The Work In Progress – July 2019 Round Robin

Anyone who knows me will tell you not to ask about my writing work. The moment you open that can of worms you’re in for at least twenty-minutes of me talking. I try to limit myself to twenty-minutes anyway, it’s more likely you’ll be stuck listening for longer.

But I think I’m in good company. Many authors love to discuss what they’re working on because it helps us to work through plot issues that we otherwise wouldn’t see.

Which is why I’m tickled that this month’s Round Robin is about what our current works in progress are and if we have any additional novels planned.

So! What am I working on?

Well, I was supposed to be using July’s Camp NaNo for my romance novel following Nora Grayson, martial counselor to the supernatural in Boston. BUT… my Muse woke up and told me that I absolutely must finish the dragons vs. vampires novel already started.

I started the revision of The Melody of Bones back in January and, surprise surprise, kept hitting a wall. This wall happens at the end of every book for me. Something derails the outline and I have to crawl through about 600 words a day.

It’s not awesome, but apparently that’s how my brain works. So instead of Nora’s lighthearted romantic comedy dodging werewolves in rural New York, I’m neck deep in battle with a dragon named Prudence as she tries to save the world.

It is, as you might have guessed, an urban fantasy. Which isn’t a genre I’ve tried before, but I’m giving it a go. So far it has been great fun choosing everyday settings that might be fronts for supernatural creatures, and building a world that exists next to our own.

And yes, I believe there is at least one sequel to this novel.

As for Nora’s novel, it is a fun romp through urban fantasy as well, with a tad more focus on romance. I imagine there can be several novels in her line, given that much of it is mystery with a splash of the supernatural for flavor. The stakes are simpler, instead of epic end-of-the-world stuff, so I can shift focus easier and keep the novels fresh.

Later this year I’ll be working on the third book in my science fiction series, assuming I can finish Melody of Bones anytime soon. And then I have several more novel ideas simmering in the back of my head that need to make their way onto the page.

Take a look at what my fellow authors are working on right now in this month’s Round Robin!

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1EW
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

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Verisimilitude – June Round Robin

To be honest, I use the events of every day happenings in my novels all the time. I thrust unfortunate events like locking one’s keys in the ignition or stabbing one’s hand onto my characters because I find it endlessly entertaining and because it helps unite the reader to my character.

Maybe you’ve never stabbed your hand, but I bet you’ve lost your keys once or twice. Things like this help make the story real. And since I write a lot of science fiction/fantasy, the more I can make people feel like it could be real, the better.

Bigger life events I shy away from. Instead, I allow these life events to help inform my fiction instead of framing it. My mother is still, thankfully, alive, and I hope she remains so for many years to come. But I have a novel where the main character’s mother recently died.

There is the age-old adage to only write what you know, but I find this mostly an excuse not to sit back and unpack the issue with any real depth.

No, I have not lost my mother.

But I know grief. I’ve lived through losses. And while it is not exactly the same, there is a vein of similarity that can be used in my fiction.

Perhaps I will write a novel full of self-reference one day, but I’ll be honest and assure you that I will never admit it.

See what my fellow authors have to say about life events mirrored in their fiction in this month’s round robin conversation.

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1Dm
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Dear Reader… (May 2019 Round Robin)

Dear Reader,

If you’ve picked up one my novels I hope you are either enjoying it, or loved it so much you have long since finished reading. I understand not every novel is going to be loved by the people who pick it up, but I hope that somewhere in the journey I touched on something familiar.

If you’ve read any of my works, then from my marrow of my bones I hope you walked away with a few things. I hope Trenna’s struggle to balance being a warrior, a wife, and a mother left you feeling capable of doing the same. Just as I hope the love Nelek has for Trenna reminds you that you don’t have to compromise who you are to be loved fully.

If you haven’t read Trenna and Nelek’s journey, they star in the Sedition series put out by Wings ePress.

