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The importance of a good working title

The importance of a good working title

A hard lesson learned AGAIN.

Hello friends,

Yesterday was THE PITS for me. One of the worst parts of it is that this whole scenario has happened to me before…like the most sinking, miserable case of deja vu.

A long, absent muse returned to me, banging on the back of my head until I gave in and decided to return to an abandoned manuscript.

I opened my computer and searched for the file.

Gone.

I plugged in my backup hard drive.

Gone.

Searching. Searching. Searching.

Desperation and dread battled for the biggest space in my gut.

Thoughts of “well, maybe I…” dashed and darted in and out of my head.

Searching. Searching. Searching.

Tears welling.

Emptiness.

Gone.

My words are gone.

The muse was disappointed in me but refused to leave. The story must be written, and I have to start over. All I can do is tell myself that I’ve grown as a writer and it’s going to be  even better this time.

The words are lost, but the story is not.

I know this is true because the first time this happened to me I replaced every word and finished the entire novel–a novel I love.

But how did this happen? Twice?

I hate thinking of titles. It’s miserable. I rarely know what to call a novel once it’s finished, let alone when it’s only just begun.

This time, I had two books dealing with Aliens (both happened to be the ones I lost at different points,) but I think I called them both some variation of “Alien _____.”

Draft after draft after beta read and critique partnered drafts exist on my computer. I save them and end up with too many to keep straight. “Alien novel,” “Alien novel final draft,” Alien novel final final,” “Alien novel final–this is the one.”

Eventually, various drafts get deleted. And given that their titles are so similar, I believe I completely trashed the first draft of one novel along with a million drafts of the other.

How do I stop this from happening again? What’s the plan?

I’m going to give my novels a complete and unique working title even if I know it’s not going to stick around. No more “untitled romance” or “Alien novel.” Now, my current works are “Burnished Path,” “Cleansed with Blood,” “Distant Spring,” “Homer,” and “Haunted Heart.”

I’m going to go in and find everything I started, even if it’s only one paragraph or one line and name it.

I know these may not be good titles and probably aren’t the ones that will remain but at least they aren’t confusing. When I’m cleaning out revisions of “Burnished Path,” “Distant Spring” isn’t likely to be thrown out with the bathwater.

I’m also going to make sure a copy of each gets added to my backup hard drive and emailed to myself.

My heart is still veiled in black and mourning the lost words, but this time I’m going to ensure that I learn from my loss.

Blog · Burnished Path · Sneak Peeks

Burnished Path

Chapter One

Babette Watson’s back was rigid. Tears balanced on the rims of her eyes. She clenched her fists to try to calm the tumbling in her ams. Her legs were weak but she tried her best to stay strong.

“Did you do it?” Aaron glared at her through the small slits his eyes had become. His arms were folded in front of his chest and he stood so close to her that she could feel his breath heating the sides of her wavy brown hair.

“No,” she mumbled. It was the only thing she thought she might be able to croak out without releasing a flood of tears.

“Tell us the truth! We all need to know because we’ll all get kicked out if you’re found guilty!” Spit flew off of Aaron’s teeth, almost hitting her.

“I didn’t!” Babette could no long hold back the tears. They streamed down her cheeks, one after another in an endless parade.

“Aaron, think about it a sec.” Dacey wedged herself in between her teammates. “With ‘the eye’ everywhere we go. Do ya think she’d risk it?

The four of them glanced up to the round silver camera hanging in the corner of the classroom.

“Not if she tried when she thought it was inactive!” Aaron stepped around Dacey and glowered again at Babette.

“Man, lay off.” Cabe wrapped an arm around Babette’s shoulder and shielded her from Aaron’s burning stare. “No fret, Babs. I know you wouldn’t do it.”

Babette rested her head on his shoulder and nodded. Her breath hitched as she settled into the comfort that Cabe always brought her.

The door opened and Professor Milch marched in. His heals stomped across the floor as though he were mad at it. He tugged at the bottom of his crisp white lab coat as he stood to face the class. “To your stations.”

