Tale of a Story: Voices

My good writer friend and fellow Scribe, Kathy Palm, sold a new story and it’s available on Kindle for $2.99. I’ll let her tell you about it.

Finding Faeries

Back in 2006 or 2007, or somewhere in there, I had an idea for a girl who could hear the thoughts of others. Her name was Lucinda…Cinda for short. So i wrote it. And it received an honorable mention from the Writer’s Digest short story competition. I was very excited.

I was so excited, I decided to submit it. Remember Leading Edge magazine from my last post? They published my story “Marked” (the story that didn’t place in the same competition), so I sent “Cinda” to them. It was rejected. Now, the wonderful thing about Leading Edge is that they send feedback from readers. I had comments on why the story didn’t work, which helped me rethink the idea, and I rewrote it.

And submitted it again.

It was rejected again with more comments. Though none of what anyone said clicked in my brain, so I set the story aside.

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Treasure Trove

Our daughter’s visiting us this weekend, so this blog is going to be shorter than usual.  Planning on lots of play time:)  I’ve been working on rewrites for my fourth Jazzi Zanders book, though.  So my mind has been playing with her, the people she hangs with, and renovating old houses.  And as always when I’m putting the finishing touches on one book, my mind starts wandering to the next book in the series.

And that’s where a good friend of mine and my husband’s has proven a treasure trove of ideas.  Ralph used to buy old houses and renovate them to rent.  Now, Ralph isn’t the type to just slap paint on walls and make a space liveable.  He’s a perfectionist.  He makes everything he works on the best it can be for the price he can put into it.  And when I told him that I was writing a series about a woman, her cousin, and her romantic interest who flip houses, he suprised me with one idea after another of how flipping a house could dig up clues to old murders.

I’ve already used a few of the things he’s shared with me.  Like finding an old, loved tool box in a basement with all kinds of antique tools no one can find anymore and a person’s initials burned into the beautifully carved wood.  That’s how Jazzi and Ansel knew Joel had been in Cal’s house in book one.  For book two, Ralph told me about how an older man walked past a house he was renovating every day at the same time, and how he came to watch for him, until one day he didn’t come.  And Ralph wondered about him.  Was he all right?  Had something happened to him?  I used that idea for Leo walking his dog past the roof Jazzi, Jerod, and Ansel were working on, and Leo would stop to talk to Jazzi every chance he got because he was lonely.  And then one day, Leo didn’t come.

For book five, Ralph intrigued me with a story he told about finding a woman’s treasure box in a closet while he was gutting a house.  She had stones she’d collected when she was a little girl, grade school class pictures, a yearbook, letters from friends, pieces of jewelry, and ribbons and awards, among other things.  For book five, I have Jazzi, Jerod, and Ansel fixing up one of the old “grand dame” houses in Auburn, a town north of where I live.  And I keep thinking about what Jazzi will find in a treasure chest of the girl who grew up in that house, but when Jazzi tries to return the box to her, she finds out the girl died soon after her senior prom, and no one ever solved what happened to her.  And that, of course, sets up the mystery she tries to solve.

Ralph’s given me lots more ideas, and I’ve written them all down and keep them in my own small box of treasured story ideas for later use.  Who knew flipping houses, in real life, could stimulate so many plots?  But I’m grateful for all of them.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll have lots more Jazzi Zanders mysteries to write.

And for all of you, happy writing!

 

What is a supernatural mystery anyway?

When I tell friends that I finished Muddy River Mystery One and put it on Amazon, they ask, “What is it?”

Well, a mystery.  That’s in the title.  Muddy River is the town on the Ohio River that the supernaturals settled.  They found a nice, hilly, secluded area in southwest Indiana, far from mortals, to call home.

“The supernatural?” they ask.

Yup, witches, vampires, shapeshifters, and demons, among others.  Most friends know that I used to write urban fantasy.  And now I’m writing mysteries.  So I decided to combine the two.  Sort of like the Babet and Prosper novellas that I used to write.    Prosper was a bearshifter and his partner on the force, Hatchet, was a Druid.

I like writing about Druids.  Of course, I jazz them up a bit.  My Druids can call on lightning to strike and their tattoos are alive and writhe when they’re angry.  It’s Prosper and Hatchet’s job to solve crimes committed by supernaturals who break the rules.

Prosper teams with Babet, a witch, to solve a murder.  In Muddy River, Raven Black–a fire demon–teams with Hester Wand– a witch–to solve the deaths of thirteen young witches who were just starting their own coven.  Of course–no suprise here–while they work together, they fall for each other.

“Oh, a paranormal romance!” someone says.

“No, wrong emphasis.  A paranormal romance has the romance as the story’s main focus.  Raven and Hester’s relationship is more of a subplot.  The mystery forms the main plotline in my story.”

“Why is it different than an urban fantasy?  You started with those.”

“Urban fantasies are about the bad guys, usually evil, bumping heads with the good guys–the protagonist and his friends.  The battles escalate until it’s life or death at the end of the book.  This book, even though it has a few battles, is about solving the mystery.”

