Today was an unusual day in terms of starting a new piece in that I had the beginning written probably nine months ago. I knew clearly what the opening to The Witches of Green Lake was going to be, so clearly that I had to take a day in the middle of working on something else–one of the Invasion Agents issues, I’m sure–and write this opening instead.
So today, when I sat down to get started on the beginning of Witches, I already had the beginning. I just needed to figure out what came second. And second wasn’t exactly so clear in my head.
Sure, I had a ton of notes on what the plot, OVERALL, is about, but I don’t have it broken down any further, and certainly none of the finer scene-by-scene details. So today was the beginning, but not the beginning, and I had no idea where it was going. After spending 90 minutes and getting about 500 words, I stopped for the day and picked up my daughter from work. I’ll pick it up again tomorrow.
While I didn’t get a LOT of words done today, I got some important ones done. Only about 400 of them, but I put a lot into those 400 as I was trying to describe a thing, a time, a place in the world of the story that doesn’t have substance, or location, nor does time pass there.
So that was an experience. But I think I managed it alright.
I need to go through my Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie) stories and change the CTAs in them since I downgraded my account from paid to free yesterday. I just can’t justify–never could, really–paying $20 a month to FORCE people to sign up to my newsletter whenever they download one of my FREE books, and then have 70% of them never even open the thing, let alone buy any books.
I do get some really good engagement with my readers on there now, and I love it, but I’m not really seeing the money I make every month coming from newsletter subscribers, therefore that $20 a month could very well be better spent elsewhere.
So I need to change the CTAs in those books to saying something like if you liked this story and want more, please sign up for my free weekly newsletter at, and then give the URL for the sign-up sheet.
And that should also eliminate all the people who unsubscribe claiming they never signed up in the first place. I assure you, you totally signed up. I gave you a free novel, and in exchange you gave me your email address. It even says it on the website. But that’s okay, they only came for the free ebook anyway, they clearly were never going to buy any of the other books.
Hopefully I can get to changing those very soon.
Well, after a rough start yesterday, I’m finally on day two of the WRITING of Band of Gypsies 2: Bold as Love, and I am exactly on track with 2002 words.
I lost a little time yesterday to some research I didn’t feel could wait, and I ended the day with only 909 words, but I made up those lost few today and I’m feeling very good about what I have so far.
This story is going to be something of a writing experiment between me and David Bain, my co-writer on the first Band of Gypsies book. On that book, as well as Return to Angel Hill which we wrote together, we took turns doing a few hundred or thousand words each, then sending it back to the other one who would then add a few hundred or thousand words, so on and so forth until we had a finished first draft. But in both cases, we never really knew where the story, or the other writer, was going until we saw it.
For this one, though, I had Dave write me an outline for while I will do the first draft, then when that’s done it’ll go off to him for editing. We’ll do a few passes, and in the end have a brand new finished novella. Or novel. Not sure yet how long it might be, but if 2002 words and I’ve only written the opening scene are any indication, it might be a long one.
Reading. Currently I am reading, in anticipation of the movie that my daughter and I still haven’t decided if we’re seeing in theaters or not:
The classic saga from the ’70s collected complete for the first time in a deluxe hardcover edition. Includes an updated introduction by Dennis O’Neil. Book comes w/outside collector’s sleeve.
Today’s writing goal: another 1000 words on Third Floor 2.
Today’s total: 1060 words, bringing the book, currently, to 4080 words.
I’m almost done with the prologue, and if I’d gotten an earlier start this morning, could have finished it today. But the day is moving along and I’ve got to make some lunch before work. However the below zero temps here have played havoc with the world and I lost a chunk of the morning to HAND washing dishes that would have been in the dishwasher if the hot water hadn’t been frozen. But I digress. I’ll finish the prologue tomorrow.
And speaking of today’s words, I found a detail near the end of the day that tied back to one small, almost forgettable scene in the first Third Floor, but also played so perfectly into what was happening in this scene, God I love it when that happens.
Times like that are the jewels we look for, the spark that reminds us why we love doing this job so much.
I’m looking forward to finishing this prologue tomorrow.
Writing goal for the day: Add another 1000 words to The Third Floor 2.
Writing total: 1008 words, bringing the book to 3020 words in the first 3 days.
Not bad. My goal for the first week is to get the prologue written. That’s what I’m still in the middle of, but I will definitely finish it this week and when I get back to the book in three weeks, I’ll be starting chapter one and the main part of the plot. But first I have to finish the prologue.
No worries, everything is on track.
Also, yesterday I had to do research, image searching “guest room décor.”
Today’s writing goal: hit 2000 words on The Third Floor 2.
Final total: 2012 words. Goal met.