Jorry and Seach in the Tapped series echo this sort of relationship, where both are soldiers and neither must cow to the other in order to be valued. There’s more to come in that series, but I hope beyond all measure that this story opens a conversation about faith for you. There is a difference between religion and faith, one I have not fully answered for myself yet, but perhaps we can discover it together.

Deviation was a difficult book for me on many levels. It is my hope that if you read it, you walk away with a belief in redemption. Reesa Zimmerman’s struggle to forgive herself touched me in a way I can’t fully articulate, and while there are no further novels planned for her, in my mind I have great hopes for her “happily-ever-after.”

No other character has stuck with me as long as Persona’s Megan Shepherd. I started her story when I was barely twenty and it took a decade before I could complete it. If I could tell you one thing about that novel that always inspires me, it’s how gentle and strong Megan is. Gentleness is the ultimate sign of strength.

The Haunting of Tessa Pines is a love story and a mental health story all in one. It isn’t scheduled for release yet, but when it comes time I will certainly let you know. Without giving any spoilers, I hope readers walk away from this one understanding that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

And finally, The Melody of Bones, which is in its final stages of the drafting process… When you guys finally get a peek at this one, I hope anyone who has ever been broken by a relationship walks away from this book with the realization that they are dragons in human skin, far stronger than even they can fathom.

Thank you, dear Reader, for sharing these worlds with me. You are precious beyond measure to this Writer.

Yours Sincerely,

Aimee

P.S. Check out what my fellow authors want you to know about their works…

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1BC
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Geek Log – Star Date 4.25.2019

As of this week I have finished the second season of Star Trek Discovery and, while I know I will read some blog post bemoaning over-used tropes and character complaints, I maintain my love of this series.

Michael Burnham’s character continues to engage me, and the resolution with her brother Spock was satisfying to the extreme.

Speaking of Spock… The actors who continue to reprise this role have all done so with great respect to the original – our beloved Leonard Nemoy – and I find myself loving each incarnation. Ethan Peck’s version was everything I needed it to be in this season – though I did prefer the beard.

The surprise for me was how much I loved Christopher Pike. I want very much to follow this character, though I recognize the story will likely not take us via Enterprise again.

I am uncertain where season 3 will take us, but I look forward to finding out.

Prepping for Submission – March Round Robin 2019

I know this goes against the age-old adage not to edit your book as you write, but to keep going until you’re finished and THEN edit but… I totally don’t do that.

Normally, I write the first 3/4 of the book and then go back, edit and take notes on what I’ve got so that I can see what subplots need tied up and what characters I lost in the narrative. Once I reach my stopping point, I have a clear view of what the ending needs to be and move on from there.

Then I have a third draft, which gives me the word count and helps me write the synopsis alongside it.

But I broke my own rules with The Melody of Bones and this newest approach seems to work even better. Before I explain, I should leave a disclaimer that I have a wonderful husband who works and allows me a great deal more time to write than some, so this might not work for you if you can’t block out large periods of time for writing.

He also spoiled me with a super-awesome laptop that has a pen-function so I can take notes directly on the screen instead of constantly printing things out. So keep that in mind too.

Currently I have 3 drafts going on the same novel, all at once.

I got to the 3/4 mark and started my major revision, using the ‘track changes’ portion of my word program so I could go through and review what was going on. At the beginning of my writing time, I track those changes, accepting them and permanently inserting it into the novel, for about three chapters.

This reminds me of what I’ve changed.

After I’ve done at least three chapters – sometimes more, depending on what other work needs doing that day – I start writing the new stuff. I aim for 1500 new words a day, inching my way through that last quarter of the novel.

This is normally where all the BIG action is, and it always takes me a long time to write, which tends to be depressing for a writer. We don’t like it when we feel like we’re slogging through the swamp of sadness.

Which is why, at the end of the day, I take that neat pen/tablet mode and start from the beginning of the novel, highlighting typos and sentences that feel off. These bits will be fixed when I do my 4th draft.

