18 April 2016

"Who Shall Conceive the Horrors of my Secret Toil?" How every book is a Frankenstein

The process of writing a book is eerily similar to creating Dr. Frankenstein's monster:

"Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?"

"The dissecting room and the slaughterhouse furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation..."

What? You don't think creating a story is that intense? Allow me to elaborate.

"Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil...?"

When I started Fractured Memories (Book 1) I needed something gruesome for the Skinnies to do to themselves. To prove to the audience that they were both disgusting and insane. Somewhere between the Reavers from Firefly and a zombie. Tattoos were too boring and full-on maiming was too close to both the Reavers and the Yuuzan Vong from the now abandoned Star Wars cannon. I wanted something a little different.

So, I did what I always do, and initiated a series of Google searches that led me to a technique called Scarification. Go ahead, type that into Google and then go to the images. Toss Africa in there too.

Pretty interesting. Watch some of the videos, if you have a strong stomach.

Then I saw one of a guy with a forked tongue.


Uh, yes, the process is, while probably painful, quite simple. And if you put some effort into it, you can apparently control each side separately. Google it. I dare you.

"...as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave..."

Each of my stories starts one place and ends up in another. I'm getting better at outlining, but it's still a long, grueling process for me to write a book. Not to mention five of them in the same series. As I revise, I dig through the old drafts looking for the bits and pieces that can be plucked from their graves, dusted off, polished off and used again.

"...or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?"

I have tortured many a living animal to animate the lifeless clay of my story. We'll start with my husband, who gets to put up with my pity parties when things aren't going well in the writing world, as well as any political or science questions I may have about my story.

If I'm feeling exceptionally hopeless, I drag the poor guy to Sweet Tomato where we eat and talk until I'm satisfied that I've figured out how to fix a plot problem. He usually has loads of suggestions, which I then shoot down before getting to the answer that will work.

Then there are my beta readers. Some of them read three or four drafts of New Sight, the first novel I published. They continue to beta read for the Jagged Scars Series and provide invaluable feedback.

"The dissecting room and the slaughterhouse furnished many of my materials..."

If I come to a pivotal moment in a story, and I'm not sure what to do with the plot or the characters, I'll start a list of at least twenty possibilities. They don't have to be good, or even reasonable—sometimes I literally write "Ninja Monkey Attack"—but I have to jot down twenty. Somewhere in that process, I find the idea that will either solve my problem or lead me to the solution.

What's slaughterhouse about that? I always feel as if I am bringing ideas to life only to kill them on the spot. Kind of eerie, if you think about it.

"...and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation."

The other day, a beta reader came back with a complaint that my character didn't have a growth arc during a critical part of the story. She was right—I hate it when she's right—and so I started thinking about how to resolve it. Another beta reader gave me a suggestion, I twisted it and came up with what I thought would be brilliant.

And it is brilliant!

But it might never see the light of day, because the brutality of the scene is both graphic and spine tingling. The character certainly snaps out of her old ways and decides to take a new path, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for YA readers. But it's so dang good!

In the end, this is the description of Frankenstein's Monster:

“His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and straight black lips.”

Hopefully the finished product of my book is much less horrifying than that!

My new release, SeveredTies (Jagged Scars Book 2), went through the transformation from bone and sinew from man and beast into a story of a young woman with near crippling PTSD who has to help save a whole complex of people from the same fate her family suffered. She's tough, but not invincible, and when she falters, her friends are there to keep her from diving off the cliff of her mind into oblivion.

Please check it out.

Fractured Memories(Jagged Scars Book 1) is on sale for 0.99 over at Amazon.
Goodreads is hosting a giveaway for Fractured Memories for a couple more days (See the widget at the top of the blog)

Stay tuned for a giveaway for Severed Ties.

11 April 2016

A Little Something to Whet Your Appetite

With a week until Severed Ties comes out, I thought I would taunt you with the beginning of one of my favorite scenes.
This is a moment of levity in Wendy's world.
Well, if you can call getting shot at levity.

