Rectify is Live!


Rectify, a new novella in the Reborn series, is now live!

Find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and more!

Add it on Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Love ’em and leave ’em. That’s always been Apate’s motto. The Olympian goddess of trickery doesn’t have time for entanglements, romantic or otherwise. And she sure as hell doesn’t have time for regret.

But when Thurston University student Siobhan Elliot goes missing and the human cops start sniffing around, Apate’s dubious past catches up with her. Now it’s only a matter of time until Jimmy, her latest conquest—who also happens to be Siobhan’s ex—finds out it’s her fault. To cover her tracks, Apate pays a visit to the Elliots, using her powers of illusion to pose as their daughter and convince them everything’s fine. Lying is easy. Confronting the consequences of her actions, however, will prove to be much harder than Apate expected.

To find her redemption, Apate knows it’s time to come clean. But the truth could cost her the only love she’s ever known.

New Year’s Resolutions N’at


It’s that time again (or, as January is almost over, passed that time) to set goals for the new year, including writing goals! So read on for my official, writing-related new year’s resolutions n’at. (And if you don’t know what n’at means, you may need this.)

Last year, I accomplished several major writing and publishing goals. Accomplishments included self-publishing Reclaim, the third book in my Reborn series, as well as a companion novella, Revenge. I attended my first writing-related conference and joined two professional organizations for a little networking and friendship with other writers. I also submitted a standalone young adult novel I’d written to a writing contest (Pitch Wars). That was a major fail, haha, but I’m glad I did it. I don’t know if I’ll try it again this year, but definitely in the future. (If you’d like to find out more about Pitch Wars, visit their site.) I managed to accomplish another goal in 2017, but I’m keeping that under wraps for now…it remains to be seen whether it will be a success or a failure. 😉

Although I didn’t do as good of a job updating this blog last year, I did a lot of writing, even if I wasn’t always writing about writing. Teehee. In addition to the Pitch Wars manuscript, I wrote (most) of a Reborn-world novel for NaNoWriMo. “Reborn-world” because it’s based in the same mythology, but mostly focuses on two characters not in the other books. It’s, quite frankly, not anywhere close to being done. When I took a break from it over the holidays I realized it had some problems I needed to work through. I still think there’s an interesting story there, but I’ve put it on the back-burner for now.

(As an aside, this is also why I shouldn’t gleefully announce projects way in advance, lol. I thought for sure I’d want to do something with it. I still probably will, but it’s not top priority at this time. It was still important writing as far as back story goes, though. As authors, we write down a lot that doesn’t actually end up making it into a book. But we have to know it happened. If that makes any sense…)

In addition to writing projects, which I PROMISE I’ll get to in a second, I have several marketing-related goals I want to meet. This is always hard for me, as it is for any self-published author (and probably any author, really…) because, although I know how important marketing and promotions are, it takes time away from actual writing. Which is what I want to be doing. However, I’m hoping that if I write down these resolutions here, for all to see, I’ll be more likely to do them. At least that’s the idea. 😉

  • Web site: I really need to upgrade this site. Like yesterday. There’s no reason I can’t buy my own domain and transfer everything over…I think GoDaddy let’s you do this. But it’s slightly extra work and I don’t wanna. But I need to.
  • Newsletter: I want to start an author newsletter to give more targeted updates to readers. I’ve been doing some research into this, subscribing to newsletters from authors I enjoy to see what they do. It seems like MailChimp is the way to go for this? (If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments–about any of this, of course, but especially newsletters!)
  • Author Signing/Book Festival: The idea of going to one of these things feels really overwhelming to me, like even just thinking about it. I attended a panel of local authors talking about these last weekend and…even though I expected there to be a lot of prep for these events, there were tons of details I hadn’t even thought of. Yikes. So my goal is to just do one of these in 2018. Just one, and go from there.

Writing Resolutions

And now for the moment you all, or at least some of you, have been waiting for. I did start writing a thing this January. It doesn’t have a title yet…except for Reborn Book 4. 😉 It will likely be the last book in this series with Siobhan, Carly, Jasper et al. as the main characters. But I felt, in addition to tying up loose ends from the previous books, they still had stories waiting to be told. (I do have ideas for other books set in this world…”spin off” books, if you will, for characters that have been more secondary or minor until now.)

I’ve just started writing so am still getting a feel for this book. I think I’m somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser, lol. Although I have the main plot and some of the major turning points in mind, sometimes I just start writing without a clear outline, to see what my imagination cooks up. Then I stop and go back and sort of reassess things, making a clearer outline then. Even when I do outline, things often don’t go as planned, but that’s part of the fun. I don’t want to force the story to go a certain way if that’s not where the characters are taking me.

