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After the Draft

While I’m writing, I frequently (and sometimes obsessively) go back over what I’ve written and fix and edit and tweak.  So when I finally get the entire manuscript on the page, I can’t really call it a first draft.  It’s already gone through several revisions at that point, at least most of it, so it’s really more like a third or fourth draft.  But just because I’ve got all the words on the page doesn’t mean that the work is done.  (If only that were the case!)

Then it becomes time to read it through, start to finish, and figure out if it makes sense.  Fortunately, it usually mostly does.  Some more tweaking and fixing ensues in this stage, and also trying to catch all my typos.  I’m really bad about typos.  So I read it through, and fix more stuff.

And then it’s off to the betas so they can give me their opinions.  They’re great about finding the typos I missed (damn typos) and telling me where things need additional work.  Where a sentence doesn’t work or isn’t needed.  Where what I was going for didn’t come across clearly, or the emotion is too big for what I wanted, or not big enough.  They give me all the bits and bobs to polish and make it shinier.

Now everybody has got a different opinion, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.  I’ve got people who like my stuff (because why would they read for me if they didn’t!) but also have varying degrees of what they like and don’t like.  I value my betas more than I can say, and welcome the feedback with a fiery passion.  But I’m the writer, and I get final say. So it’s up to me to weed through the critiques they give me, decide what I agree with and what I don’t, and make the changes appropriately.  Sometimes that’s really hard, and I get a pain in my belly when I do it.

And that’s where I’m at right now with Something Like Hope.  I’ve heard back from some, and am waiting for others.  And as I go through all the critiques and try not to cry (:P) I’m making a better book.  So by the time I send it to the publisher for consideration, it’s the best book I can make it.  Editors will have their own say, of course, but that’s a whole other blog post.

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The Joy of Writing

Despite all the frustrations, second guessing, worry and fear, and the multitude of other issues I encounter when writing, the simple fact remains that I absolutely love it.  I wouldn’t be doing it at all if I didn’t.  I’m not some huge name (which is fine with me) and I’m not making piles of money doing it.  Would I like to be a full time writer?  Of course I would!  Think of how much more I could write if I didn’t have to go to the evil day job!  But even if I never get to that point, even if I never publish another word, I’ll still be writing.

My story is the familiar one.  I’ve been reading and obsessed with books since I was a young child.  I devoured anything I could get my hands on and one memorable punishment when I received when I was about 13 was that I couldn’t read for fun for a month (I don’t remember what I did to deserve such a harsh punishment, but it must have been pretty bad).  When I was in fifth grade, I leaned about the creative writing process, and dabbled on and off with writing for the next few years.  When I hit high school and college, I wrote a lot, but tucked the pages away, filed in a crate.  Eventually, I found M/M romance, but it still took me four years to write something and actually have the guts to send it in.

So I’m a writer because I need to be. Because there is always a story in my head, and I see my guys lives as if they were playing as a movie in my brain.  Because if I didn’t get it out on the page, I’d go stark raving mad.  And though it’s sometimes scary and daunting to put my stories out there for public consumption, I do it because I think that they may bring some of you a few minutes, or hours, entertainment.  And that’s the joy for me.  Writing is not only fun, but a necessity, and I get to share it with the world.

 

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Remember Connor and Angel?  No?  Well refresh yourself, I’ll wait.  All caught up?  Good.  I was having a lot of trouble writing this week’s fic, until I finally realized that it was time to bring these boys back.  Enjoy!**

Three months had passed, and I was still here.  Living in a tiny rent-by-the-month apartment and telecommuting.  I still didn’t know what I was going to do with the property where my childhood home had once stood, but I knew I had to decide soon.  Because there was no way I was going try to muddle through filing my taxes again next year with it still hanging over my head.

