Character Introduction: Lucynda Moseman

Howdy, howdy!  A friend recently tweeted about the fact that many writers have an idea of what the main characters in their WIPs look like and he asked for pictures or GIFs.  It made me realize that out of all my stories (shorts, novellas, and novels), I had only come up with character images for one story.  My supernatural/paranormal cozy mystery characters all have pictures associated with them, which I would reference as I was writing the first draft because the cast is large enough that I needed reminders.  Now, that novel is tucked away until I finish revising another one, but I thought I would introduce you to its main cast of characters.  First up, the protagonist: Lucynda “Cyn” Moseman.

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Yes, that’s Cody Horn.

Lucynda (30) is the owner of Dreamscapes, Dallas’s first and only host club.  It was always her dream to own some kind of club, but she never expected it to be one where most of the employees were vampires.  Thanks to her prolonged exposure to her number one host and roomie, Jyou, she’s not particularly susceptible to certain charms the vampires use to get their way.  And she’s not afraid to remind them of the rules everyone agreed upon when they came to work for her, the most important of which is “no biting the customers.”

Originally from Marfa, Cyn got out of there as fast as she could when she turned 18.  She keeps her past to herself.  So much so that even Jyou only knows bits and pieces.  However, her bestie, Cerise “Cherry” Wapachee, grew up with her and followed Cyn all the way to Dallas (not that she’d ever admit that was the reason).  Their friendship is the only non-familial connection to Marfa that Cyn maintains.

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Of course a full body shot was needed.

Quiet, sarcastic, and a natural people reader are some of the best ways to describe Cyn.  She has a weird ability to pair new guests with their ideal hosts and she’s an outgoing, friendly face that helps club customers feel at home.  But outside the club, Cyn likes to mind her own business and keep to herself, which makes being dragged into a murder investigation pretty damn awkward.  She’s a reluctant participant who winds up getting deeper and deeper into the investigation, but she doesn’t let her trepidation stop her from rising to the challenge no matter how badly she thinks it will end.

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But let’s do it anyway!

That’s Lucynda Moseman at the moment.  Do you have any characters you would like to introduce to me?  Are you the type who gathers images and creates character sheets to get to know your characters?  Or do you just wing it like I usually do and hope they seem like real people?  Feel free to share any tips about character development, characters, or general comments here or on my social media pages!  Come back next week to meet Detective Alexsandro Reyes.

More Shameless Self Promotion

Hello, hello!  How is everyone doing this wonderful day?  I just realized it’s National Poetry Month and what better way to celebrate than to announce my latest publication?  My poem, “Dear God,” was released on Monday in Breath and Shadow’s Spring ’19 issue.  So, I thought I would take a moment to update you on this and on how Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 3 is doing.

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Couldn’t find one with a writer instead of the skier.

First, the new one!  “Dear God” is a piece I shared on here a few years ago, so if it seems familiar, that’s why.  However, the version posted on Breath and Shadow has been edited into a more streamlined piece.  It was originally written while I was an undergrad taking an Intro to Poetry Writing class with professor Jennifer Key.  One of our assignments was to write a poem speaking to God.  Many of the students wrote extremely happy and/or vague poems, so it was a little weird when it came time to read mine.  But I’m glad I read it to the class and I’m proud that this newest version is out in the world.

A little bit about Breath and Shadow.  It’s a quarterly journal out of Maine that focuses strictly on disabled writers, no matter the disability.  It’s a wonderful publication that gives a voice to a vast group that often goes unheard.  Normally, I keep my disability to myself when I’m submitting my work because I don’t want to be a publication’s token cripple or fodder for inspiration porn, but Breath and Shadow is a place where I didn’t have to worry about any of that.  Why?  Because all of the editors and staff have their own disabilities, as well as all of the contributors.  It’s simply a neat journal that publishes awesome writing by people who happen to be disabled.  Check it out.

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Inspiration porn, BUT there’re also adorable puppers.  I’ll let it slide.