So I can’t tell you a lot about this book yet, but I can tell you some of the loose ends it will address. This is probably an incomplete list since I’m not looking at my notes, going off the top of my head here (and, if you haven’t read the Reborn series yet, spoilers abound):

  • Sibohan’s origin. Siobhan is unique among the halflings, those who are part human, part Olympian. She seems to have a special set of powers no one else has. In this book, you’ll find out why.
  • Siobhan and Jasper. They’re together at the end of Relapse, but it’s an imperfect union. Jasper loves someone who finds it hard, with good reason, to truly love him back. Siobhan feels more of an addiction to Jasper than actual love, but I think Jasper is on the road to redemption and she will discover there are honest feelings there. In any case, these two need a more satisfying resolution.
  • Eric and Anna. Eric has been the “big bad” up to this point, building his halfling army to overthrow Zeus back on Olympus. He suffered a bad defeat at the end of Reclaim, but he’s making his comeback in this book, his army larger and more formidable than ever. But Eric has secrets still waiting to be uncovered. If you remember from Relapse, Siobhan and Victoria almost happen upon one of them in his penthouse when they’re rescuing Vanessa… Anna had some problems at the end of book 2, to say the least, although she’s since been on the road to recovery. She undergoes quite a transformation in the meantime…it’s been fun to play around with her character more.
  • Prophecies. There have been two main prophecies floating around in the series that are pretty important, and now you’ll get to find out why. Vanessa says one of them in Relapse, and Moira, an Olympian seer, gives Carly the other in Reclaim.

Speaking of Carly…she will have a major part to play in this upcoming book as well, and I’m hoping to resolve some of the loose ends involving her. However, I don’t have this part completely ironed out yet so I won’t say anything more. A lot about everything I’ve said could still change because I’ve just started writing it…these were just some of the specific plot threads I’ve left dangling that I want to make sure to tie up…if not into a neat, tidy bow, at least into some sort of complicated knot that’s really hard to get out…

As far as a timeline for all of this goes, I don’t have much sense of a release date. I am sorry for that, but I’m also not going to set one for a while, at least until I have a better sense of how this is all going to come together. Although I am a writer, and I love that part of myself, I’ve been learning not to try to solely define myself by that. I have other goals, other obligations, not related to writing at all, that are important to me, too. Between all of those things, and writing, it’s just hard for me to get a sense of how to time releases. The book is done when it’s done, haha. I want to make it something readers will devour and enjoy, not something that was rushed. If I had to guess, maaaaaaybe I could get this book out end of 2018 or spring of 2019, but we shall see. This is not a hard deadline (clearly).

I know waiting is hard, but I hope you’ll bear with me. The wait will be worth it. In the meantime, if you’ve read any of the Reborn series and enjoyed it, take a moment to spread the word! Tell even just one friend about it, or post a rating and/or short review to Goodreads, Amazon, etc.

Happy 2018, and most importantly, happy reading!

 

 

Excerpt: The Visitor


Happy Monday!

I’ve been going through some old drafts of things I started and then put aside, trying to decide what writing project to work on next and what excerpt I could post on the blog. Some were too R-rated (lol), another I felt was potentially too dark, but this one seemed just right. 🙂 It’s really just backstory, so I don’t know if it will ever make its way into a book, but I wrote it when I was thinking about Carly’s bad ass grandma, and about who her biological father is (the one who left their mother when they were young). Sounds scumbag-ish, but like always in the Reborn world, nothing is as it first appears…..

This is some Carly family backstory, related to events that happened in Reclaim (Reborn Book #3). (I recommend *not* reading it if you haven’t read Reclaim and are planning to, because it will spoil parts of it.) And please keep in mind this was mostly for my notes so it’s very rough, but I thought readers of the series would enjoy it. Happy reading!

*****

Image result for someone knocking on a doorUpstate New York, eleven years ago

Darlene Vignovich was just beginning to doze off when there was a loud, urgent knocking at the front door.

She gave a shudder, paper-thin eyelids flying open, and sat straight up in her chair. Placing a gnarled, wrinkled hand on either chair arm, she hoisted herself to standing, then, grabbing her cane from where it was propped up against the end table, propelled herself toward the door. Three more loud, demanding knocks sounded on the other side. She thought about alerting her husband, who was out back tending to his rose bushes (as always), deciding against it a moment later. From the sudden, inexplicable drop in temperature in the room, and the way the breath left her lips in small, white puffs, she already knew who stood on the other side of that door.

She knew she could handle him.

“You,” she said after unlatching and pulling the door open. She kept the screen door locked, meeting the pair of bright, blue eyes on the other side of it with a steely resolve. They belonged to a very tall man with a strong-looking but slim body, a head of salt-and-pepper hair and beard to match, and those keen blue eyes peering out of a tan face lined with age. He looked to be about fifty, but each time Darlene had seen him over her long life he had looked the same. The first time their paths had crossed she had been eighteen and a freshman in college, and she had thought him an old man, albeit a distinguished one. Now that she was an old woman, he looked younger and more appealing than ever.