But I was finally done, and I thought I got it right.  At least the software I was using finally stopped throwing errors at me and let me submit the paperwork.  A few minutes passed before my email dinged with the confirmation.  The forms had been filed, and were waiting acceptance.  I breathed out a sigh of relief.  It had taken me a good ten hours to get it done.  I wasn’t even that pissed that I wasn’t getting a refund this year.  Because it was over, and I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

There was a knock on the door a second before it creaked open.  I gave Angel a tired but pleased smile.  Lately things had been moving from friends to something more between us.  But I knew he was wary of starting something until I made some decisions.

I hadn’t had the guts to confess that I was sticking around because of him.

“You should keep the door locked, you know,” he said by way of greeting.  But his dark eyes were sparkling with humor.  God, I loved that look on him.  He was gorgeous, and he knew it but he wasn’t arrogant about it.  I needed to do something about us, and I needed to do it soon.

I cleared my throat and forced that thought away for the moment.  “What have you got there?”

He was holding a weathered piece of wood, and at my question, he looked down at it like he’d forgotten he held it.  His grin was wide and warm as he walked further into my apartment, and held it out to me.  I quirked an eyebrow but I took the proffered item.  My breath caught when I realized what it was.

The sign from the treehouse we built the summer we turned eight. My father had actually be sober that summer, and the three of us cobbled together a barely stable platform in the white ash tree in my backyard.  Angel and I had spent every day there, and some nights too.

“I’d forgotten about this,” I whispered reverently, tracing my fingers over the lettering.

Angel crouched down and put his hands on my thighs.  He looked up at me, his dark brown eyes fringed with impossible lashes.  “That was a good summer.”

“Yeah,” I murmured in agreement.  It was one of the few good memories of my childhood that I had.

“Will you come with me?”

“Sure,” I agreed, my voice gravely with emotion.  It didn’t matter where we were going.  Angel asked, so I went.

We were driving down a familiar street before I realized our destination.  I fidgeted in my seat, uncomfortable.  Even though I’d been in town for three months, I’d only been to this property once.  The night Angel and I reconnected.  Every time he’d brought it up, I’d quickly and effectively shut him down.

But now we were here, and my heart stuttered as he pulled into the gravel driveway.  The ruin of the house had been torn down at my direction, but the cement foundation was still there.  I couldn’t seem to tear my gaze away.  Angel opened my door, and with his gentle coaxing, I exited the vehicle, my attention still fixed to the foundation. He took my hand and led me around the car onto the grass.  My heart was thundering in my chest, my breathing fast, and I couldn’t seem to get my riotous emotions under control.

“What do you see?”

“Angel.”  His name was a plea.  I couldn’t believe he was making me do this.

He stepped into my field of vision, cutting off my view of what was left of the house.  “Not that,” he said, keeping his voice low and calm.  “Everything else.  What do you see?”

Because it was him, I did as he asked.  I looked around and took it all in.  The huge oak in the front yard with its gnarled trunk was just starting to bud with new leaves.  The grass, though thin and patchy, was a vibrant green.  The azalea bush was full and lush, and I could see just the hint of the pink flowers.  If I peered over his shoulder, I could just see the ash tree, farther along than everything else around it.

“That’s right,” Angel murmured, making me realize I’d been talking out loud.  “All this beautiful new life.  This is a place of renewal.”  I started to shake my head, but Angel caught my face in his hands and made me focus on him.  “Yes, Connor.  The bad is gone now, and there’s nothing left but brand new life.”

I felt a tear leak out of my eye and realized that this was the defining moment.  I took a deep breath, and then another, before I managed to look him straight in the eye.  All I saw was warmth, love, and affection.

“If I were to build here, start a new home…” I paused, and swallowed hard, never breaking his gaze.  “Would you share it with me?”

Angel’s sigh of relief and heartfelt kiss were all the answer I needed.

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Of Catnip and Kryptonite

Go with your gut.