Cabe gave Babette a pat on the back before taking his place. Aaron stared at Babette on his way around to his station before snapping to attention with sharp precision. Dacey drifted away, smiling and floating concerned eyes to Babette before standing at attention.

“And sit,” Professor Milch said.

Everyone sat at attention. Eyes forward. Palms flat on the desk top. Feet flat on the floor—shoulder width apart. Backs straight. Butts perched on the edge of the seat.

Though only a few short moments passed by, time seemed to drift on a cloud of eternity. Sweat beaded on Babette’s forehead. Her stomach churned and her eyes refilled with tears.

Professor Milch stood still as a wax figure. His white lab coat was buttoned all the way up up. A thin slice of the white button down shirt and the black and white swirled tie peeked over the top. His black slacks had crisp iron marks down the center. His black hair was salt and peppered at the temples, closely shaved around the sides, and tad longer on the top.

His arms were crossed. The lab coat stretched taught over his muscles. His head remained still though his laser-beam blue eyes scanned back and forth over the four teammates.

The pressure sat heavy on Babette as though an anvil balanced on her head. She couldn’t help but squirm minutely in her seat —just enough to release the unease that raked up her spine. Her watery topaz-brown eyes glued to the top button of his lab coat. She couldn’t bare to look in his eyes.

“At ease,” Professor Milch said.

With those words, Babette’s back curled like a parchment finally released after being rolled out against is will. A tear landed on the edge of her lab coat, leaving an oval circle drip. Another tear caught on the apple of her high round cheek. Quickly, she wiped it away and sniffed the moisture that was threatening to escape her nose.

Babette slowly tucked her curly brown hair behind her left ear to try and get a better look at Aaron. He was sitting with his back still straight in the chair and his hands resting the desk. She couldn’t tell if he looked worried or angry.  She knew better than to turn her head to look at him. Sliding her eyes back to the front, she dropped them quickly to the desktop when she realized Professor Milch’s laser gaze was locked on her. He paused another excruciating moment before speaking.

“Professor Calloway and I stood in front of the teaching team tribunal early this morning. As you well know, Babette was accused of practicing powers outside the classroom.”

Babette’s breaths halted and her heart began to pound so hard she could barely hear what he said. He head swirled. She felt weightless as though floating underwater.

Dacey raised her hand.

“Yes, Dacey,” Professor Milch said with pressed words. One raised eyebrow at her.

“Sir, what exactly is she accused of. I mean, I think we have a right to know since it affects all of us.”

“You think you have the right to know,” he said. Babette couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement. He drummed his fingers on his forearm and pursed his lips. “Fair enough. Babette’s been accused of attempting binding in her barracks.”

“Wha—,” Babette mumbled. One sharp glance from Aaron quieted her.

Dacey raised her hand so hard it nearly lifted her off the seat.

“Dacey, yes,” Professor Milch sighed.

“If she did anything like that, I would’ve seen. I would’ve told.” She glanced at Babette. “Sorry, Babs.”

Professor Milch uncrossed his arms and tugged at the sleeves of his lab coat. “She did it in the bathroom behind closed doors. You wouldn’t have seen.”

“Seriously!” Cabe said. “How could they tell that? And I thought the eye was supposed to turn off when we’re in the bathroom.”

“Only when using the toilet or entering the changing stall,” the professor said. “And I don’t recall you raising your hand. I also don’t recall ever saying this was a discussion. You will sit and you will listen—quietly. Do I need to put you at attention?”

“No, Sir,” Cabe said. “Sorry, Sir.”

“Class, rise and stand at ease,” Professor Milch said.

Everyone stood. Babette rubbery legs didn’t feel capable of lifting her, but she drifted to her feet. The fate of her team pressed on her shoulders.

***THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT OF A WORK-IN-PROGRESS***

Please feel free to share your thoughts. 😊

 

Homer · Sneak Peeks

Homer

I would like to point out that I’m not the author of the following journal, merely its translator. I have opted to do a communicative translation rather than a word for word translation in an effort to relay the exact contextual meaning of the original in a way that the language and content are both easily comprehended in English. Admittedly, however, as Chimpanzee is not my first language and I do not have any peers with which I can confer, mistakes most assuredly exist. To be true to Homer, I have taken painstaking efforts to be as accurate as my skills allow.
First, I feel I must tell you how it is that I came upon Homer’s journal, to begin with. I was working at the Après-Captive Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center researching chimpanzee language when I received a letter in the mail. The envelope looked dirty, beaten, and battered like it had been on an incredible journey even before reaching my fingertips. The return address simply said, “Звёздный городо́к, Россия,” having started out my career in the U.S. Air Force as a Russian linguist, I knew this letter had come from “Star City, Russia.” I had no idea why someone from Russia would be writing to me. I opened up the letter and read a most peculiar request. The person writing me had requested that I come to Russia to translate a document which had remained hidden for decades. The writer of the letter believed the document to be written in Chimpanzee and having heard of my work in the field of Chimpanzee linguistics decided to write me. Not a great deal of detail was given, but it was too intriguing to leave my curiosity unscathed.
I booked a flight to Moscow and then a train to Star City. Upon arriving in the city, I called a cell phone number given to me in the letter. The person on the other end directed me to a tea house. I promptly took a cab to the tea house, got a table, ordered some tea, sipped anxiously, hoping that the fact that my eyes were constantly darting from side to side was not too noticeable. I had waited for approximately one hour when a young man arrived and sat down across from me. He asked me, in Russian, if I was Clementine Porter, to which I answered affirmatively. He paid for my tea and asked me to follow him. I got into his car, and we drove to the outskirts of Star City to a charming little dacha nestled back in a grove of pine trees.
Inside the dacha, I met with a woman, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from the Russian government or other entities within the country. She told me that her father had been a janitor at one of the Soviet Union’s Space Program center in Star City. She said she was just eleven years old in 1963. This was when her father brought home the lifeless body of a chimpanzee.
Her father told her that he overheard that NASA had launched a capsule into space and lost it, or thought they lost. In an effort to learn more about the technologies that NASA was using for its space program, the capsule was both lost and recovered by the Soviets as the result of a top-secret insider spy space program. Someone at NASA was working for the Soviets and deliberately “lost the capsule” for them. While her father had to have a security clearance to work at the space center, he was not privy to detail of any real consequence.
The capsule was left in space for over a month, as not to arouse suspicions of the also-spying Americans. A fake Soviet capsule launch was orchestrated so that the Americans would believe the Soviets were recovering their own capsule. Once recovered, the capsule was brought inside the hanger of the center. Her father was summoned to dispose of a chimpanzee body that was found inside. The body was in a wheelbarrow, they told her father to strip the body of the space suit, search it, and burn it. Then he was to toss the body into the dumpster. Even though the body was not human, her father couldn’t bear to treat it with such disrespect. He tore the patches off of the space suit and set them ablaze in the burn bin.
When he got the body home, they dug a hole and prepared to bury the body with dignity. Just as they were about to lower the body into the hole, they saw something sticking out of the bottom hem of the spacesuit on the chimp’s thigh. Her father pulled it out to discover a journal. Inside was a script of characters they did not recognize. Her father researched for years trying to find the language contained in the journal. He was not successful before he died from a heart attack in 1975. The journal was then buried in a box in the backyard garden where it remained until the woman’s grandson had come home from school and told her about a film he saw discussing my work in chimpanzee linguistics. That is when she decided to write me the letter.
And that is how I came into possession of Homer’s journal. Translating this journal has taken me years. The story which emerged has since shattered my heart into millions of pieces. I knew it would not have a chance of becoming whole again until I made sure that Homer’s story was told…and heard.

***This is a very early draft of one of those unfinished works I started years ago but never finished.***

Blog · book reviews

Book review – Whispers in the Alders by H.A. Callum

Book review – Whispers in the Alders by H.A. Callum

This book quickly became a favorite!!! The writing is beautiful without being overdone. I stopped and read the words, again and again, wondering how the author put them together so magnificently and so seemingly effortlessly! I love Tommy and Aubrey so much. Their friendship felt so authentic and stole my heart away. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
I wish more people knew about his book. SO I’ll shout if from the rooftops!
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You can buy your copy by clicking here!
Blog

It’s good to take a break.