I had trouble getting these words out, and honestly considered quitting for the day when I was only halfway there. When I went down to get a new cup of coffee, the kitchen floor was soaked. I had the tap running at a slow drizzle because it’s supposed to get down to 4 degrees in the next 24 hours and I didn’t want the pipes to freeze, and somehow all the water backed up into the dishwasher and started leaking out. No idea how or why, but I turned on the dishwasher and it all drained away immediately, so that’s good?
But this roadblock almost made me pack it in for the day and do something else. But I was halfway there and am I really the kind of writer, or do I want to be the kind of writer, who lets a stupid thing like that keep me from reaching my daily writing goal?
Of course not. So I finished the days words and added another 12 with 2 minutes to spare before my lunch is ready.
Today’s writing goal: Start writing The Third Floor 2 (at least 1000 words).
Finished count for the day: 1028 words.
I met my goal, so that’s a good day of writing.
And I like the opening, which I was nervous about because I feel like the legacy of this book looms larger than it should. When I wrote the first book, I just wanted to capture some of the creepy stuff that had happened to me when I used to live in that house. I didn’t know when I wrote it, or when I self published it, that it was going to sell quite as well at it did. Of course I hoped for it, but we hope for it with every title we publish, and I have a LOT of titles out there now, and none have even come close to what The Third Floor sold.
So, yeah, it feels like there’s just a LITTLE bit of pressure on this one to do a great job, more pressure than if I were writing a follow up to anything else.
And I think today I started it right. It’s a solid opening and gives me many directions I could go while also laying the groundwork for the direction it’s GOING to go, which I already knew when I started today. So it all worked out.
WHOLE lot of writing-related work going on here the past two weeks. I made a ton of notes on the plot for The Witches of Green Lake last week, and this week I switched over to the adaptation of the second movie in Caleb Straus’s It’s Over trilogy, “The Storybook”. Mostly this week was spent re-familiarizing myself with the story, first reading the script, then watching the movie. Next time I rotate back to this project, I’ll start the actual adapting of the script to prose.
But first, next week. Next week I start the WRITING, not the plotting, not the note-taking or character-sketching, but the writing of The Third Floor 2: The Lonely Man.
I’m excited, anxious and terrified all at once. I love the story for this one, I love the characters and the world, and I think this could be my best horror novel. If I don’t mess it up. But no pressure, right?
Today marks day one of work on The Witches of Green Lake. Technically I guess it would be day two, since I wrote the opening scene months ago.
For now I’m just making notes on the plot, figuring out where the characters are in their lives, where in the timeline things are taking place. The transition from Werewolves of Green Lake to Vampires of Green Lake was the next day (or maybe that same day, I actually can’t remember), but the transition to this one is going to be a bit more time. I think six months have passed. Maybe more, maybe less, but it’s definitely not the next day.
I’m expanding the character base with this one, as I did in the last one, too, going from focusing strictly on David in book one to David and his cousin in book two. This book will have even more main characters, or at least the secondary characters will have more spotlight time.
Plus, I’m also figuring out how to incorporate what few details I had about The Ghosts of Green Lake, which was originally going to be the third book before I decided I needed to do Witches instead and just mix what little bit of plot I had from Ghosts in with it. It’s going to work out better this way in the end.
But I digress. Today’s focus was on plotting The Witches of Green Lake. Tomorrow I’ll do some more plotting and by this weekend I expect to have the entire plot sorted and ready for me to start the writing … on February 11th.
For the past good long while, my Saturdays have been spent not doing a lot of specific work. Maybe catching up on emails or edits when I needed to, but I never felt really productive on Saturdays. Now, I don’t get every Saturday off–not many of them, in fact–but for this year I’m making a new Saturday plan. If I have it off, I’ll do a movie review and a blog post for the Midwest Creativity Coaching website. If I have to work on Saturday, I’ll just do the blog post. Sunday is still set aside for my newsletter and plans with my kids.
It’s late Saturday night as I write this, so the newsletter is still to come, but I did get my review and blog post done today. And you can read them here:
Movie review: MOTHER’S DAY MASSACRE:
Blog post: WHEN SETTING YOUR GOALS, REMEMBER TO BE SPECIFIC:
Next week I start work on the next Monsters of Green Lake book: THE WITCHES OF GREEN LAKE.
Today was a very productive writing day. No new WORDS, necessarily, but forward progress on TWO projects.
First I did some work on the bonus material for the upcoming INVASION AGENTS YEAR ONE OMNIBUS, completing two pages of never-before-seen stuff. Then I did some research into Sufism for the Band of Gypsies sequel, BOLD AS LOVE.
For the first Band of Gypsies book, Dave and I just swapped back and forth on the first draft, adding to the story until we couldn’t think of anything else, then we sent what we had to the other and they added some until they were stuck and sent it back.
