven’t blogged in a little while. I’ve found myself in a hard place. My mother passed away unexpectedly on April 9th. She’s not the first person in my life that I have lost. Not even the first close relationship to have lost to death. But she was my mom. And that makes it different.

And so I have been going through a myriad of emotions. Memories have flooded to the surface…some that make me laugh, some that make me ache. Then a couple of days ago, I realized that the especially difficult place I found myself in was uncomfortably familiar. Depression.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Most of us are aware that there are 5 stages of the grieving process. But I didn’t really delve into it until this week. And here’s what I found at PsychCentral and Grief.com. I will attempt to summarize what I learned.

Grief and its Stages

There are 5 accepted stages of grief. However everyone grieves differently. The stages are not necessarily a roadmap, they are more like guidelines. People in mourning will not necessarily go through the stages linearly or even hit all the stages. They may feel one stage, then another, and jump back to a previous stage because the stages are a response to our feelings. We also spend unpredictable amounts of time in each stage and experience the stages with varying intensities. Some things are the same for most people though:

  • you will move through at least some of the stages toward ACCEPTANCE
  • you will typically think of your own mortality

Another thing to note is that everyone grieves differently. I’ve seen this in my own family. I process things outwardly. I always have. While I have a close family member that deals with these sorts of things in a more private way. It is important not to judge how others grieve. It is personal.

DENIAL (& ISOLATION)

The first reaction to great loss is to deny the reality of the situation. We go numb and just try to survive. The world is meaningless and overwhelming. Life just doesn’t make sense anymore. Denial actually helps pace all the emotions of grief. This is a defense and it’s totally normal. It carries you through the first wave of pain, only letting in what we can handle. but at some point, we ask ourselves questions and opens us up to the healing process. Those denied feelings come to the surface.

I did experience this stage in a very vocal way. I remember the moment my brother told me that my mom had died. I screamed that it wasn’t true. Like I was trying to convince myself that it wasn’t so. As if I could say it loud enough and enough times to make it not true. Inside, my heart was breaking, but everything in me was working to deny the reality of it. I wasn’t ready to deal with the pain.

ANGER

The initial effects of the denial are wearing off…but we are not ready. We want to deflect from our vulnerable heart, so anger rises to the surface. Anger actually gives us strength. It gives us some structure to the emptiness of the loss. You may even feel guilt over expressing the anger, which can make you angrier. And while it may seem counterproductive, it is important to feel that anger. As you allow yourself to experience this emotion, it will dissipate and the more you will heal, and the feelings underneath can bubble up and you can get to them (in time).

This is a stage I have experienced, moved on from, and come back to. And it has been spent largely on my husband in the form of my irritability shot in his direction. And he has taken it in stride. He is amazing. He is so loving and understand that I am going through something huge and trying to navigate my way through tricky waters (so to speak).

BARGAINING

This is a normal reaction to feeling helpless and vulnerable. You want to regain control. You are plagued by the “if only’s” and “what if’s”. You may make a deal with God in the midst of this self doubt. This is a weaker line of defense protecting yourself from the pain. Those “if only’s” lead you to find fault in yourself which only leads to guilt. And guilt is like bargaining’s best friend. They run in a pack. This stage finds you living in the past.

There is no time prescribed to each stage. Some stages may take days/months. Some may take minutes. That is true of this stage for me. There have been moments of bargaining, of “if only’s” for me. “If only” I had asked this question. “If only” I had thought about that. “If only” I had been more attentive in this way. None of it gets me anywhere. But it is a part of the grieving process and dealing with my emotions.

DEPRESSION

Unlike, bargaining, this stage focuses on the present. It may be a reaction to practical things. Like the costs associated with burial or the guilt of not spending time with friends. Typically this can be eased by clarity and reassurances. Another, more subtle depression may take hold, however. This is a kind of preparation for letting go. This stage is marked by sadness and regret. Empty feelings pervade you, as if it will last forever. Your grief may be as if it has deepened. Experiencing depression as a reaction to loss is NOT a sign of mental illness. Other things you may note: withdrawal from life, intense sadness, wondering if there’s any point to continue without your loved one.

This is where I am now. Having been through postpartum depression three times, this is uncomfortably familiar territory. I struggle to get out of bed, want to return to bed. The world feels “unsafe” emotionally. I have to force myself to get out. But I have an amazing support system and, through counseling and therapy, I have many tools in my toolbox that are helping my ease my passage through this stage. I have essential oils that help. I know to plan something everyday with a friend or loved one to give me something to look forward to. I have my binder of counseling exercises and significant verses. It is not a cure-all, but it helps.

ACCEPTANCE

The final stage. Not everyone reaches this stage. Perhaps the death is sudden or we may never see beyond our anger and denial. This stage should not be confused with a feeling of happiness or a sense that we feel okay with what happened. You probably won’t ever feel that what happened is okay. This is simply about accepting the reality that they are gone physically. This stage is marked by withdrawal and calm (and it is different from the withdrawal associated with DEPRESSION). You are now able to accept a new normal and know that the old normal is gone. We must now invest in our other relationships. We begin to live again, but not until we have given grief its time.

How someone copes with death is very personal. And no one can smooth out the process for you. But others (your support network) can be there to comfort and be with you through the process. The best thing you can do for yourself is to allow yourself to feel the grief. Resisting your own emotions only prolongs the process.

 

A JUGGLING ACT: How Many Books Can I Keep In the Air?