This is when my friends usually scratch their heads.  But fellow writers–they’ll understand.  The main plot line is what distinguishes one kind of story from another.  And this story is …a mystery with a romance subplot in a world peopled by Fae, Druids, witches, vampires, shifters, and one banshee.  And it was really fun to write!  As fun as Babet and Prosper.

A close friend and fellow writer still looks at me, bewildered.  “But why?  Your cozy mysteries are doing so well.”

All writers know that it’s dangerous to switch genres.  People who read cozy mysteries might not want anything to do with a fire demon for an enforcer.

Well, I didn’t know how well The Body in the Attic would sell when I started my second series, did I?  It came as a wonderful, happy surprise.  But I’m not sure it would have made a lot of difference.  I tend to lose interest if I read one author, one genre, over and over again, back to back.  Sorry to say, but that holds true of my writing, too.  I really do love the cozy mysteries I write, but I need to change it up once in a while, or else my writing goes flat.

I have no idea if I can find success with Muddy River, but I’d written three cozies, and I needed a witch or two to break things up.  And it worked.  I’m ready to dig into serious rewrites for Jazzi and Ansel’s fourth book now.

Whatever you’re writing, whatever your writing habits, have a great week of it!

 

Great Advice For Reading To and Writing For Middle Grade!

My fellow Scribe and good friend, Kathy Palm, just finished writing a book for Middle Grade and is sending it out to agents now.  I wish her great luck.  I got a chance to critique it, and there was nothing much to critique.  The book was WONDERFUL.

She shares her view on Middle Grade books here.  And it’s great advice!  If you read to your kids while they were growing up, this will give you the warm and fuzzies, like it did me.

https://www.katejfoster.com/talking-middle-grade/its-about-possibilities

In Summary… The Synopsis

For any of you struggling with a synopsis, Staci Troilo gives you a solid list of the basics. And she makes it sound easy:)

Story Empire

Ciao! Staci here again. I’m wrapping up my WIP and about to start another. That — plus the fact that more than one person has asked me about this lately — made me think it might be the perfect time to discuss the synopsis.

How to Build Your Synopsis

Why is this the perfect time? (I mean, other than people asking.) Well, a synopsis is a useful tool in planning a new story, so I could write one for book two. And, now that book one is done, I might want to revise an existing synopsis to give to the publisher (for accurate blurb writing and marketing materials).

What is a Synopsis?

A synopsis is a brief retelling of the narrative arc of your novel, including the ending.

Note: I said including the ending. That’s not a mistake. This document should not be confused with the book blurb on your back cover or with any…

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It’s up!

I wrote a supernatural mystery and posted it, chapter by chapter, for free on my webpage.  Once it was finished, I gave everyone a week to read it, and then I took it down to make into a book.  It’s only 56,000+ words, and some people have already read it, so I’m only charging 99 cents for it.  But it was so much fun to write about witches, shifters, and demons again!  I didn’t want to go back to writing urban fantasy, so I decided to do a cross-genre story–a traditional mystery peopled with supernatural citizens who live on the banks of the Ohio River in southwest Indiana.  Michael Prete created a cover for me that I love, and M.L. Rigdon (Julia Donner) donated two afternoons to me, showing me how to download it to Kindle.  So, here it is, MUDDY RIVER MYSTERY ONE (Black Magic Can Backfire).

 

What Was I Thinking?

In my head, it would be a piece of cake to write two different kinds of books as Judi Lynn.  One in first person POV.  The other in third.  I even considered writing on the cozy mysteries Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then switching to the supernatural on Thursdays and Fridays.  If I’m good–with not a lot of distractions–I can almost always write a chapter a day.  And then, when I got a little bit ahead, I’d concentrate on the supernatural since it’s only going to be about 56,000 words.  And when I finished that, I’d concentrate on the Jazzi books that have to be a little over 70,000.  And then, I’d take turns.  It sounded simple.  It hasn’t been, but I need to switch things up once in a while.  If I write too many of the same type of thing back to back, I get stale.  So why not write a cozy and then write mysteries peopled by witches and fire demons?

Only it’s turned out to be a bit trickier than I anticipated.  All sorts of things look good on paper.  This was one of them.  But I can’t be so neat and tidy about what I write.  I forgot to add in writing promotion materials–character interviews, Q & As, etc. for blog tours.  I forgot about days when everyone calls and wants to touch base on the same day, so that I spend more time on the phone than on the computer.  Days when I spend more time on marketing or when the desire for a special treat tugs me into the kitchen to whip up something.  And I forgot that every once in a while, my dear loving husband thinks we should have a day during the week when we should actually leave the house and do something fun.

Schedules are flexible.  I have lots of things that matter to me, and writing’s only one of them.  Even when it comes to writing, I forgot that it’s not so easy to jump from writing first person to third person without getting them mixed up.  And boy, does that stand out when I go back to do rewrites.