“Where do you get off, dropping by here unexpectedly,” Darlene snapped, jabbing her cane in his direction. “You should have called first.”

“Darlene.” He said her name patiently, imploringly, and spread his arms in an apologetic manner, palms out to face her. “You’re the one that invited me here.”

“I know that,” she spat, spittle flying through the air, collecting on the glass pane of the door in tiny round droplets. “I’m not senile, just old.” Although sometimes she wondered about that, herself. Sometimes she got confused. Usually, it was small things. Calling one of her granddaughters by her daughter’s name. Looking in the fridge for the sugar, and in the cupboard for the milk. But sometimes it was bigger things. The two worlds, two realities she had forced apart her entire life had, at some point, floated back together and now bled into each other, like squirts of blue and green dye mixing in a bowl of water.

“Darlene. Open the door,” the visitor beseeched her calmly.

After a moment’s stubborn pause, Darlene obliged, unlocking and opening the screen door.

One shiny black dress shoe, then the other, crossed the threshold, clapping over the hardwood floor. His dark suit was snug and well-tailored, the outline of muscle much too prominent for someone his age visible underneath the expensive material. Underneath, he wore a crisp white shirt and a purple tie.

“You should have called,” Darlene scolded him again, shuffling over to perch on the edge of a couch cushion. He sat down in the arm chair she had vacated moments ago, reclining it back slightly, making himself at home. “Hannah and the girls will be here soon. If they see you…”

“They won’t,” he assured her, drumming long, elegant fingers on his thigh. “They’ll never know I was here, will go on believing I left their mother, abandoned them.”

“You did,” she reminded him.

“Only because you demanded it of me.”

“You would have left eventually, anyway. That’s what your kind do. Spread your seed on this world and then bolt.”

“My kind?” The corner of his mouth ticked upward. Despite herself, Darlene always thought the man had a nice mouth. There was a sensuous curve to his lips, and they were a nice, smooth pale pink, like the peonies that grew in her garden. “It’s your kind too, Darlene. Our blood runs through your veins.”

Even though she already knew this—he had told her and her sorority sisters this sixty years ago—Darlene still shivered, the hairs on her forearms pricking. “Yes. Demon blood does run through them. But so does human blood. And that is where I derive my strength from.”

“Demon blood.” The visitor rolled those too-blue eyes. “We’re not demons. We are not evil. We are simply more…advanced. If anything, we’re angels. Gods.”

Darlene’s head of tight, white curls sliced to the right, then the left. “God has nothing to do with the likes of you. Living so long, being so beautiful, so…alluring…that can’t be God’s work. It is Satan’s. It is an abomination.”

“Is that what you would call your granddaughters?” He leaned forward in the chair, eyes deepening to an icier shade of blue. The temperature in the room took a nosedive, and Darlene felt little tendrils of frost collecting in her nose, on her eyelashes. “Abominations? Your ‘tainted’ blood flows through their veins. So does mine.”

“Carly and Diane will never know of this world,” she insisted, embracing herself. She didn’t want her daughter’s ex-husband to catch her shivering, but she couldn’t help it. His easily sparked temper had thrown them into a freezer. “I have made sure of that.”

“You won’t be around to protect them forever.” His reminder chilled her even further. “They’ll be out in the world, on their own. Just like you, they will gravitate toward the sisterhood. They will discover their heritage. Their destiny.”

“No.” She shook her head again. “I won’t let that happen.”

All at once, the temperature in the room rose again, the frost clinging to her eyelids and nostrils melting. The visitor sat back in the chair again, raking a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. “You don’t have to leave them,” he continued in a calmer, kinder tone. “You know that. I can give you more ambrosia. It will awaken the rest of your…demon”—he sneered the word—“blood, give you practically eternal life. But you won’t have to leave Hannah, or your granddaughters.”

Darlene extended a hand to the top of her cane, feeling the grooves in the wood with her fingers. “I don’t want to leave them. But, one day, I’ll have to. That is the natural order of things. The circle of life. I won’t destroy my soul, even for eternal life.”

He sighed. “That’s my Darlene, always so damn moral.”

Darlene nodded once, stiffly. “That’s right. So, did you bring it? Do you have what I requested?” He’d better not have come empty handed.

Nodding and reaching into his suit jacket, her former son-in-law pulled out a black velvet, drawstring bag, seeming to weigh it in his hand before handing it to her. Darlene accepted it, resting the bag on her lap and opening it up, peering inside.

“This is it?” she asked, still unable to believe it. To trust him. “This will seal the rift that’s on the outskirts of my property?”

“That, and this.” He reached back into his jacket, this time emerging with a piece of yellowed parchment. “This is the ritual that will close the tear. Permanently.”

