Old Friends Want New Sequels

Recently, I had to correct the mistake I made in leaving the notes I’d complied while rereading my stories ignored for up to five months. These are my editing notes: typos, poor word choice, missing words or explanations, those sorts of things. All of that I try and pay attention to when I’m reading so that I can help the editing process along. Rereading and editing is my process.

The danger in that, of course, is getting caught up in the stories again. I reintroduce myself to old friends, and the longer it’s been since the last time I read the story, the more I miss the characters.

Now I would love to tell more stories with all those old friends. It’s been too long, though, and I don’t mean just in the sense of how long it’s been since I’ve read the story.

I have this distressing feeling that I would not be able to capture the true essence of the characters after this long away.

Last time I tried to do something with Frankie and Rico from In the Family, Frankie was nothing like herself. Attempts at sequels for The Geek and the Fed and Tearing Down the Pedestals left me with two stories at the same time that were out of character.

On the other hand, I was able to pick up The Lady in Black, The Consultant and the Cat, and Criss-Crossed Paths after years of abandonment and finish them. I think the difference there may be that I had started them by hand, and I had to type them before continuing them, so the flow was still there, the mindset and understanding of the characters.

Starting the sequel to Tearing Down the Pedestals almost immediately after finishing it did not keep Chel and Tremayne in character, though.

So I’m not sure. I don’t know what that elusive quality is that would allow me to pick up where I left off with the characters (or even jumping ahead a little) and keep going.

I want to find it, though. I miss my old friends. I want to continue having adventures with them.

The Hardest of Hearts

This song… is so Rico. He’s the one with the supposedly hard heart.

This part:

There is love in your body but you can’t get it out
It gets stuck in your head, won’t come out of your mouth
Sticks to your tongue and shows on your face
That the sweetest of words have the bitterest taste

He has hidden depths of kindness, is surprisingly sympathetic and empathetic, but he’s been so closed off and shut off for so long that he can’t seem to acknowledge how he feels or anything.

Darling heart, I loved you from the start
But you’ll never know what a fool I’ve been
Darling heart, I loved you from the start
But that’s no excuse for the state I’m in

And that part, too, that’s him, though the sweetest of words and bitterest taste are the main ones.

Frankie, of course, being his undoing, she makes this part true:

Tenderest touch leaves the darkest of marks
And the kindest of kisses break the hardest of hearts

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Edits, Edits, So Many to Do

Editing has to be the longest process in a book.

Possibly, in the past, publishing was the longest, but the thing is, once the format and cover art are done, it can be published as an ebook within a relatively short time. Really, how long the site takes to make it “live” is not nearly as long as editing a story can take.

Now, before, arguably, editing was a part of this publishing process. It still is, I guess, but I tend to separate it in my mind from the “publish” part where the button gets clicked and websites make the book available to the world.

What I learned the last time I went through this process, though, was that the actual end part, the final step, was so much simpler than the ones along the road.

My main delay in getting Just a Whim out there was really myself. I had edits, but I was scared to take those last steps and put them in and format it.

I find myself with almost the opposite problem now. I’ve got four complete stories–novels–and another three nearing that point, but I don’t have edits. In the last week, I’ve gone over them myself, with new fresh edits for Nickel and Dime, In the Family, Variety Store, and Any Other Reality. I’ve begun edits on The Memory Collector and after that, I’ll move onto another one. I’ve got plenty of them to work on, and while I’ve been putting off All the Men in My Life since I’ve been expecting edits back on that one, so it will probably be the last.

I was joking with myself about editing all of them in January, but with only a few more days to go, that’s not that likely, not with four novels to do and two of them over 80,000 words long. Still, it would be good to get as close to that as possible.

Every little edit is a step closer to publishing, after all.

If I Was an Artist with Something Besides Words

If I was an artist with something besides words, then I would already have beautiful cover art finished and ready. I’d have my little scene dividers ready made and inserted.

I’d illustrate my own children’s book. I already wrote it. It’s there, finished but for the art.

Alas, I know my strength is with words, and if I do have any real artistic talent, it lies with my ability to tell a story, an entertaining and amusing one that diverts a person for a short time. I like to share stories, let people see the world and the fascinating characters that I’ve met along the way.

Since I am not an artist with pictures, I trust that to the other half of Kabobbles. Third, I suppose, since the cat is the ringleader, after all. Anyway, at the end of the day, I managed to accomplish… finally getting the right size and format for the scene divider for In the Family, multiple editing programs (Paint.NET, Gimp, Inkspace, Open Office Draw, and a couple from her Mac) later, many saved files (either of the document with the divider in it or the divider itself), many tests converted with Calibre, and a bunch of frustration (it’s too big! now it’s too small! it’s not transparent! it’s fuzzy! it’s in pieces!)
my brain hurts and I don’t understand half of the programs I played with, but I finally have it where it works.

I think. My brain hurt too much to be sure, so I’ll look again tomorrow.

The cover art for The Not-So-Super Superhero is coming along, and I edited a good part of The Monster in My Garden Shed and finished The Memory Collector. I even got my hair cut.