Another recent change I’ve made is that I am writing the synopsis at the same time as the novel. I work on it once a week (on Tuesdays) so that by the time the 4th draft is completed, I should have something palatable for agents/editors.

Maybe.

The synopsis is the great nemesis of the novelist, after all. I’m never quite sure if I’ve nailed it.

See what my fellow authors do to polish their work…

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1dm
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Love and Relationships – February 2019 Round Robin

Not to sound too much like a prude but I blushed my way through my first intimate scene. All I could think was that my mother was going to read this and the next time I see her there will be that long, awkward moment when she tells me she liked the book and then won’t look me in the face.

Which is probably why that scene lasted all of two paragraphs in Sedition. The sequel had a much longer scene, but after Saboteur I came to a place in my writing where I recognized that as much as I enjoy love stories, I did not enjoy explaining what 100% of the adult reading public already knows how to do.

Granted, there is a HUGE market where authors are making bank on steamy scenes. I even read some of them.

Are there boundaries I think shouldn’t be crossed in writing?

Well… That depends on if you’re asking professional-writer-me or happy-reader-me.

Professional-writer-me understands that the moment we censure fiction is the moment we’ve crossed into someone’s freedom. That said, there are things that even romance publishers express as tasteless and wrong, and I agree with them.

Because I don’t want to trigger anyone who may have suffered from trauma, I will leave it at that.

Happy-reader-me skips over steamy scenes.

I just do.

It’s nothing against the writing. If I’ve made it to that scene, it means the relationship in the novel has progressed enough and engaged me enough to keep me going. The steamy-scene is just sort of… obligatory?

I also do not enjoy writing the typical romance novel where strangers meet and grow into lovers. This is probably because I have a general fear of meeting new people – Introverts Unite! – and all my experiences have been full of anxiety and paranoia.

BUT…

I am a romantic.

My stories are full of characters who love each other, but it is a love that has grown naturally over the course of the story . And honestly, I am more interested in seeing how that love defines the lives of the characters and shapes who they are both as a couple and as individuals.

I like stories about marriages.

Nelek and Trenna, who star in the Sedition Series, are a marriage.

In the Tapped series, Seach and Jorry grew into a romance after many years together.

Cordon and Tessa, who will be in my upcoming novel The Soul Between Us, were married young but military/life pulled them apart. Their story is about mending a bridge.

So where does that leave me in the romance/relationship aspect of storytelling?

I want my readers to love how my characters love each other, and that goes beyond the bedroom. It goes into the sacrifices they make for the other person, the decisions they make as a team, and ultimately the story they have to tell.

I can pretty much guarantee that my intimate scenes will fade to black. They exist because intimacy is a part of every relationship, and without it there would be some serious alarm bells going on for every marriage counselor out there, but sometimes even fictional characters deserve some privacy.

See what my fellow authors have to say about relationships in fiction…

Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1vP
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Near The End

There’s a moment in every book where you’re so close to the end you can taste it and suddenly you lose all talent you ever possessed.

Poof!

Gone in an instant.

Or at least, this is what happens to me. It’s different for every writer, but it seems universal that we all come to a point where we realize what hacks we are.

The tension isn’t there. The characters are flat. The setting is nonexistent and we’ve discovered a love of one word that keeps repeating itself every other sentence.

Mine is the word ‘just’ if you’re wondering. He just managed to catch it. She just loved him. If she could just stop using the word just she might be capable of writing something worth reading.

I digress.

My moment of self-loathing always comes near the end of the novel. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind this, like I don’t want the story to end because I’ve spent so many hours commiserating with these characters that I just (see?) can’t let them go.

Or this is when my self-doubt rears its head because the next phase in this process (after editing) is querying and sweet holy banana’s on toast, how I hate querying.

Whatever the reasons, it’s there. And it’s a bear to get through. But if you’re a writer out there and you identify with anything I’ve said in this post, then allow me to stand in solidarity with you.

It sucks, but you’re not alone. Take a deep breath. Eat some ice cream. And let’s get back to work.