And lastly, an update on Road Kill vol. 3.  It recently won the North Texas Book Festival Book Award!  I’m super proud to be in a collection with such a wonderful group of writers.  Thank you once again to E.R. Bills for putting it together.  If you haven’t checked it out, visit the link at the beginning of this post and consider picking up a copy.  It’s available as a paperback and a Kindle ebook.

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Wootwoot!

I’m wrapping this up a little quicker than usual, since I’m sure you’re tired of my shamelessness.  I’ll be back next week with a special book review of a duet (two reviews for the price of one)!  In the mean time, feel free to share your thoughts, comments, or recent accomplishments here or on my social media pages.

Keeping Track

Hello, hello!  Thanks to my friend and fellow Stonecoast alum, Tony PisculliI actually have something halfway productive to talk about today.  After my last post, he asked me how I keep track of my submissions and gave me a couple of ideas for how to improve on it.  So, I’m going to ramble a bit about three options for keeping track of the things you submit and where you submit them.  The first two options are things I currently do, but the third is one that I hope to implement in the near future.

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As one should.

1. Duotrope.  This is a nifty website that offers a searchable database of magazines and anthologies looking for submissions.  It keeps track of acceptance rates and a bunch of other useful tidbits like what word count and genres these places accept.  Its information is fairly accurate, but always check the submission guidelines of each venue before you submit, just in case.  One of its main features is the ability to track what you’ve submitted where.  It’s currently my go-to way of keeping track of everything, but it is flawed in that some smaller venues aren’t listed, so I need a backup way of tracking those.  But for $50 a year, it’s a great tool for writers to invest in.

2. File names.  I learned a long time ago to use the date, the story title, and the name of the publication when I’m saving my work for submission.  Labeling the file something like 2019.03.20_story_publication keeps everything in a neat chronological order.  However, the more submissions you make, the more unruly this method becomes.  One thing Tony suggested to help improve this was to give each story its own folder, that way everything isn’t mixed together and it’s easier to scan through and see where you’ve submitted individual stories.  I plan on giving this a shot before I send out too many more submissions.

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3. Spreadsheets.  This is something I’ve been meaning to create for a while now, but I keep putting it off because it’s going to take at least a couple of days.  It has been a long time since I’ve made any kind of in-depth spreadsheet for anything, so I’ll have to teach myself all the ins and outs of it again.  But I would love to not only track where I’ve sent things, but where I want to send them in the future and when.  It’s difficult to keep track of which venues have open submission periods.  I’ve almost missed a number of windows because I didn’t write it down anywhere.  Plus, a spreadsheet would allow me to personalize the information I keep track of, like which venues encourage me to submit again or random encouraging words for a particular story to look at when I’m considering trunking something.  When I do get around to creating a spreadsheet, I’ll make sure to give you all a glimpse!

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Sure…

What about you?  How do you keep track of your submissions?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share?  Have you ever considered a spreadsheet?  What kind of information would you include if you created your own tracker?  Feel free to comment here or on my social media profiles!

That Didn’t Go Right

Hello, hello!  How is everyone doing this week?  I’m a bit annoyed at myself if I’m being honest.  I was going over my story’s timeline and looking at the revisions I’ve made when I realized I had made a stupid mistake.  There were two main plot points that I meant to reverse, but apparently in my zeal during my rewriting sessions, I forgot to switch them.  So, today, I’m going to ramble until I figure out some kind of solution for my dilemma.

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Me when I realized why something felt off with my story.

The more I think about it, I have a couple of solutions.  The easiest one would be to leave the story like it is and follow my original plotline.  I admit that I liked this section the way it was, but it drags a little in between scenes this way and there’s no good transition that will speed things up.  Slowness isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It gives the writer a chance to build up the setting or show the characters in different types of interactions.  All of that can give the story depth.  But, it can also cause the reader to put the book down and makes it easier for them not to want to pick it back up.  Which makes this option dangerous.