Hello friends,

I didn’t post on my blog last week because I needed a break. I may be spreading myself a bit thin with posting 5 works on Wattpad and Chapterbuzz, writing a weekly post for this blog, plus all the other things I have going on in my life. I’m not going to stop doing any of these things, though, because I realized that while I might need a break from bits of it at times, I’m capable of doing it.

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The hardest part for me in keeping up with writing in this blog and posting my works-in-progress on Wattpad and Chapterbuzz is how vulnerable it makes me feel. This blog reveals feelings that I have always tried to mask. It’s not easy to share my struggles and admit that I walk around feeling like a failure who has no idea what in the hell she’s doing. But when someone reaches out and lets me know that they connect with a post, it makes it all worth it.

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Sharing my works-in-progress on Wattpad and Chapterbuzz really kicks me outside my comfort zone. I have one complete novel up and I’m still in the process of writing all the others. I’m finding it challenging to write new chapters and give them, at least, a second edit before putting them up. Usually, my books go through multiple edits (my first book probably went through around 30 rounds plus a 3 professional edits) before sharing. Talk about showing your warts! I’m not perfect, no matter how hard I wish I was. Opening up and putting my process on display feels horrible in many ways but I think it’s been good for me. I love getting feedback and I greatly appreciate those of you who have checked out my chapters.

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One thing I’ve learned along my writing journey (and I guess in life, in general) is that I have to sometimes do something that is so uncomfortable for me and ask for the things I want. So, I’m going to give that a whirl again… If you’re reading along on Chapterbuzz, would you become a “fan,” “buzz” my chapters, and comment occasionally.  If you are following along on Wattpad, would you please “follow” me, “view” and “vote” for the chapters you enjoy, and leave comments, please. Believe it or not, I love feedback and it doesn’t have to be all positive. If you notice errors, point them out. I’m sharing, not only because I want to find readers, but I want to improve. I can tell when someone is trying to be helpful and when someone is being a troll, so if you aren’t a troll, don’t worry about hurting my feelings. Please and thank you.

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Phew! That was hard and I feel a swirling cloud of discomfort in my gut but it will be worth it if someone who didn’t know I want those things, does them. It really means a lot to me to connect with readers. This is why I do this. I love telling stories but it’s not as much fun to tell them to myself.

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I’ve blabbered on long enough with this post. It’s a beautiful (but chilly) day. I’d like to get out and go for a walk to enjoy it. I also need to edit and post (hopefully 🤞🏻) four chapters.

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Be My Horton

Hello friends,

Look! It’s me on that little speck.

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I am here! I am here! I am here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my last blog post, I talked about the challenge to find readers. It’s so hard. I feel like a little a who down in Whoville shouting on a speck at a world that’s too big to hear me. But it’s okay. If you’re reading this, you’ve heard me. You are my darling, Horton, and I appreciate it.

While I wait for the rest of the world to notice my tiny, insignificant voice, I’ve got to find a way to keep myself going when my writing can seem so pointless.

So, I’ve invented a way to play with myself (uh, err. Should I scratch and rephrase?)

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Ahh! The floor is lava!

At this point, I have approximately five manuscripts that I haven’t finished, so I’m going to start sharing them on Wattpad and Chapterbuzz…the one that gets the most love is the one that I’m going to concentrate on writing for that week. It will kind of be like American Idol, The Voice, or America’s got talent (which I stopped watching when The Regurgitator lost–he got robbed) but with my manuscripts.

They are early drafts, so they’re not perfect, but the good thing about Wattpad and Chapterbuzz is that I can get feedback from readers on how to improve the chapters as I go. Then, most likely, I will publish them through my publishing company, WhistlePig Publishing. Of course, that will be after multiple drafts, professional editing, and a professional cover artist has designed a proper cover. For now, I’ve made quick covers for Wattpad and Chapterbuzz purposes (so please don’t judge these books by their covers 😂) and given them a working title.