There have been a few times in my short writing career when I have found myself in a juggling act. Too many books, so little time, you know? This would be one of those times. I started a project here, submitted one there, and soon enough, I ended up juggling several things at one time.

The Lady and the Hussites

This sequel to The Lady Bornekova has been contracted by Clean Reads and is its first round of edits. It will go through content edits (working on the continuity of the story, plausibility, closing any loopholes in the plot, etc), then line edits (more the grammar type stuff), and then proofing edits before a final read-through from me. Cover art will come at some point in this process as well (that’s the part I can hardly wait for).

A Convenient Risk

I will be exercising my skills at self-publishing this manuscript. It is in another editing process right now as well. Advanced Reader Copies have been sent to “Turnquist’s Troupe” as well. Though this book was finished after The Lady and the Hussites, it will actually hit your favorite computer ebook store first in all likelihood.

Leaving Waverly

Ah, the novella I wrote crazy fast… It is with my mentor/critique partner to give me some editing feedback before this novella is ready to go out to my newsletter followers for FREE! So, everyone who is signed up currently, or signs up for my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of this novella.

Trail of Fears

I am in the self-editing trenches with this back-logged novel. It’s been too long on the shelf. So long, in fact, that I have grown in my craft skills to the point this now needs a major re-haul. What seemed perfectly fine to me at the time, now looks too tell-y and the point of view too shallow. I’m excited to dig in and a little intimidated at the enormity of the rewrite.

the Diary

This novel is completed, with the last beta reader, and “resting” before I tear through it with my self-editing eye.

Unnamed Work

I am in the “spark” phase for the next novel. I have the “kernel”, the idea, the “what if”… And I am so excited about it, but I am not quite ready to share any more than this: it will be Historical Fiction, still, but will cross into the realm of Biblical Fiction.

In Summary…

I’ve got a lot going on. I don’t know how “normal” this is for an author (to be juggling so many novels in various stages at once). It seems that most of my author/writer friends have only one, maybe two going at a time. I understand that Isaac Asimov would have sometimes in excess of four or five going because he would tire of one and then move to another to work until he bored of that one. This way, he was always working, but never letting his creative juices dry up.

At any rate, having multiple works going is normal for me. It keeps things interesting. And I wouldn’t have it any other way? What about you? Any of you have multiple tasks/works going at once? Any of my author/writer friends wish to share how many works in progress they handle at one time?

PLANTSING: How I Wrote A Novella In 3 Days

Plantsing…

What a weird word, huh? Especially to those of you who are not in the writing world. But even for those of you who are writers, this word may not look familiar. It is what happens when a pantser begins to bring plotting into their process or vice a versa.

Hold on a minute…what is a pantser? What is a plotter? I’m lost… Let me help.

Pantser: A pantser is someone who “writes by the seat of their pants”

There is no planning, there is no outlining, they just sit and write and let the story come as it may.

Plotter/Outliner/Planner: Someone who, to the opposite extreme, plans out the entire novel, sometimes down to the most minute detail. Plotters can have pages upon pages of notes, diagrams, charts, and whatnot before they ever write one word of the manuscript.

Pantsing tends to be more work on the back end, giving you a pretty rough first draft. While plotting is a heavier work load on the front side, giving way to a more polished first draft. I’ve heard it said that for a pantser, the first draft is just a very detailed plotting session. Take from that what you will.

So, what are you? What am I?

It is said that what you are in life (a list maker, a scheduler, etc) you tend to be in your writing. That is soooo not true of me. The idea of going to the grocery store without a list makes me anxious. Not having my day planned and a “TO DO” list in hand would probably give me a panic attack.

But I was a total pantser when it came to my novels. I would just sit and write with very little idea about where I was going and how things would turn out. Vague ideas, I tell you…very vague. I loved letting the story unfold and surprise me this way…setting the characters in motion and having them take over the story in a way. Once you have established their character, the way they will react/interact is pretty set. You can’t have them do something or react somewhat outside of the character you’ve established, right? So, through the twists and turns of the plot, you can let your characters lead you where they will go. Pantsing is exciting and exhilarating.

But…

As I have learned more and honed my craft, I have begun to see the wisdom in taking time to plot some. Not a whole lot, but sketching out my characters. This deepens the character, and thus the readers experience with them. And as I began to do some plotting with characters, I found that the novels went deeper and flowed out of me faster. The most recent novella I wrote, was completed in 3 days. And that’s not 3 long, arduous, 10-K-craziness kind of days…I put in probably 5 hours each of those days.

What does that process look like?

First, you have to pull out your hero and heroine, your POV characters. Then you do character profile sheets on them and some preliminary daydreaming. Then, I get down to business. I love Susan May Warren’s The Story EquationThis is how I begin to really drill down and deepen my characters. I have to find their Dark Moment Story (you just have to read Warren’s book).

Then you can take that, and sketch out a basic plot outline, which is discussed in her book. I do one of these skeleton outlines for each of the POV characters. (More character development.)

Now I’m ready to dive in and begin writing. Unless I’m still feeling stuck. Then I might go to the Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method and go through the first 4 steps. This will help wrap my mind around what the novel is really about.

At this point, I have deeply developed characters. I have the whole iceberg, so to speak. Am I going to put everything on the page – no. The reader will only see the tip of the iceberg…what’s above the surface. But I truly need to know the entire structure in order to make that piece the reader interacts with feel three dimensional.

And with my characters firmly in my mind, I can let my pantsing take off. Since I know them well, I can give them more freedom to “take over” the novel and go places I never could have imagined.