“Good.” Accepting the parchment from him, Darlene gingerly folded it in half and tucked it inside her robe. She pulled on the drawstrings, closing the black velvet pouch. “I’m not sure what’s out there, but there’s something on the other side of that rift. I can hear them sometimes, crying. Screaming.” More demons, she assumed, but she wasn’t about to bring that up in front of him again. There was no point. The rift would be repaired soon, and everything would be back to normal. “What do you think could cause such a thing?” she asked, almost as an afterthought. “I thought the walls the guardians erected long ago were supposed to be full-proof.”

“They are quite sturdy,” he agreed, “but can occasionally weaken and fail from natural wear and tear. But it’s nothing to worry about. That should do the trick.” He nodded toward the bag still sitting in her lap. Darlene wasn’t sure she believed that the anomaly was “nothing to worry about,” but she didn’t pursue that either. Hannah and the girls would be there soon. It was time for him to go.

He seemed to understand this, bringing the recliner forward again and getting to his feet, adjusting his tie as he strode toward the door. “Don’t bother getting up, Darlene.” He waved a hand in her direction just as she was making to push up onto her feet with her cane. “I can see myself out.”

But before he left, he turned again, one hand on the door, the other fisted at his side. “My daughters do not have evil inside of them. They have my people’s magic. Power. You don’t want me to be a part of their lives? Fine. I’ll stay away. But do not shelter them. Don’t deny them their heritage. Like you, like Hannah—though she doesn’t know it—they are guardians. And they are so much more. If you don’t tell them, they will find out some other way. I guarantee it. The Fates will guide them to their destiny. But it’s better that you prepare them. Think about it.”

With that, he pushed through the screen door, pulling it closed behind him much too hard, causing the glass pane to shudder and rattle. Heaving a sigh, Darlene set the black velvet pouch containing the object capable of mending the walls-between-worlds on the couch before getting up to close and lock the heavy oak door. Feeling suddenly breathless, she turned, leaning her back against the cool wood of the door, closing her eyes. He was right about one thing. Maybe she should tell Carly and Diane. Everything.

A moment later, she shook her head, going back over to the couch to retrieve the bag. She would need time to learn how to use the object inside properly and to practice the ritual. Until then, she would hide it away from her granddaughters’ inquisitive eyes. No, she decided, shuffling up the stairs. It was best Carly and Diane only knew the world they were used to. One that was safe. Normal. No demons, no parallel worlds, no magic. They would never know about the guardians, nor who their father really was.

She would make sure of it.

 

July Updates and Promotions


So I realized I haven’t written an update post (or any sort of post) since April. Woops. My bad. 😉

One of my goals this summer is to give this site an overhaul, or possibly make a new site and transfer everything over. Although I have a soft spot for this blog because it’s my baby, haha, and where I started my self-publishing journey, I’d like something that looks more professional, and with more of a focus on my books rather than blogging. I will still, of course, blog from time to time, but I don’t really have the time anymore to blog as often as I used to. (Although, to be fair, I’m not sure I ever really had the time…I was just procrastinating from my dissertation, bahaha…..)

But, until then, this will still be the go-to place for writing and book updates. Speaking of which, I have a little summer promotion going on I’d like to plug.

I’ve enrolled all of the installments in the Reborn series (thus far) into Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale promotion (because it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere), which runs through July 31, 2017. Sign up for Smashwords (it’s free!) to check out a lot of great e-books at reduced prices.

Reborn, Relapse, and Reclaim are all 50% off (coupon code: SSW50). The novella Revenge is free (coupon code: SW100).

The codes will only work on Smashwords, but it’s easy and free to sign up!

Happy July, and happy reading!

~S.L.~

Excerpt: Toga Party


Felt like sharing a little excerpt from what I’ve been editing today. Probably not great to share something that’s not really finished, but it’s happening anyway. This is a scene from Chapter 5 of Reclaim, in which Carly and Victoria pay a visit to an old friend who might be able to help them find the antidote for the curse Hera placed on Carly’s sorority sisters. He’s one of the few brand new characters I introduce in Reclaim (most of the others have already appeared in prior books) and the president of a fraternity at a different university. It’s supposed to be a rather silly scene, a bit of comic relief.

***

“Is it this one?” I ask Victoria as we cruise slowly down Applewood Lane, known to Shadesburg University students as Greek Row. I have to admit I’m a little jealous their fraternities and sororities live off-campus in spacious, colonial-style homes. They line either side of the road, uniform and perfect, each with the same white siding, dark blue shutters, and wrap-around porch surrounded by columns. The lawns are also large and well-maintained, the gardens orange and gold with fall-blooming flowers. In comparison, the Gamma Lambda Phi house looks like a shack. The neighborhood is quiet for the most part, the thump of dance music in the distance the only sign of life.

I see Victoria shake her head out of the corner of my eye. “Keep going.”

“What about that one?” I say hopefully as we pass a house with colorful, stained glass Greek letters in the window and a porch filled with autumn-themed decorations. There’s even a pie cooling on the porch table.

“Nope,” Victoria says, sighing as though she wished it were. She points a few houses down. “It’s the house on the end.”

“The one where the music’s coming from?”

She nods. “There’s a space. Pull up over here.” I park in front of a house with a few broken windows, peeling paint, and wicker porch furniture that has definitely seen better days. The Greek letters “ΔΙΚ” are scrawled in magic marker on a piece of paper taped to one of the windows.

“Delta Iota Kappa,” I read out loud as we get out of the car. I give their initials some further thought. “Wait a minute. So they’re…”

“DIK,” Victoria finishes for me, rolling her eyes.

“But they don’t actually call themselves that. Right?” Victoria doesn’t answer me as we walk up to the house.

The music is coming from their second story balcony, where some of the fraternity brothers are stretched out on lawn chairs, having beers. More people are congregated on the front lawn, wearing white sheets like togas and drinking out of red Solo cups. Some of them are simply standing around, talking, others are dancing, still others are engaged in extreme public displays of affection. Someone has even set up a lopsided net for a drunken game of volleyball.

“Talk about playing hard,” I mutter, feeling out of place as we make our way to the house. “It’s Monday night.”

Victoria shrugs. “It’s a party school.” We take our time ascending the crumbling porch stairs, which creak ominously with every step. Almost as soon as we’ve cleared them, a tall, wiry young man jumps in front of us, barring our way to the door.

“Halt!” he says, thrusting his hand, palm out, toward us. “Who seeks entry into the sacred house of Delta Iota Kappa?”

My roommate crosses her arms, an amused lift to her eyebrows. “Victoria and Carly,” she says, humoring him, “of the esteemed house of Gamma Lambda Phi.” At the mention of our sorority’s name, his eyes grow wide, face as white as the bed sheet draped over his slender frame. “Now, let us in.”

He flattens himself against the door, shaking his head vigorously. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

“Oh, come on,” Victoria groans. “You’re having a party. What’s a few more guests?”

“I can’t let you in without the…” He trails off, racking his brain for a reasonable excuse. “Proper attire?” he finishes, voice going up slightly at the end almost like it’s a question.

“Too bad I left my toga at home,” Victoria says with a rueful snap of her fingers. Thinking he’s successfully turned us away, the guard relaxes a bit, crying out a moment later when Victoria picks him up by the shoulders. Setting him aside, she pulls open the door, gesturing for me to go in first.

“Hey! You can’t just go in there,” he says, panic in his voice. He runs past us, shouting into the house, “Dion! Dion! We have trespassers!” A couple devouring each other on the couch look up at the commotion, regarding us curiously before returning to their make out session.

“We’re not trespassing,” my roommate insists, sounding fed up. “Your president and I go way back. Now, where is your fearless leader?” she asks no one in particular, eyes scanning the living room. She walks up to a second couple making out on a recliner, trying to see the guy’s face. “Dionysus?”

“Nike?” A man’s deep voice calls her Olympian name from the next room. “Is that your sweet, lilting voice I hear? Pledges. Up!” The order is followed by the sounds of furniture scraping against the hardwood floor and a chorus of male grunts. Four skinny freshmen come hobbling through the doorway, lugging a gold-framed chair with scarlet cushions. Lounging in it is a mass of long, well-muscled limbs attached to a man with curly blonde hair and a complexion like a bronze statue.

“Pledges, down!” he bellows, and the four boys gladly drop the chair directly in front of us before crawling away, trying to catch their breath. The man I presume is Dionysus stands up, opening his arms to give Victoria a hug.

“Nike! It’s so good to see you. You look…pissed off,” he realizes, taking a step back, arms falling. Like his brothers, he’s wearing a makeshift toga, only his is pulled tightly across a broad chest, exposing the corded muscle of his abdomen.

She gives him an exasperated look. “Of course I am. You’re hazing your pledges!”

“You call it ‘hazing,’” he says, making air quotes, “I call it building character. Besides, they like helping out around the house.”

“If that were true, there are a lot of other things they could be helping out with.” As she says it, Victoria stoops to pick up an empty beer can from the floor and sets it on the table next to a takeout container that looks like it’s been sitting out for a few days. “This place is a mess. But in any case, they’re not supposed to be catering to your every whim. They’re your new members, not your servants.”

“Hey, you don’t get to come over here, uninvited, and insult our way of doing things,” Dionysus tells her, crossing his arms. He doesn’t sound truly angry, just mildly annoyed. “Sure, we could clean up a bit, but the house is fine.”

Victoria’s eyebrows go up. “It’s literally falling apart. But I suppose you’ve been too busy partying to notice.”

“We’re fine,” he insists. “Everything’s fine! And the pledges couldn’t be happier.” A quick glance at the four who carried him in here, still panting and glaring at their president, tells me this probably isn’t the case. “They live to serve me—I mean, the house,” he corrects himself when Victoria’s jaw twitches angrily. He gives a nervous chuckle before turning to me instead. “I see you have a new toy.”