The other solution would be to go back and add the chapter I wanted to move in the first place.  This would require reading through what I’ve already rewritten and finding the best place to transition to the “new” material, then figuring out how to make that section flow into the old one.  Luckily, I haven’t gotten too far ahead of the switch, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to go back and find a place to insert the other plot point.  And it should speed up the pace of the story.  Plus, some of the scenes in that section would really benefit from appearing earlier in the novel anyway.  My main concern is that, while it sounds great in my head, it won’t work as well on the page and I’ll end up switching everything back to the original order in the next draft.

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Because I’m too lazy to think of any others right now.

Honestly, since my first instinct was to flip these two plot points when I was working out the timeline for the revision, that’s probably what I’ll end up doing.  It’ll be more difficult and time consuming because I’ll have to read through what I have thus far and find a good place to insert a chapter.  However, I think the potential benefits are worth the risk.  It’s not as if I’m on an official deadline or anything.  If it sucks, I have time to switch it back.

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Maybe not always, but enough to trust it.

Have you had any moments where you realized you made a stupid mistake in your creative work recently?  Did you decide to go back and do what you had originally planned or did you go with the flow?  Feel free to share your stories or comments or thoughts here or on my social media pages.

Writer’s Block AKA Stubborn Procrastination

Hello, hello!  I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day or Excuse for Chocolate Day or whatever you want to call Thursday.  I have no plans, but I do have chocolate.  Huzzah!  Anyway, that’s tomorrow.  Today is about confessions of a writerly nature.  Namely, I haven’t done anything productive since January 20th (the day before the sickness of doom took over).  Yeah, I can blame the illness for about two weeks worth of laziness, but what about the last week and a half?  I had no excuse for vegging out.  So, I thought I would talk a little about what some people call writer’s block and my plan to deal with it.

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This is true.

First off, I want to say that I don’t particularly like the term “writer’s block.”  It sounds like something that just happens, something you have no control over.  For some people, that might be true.  Other people might enjoy having the excuse, being able to say that their lack of writing time is out of their control.  Not me.  I fully acknowledge that when I’m not writing, I’m usually procrastinating.  It’s rare for me to run out of words, at least on fictional things.  Motivation is my biggest issue.  And sometimes, I admit that the procrastination bug digs deep and stubbornly refuses to let go.  It’s what’s happening right now.  My motivation is low due to an influx of rejections I’ve been expecting (because of my year-end submissions that are just now being looked at).  It’s hard to want to write and revise when you keep getting told “it’s not for us, but good luck elsewhere.”  So, when the opportunity to procrastinate presented itself, I didn’t bother fighting it.

However, it’s about time for me to get over myself and get back to writing regularly.  Before the sickness decided to knock out all my will to work, I was actually struggling back into a decent rhythm.  How?  I joined a sprint group and one of the leaders happens to write around the same time I do during the week (early evening).  So, I have the support of checking in after each sprint and being held accountable.  Even if the leaders aren’t doing sprints, I can still create my own sprints and see if anyone wants to join me.  It’s a super helpful group for me and I plan to get back into it this week.

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I feel this on a deep level.

Aside from the sprint group, I need to find other forms of motivation as well, otherwise I know I’ll eventually fall back into the procrastination pit.  The problem is that I don’t respond well to self-appointed rewards.  Mostly because I usually forgo the rewards.  I promise myself anime or manga and by the time I get everything done, I’m either too lazy to find something to watch/read or it’s time for dinner and TV with Dad.  I guess all I can do is keep trying different things until I find something that works for me.

What about you?  How do you battle writer’s block or the procrastination bug?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

What’s Your Novel Really About?

Howdy, howdy!  Have you ever run into one of those people who asks what your novel-in-progress is about, but after you explain it to them, they’re all like “no, what is it really about…”?  They’re usually English majors or something along that line: people who can’t accept that sometimes, in writing, blue curtains are just blue curtains.  These are the deep thinkers, the over-analyzers.  And they’re usually pretty cool people.  But if you aren’t prepared for the question, it can be annoying and frustrating.  Especially if you’re like me and don’t consciously build underlying themes into your work.  So, I thought I would take a minute to ramble about hidden meanings and all that fun stuff.

