It’s always great when you finally get the author copies you ordered. It’s never as quick as I want it to be. Strange as it may sound, I like to hold one in my hand and settle in to read it. I’ve read the book a couple dozen times as I’ve worked my way through it, but it always seems different in paperback. I quit worrying about mistakes and just participate as a reader. I am forever grateful to the people who help me get a story completed and ready for print.
It’s about that time again. I know it seems like we just changed the site, but it’s actually been a few years. As the styles change and themes age, things seem to start breaking down. Dean’s had to work a lot harder recently to keep this particular theme up and operating properly. With that in mind, we’re planning on changing the look and style… again
We could probably keep this theme going for a while longer, but we’ve talked it over and the timing makes sense. He’s available now, and I’m in final edits on The Loose End. We might as well have a new killer looking site to go along with the release of the new book.
Notice the use of the royal “We”? Like I have any kind of a clue about what he’s doing.
Dean is always so cool and confident when we undertake this stuff. Even though I know he’s got a handle on it, my inner control freak absolutely loses her sh*% and begins to run screaming around in my brain like her hair is on fire. As I sit quietly and listen to Dean talk about the changes, inside my head there is full scale chaos and pandemonium. A thousand questions pop into my head – each one seemingly more important than the last. None of which I need to actually ask. As my mental breakdown takes on a life of its own, I nod, smile, and thank him for doing it. This is what he does for a living and he’s been taking care of all my stuff for the last umpteen years.
When Dean’s finished, he’ll have the site in test mode, and I’ll get to go in, look around, ask him to adjust a couple small things, and he’ll explain everything to me in language I can understand. Yes, he’ll have to dumb it down for me. Then I’ll tell you all how great MY new and improved website is, as though I actually had something to do with it.
I’ll let you all know when Dean’s done doing whatever it is that Dean does. Until then the current site will continue to function and you can still get in touch through here, via email, or through my Facebook page.
I get a little weirded out when someone that I’ve known for years and is a Facebook friend suddenly asks, “Are you a writer?” This happens pretty much every time that I post a link to my latest book. There are a hundred responses although none of them are really polite.
Did you not see the other twenty comments congratulating me?
Did you not see “Works at Author” on my page?
Did you not see all the posts about writing and where I was at in the process?
Did you not pay the least bit of damn attention to anything in the last ten years that we’ve known each other?
Instead, I type, “Yes. Here’s a link to my website.”
I don’t really trust myself to say anything else.
The other one that sort of sends me into a corner shaking is, “Are you a good writer?”
What? Are you kidding me?
Truthfully, I always have the urge to respond with, “No. No, I’m not. I suck stinking, oily, feces-laden, bilge water. Thanks for fucking bringing up, you Asshat.”
Instead, I type, “I’m not bad.” Or “I’m pretty good.”
This will without a doubt be followed by the question: “What do you write?”
Jeeeeezzzzzeeee… do you not see the freaking link right there in the post that will take you to the damn book? Or how about clicking on the damn link to my website that I just freaking posted. Make a damn effort. Books, you jackass. I write freaking books. Guns, explosions, sex, more violence. What do you want from me?
Instead, I type, “I write contemporary fiction featuring strong women with military or law enforcement backgrounds, containing elements of action, suspense, and romance. I also write a paranormal series about military vampires under the name L. Scott.
Some days it is incredibly hard not to just say what passes through my brain, but then I remind myself that this is Facebook. These aren’t people that I see every day or even every year. We’re people with a common past and at least they’re asking.
I’m trying to get organized for NaNo 2016. The goal is at least 50,000 words in 30 days. Back in 2011, when I wrote Saving Emily, I decided that I needed a good plan to mentally manage the stress of meeting a word count. Divided by the 30 days, it works out to 1,667 words a day. I’ve had days where I’ve churned out close to 4,000. The problem is that I don’t do that every day. There are times when I can’t cough up 400, much less 1,667. What works best for me is to go with a weekly goal of 12,500. That way a crappy day doesn’t panic me. We start on Tuesday, so by close of business on the following Monday, I need at least 12,500 words to be on track.
The basic book is plotted out, and I’ve written the back stories of my characters so I know who they are. I have a fair idea of where the book is going, but I’m not sure about including viewpoints other than those of my two primary characters. Finding those unique voices can be difficult and looking into a dark mind is much more difficult for me than one might think. I like dark places, but I always want to open the curtains and let the light in—that’s not a good plan with an evil character.