Wendy followed Jeff along the edge of the shield.

“What if there are people in here?” Jeff asked.

“Then we’re going to get shot,” Wendy said.

“I’ve always admired your honesty.”

“Gee, thanks.”

They each grabbed a few dirt clods, and every five feet threw them at the shield. All of them disintegrated on contact.

The sun began to dip toward the mountain peaks behind them. Ten steps, toss dirt, more steps, more dirt. Jeff followed behind her, testing the sections she missed. They watched for natural barriers, but found nothing more distinctive than trees.

“I wonder how far up it goes,” Jeff asked, craning his neck.

Wendy took another set of steps and stopped. “Farther than we can jump, I bet.”

“Too bad the transport broke down,” Jeff said.

“You think that was an accident?” Wendy asked.

“Not really, but I thought I was the only one that was that paranoid.”

“Better than being dead.”

“You’re morbid today.”

“But I’m alive.”

Jeff laughed. “Fine, you have me there.”

The radio crackled to life. “We might have found the entrance,” Riggs said. “Northeast corner of the complex.”

Wendy and Jeff shared a flat stare. They were on the southwest corner.

“On our way,” Wendy answered through the radio.

“I’d race you, but your legs are way too short to keep up,” Jeff said.

Wendy shot him a scowl. “You sound like Kev.”

“Maybe Kev is smarter than he looks.”

“Let me punch you first. Just one shot. Give me a head start.”

“Do I look like an idiot?”

“Do I have to answer that?”

Wendy’s lips spread into a grin as she and Jeff started to jog back around the complex. She liked it when she could let go of the pain inside. Even if only for a few minutes. And Jeff had a knack for helping her do just that.

Even moving fast, Jeff’s ears and eyes were alert. He swerved, grabbed Wendy and tossed them both to the ground before Wendy registered the rustle in the bushes by the shield. He rolled, putting himself between her and the danger. Wendy pulled her gun out and got ready.

A soft whine preceded a bright flash, which left a two-foot wide smoldering patch of the forest floor where they had been standing a moment before.

“Move!” Wendy said.

04 April 2016

Severed Ties Cover Reveal

Severed Ties
Jagged Scars Series
Book 2

Wendy is no stranger to death—she killed her first Skinny before she was ten—but the slaughter of her family is personal. Pelton's betrayal to the Den planted a wicked seed in Wendy's heart that is slowly growing into a ravenous monster bent on revenge. Its rage is bleeding into her dreams, her nightmares and her waking hours, staining everything, including her sanity.

When the monster almost overpowers her, Wendy decides she should leave Shelter. But before her friends will let her go, a plague sweeps through the complex. Doc doesn't have the meds they need to cure it, but the map Wendy wrestled from Pelton could lead them to a place that does. Now Wendy must hold her mind together long enough to keep everyone she knows from dying. Again.


Mike leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees. "I'm here to make a deal with you. You play a penitent, remorseful young lady who has been through a lot in the past four months for the Council and take what punishment they give you, then you can stay."
"Why should I trust you? Dennis told me that you'd asked him to toss me in that cupboard."
"Did he?"
Wendy leveled her gaze at Mike. "Did you?"
A few seconds went by as the older man's eyes narrowed. "No. Although I had my doubts about you. But I don't send children to do my dirty work."
"I have no reason to trust you. You have no reason to trust me. Let me go and I'm out of your hair. This deal doesn't sound like much of a win for me."
Mike held up a finger. "Help us translate the map. Once you do that, I'll put you on the teams that are going after the Primate."
Wendy had her mouth open to retort, but shut it. "What?"
"I plan to go after this guy. He's destroyed at least four other settlements besides the Den. He's killed everyone in his path. He needs to be stopped, and I'm going to be the one to do it. If you do as I say, I'll make sure you're on the first team that goes in."