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It’s the controversial meme of (writerly) doom!

Like I said, I don’t go into a writing session with the purpose of bringing a particular lesson to the page.  I don’t know many people who do.  The few I know who have tried doing this come across as preachy and, in all honesty, more than a little douchenozzly.  (This was a long time ago and in no way reflects my current circles.)  I like to let things happen naturally, especially in a first draft.  If the story is good, themes and hidden meanings will bury themselves into the story and eventually make themselves known.

How do I know this?  Because when I was doing exercises from Sandra Scofield’s The Last Draft: A Novelist’s Guide to Revision, one of the things I had to do was state the main vision of the novel I was preparing to revise.  I had no idea what LR was about in any deep sense.  I didn’t really care.  The story and characters were fun, so why did it need to be about anything other than dragons and war?  Then, I started reading through it and noticed a weird trend.  When everyone listened to each other and thought things through, there was forward momentum.  When everyone just argued and ignored things, everything stalled out.  So, I ended up with a sticky note on my computer that says “Vision: Looking at conflict from multiple angles (including the enemy’s) allows one greater access to the Truth and the ability to make difficult decisions.”

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At least he’s honest.

It turns out that listening and understanding are things I write about a lot.  I don’t know why.  It’s kind of like when Nancy Holder told me that young people getting dragged into new worlds was “classic Shawna.”  I had no idea.  Apparently, it’s what I gravitate towards without realizing it.  Granted, listening isn’t the only thing hidden in my stories, but I think it’s a lesson we all need to consider getting into the habit of, especially right now.  Maybe that’s why I notice it cropping up more and more in my stuff.

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Surprises are… fun?

Anyway, I suppose all of this just boils down to the fact that I think it’s kind of neat to see things I never intended to write about pop up in my stories.  So, while I may not know what my novel is about when you ask, I’ll eventually figure it out during revision.  What about you?  What themes pop up in your work?  Feel free to share your comments or thoughts here or on my social media pages!

Writing Stints: I Should Get Back to Those

Howdy, howdy!  How is everyone’s year going so far?  I’ve been fairly productive in getting ready to dive back into revisions in a serious manner.  I read through the revisions thus far, made sure I knew where I was going with things, and reviewed the plot to come.  But I admit that it’s a daunting task to sit down and seriously work on the story.  That’s why I’ve been looking into different variations of writing stints/time management methods.  I thought I would ramble on about a few of my options today, since I have nothing else to write about.

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This is not wrong.

For a while, a friend and I did a couple of hour long stints a day (or when we were both writing at the same time).  In other words, we’d check in with each other with our goals for our stints that day, write (or revise or blog or whatever we needed to do) for an hour, take a short break to check in and rest, then repeat the last two steps until we met our goals or were exhausted.  That method worked for me.  It helped me concentrate and reporting in with said friend helped hold me accountable.  Unfortunately, life gets in the way of these things and makes it impossible for us to do this at the moment.  And, honestly, I don’t know if I could keep up that kind of momentum on my own.  An hour is a long time.  That’s why I’ve been looking at other options.

One of the most popular options for time management seems to be the Pomodoro Technique.  Yes, it means tomato.  Supposedly, the guy who started it used a tomato shaped timer.  In this one, you select a task and work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and repeat 4 times, after which you take a 15 minute break then start all over again until you’re done.  It sounds useful and there are tons of apps to use that will help with my accountability issues.  I might try this.

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Apparently this is a thing.

Some of my other friends have recently started doing a 15 minute stint followed by two half hour stints and another 15 minute stint to finish up.  They take short breaks between each stint to check in with each other as well.  It’s a method they found on Twitter through Leigh Bardugo.  Our writing schedules just don’t mesh, so I haven’t been able to join them, but it seems like a helpful style.  Maybe live tweeting progress during breaks could even work for me.  Or at least posting progress on my private Facebook page.  I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to publicly announce how slow I am.

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Because cunning is better than speed.

Anyway, this is all to say that I need to start doing stints again.  I’ll probably try my old way on my own for a while.  If that fails, I’ll try the Pomodoro Technique.  What about you?  Do you have any time management tips?  What do you do to get yourself on track?  Feel free to share your thoughts, methods, or comments here or on my social media pages!

A Time For Goals

Hello, hello!  Welcome to 2019!  Since it’s only the 2nd day of the year, I thought I would share my goals.  I did this type of post for last year as well, but I failed pretty miserably.  In 2018, I finished the first draft of DS1, started revisions on LR1, wrote 3 new short stories/flash fiction pieces, submitted 2 short stories/flash pieces/poems a week (earning myself a publication and a handful of personal rejections), and I read 29 books.  I started out strong early in the year, but eventually lost steam.  Hopefully, I can find a steady pace that won’t wear out on me in 2019.  On to the goals!

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True.  Also, I guess 2016 just kind of disappeared into the aether.

1. Finish revising LR1.  I still have a lot of work to do on this book, but I adore the characters and the story line.  I’m shooting for a finish date of early April.  At least finishing the second draft, at which point I’ll have to find some trusty beta readers (always the hardest part in my experience).  I might even look into prices for professional editing, so I can get some expert feedback.  We’ll see how it goes.  First, I have to finish revising it.

2. Revise DS1.  My mind has been randomly drifting to this book for the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been reading so many cozy mysteries that I really want to get back to working on my own.  It’s a series I’m considering using a pseudonym for, though that means I’m getting ahead of myself.  I have to revise it and get an agent or publisher interested, then I can worry about names and all that fancy stuff.  A woman can dream, though.

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Non-existent Jekyll. Has a nice ring to it.

3. Submit short stories/flash pieces (at least 2 subs a week).  I want to keep this habit going for as long as I can.  It’s sometimes really difficult to find at least semi-pro paying places to submit a story that’s been out in slush limbo on and off for over a year, but I keep looking.  I haven’t had to retire a piece because of that yet.  Hopefully this year will bring more acceptances and more awesome venues for submitting!

4. Write 5 short stories/flash pieces.  A break between revisions is always a good thing.  Last year, I aimed a little too high on my short story goals, so I decided to be more sensible.  I already have one short story brewing for a project with some friends.  Maybe getting that one written will help grease the wheels, so to speak.

5. Shop LR around to agents.  This is a goal that is a tad ambitious, which is good.  It all depends on how well the revisions on LR go and whether or not it requires another round of them.  It’ll give me something to strive for.

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Look at the cute puppy!

6. Read 30 books.  I didn’t include a reading goal last year, but my goal was 24 books.  I managed to read 29 books, so I thought I would try to one up that.  But I’m a slow reader.  Hopefully, I can get through 30 books.

What about you?  What are your goals for 2019?  Feel free to share them or your thoughts here or on my social media pages!

December Goals

Howdy, howdy!  It’s December again (didn’t we just do this?).  Happy holidays and all that jazz!  I don’t really have anything to talk about this week and I’ve been super slacking on the writing front (and at life in general), so I thought I would take a minute to make my goals for the month known.  This way, you can heckle me until I succeed.  I know these posts are pretty boring, so I try not to do them a lot.  Apologies in advance.  But here are my goals in no particular order!

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Cute pictures are fun.

December Goals:

1. Submit stuff 10 times (2 every Monday).  I’ve consistently submitted two stories a week all year long.  Granted, it wasn’t always on Mondays, but it got done even when I really didn’t feel like it.  I’m super proud of that.  Now, I just have to keep it up the rest of this month and do it all over again next year.

2. Revise more of LR.  Revising has been beyond slow and I have no one and nothing to blame but myself.  I love the story and I’m excited about it, but I can’t get into a good rhythm with the revisions.  I get into it a few days then can’t bring myself to open the files for a while.  It’s weird.