As I’ve worked on the back stories and thought about the approach for this book several things about the characters and their backgrounds have changed. Side characters have appeared and the story has taken on depth and complexity. That’s great, but it also needs to be reined in and the story needs to be focused if I’m going to stay on track. Saving Emily worked well because I stuck to a central story for a specific period. It was “limited in scope.” That needs to be the case with this book for me to meet the challenge. However, as it is with all books, the characters will either cooperate or they’ll take me someplace that I didn’t intend to go. That’s the joy and challenge of writing.
Throughout all of this, my regular life will go on. There will be appointments to be kept, lunch or dinner out with friends, Weight Watchers’ meetings, college football, and NASCAR races. Someone will have to do battle with the dust buffalos and wash clothes, cook food, and pay bills. It will be life as usual, but with a word goal and, for the first time since 2011, the goal of a start to finish book. What the hell… bring on the challenge.
I speak their names on Memorial Day, but I’m not sad or somber. I no longer linger in the darkness. In short, I no longer let the last Monday in May turn into a day of mourning.
Memorial Day is to honor the fallen – it’s not a second funeral or a day to wallow in sadness or loss. It’s about honoring and respecting the promises we made to those who are not here. I believe in the national moment of silence and then raising a glass to the fallen, but then I step away from anything dark or sad because every one of the those who are gone would want us to live, love, and laugh.
I’ve been told that’s a healthy place to be, and I’ve also been reminded that not everyone feels that way.
The truth is that some folks may never get there because the loss is so deep and painful. It’s really hard to remember that when we chose this life and took our place in line with those no longer beside us, that we said we’d do certain things for each other. We agreed to carry each other’s memories with us where ever we went. But we also looked each other in the eye and said, “Dude, have a hell of a party for me when I’m gone.” The agreement was to have the drink, eat the steak, and sleep with the damn prom queen/king. None of us asked anyone to be sad, lonely, or depressed.
For many of us, that loss often carries twice the weight it probably should. It comes with a healthy dose of all the survivor’s guilt and the crappy memories of goodbyes not said. It often comes with images that we don’t want to see again, but can’t get rid of. When you’re being crushed under that kind of weight, it can be damn hard to remember that you have to keep a firm grip on the bar, lift with your legs, and above all – keep your head up. And all the talk in social media about how hard Memorial Day is for us makes us feel as though we have to keep carrying that weight even if we’re finally ready to set that heavy damn ruck down for the day.
The fact is that most of us have spent way too much time being hung up on the end of our friend’s lives rather than their actual life – those things that drew us together and those things that we most cared about – the things that we so loved them that we were willing to share our last mini-bottle of Tabasco sauce with the crazy fools or look at that nasty-ass blister on their foot. We’ve forgotten that we were all doing something we loved and believed in.
We’ve also forgotten that our brothers and sisters only asked that we remember and honor their lives – not mourn them. It took me years to get to the point where I could choose to remember and honor the life rather than dwell on the death. It’s a choice that I’m grateful to have and to make.
I think those we’re honoring would much rather if we called a couple friends and threw some burgers on the grill and told wild stories about the perpetually young and crazy warriors we all once were rather than sitting silently in the house. So, as I said, I’ll say their names, hoist a drink in their honor, and yes, I’ll probably cry for a few of them. But then, I’ll step out there and do the things I promised. I’ll talk about them as I live, love, and laugh, because I truly believe that’s what they’d want us to do.
I hope that those of you who are struggling can set your packs down and take a breath. If you need help, please reach out. There are many willing hands that are here for you. May you all have a safe and blessed Memorial Day.
Blood Link – where the military and vampires meet.
Gary Smith has been torn from his sleep every night for the last week by the same nightmare. He can smell the ocean nearby, but he can also smell blood all around him. There are dead vampires at his feet and more coming out of the woods to attack him. At his back is an unseen vampire that he doesn’t know—a vampire that he must now trust with his life. But every time he is jolted awake, the words Vampire Slayer are echoing in his mind, and Gary has no idea if he’s the slayer or the person about to be executed.
131,082 Words/370 Pages
Editor: Arwen Newman
Cover Design: Liquid Reality Studios