That’s the advice I got the other day, and it’s sound.  Gave me just enough courage to do exactly that.  But see, the thing is, I sometimes have a hard time trusting my gut.  At least when it comes to writing.  I over think things.  Second guess myself.  Spend useless hours contemplating some point, and trying to change it, just so it’s different.  Something unexpected.  And while the unexpected can definitely be a good thing in writing, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes, all we want is for it to be how we expect.  Especially if the unexpected seems like it’s trying too hard.

And sometimes my gut tells me to write in a way that I’m not completely comfortable with.  And that makes me second guess myself as well.  Because there’s a certain way I write, and a certain kind of character I’m comfortable getting into his headspace so he can tell the story.  To step outside of that, to write from a different kind of perspective, is a little scary.  Because what if I can’t do it as well as I do the other thing?  What if it doesn’t work out like I thought?

Go with my gut, indeed.

There’s a type of male character that I’m drawn to.  No use in denying it.  I like the big, alpha male who is grumpy and stoic and cranky on the outside, and has the soft, gooey, caring center.  Someone who can be, on occasion, just this side of complete asshole but who shows his deep caring and mushy middle at the perfect moment.  That kind of guy is my Kryptonite and my catnip.  I’m always going to be drawn to that kind of character, and that guy is always going to be my greatest weakness.

I’ve hinted at it before.  Jack is kind of like that.  So is Alex.  They both have their moments of grumpy and cranky.  They both have melty centers when it comes to their men.  But neither character is full-on in that regard.  To write someone who is pure alpha male, testosterone incarnate, who has stoic down to an art and for whom control is paramount, that is daunting.  That’s not me in any way, shape, or form.  To write that guy, and write from his POV, is a little bit scary because I worry about not getting it right.

But if I’m going with my gut, he’s the guy to tell the story.  He’s the one whose head we need to be in.  So as I begin plotting the second book in the trilogy, he’s the guy I have to trust to help me tell the story.  He’s the kind of guy that won’t let me down either.  As long as I can trust him.  Trust myself.  Trust my gut.

He is my catnip and my Kryptonite, and if can just let go of the worries, I’m going to fall in love with him.

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One for the Win Column

When I went to bed on Thursday night, it was because I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore not because I wanted to.  And anyone who knows me knows how much I like sleep, so that’s a big deal.  But I was so close to finishing my WIP that I wanted to get all the words on the page.  I couldn’t do it that night, there were too many words left, but I was bound and determined to get it done Friday.

Friday dawned a good day.  I was pumped and ready to go, and even though I had to go to the day job (which I was ready to call in to just so I could write) I had a goal in mind; work my eight hours, get home, and finish that draft. Before work, I finished another round of edits on Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love and I was in the author zone.  And then a wonderful thing happened.  Unexpectedly, the boss let us all go at noon.  I was thrilled!  An extra half a day to get writing done!

Well, I had to do some cleaning first because the cat got sick, but I was thinking while I was doing it.  And then I half convinced myself that I would take a nap before I wrote.  But the doc was open on my computer, and I thought I would just write for a few minutes while the drier finished doing its thing.  But then, yeah, I got sucked in to the story and a couple of hours and four thousand words later, I had a completed draft.  I am not ashamed to admit I did a butt wiggling happy dance.  Because all the words, every last one of them, were on the page.

I edit as I write, so now it’s reading it through and making tweaks.  About a dozen times.  I’ll be getting more feedback, and I’m sure a few changes will happen then.  The Admiral, who has been reading along as I write, likes this one.  He’s pushing for sequels.  And if I’m honest, my characters are pushing for them too.

One of the reasons I was so anxious to get this draft done was because I’m anxious to get started on the next.  It’s still a trilogy, as I have it planned.  I need to plot the next book, as I only  have the beginning in my head (and of course, the end, because we all know how it’s going to end) and the third book is already plotted.  Incidentally, that was going to be the second book, but now I’ve realized timeline wise, it works better as the third so it’s gotten pushed back.