3. Read 2 books.  Actually, I need to finish two books (at least) this month.  I started them both last month.  When I got the okay on The Razor, I stopped in the middle of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman.  There was just no way for me to finish both last month.  And I decided to start this month’s review book before I finish European Travel.  I somehow clumped too many long books together and it’s thrown my whole reading schedule off, but I’m past my goal for the year, so it’s okay.

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The lazy voices in my head often enable me by telling the productive ones to shut up.

4. Make time for people.  It’s just really hard to talk to people when I like being a recluse so much.  Luckily, around the holidays, I randomly text people to wish them well and usually end up chatting with a few of them.  It’s the only time of year I’m not a completely shitty friend!

5. Decide on a couple of days to go through my files and tidy everything up.  I seriously need to do this.  I used to know exactly where every song, picture, and file was on my computer.  Now, I can’t find half the stuff I go looking for.  It’s a mess.

6. Start ripping old CDs to my computer.  A few months ago, I got a new radio because my 60 disc player stopped working.  Do you know how hard it is to find a new 60+ disc player that is it’s own stereo, not a component to a make-your-own stereo system?  Impossible.  In other words, I have a bunch of CDs that I need to transfer to my computer so I can play my old favorites and annoy the crap out of Dad.

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Okay, I have that one on my computer, but this made my smile.

7. Attack the slush pile.  I’ve been sporadic with my first reader duties over at Pseudopod.  I need to buckle down and help get through this period’s submissions.  It’s always a fun experience.

Those are my goals.  What about you?  Do you have any stuff you want to focus on this month?  Feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Going With The Flow

Howdy, howdy!  How is October almost over?  Next week is book review time and I have no idea what I’m going to review.  I thought I was more organized than that, but surprise!  I’m not.  I’m also super behind on a lot of my goals for the year.  It has just been really hard to find a balance between writing and life that doesn’t make me sick of either one.  When I hit those points of burnout, it throws off my schedule and everything gets stressful.  So, I thought I would ramble a bit about being organized vs. being flexible.

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Most of the time, I’m in mood number one.

I’m actually a super organized person, even though it doesn’t really look like it.  And by organized, I mean that I verge on the obsessive, especially when it comes to my routines.  I like plans.  I build my writing and slushing (I’m a first reader for PseudoPod) schedule around plans.  In fact, I keep goal lists for the week, month, and year.  Daily goal lists are something I make most days upon getting up.  Knowing what I’m supposed to get done each day eases my anxiety.  It also makes it easier for me to say yes or no to random errands (like when Dad asks if I want to go to the grocery store or Home Depot or out for dinner last minute).  Being organized is great because it even lets me build flexibility into my schedule.

On the other hand, shit happens.  People flake on you.  Allergies attack.  Computers randomly die or the Internet goes out.  Or a million other stupid little things that can’t be controlled happen.  Sometimes, I can foresee that my plans are going to be shot for the day (like when I have a doctor’s appointment that should only take 10 minutes, but I know I’ll be there at least an hour), so I make that a “do whatever” day.  Other times, I get burnt out by my routine and end up procrastinating for weeks.  But usually, life just gets in the way and I have to accept that.  Going with the flow isn’t my strong suit, but I’m trying to get better at it.

616498_1I’m trying to be more flexible, to just go with the flow.  I’ve come to the point where I can acknowledge that I won’t finish all my goals some of the time.  I even push less important things back a week (or month or year).  It’s not a huge step toward being flexible, but I’m making progress.  Building flexibility into my schedules is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being the type who rolls with whatever.  As long as I get my main goals done each day, I think I’ll be fine with the flow.

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Go with the Flow by Amanda Cass.

What about you?  Are you super organized?  Do things messing up your plans freak you out or tick you off?  Or are you the flexible kind who can shrug things off and follow the new path with ease?  Feel free to share your thoughts or questions here or on my social media pages!