So, I took my neat, tidy little schedule, scrunched it into a ball, and threw it in the trash.  It made me of think of C.S. Boyack’s blog.  He’s working on two books at the same time, too, but he bounces back and forth between them.  I might give that a try and see what happens.  He’s honest about his writing time, and somehow, that’s comforting.  He has good days and bad days.  Here’s a look at one of his blogs:  https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/category/writing-2/  

I have to accept that writing isn’t ever as organized as I’d like it to be.  But then, what is?  I’m still going to write two books.  I’m just not sure how I’m going to do that.  But I’ll figure it out along the way.

And while I’m at it, wishing you happy writing, too!  Have a great March.

 

 

Sharing

My fellow writer and friend, Karen Lenfestey, just put up her latest book, BITTERSWEET HOPE.  It’s the final book in her Bittersweet trilogy, and for this week, she’s offering the first book, 5 O’CLOCK SHADOW for free on Amazon, and BITTERSWEET HOPE is only 99 cents.  So, if you’re so inclined, you could buy the entire trilogy for only $3.98.

I have to say that BITTERSWEET HOPE is my favorite book she’s written so far.  I got to beta read it.  I’ve read all of her books, but I flew through this one.  The two sisters, Claire and Hope, finally find the happy-ever-afters they SO deserve.  Of course, being women’s fiction and a Karen Lenfestey novel, they have to jump through more than their fair share of hoops to get there.  And this time, one of those hurdles is a disturbed young stalker.  The scenes inside this girl’s mind paint a fascinating journey that spirals out of control.  The rationalization for her acts builds more and more tension until the final scene.  And the ending was perfect (in my opinion).

Anyway, if you like women’s fiction, you might want to check out her book or the entire series.

 

Here’s the link for her webpage if you want to check out the entire trilogy or more of her books:

https://www.karensnovels.com/

Pre-release Fun Begins Tomorrow

Kyra Jacobs’ new book comes out March 11th. Kyra’s a local author and I consider her a great friend. If you like sweet romances, she delivers.

INDIANA WONDERER

Happy Sunday, everyone! Wow, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, having spent the majority of my non-writing author time over on social media. It’s hard, in this day and age, to know where exactly I’ll have my greatest “reach”.

Blogging? Twitter? Facebook? Sandwich board on a street corner?…

Since the forecast is calling for cold, cold, and more cold this week, I’m scrapping the street corner idea before it gets one iota of traction. LOL However, I thought in the week before release of my ninth novel (9!? Can you believe it?!) that we’d have a bit of fun on the old bloggy-blog.

What fun, you ask?

*rubs hands together*

We’re going to have a daily feature here called “Meet the Characters”. For one full week before the release of my next sweet, small town romance THE SOCCER PLAYER AND THE SINGLE MOM(former working title: ON…

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Plot Points make my brain hurt

I finished writing the supernatural mystery that I’ve been putting up, chapter by chapter, on my webpage.  It ended up being 56,000+ words, and I grew really attached to it.  So, I decided to leave it up for this week, and then I’m taking it down over the weekend.  I like it so much, I’m going to format it and buy a cover so that I can load it on Amazon for 99 cents.

I’ve already started Muddy River Two, though, and put up the first chapter today.  And now, because I shiver with fear if I don’t have plot points, I’m plotting the whole book out.  I knew what the first chapter would be and I had a vague idea for chapter 2, and then blank pages stared at me.  I hate blank pages.  But once I know what the book’s about, and where I want it to go, I need a roadmap to get there.  So I’ve been sitting in front of my computer, writing down ideas for one scene or chapter after another.  I didn’t number them this time, because invariably, when I’m actually writing the words to bring the scene to life, more ideas to come to me.  And then all of my carefully planned cause and effect gets littered with small side trips or scenes I never expected.  And that’s fine with me, as long as they fit in the story line.  And with plot points, I do know each mark the story has to hit.

The problem is, that actually writing out all of the plot points–for Muddy River One, I had 34 of them–just makes my brain tired.  I finish one point and then ask myself What Should Happen Next?  But I don’t want the expected.  I want something with a little twist I didn’t see coming or a little layer that shows characterization or relationships.   I want it to be like life.  Nothing ever goes exactly according to plan.

When plotting, I leave my office and walk to the coffee pot in the kitchen a lot more than normal.  I think of three ideas in a row and then my brain stalls out.  I eat more snacks than usual.  I’ve gained two pounds in the last two days.  My husband knows my routine.  He made Rice Krispie Treats this morning so that when I wandered into the kitchen, I’d find something fun.  Not the best thing for my diabetes, so I had to take more insulin today, too, but it was worth it:)  I whined on twitter, and my writer friend Kathy Palm sent me invisible cookies to help out.  They did.  Because after I mentally enjoyed them, I came up with my last three plot points.

Relief.  The book’s planned out, at least as much as it needs to be to make me feel secure enough to write it.  This time, things are going to get a little jiggly, because next week, I need to look through the entire fourth Jazzi and Ansel novel and write the last chapter.  And then, I have to plot points for Jazzi and Ansel book 5.  Groan.  For the cozy, I can take my time and only fiddle with a few plot points a day.  And while I’m plotting book 5 for J&A, I can be writing book 2 for Muddy River.  At least, that’s the idea.  It looks good on paper.  I’ll see if it works:)

No matter where you’re at on your WIP, good luck.  And happy writing!