I’ve got to focus some attention on the upcoming flash fics–I have the challenges and the ideas, I just need to get them on the page–but my focus for the foreseeable future is this series.  Once I get this story as polished as I can make it, I’ll submit it and hope.  There’s work to do there yet (including writing the synopsis, of which I am not a fan).  But I’ll also be working on the next two because this world and these characters won’t leave me alone.  Yes, each book focuses on a different set of MCs, but I’m hooked and I’m involved.  I’m barely taking a breather this time, because it’s the same world and I get to see my guys again even as I write about different guys in their circle, and I’m not feeling the usual mourning that takes place when I finish writing a story.

But for now, that draft is done because I have the entire story on the page.  And I count that as a win.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**This fic had a wee bit of inspiration in real life.  Not my life though, thank goodness. So when I told the Admiral of a plot bunny brewing, he decided to make it this week’s challenge.  Enjoy!**

Moving day.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks.  Months.  Years if I was honest.  Finally out of this tiny one bedroom apartment and into a real house.  We’d been looking for a long time, and when the old Bergstrom place on the outskirts of town went up for sale three months ago, we’d snapped it up.  It needed work, a lot of updating and renovation, but it was perfect.  The farmhouse had good bones, and the three acres it sat on afforded plenty of space to build cages and shelters for the wild animals my veterinarian husband rehabilitated and released.  With the more delicate cases being housed on our property, and with plans to move the clinic to the old barn once it was renovated, I had hope of actually seeing him once in a while.

I loved Seamus and I loved his passion for animals.  I knew what I was getting into when we started dating ten years ago.  I was more than aware of who I was marrying when we said our vows three years ago.  But there were weeks when we barely shared a meal together, let alone had any time for us.  I respected him and his job, so I didn’t complain.  Much. But moving day was finally here, and this was going to change things for the better for us.  I was ecstatic.

I knew that the large part of the packing would be up to me.  Seamus couldn’t just drop his responsibilities at the clinic, and I worked a regular day job.  I packed at night and on the weekends, and Seamus helped when he wasn’t too tired.  But still moving day arrived and I only had twelve boxes packed and most of our clothes.  Seamus had thought ahead, and, perhaps feeling guilty for his absence, hired packers to come and do the rest while the movers got to work.  That left us free to oversee the move.

Of course, I never thought I’d be doing it alone.

An emergency at the clinic had Seamus out of bed at four o’clock in the morning and struggling into a pair of pants.

“Those are mine,” I said sleepily, trying not to be angry.  I understood, I really did, but it was moving day.  We were supposed to be doing this together.

Seamus chuckled, dropped the pants, and picked up his own from the chair.  “Casey, baby, I’m sorry.  I am.  But I can’t leave an injured cougar unattended.”

“I know,” I said with a resigned sigh.  “I wouldn’t love you if you did.  Just…try to hurry, okay?”

He tilted his head and studied me for a moment.  I knew that look.  It meant he didn’t want to lie to me but he wanted to make me happy too.  Finally, wisely, he chose not to say anything at all, kissed me soundly, and raced out the door.  I flopped back onto the mattress and covered my eyes with my arm.  This was just great.

Eventually, I climbed out of bed and put the coffee on.  There was no use trying to sleep anymore.  I was too riled up and there was too much to do.  I started packing the kitchen while it brewed, then sat at our scarred oak table with my cup once it was finished.  I tried to tamp down the anger.  There was no point in it.  I would have to make the best of it, and hope the cougar wasn’t too bad off so my husband could come home to me.

***

It was nearly nine o’clock at night by the time Seamus finally trudged through the front door to our new home.  The move itself had only taken a few hours—we didn’t have that much stuff between us—and I’d managed to unpack most of the boxes.  Anger and resentment had fueled me.

“Hey, Case,” he called. He sounded tired.  I kind of didn’t care. “I was halfway to our old apartment before I remembered we moved.”

He laughed like it was funny.  I didn’t say anything at all, just kept pulling DVDs out of the box at my feet and all but slamming them into the rack.  Seamus didn’t seem to notice. He wandered into the bedroom to change.  Fucker.