I was hoping to finish Variety Store today, too, but perhaps I was a little too ambitious.

I’ve still got a bit of time left before the end of the day and month, though, so… Here goes nothing. I know what’s supposed to happen. It’s just a matter of getting it on paper…

Sometimes a Story Creates a New Story…

Having finished Matched Set, which took me about a week, a fact that I’m still stunned and amazed by, I turned my attention back to my other projects.

I have many, many incomplete stories and projects lying around. Some of them aren’t really worth salvaging, and some of them deserve a hell of a lot better than this.

It was starting to look like The Monster in My Garden Shed was heading toward this inglorious fate, and I refused to let that happen. Not only have I been talking about it in a public forum, which makes the idea of abandoning it less than appealing for the fact of everyone knowing my defeat, the story is too good and the characters too deserving of having their story concluded to let that happen.

I’d edited the story before I put it aside three weeks ago, all the while unable to decide how to keep going.

The problem was wanting to tell two stories. The Monster in My Garden Shed is, in my opinion, a story with considerable depth and complexity and layers, a challenging world that continually draws me in (and thwarts me at every opportunity) and characters that I love spending time with. In the middle, though, the idea of a subplot entered the narrative, and that subplot was not something that helped the story reach a conclusion. It would have derailed the rest of it, to be perfectly honest.

I thought I’d given up on it back in chapter twenty-five, but in thirty-one, it was rearing its ugly head again. I wrote a couple of scenes that almost took it down that route, and the reader I torture with all my new fic told me they were over the top.

I admit, this put me in a bit of a funk. I couldn’t quite let go of that idea or those scenes, so even though I knew that wasn’t where The Monster in My Garden Shed should go.

After finishing The Memory Collector and Variety Store, I’d wanted to get The Monster in My Garden Shed back up to the top of the list. I couldn’t. Five and Ten was coming along, and The Not-So-Super Superhero faltered for a couple days but came back again, but instead of the garden shed, I went into Matched Set.

I don’t regret that. Wichita and Reece have a great story, and I love the explanation of the reason the killer does what he does.

After playing around with a few fun things, toying with the idea of another new story since Net almost stole the show in Matched Set like Spider did in Any Other Reality, and finishing my edits to hopefully release In the Family soon I finally figured out what I needed to do for The Monster in My Garden Shed.

I had to take that plotline out completely and give it to someone else, someone who shared enough traits with Ren to make the situation work, but one who didn’t have to worry about saving the world, either.

Now I get to keep the scenes I wrote (not exactly as they were, that didn’t work, but bits and pieces of them) and yet they’ll get cut from The Monster in My Garden Shed.

Verina Harvey now has that story, and it’s hard and painful, but it’s her story to tell, not Ren’s.

Working Titles

I was preparing a little entry for the Kabobbles Sing Along section about the song that inspired my choice for the working title for The Lady in Black’s sequel. Working titles are what I call the story while I’m writing it. Not all of them come with the right title instantly. Some do. Others refuse to be pinned down right away.


Some titles were easy. In the Family was always In the Family from the moment it was begun on my phone. Any Other Reality was that from the beginning as well. I don’t know what else The Monster in My Garden Shed or The Memory Collector could be. The same goes for The Not-So-Super Superhero. He is that. His story could be told under no other name. As soon as I started typing it, I had the title for The Consultant and the Cat. The Lady in Black had a working title years ago that was abandoned before typing began.


On the other hand, other titles have not come so readily. Some don’t even feel right now. That would be the case with The Geek and the Fed and Unexpected Gifts. Each of them took on a new name from their working title, “Geek” and “Obligation” respectively, but they haven’t entirely settled on them. Criss-Crossed Paths started out using its first chapter title, and then it became “Tempest and Lonely Hearts” after the nicknames of two of the characters. The new title is still being debated.


Other titles come along as the story progress.


Just a Whim, believe it or not, started out as “The Crankening,” owing to the other half of Kabobbles Publishing’s daughter, who was extremely cranky when I began the story. Matched Set started out as “Favor,” but once the figurine set started to feature so heavily in it, the matched set made perfect sense.


All the Men in My Life began as “Old Love Best Unseen” which completely doesn’t fit it. The new title owes from a line that Franklin says to Mira, “All the men in your life piss me off.” She responds with, “Franklin, you’re one of the men in my life.”


The series that starts with Nickel and Dime each had their own working title. Nickel and Dime was “Change Your Identity.” Until the end of it, Variety Store was just “Nickel and Dime the Second.” The third one, however, was Five and Ten from the beginning. The secondhand store owned by Effie Lincoln could be called a “nickel and dime” or “five and ten” or even “variety store,” so all the stories have that theme to their titles.


Last night, I named a story “Lollipop.” Funny how names go, right?

At Last, More Art

The two halves of Kabobbles came together to make a beautiful piece of art.

Okay, yes, the author had very little to do with anything but the concept, but that doesn’t mean that the picture’s not very close to the concept and true to the characters, thanks to the talents of the graphic artist of the team.

in the family cover art

The story is still in the process of being edited, but this title will be available as soon as the edits are completed.