“What? No,” Victoria says quickly, realizing he’s talking about me. “This is Carly. She’s one of the Gamma Lambda Phi sisters.”

“Ohhhh.” Eyes the color of gold rum look me up and down as he nods his approval. “Can I play with her, then?” After a moment’s pause, he bursts out laughing, slapping his leg. “I’m just kidding! You should see the looks on your faces. Priceless! It’s nice to meet you, Carly,” he adds, sticking out a hand. “Welcome to Delta Iota Kappa.”

I hesitate, then give his hand a brief shake. “Thanks.”

“So,” he continues, re-crossing his arms, “tell me a little bit about yourself, Carly.”

“Well, I…go to Thurston. I’m a math major. I’m in Gamma Lambda Phi…but Victoria just told you that,” I recall, feeling myself blush. “That’s pretty much it.”

His face spasms like he’s trying to hold back a yawn. “Fascinating. Anyone want a drink?” he asks abruptly, picking up a bottle of vodka from the table. He notices it’s empty and frowns. “I think I need a drink.”

“We didn’t come here to party,” Victoria says, taking the bottle from him and putting it back. “We need some information. Is there somewhere we can go that’s more private?”

He forces a smile. “Of course. Follow me.”

WIP Wednesday: The Mess


I was at a lecture a few weeks ago given by historical fiction author Geraldine Brooks. Not really what this post is about, but, if you ever get the chance, I recommend going to hear her talk. To be honest, I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, and I had never really heard of her before I went to hear her speak–I really just went because she’s a writer and it sounded interesting. (I was apparently the only one who didn’t know who she was, though. The place was packed.) She used to be a journalist covering the Middle East so, in addition to talking about her recent novel The Secret Chord, she had a lot of stories and insight to share.

Anyway, something else she said stuck with me. She said someone asked her author friend once what her writing process was, and her friend replied something like: “Mess. Mess. Mess. Mess. Mess. Mess. Mess. Mess…..art.”

Of course, you had to be there, but when she said it, everybody laughed–many writers in the room knowingly. Because often that’s what it feels like. You start out with the “word vomit”–just getting the words down on paper, not worrying too much about egregious grammar mistakes, typos, or the giant, gaping plot hole you might not catch until later. The first draft–and the second, maybe even the third–can be something of a mess. What Ms. Brooks said reminded me of another quote about first drafts, attributed to Shannon Hale, that I like: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” (I love that one.)

That’s what I’m doing right now. Around the end of February, I finished the first complete draft of Reclaim, and now I’m cleaning it up, trying to build sand castles. And it is a bit of a mess. (I mean, I found a part toward the beginning introducing a plot thread I had decided early on to take out. So I didn’t carry it through the rest of the book, but that little section was still in there. It was very satisfying to just highlight, hit “delete,” and move on.)

I’m not actually changing anything major. Although I had an outline for the book, the characters had minds of their own and–as they always do–took the story in some unexpected directions. But I like where they took me, what they revealed about themselves and the essence of the story.

But there are edits to make, and sometimes I feel like it’s going to take me forever. I get discouraged. Frustrated. Especially when other work takes over and I have to put book writing/editing on the back burner for a few weeks. It usually ends up being a good thing when I take a break from it. My subconscious has a chance to sort out some of the issues that have been nagging me, and I go back to it feeling refreshed. But it doesn’t make me feel any less guilty when I can’t work on it every single day.

Thanks for following along, and I’ll continue to check in monthly as the journey to book three continues. I do have the cover, so we’ll do a cover reveal at some point, in a few weeks or so. If you’re happening upon my blog for the first time, you can find out more about my books and WIPs under the “My Books” tab on the main menu. Until next time, happy reading!

~S.L.

 

Weekend Update March 5, 2016


Some very important updates! Followed by some rambling about publishing and marketing.

Note: The article I reference in the vlog can be found here. The author is Meredith Wild, her company is Waterhouse Press.

Reborn series book three is called Reclaim, and I’ve set the release date for October 25, 2016! Get excited!

WIP Wednesday February 10, 2016


Hello dearies! I have finally made enough progress on the ever mysterious Book Three that I felt a short update post was warranted.

I managed to keep my “resolution” of writing about 500-1000 words per day in January. At the beginning of January, the book was at about 38,000 words, and now it sits at around 75K!!! (So, that means I added about 37K to it in the month of January at a pace of about 1200 words per day. What really happened is that some days I wrote nothing, and other days I pumped out entire chapters.) This means it will probably end up being the same length or a little longer than Relapse, which was my original goal. Yay goals.

February will be my major editing month so that it can be fit for beta readers’ eyes. I know there’s a section of Part One that is a MESS because I got fed up with editing it and just decided to worry about it later. Later is now. Also, I’m sure that–even though I’m currently feeling super happy about everything I wrote–I will inevitably want to go back and change a bunch of things. But, at least now I have words on pages to work with, instead of just a bunch of blank pages. There’s nothing really major I would change about the basic plot threads at this point. Some sections will need augmenting, while others will need pruning or cutting altogether.

That being said, there are a few things I’m already worried about with this book, before anyone else has even read it: 1) that it’s not sexy enough, and 2) that it’s sad (the two are not necessarily related…unless you are sad that it’s not sexy enough).

Although my books have a lot of other appealing qualities (if I do say so myself), I think my readers have begun to expect a certain level of sexiness from them, for obvious reasons. And I still consider this series, as a whole, to be more of an erotic urban fantasy series. But, as you know, this is Carly’s book, and she’s not as…liberated?…as Siobhan is. Siobhan is very attuned to the sensual, while Carly’s darker past has made her almost the opposite, except maybe around one particular guy. That’s not to say that there aren’t sexy parts in this book–there just probably aren’t as many as the first two books. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I should wait and see what my betas think of it first. I definitely want to stay true to her character, though, and not just amp up the eroticism for its own sake, if that makes any sense.

About the second point (it being too sad)…I should say no more for now, lol. Sorry. I’m probably a terrible person for even bringing it up.

Overall, though, I’m excited about it, and I think my readers will enjoy it. Book Three will give you plenty of “feels.” I just have to keep plugging away at the edits.

And while I’m doing so, I will try to pick out a short excerpt or two to post. It’s been a long time since I posted any teasers, and I’m dying to share one with you. I was hoping to post something fun this weekend for Valentine’s Day, but it might not be from this book. I’ll have to go back through the random things I’ve written to see if there’s anything romantic enough, ha. (My writing has been a little darker lately, so I’m not making any promises.)

Happy early Valentine’s Day, and–if you’re living in a state getting hit by the arctic blast coming this weekend–stay warm! (Or, if you already live somewhere warm…eff you. Just kidding…)

 

Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post


I realized my last post was two months ago, and a New Year’s resolutions post seemed like the perfect excuse to give you guys an update. I had a relaxing and fun Christmas and New Year’s and cleared my head of any sort of day job or writing-related work. It was a much needed break, and now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back into various projects. And I had more time for reading–I finished the second Vampire Academy book, Frostbite, by Richelle Mead, and started reading a non-fiction book that’s pretty interesting: Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough (I highly recommend for all of you education/social sciences/public health nerds out there). Since I completely failed to achieve my Goodreads goal of reading 25 books this past year (I read 15…oops), I kept the same goal for 2016, so we’ll see how that goes. I read a lot, I just haven’t made time for as much pleasure reading or reviewing lately.

Now, the part you’ve been waiting for (maybe): my writing/publishing goals for 2016. If you follow this blog or my Facebook page, you are probably already somewhat aware of these, but I figure if I put them in writing it will be additional motivation for me. First, I want to publish Revenge as an e-book novella–aiming for this summer. (You can read the first draft of it on my blog for free here.) Before I’m happy enough to publish it, it’s going to need some editing/re-working, and I have some ideas to beef it up so that I can actually call it a novella, which I think run from about 17-40K (at least according to Wikipedia). It’s a little over 11,000 words now, and my goal is to get it up to about 20K. I just really haven’t felt like editing lately, which is weird for me because I usually enjoy it.

Actually (and sorry in advance that I’m about to go on a tangent), I’ve been feeling really frustrated for the past few months regarding my writing projects. Mostly because of the editing thing. Ugh. At the beginning of fall I had a nice rhythm going for writing the third book in the Reborn series, and got about 38K written. Then I realized it was dragging/boring, that there were parts I wanted to cut completely, and that’s when I lost my rhythm, even though I still had the rest of the book mapped out in my head. So I decided to revise the beginning before writing the rest of it, but that just made me more frustrated. Looking back at it now, I feel like I didn’t even change that much of it, although I did rearrange chunks of it and added some more action earlier on. But there are still parts I’m going to take out entirely, and then I’ll have to fill in the gaps…and I just don’t wanna right now, lol.

I’m pretty sure I had this phase with the first two books, too, and every time I feel like I’m never going to get over it and the book is never going to get finished. But then I do get over it, and it does get finished. So really I have nothing to worry about (and neither do you!).

Instead of continuing to slog through the edits to Part One, I’ve decided to just plunge ahead and finish the entire first draft this January/February. I just want to write–get the word vomit out first–without thinking too much about it. Then I’ll worry about the specific parts that need more help/attention later. Right now the word count is about 48K. My goal is to write at least 500-1000 words every day in January. That way, if I have a particularly busy day or just a bad writing day, I can at least get 500 words out and then be done with it for that day. On a better day, I’ll exceed the 1000-word goal, and at this pace I’ll be able to finish it this winter.

Except sometimes I think about all of the things that are still going to happen in the book. And then I get discouraged again.

Whine whine whine.

I know I’ve been keeping a lot of the details of Book Three under wraps. It has a title now, but I’m not ready to reveal it. I don’t think it will change, but it might. I’m itching to share a rough excerpt or two, but I’m also resisting that because I’m still changing stuff. I know all of this sounds super discouraging (lol), but I still think I can get it out this fall. I’m in the same place I was with Relapse back in 2014, and I was still able to get that out at the beginning of December the same year. But if you’re getting really impatient with me, feel free to let me know, haha. That will “light the fire” under me. Otherwise it’s not like I have a publisher breathing down my neck about deadlines, which for the most part I like…but then again, sometimes it’s nice to have the extra push.

That’s all for now. Until next time, here’s a picture of a unicorn.

WIP Wednesday for October 14, 2015


Transcript:

Hey guys, for my monthly update post, I’ve decided to do a vlog. I have a few general updates about what I’ve been working on, and then I have a special announcement just in time for Halloween!

First off, as many of you know, I’ve primarily been working on book three in the Reborn series. This is “Carly’s book” as I’ve been calling it. It’s told entirely from Carly’s POV at this point. Right now, it still doesn’t have a firm title. I had a title I thought I liked and then decided I didn’t, so it’s back to being “Carly’s book,” but I know I’ll figure it out! I was working on it pretty steadily for awhile, and then I sort of took a brief break from it. I’ve sort of been hopping around projects recently, but right now it stands at around 38K, so it’s about a little more than a third of the way done, I think. I like to split my books up into three parts, so that means right now that part one is finished, plus a little more. I had mentioned on the announcements part of my blog that I was aiming for a 2016 release date, which I’m still definitely on track for. To be honest, I’m aiming right now for a release date sometime in October of next year, which I know is a long time to wait, but for whatever reason–to go along with the theme and the atmosphere in Carly’s book–I’m planning to release it around Halloween. But, I am also a very impatient person, so if it’s ready before then–if it’s edited and has a pretty cover and I feel like it’s ready to go, I will try to release it before then. But it will still likely come out next fall.

As I’ve said, I’ve been hopping between projects, and another project I’ve started is a book from Anna’s point-of-view–mostly from Anna’s point-of-view, I should say. I’ve always wanted to write a book that focused on her. As you might remember in Reborn and Relapse, she is Siobhan’s good friend from high school, and in Reborn they have sort of a reunion and reconciliation–there are a lot of “r-e” words that could be possible titles I guess. Anyway, I had ideas for it but have always struggled to start it. Well, I finally wrote a beginning for it that I liked. So, right now, it’s in the very preliminary stages. I don’t really know where it’s going–I have no idea when I would even release it–maybe, if all goes well, around the same time as the third book. We’ll see. This would also a book that I think would be told partially from Peter’s point-of-view. I think it would be really fun to get inside Peter’s head–he’s a fun character, and there’s a lot more you’ll find out about him in upcoming books besides him just being sort of the comic relief and Anna’s friend and Jimmy’s bandmate. But, anyway, like I said, very preliminary, could be some exciting stuff.

But, the special announcement I wanted to tell you all tonight is that I have a little surprise planned for the week of Halloween. Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I wanted to do something cool for it, and I’ve been working on a short story to celebrate the season. “The season”–I make it sound like Christmas, but it’s Halloween, and that’s okay because I love Halloween, and I want you all to be in the spirit of Halloween, too. It’s a little ghost story–like I said, just a short story set in the Reborn world, and it’s told from Rebecca’s perspective. You might remember that Rebecca is in one of the other sororities on Siobhan’s campus, Alpha Rho. The Alpha Rhos and Gamma Lambda Phis don’t really get along, but this short story is focusing solely on them. It’s bringing some closure to their plot arc in the first two books.

If you’ve read Reborn, you know that one of the Alpha Rho sisters dies toward the end, and this is where the ghost story comes in, and it’s a story about sisterhood and forgiveness. It’s about 4600 words right now. I’m hoping it will be about 10,000 words when I’m ready to publish it. And by publish it, I mean it will actually only appear on my blog. They’re short installments, so it should be easy to read on your computer, and…I think that’s just about it. I’ll start releasing the installments on Sunday, October 25th. So it has sort of 10 short chapters that I’ll release one or two at a time over the course of the week leading up to Halloween. It’s not going to be super scary or anything, just a little dark–maybe a little sinister–nothing that’s going to give you nightmares. At least I hope not.

Again, it’s about Rebecca, the Alpha Rhos, Genie, and it’s called Revenge. And I’ll start posting it Sunday, October 25th, so last week of the month, all the way up to Halloween. I hope you’re excited for it. I just thought it would be a little treat in between time while I know you’re waiting for book three to come out. I’ll try to keep posting updates monthly. I used to blog a lot more than I do. I haven’t really been doing that lately, just haven’t been in the mood as much lately, also a time thing. But I definitely can manage monthly check-ins. So, until then, happy reading, and Happy Halloween!