“Casey?  My drawers are in the wrong order, baby.”  His voice carried down the hall.

“Too damn bad,” I muttered, even though he couldn’t hear me.  Where did he get off?  I’d done the whole damn thing by myself.  So what if I put his t-shirts and jeans in the wrong fucking drawers?  If he had been here, he could have done it himself.

A few minutes later he wandered back out.  “Did you have a good day?” he asked, and didn’t seem to notice that my reply was nothing more than a grunt.  He looked around, taking everything in, then walked toward the couch and proceeded to shove it three feet to the left.  “This would look better over here.  Did you eat yet?”

I shook my head as I kept stacking DVDs.  I’d been too pissed off to eat.  I was running on adrenaline and caffeine at the moment.  Because I’d had to take care of everything myself, without his help.  Because he couldn’t be bothered to even call to tell me that his animal was in bad shape.  I had kept expecting him to show up at any minute, and the longer it went on the angrier I got.

“I didn’t eat either.  I’ll fix us something.”  Seamus headed into the kitchen.  Once the swinging door shut between us, I turned fast and flicked him off.  With both hands. Feeling slightly better, I returned to my task.

I was just finishing up when I heard the creak of the hinges on the door.  I glanced back over my shoulder to see Seamus wearing a confused look.  “Baby?  Um, what were you thinking when you put away the stuff in the kitchen?  Because I’ve got to tell you, none of the places you put things make any sense.”

Last. Fucking.  Straw.  I whirled around, and the anger in my expression actually caused him to take a step back.

“You don’t like where things are?  Then you should have fucking been here to help me!”  My voice was loud, echoing in the cavernous room.  I was breathing heavy with my rage.  And my hurt.  He was supposed to have been here helping me.  Our first house was supposed to be something important.

Seamus was quiet for a long moment, then he blew out a breath.  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  I should have been here.  It couldn’t be helped, but it’s no excuse.  I am sorry.”

I deflated a little because I could see how sincere his apology was.  “I know.  I just…I fucking missed you today.  We were supposed to do this together.”  Tears of hurt and anger welled in my eyes, and I blinked hard to keep them at bay.  No way was I going to cry over this.

“I know, baby.”  His voice was soft, and he crossed the room to stand close to me.  He didn’t touch me, which was smart on his part.  “I can’t make this up to you, I know that.  The only thing I can say is that once we get everything situated here, I won’t have to leave you to do the important things on your own.”

I nodded.  That was the point of all of this.  Not only so we could have a house, but so that his work could be right there and we wouldn’t be spending so much time apart.  I blew out a breath, and when Seamus pulled me into his arms, I melted against him.

“I love you,” he murmured into my hair.

I wrapped my arms around him and held on.  “I love you too.”

“It’s only going to get better from here on out.”

I nodded against his shoulder.  He was right.  And that’s all I could want.

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Vacation (all I ever wanted)

Last night, my sister and I booked a hotel for a mini-vacation.  Just a weekend away to do a couple of fun things and relax and hang out.  Nothing too extravagant or noteworthy, honestly. Just away.  It’s going to be awesome.  And it’s only a couple of weeks away.

You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to it.  Like, an insane amount.  The break from the everyday is going to be exactly what we both need.  For the next two weeks, I’m going to be giddy with anticipation.  Better yet, it’ll be a reward.  Because by the time we go, I’ll have finished the first draft of my current WIP.

I set myself a little deadline, and it’s fast approaching.  But I have full confidence that I’ll be able to do it.  Because I’m in the home stretch.  Just a few more chapters to go.  And I’m so excited about that.  Last night I managed to figure out (with a little help) what was wrong with the scene that I was writing, so I can fix  that and move forward.  And then, there’s only three chapters left, give or take.  Maybe an epilogue too.  But at any rate, it’s nearly done.

So a sister time weekend to look forward to.  And I’ll be able to do it with the knowledge that the story is finished.  And that will let all the new plot bunnies in.  😀