For the second book we’re trying a different approach. The plot is Dave’s, he wrote the outline a few years ago, and I’ll be taking that outline and writing the first draft. Once I’m done with that, I’ll send it to Dave to edit and rewrite as necessary.
Yesterday I had a good call with members of the former Paranormal St. Joe group, Jeannie and her sister Tracy. I took a lot of notes and I think I’ve got a solid enough base to start putting together the characters for the book that is going to require a paranormal investigation group. You’ll see. So thanks so much to Jeannie and Tracy. I will definitely be coming back with more questions as I get into the writing of that book.
If you find yourself with some downtime in a waiting room or getting your oil changed or something, try a Horror Single to pass the time (just click on a cover for more info):
Today I set aside the Third Floor 2 plot and picked up another. Today is day one of work on the next book in the Band of Gypsies series of novellas, originally titled “God of Thunder”, but I think, given the themes inside, will eventually be called, “Bold as Love.” Also, it keeps with the Jimi Hendrix theme.
In fact, I’d like to come up with a new title for the first book, just called BAND OF GYPSIES, as I’d like to make BoG the series title, like STAR WARS. But there’s time for the rebranding and whatnot later. We don’t even have a second book written yet.
Anyway, so today I read through the beats, refreshing myself on them and putting myself into the headspace of this is what I’m writing now, as opposed to several years ago when I first got them and this was still a project in the distant future.
Today I broke the synopsis up into sections and right now I have 10. So 10 scenes. That should make a decent-sized novella.
Tomorrow I’ll have to let it rest, though, as I have a phone interview with a local paranormal investigation group to do research on a different story. Then I’ll get back to Gypsies on Wednesday.
Today I start reading:
SOMETHING IS WRONG IN HAMILTON ISLAND
The Puget Sound bedroom community seems like the perfect place — beautiful homes with white picket fences, a thriving tech sector, and one of the best school systems in the state.
On September 1, everything changes when a teacher walks into his classroom and does the unthinkable.
YOU ARE BEING WATCHED
An addict attempts to raise her dead sister’s daughter, but how can she raise a child when her sanity seems to be slipping away? And what secrets does her own childhood hold about events happening now?
The wife of a killer cannot imagine why her husband snapped — until she finds something her husband hid in their house. And that discovery could cost her everything.
A student tries to recover from the loss of his friends when someone reaches out to him promising answers. Then he finds the things under his skin. Things that make him question everything.
An actor returns home to find out that his powerful family has been lying to him. A family with dark secrets and darker pasts. When someone close to him goes missing, he brings in an outsider, an outsider haunted by tragedy that might just be repeating itself.
NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS
As the survivors of September 1 attempt to put their lives back together, a dark conspiracy unfolds of missing people, dark experiments, voices in static, and something that nobody will see coming.
WhiteSpace is a character-driven, mysterious, creepy, paranoid, sci-fi thriller that would be right at home with such TV greats like LOST, The X-Files, and Fringe.
It was only supposed to be temporary, a place to stay when he returned home, just until he got back on his feet. Then he woke up to find his cousin and her husband gone, vanished in the night. But that was only the start. What they left behind was so much worse.
On the B-Side, in “Blue Moon Story”, one cop is still trying to find the man who murdered his wife. He’s about to learn the truth of what really tore his wife to pieces that night might be closer than he ever thought.
Maybe my least favorite part of writing is research. And yet it’s a part that is so important and necessary when the book you’re about to start writing contains things you know nothing about. Like paranormal investigation. I don’t know anything about it, other than what I’ve seen on shows like “Paranormal State”, and I’m not entirely convinced those things are as legit as they claim.
So today I had to do some research on paranormal investigators, including emailing these guys in hopes of finding someone I can ask a bunch of questions. It says the team was started in 2008, but I have no idea if it’s still around; I emailed them because they’re local to my area. With any luck, they are still around and I can ask them anything I need to know and, hopefully, their answers may even open new avenues of the novel’s plot, new twists and possibilities I wouldn’t have thought of before.
While it didn’t feel like I got a lot done today, I think I did anyway because it was all important stuff.
First I spent some time compiling and formatting the file for the Invasion Agents Year One Omnibus, including some extras that haven’t appeared in any of the issues before. Then I did some research for The Third Floor 2. I can’t say what kind of research just yet, I don’t want to give anything away 2 days into plotting the book, but it’s all going to be necessary to help flesh out the characters and make the writing of the book easier.
Tomorrow will be more of the same. I’ll do some more work on those extra pages for the Omnibus, then get back to the research.
Meanwhile, I’m currently reading, or going to be reading: