Like a Song

I have to say, I seem to have a lot of songs for how Renatta feels at the beginning of The Monster in My Garden Shed.

I think that’s because there are such powerful emotions that go along with the situation, with loss, and that comes even more easily into lyrics and music because the music alone can evoke that feeling. Coupled with lyrics, a lot of them make you ready to cry.

“You left a light on inside me, my love…” That part, for me, evokes the flashback chapter for when it all fell apart. If this book was a movie, I think that chapter would have this as a soundtrack.

Not that the beginning wouldn’t have it, either. There’s a scene in the first chapter where this is Renatta, walking through her house.

I can’t forget you when you’re gone
You’re like a song that goes around in my head
And how I regret, it’s been so long
Oh, what went wrong? Could it be something I said?

Time, make it go faster or just rewind
To back when I’m wrapped in your arms

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.

The Story Before the Story Might Need Telling

A piece of my plot is… missing. It’s a conundrum.

It’s difficult to explain that without spoiling the entire plot of The Monster in My Garden Shed. I could try, but I think it’s better if I just work on figuring it out, and when I’ve got it fixed, people will know because I’ll finish the story. My brain processes better when I’m trying to sleep, so perhaps tonight, after having a long discussion about it, I will know what the deep dark secret is.

In the meantime, I distracted myself by writing more flashbacks–I could probably fill a whole novel with the relationship between two of the characters before the story starts, and I admit, it’s tempting to go to that story… only I think it would really only interest… me.  I can’t say that the earlier scenes I’ve written haven’t been enjoyed by at least one other person, but that’s a few scattered scenes, not a complete story of nothing but them.

Personally, I love the dynamics between characters, their interactions and especially their banter. Even if that was all a story was, I might just be okay with that. It doesn’t work for everyone, and even for me, as a writer, that pesky thing known as a plot comes in and intervenes. I do pretty well with plot. It’s not my enemy. It’s not necessarily my friend, though, either.

I think it’s safe to say we’re occasional allies, but mostly, it likes to ruin things for me.

The trick is in balancing plot with interaction and even introspection and dare I name my weakness? Description.

I think I have a fairly good system at this point. I write my banter and interaction, then I reread, I find the lack of description and introspection, and I add that in. It’s still unbalanced, but I do believe I’m getting better at it. I will probably never be one of those authors that paints an entire world with my words, but I know one thing for sure: you can hear the words my characters speak exactly as they say them. It’s something I’ve heard before, though for me, I do hear them as I write.

The voices are clear.

The plot? Maybe not so much.  This could be why summaries give me such fits to write.

There is a certain bitter sweetness to flashbacks and stories before the story. A prequel always has to end, and that ending is fixed and even known before the whole thing starts. That said, why would I go through the path and take it to the painful end that I know is coming?

I’m not sure. I faced this problem before with a story I set aside, and my only solution there was not to do it. This one is, of course, different, so I can’t say that I’d walk away from it entirely, and key points of the past have to be known to me, at the very least.

That reminds me. There is one moment I don’t think I’ve touched on for Garden Shed that I have to make sure I don’t forget about. I think I know where I’ll put it, though. I’m trying to keep these flashbacks relevant, and I know that this one would lead right into…

Oh, I can’t tell you that. I’d spoil the story.

After I’ve finished it, I might tell you what I mean by all these vague hints.

It Was the Moon

Driving home last night, I couldn’t help but notice how orange the moon was.

I could only see the lower half of it, though it looked full.

It was amazing, really.

I watched it as I drove, always further away no matter how many miles passed going toward it.

What really drew me toward it was the orange, though. I kept thinking that if there was a moon in the Ascanati world in The Monster in My Garden Shed, then that would have been what it looked like.

I tried to take a picture of what I saw, but unfortunately, I don’t have the right camera for that kind of thing.


moon at night

December Loses to November

So, I didn’t manage quite as much writing in December as I did in November. Partially because of edits, partially because of life’s unpredictable drama, and the rest because of illness. I completed one novel, not three. In November, I had Nanowrimo to work on, needing at least 50,000 words for a novel to complete that challenge, so that was a big part of the difference. I did, however, have my own personal challenge of posting a section a day to a story. That’s the Not-So-Super Superhero, and I am proud to say I only missed one day there, and there were circumstances which excuse that.

So… a look at the word count totals as they stood after midnight last night:

The Monster in Garden Shed: 62,156

First Nickel and Dime: 59,932

Second (and currently untitled) Nickel and Dime: 14,365

The Not-So-Super Superhero: 33,393

Misc other: 34,580

This Month’s Total: 190, 061

So, close to 200,000 again. Not a bad total.

If I had been consistent around that 200,000 (and I wasn’t), I’d have a yearly total somewhere around 2,400,000.

My goal this next year will be to track it and see what I come up with for a full year. It’s a bit hard for me to track where I was when 2011 started, unfortunately.

Right now, though, since I have tracked it the past couple months, I think I know where I am, and I can use that to continue keeping track of things in order to have a yearly total. I gave some consideration to looking at day-to-day totals, but not only am I not the type to be that organized, I frequently am up past midnight writing, and… oh, yeah, if people knew how much writing I did daily, I’d be in a lot of trouble. I have other responsibilities that I neglect to do as much writing as I do.

It’s so much more interesting to write than clean a house. Admit it.

What to Do When the Ideas Won’t Stop Coming

So, I already have four stories on my plate at the moment. I’ve got The Monster in My Garden Shed, The Not-So-Super Superhero, the second in the Nickel and Dime series–this needs a name, but I’ll figure that out later, it’s one of those books–and another one.

Why then, with all of these stories going, do I have to have a bunch more ideas come to me? I’ve already got more than I can work on at the moment, and I’ve got notebooks and folders and files full of things I’ve started and not completed. One of them I picked up late last night and read over, realizing that, aside from the one part of it, there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be done. I’ve got the beginning written and typed, most of the middle is handwritten or in notes, and the tail end is written as well. This thing should be done. No excuses, really.

So now I find myself wanting to do that.

I also want to start a brand new one that has a very fascinating (to me, at least) concept. Involves aliens and memories and was probably partially inspired by stuff from The Monster in My Garden Shed. This idea is dying to be written.

I don’t have time to do all of these things, though. I barely have enough time to write on the three major pieces, so I need to clear my plate a little before adding in something new.

I sometimes allow for rotation when I have a new story, but as I’m already in a rotation with stories, I can’t add a new one until one of the others completes. The Monster in My Garden Shed doesn’t want to cooperate with me on that, since it keeps adding in something I have to deal with before the end of it can come, and it’s still not clear what that end is. The Not-So-Super Superhero is in its second act, where Clayton is trying to make use of his power and make a life for himself instead of fighting it, and now he’ll have to fight against other people instead. That may mean it’s closer to a conclusion, but I’m not actually sure how long it will take to resolve all of that, either. The second Nickel and Dime is coming along, but it’s not ready to conclude yet. The other story is done, but can I really add another one in already? I don’t get to the ones that I’ve got enough as it is.

And what of the one that should be complete and isn’t?

And all the ones that I should type?

Well, I have some options. I write the idea down, and I might come back to it later. I might give it a scene or two, thinking I’ll get back to it in a while. This usually doesn’t work. If I don’t “run” with the story when it’s fresh, it doesn’t usually happen. Any Other Reality is an exception to this. It was put off for months, not started, and written in less than a month. Still, it’s an exception, not a rule.

The other option, and I do this with stories I know I don’t want to put down on paper, is to picture it in my head over and over until it’s done. I can “watch” the movie of the story and I’ve seen it. If I’ve gotten it to its conclusion, there are very few stories that I’m willing to write after that point. I’ve seen all the interesting parts. It’s done.

This new idea is not one to give to a mind movie, though, so it just might have to find a way to be a part of the rotation.

Not enough time, and always too many stories. That’s the nature of a writer, though, right?

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.

Just When I Thought It Was Done

So I had thought that The Memory Collector would end up the next book that ended up published. I thought it was done and just needed a few edits.

I was wrong. I can admit that.

Editing is a painful process, no denying that. It’s hard to get oneself to go back and look it over, though it can be helpful to get back into a story that’s been set down for a while. That part I do actually enjoy, getting back the feel of the world and the characters. Sometimes I see what I missed putting down before. Or sometimes I have to cut things that I liked. Rare, but it happens, as it did with the stuff I dealt with in The Monster in My Garden Shed today. I started back at the beginning, really enjoying the journey with Ren as she found her way through the world of the Ascanati and seeing her relationship with Kyran in the new flashbacks, but then I got to the end with what I needed to change because it didn’t fit, the part that became Verina’s story. It was hard to cut… But I eventually did it.

Now, I have new scenes for that story at last. This is good. It makes me happy. I even have plans for a side story from their universe later.

However, the really painful part was my discovery regarding The Memory Collector. It’s not done. Not by a long shot. I need to pull all the quotes and make them a coherent narrative and add more from the Collector’s childhood and more from when he’s in the memories in general. And more with Sanity, too.

So, with that in mind, The Memory Collector will not be the next book published. It’s now my hope to make that Nickel and Dime instead. It would be good to launch the series, and the third novel in it is coming along again now that Verina’s story (still unnamed) is done.

And, of course, I have a lot of edits to do to fix what I found wrong with The Memory Collector.

Did I mention I wanted to start a new story? When am I ever going to have time for all this?

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?

May Maybes

I have things I’d like to have done this month. I’ve got quite a bit going on this month, so I’m going to call this a “maybe” list, kind of like how I hate using the word “plan.” This is what I’d like to do, but time and unforeseen occurrence will dictate what actually happens. Maybe by the end of May…


  • The Not-So-Super Superhero will be fully edited and transformed from a once-a-day blog story to a cohesive novel. Wave one of the edits are complete, and I have all the pieces I need otherwise. It’s just the edits holding it back. As always.
  • The cover art and divider art for Any Other Reality will be done, I’ll have the edits complete, and that can be put together in a nice ebook for publishing as well.
  • All the Men in My Life will finally have its cover. Then, from cover, divider art. Then I can get edits done and back from a couple people and not only do an ebook but also attempt to make an audiobook of it. I need the edits first, though.
  • We will have the custom page and cover art for The Memory Collector and the first bit of it completely ready to be posted to the website.
  • I should be launching the Kabobble’s Choice excerpt section of the website with a story suggested for the picture in this post. I am still open to getting more stories for the picture. I haven’t actually had a chance to put the ideas rattling around my brain on paper yet, but I will. Soon.
  • I’d like to have the issues keeping me from finishing The Monster in My Garden Shed and Criss-Crossed Paths resolved so they can be moved to the only needing edits state, and then, of course, I must edit them.
  • I need to finishing figuring out createspace and get print versions of the already published titles.
  • I would like to have summaries for all the stories that I have completed.
  • Have more research done on my new historical novel.
  • On a more personal note, I think it’s time I start acting like something other than writing matters.


Well, that’s probably plenty for May, and I think it’s a good thing those are all maybes because I don’t think I’ll get to half of them, unfortunately.