If new readers discover me along the way, that’s only ever going to be a good thing. True, it could just be more crickets, and there won’t be many views, votes, or comments on either site but finding just one more reader–one more Horton–would be incredible. If you’d like to read the chapters of my works in progress here is the link to my Wattpad profile and here is the link to my Chapterbuzz profile.

To my manuscripts…

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Here I go, yet again

Here I go, yet again

A few things about me before I begin this blog post:

  1. I love to tell stories, always have.
  2. Every day I fight the voice in my head that tells me I’ll always be a failure
  3. I’m awfully stubborn.

1 & 3 are the only way I can fight 2. 2 is always telling me to quit. 1 is the biggest reason I’ll keep pushing, keep failing, keep picking myself up and trying again.

What am I doing to fight the voice that says I’m a failure?

I remind myself of a few things:

There are a lot of people out there who want to write a book, haven’t, and probably never will. I have, over and again.

There are also a lot of writers out there who don’t share their work. I understand that. I’ve been sharing for a few years now. I’ve been trying to put myself out there more and more no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.

I’ve done things in my past that scared me and made me push myself to succeed. I try to put myself back in the place I was in during those times when the thought of failure gripped me tightest. This helps me remember how helpless and hopeless I felt then, yet, I succeeded in the end.

What’s making me feel like a failure now?

Marketing myself and finding new readers. This seems like mission impossible. I wish I had the budget to do a massive marketing campaign, but I don’t. The writers I see succeeding are those that have lots of dollars behind them (I’m not saying their books are good, but I bet there are a lot of great books that go unnoticed because they can’t pay for the buzz that comes from a great marketing campaign–both indie and traditionally published authors.) I just read an article yesterday about an indie author whose debut novel sold over 10,000 copies. He said the key to his success was spending the money on a intensive marketing campaign.

I’m putting all my extra money into opening another business at the moment and chose to spend my writing budget on editing and cover art. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have more money to sink into marketing, but I just don’t have those funds available right now.

While I work on the other project and wait to have these funds available, I feel like I’m stuck. There’s only so much I can do on my own with a shoestring budget to try to get the word out about my book. But I don’t think there are a lot of people out there who are willing to take a chance on an unknown author. Maybe this is bad of me to say, but I feel like a lot of people just buy into the buzz that comes from reading something on the NYT bestseller list.

What steps am I taking to push forward until I have a marketing budget?

I’m going to use all my platforms to try to find more readers. Finding even one more reader is better than giving in to my fears and giving up. Someday I may be someone’s favorite author, but that won’t happen if I stop trying to find them.

I’m going to keep sharing my journey on this blog. I’ll keep tweeting. And I’ll keep searching for new avenues to find readers I can connect with.

The newest way I’m doing this is…

I’ve joined Chapterbuzz.

I’m hoping to find more readers via Chapterbuzz. I’d love (and also feel terrified and nauseous) to share my work-in-progress and hear constructive feedback about how I can improve each chapter.

If you’d like to read my 1st draft as I go and help me improve my book, I’d love if you’d come on over and join me. When you become a fan and “buzz” my chapters, it gives me points that will help me to become more discoverable by other readers. Click here to join. (It’s free, btw)

I’ll also be posting on Wattpad.

I’ll also be adding my chapters on Wattpad. You can follow along and read my chapters by clicking here.

 

Maybe these will be flops, some of many failures on my road to finding readers, but perhaps it won’t. I’m always willing to try.

I’m going to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly, or how many times I stumble and fall flat on my face.

Thanks for reading. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it.

 

Blog

Free today only – to celebrate a fantastic start

Crushing it so far!

At the end of August, I had 100 followers on this blog. The goal I set to achieve by the end of September was to double that number. I’ve been working hard to reach new followers, and I’m already at 128 subscribers! Woooohoooo! Thanks to everyone who has followed me. I really appreciate it, and I feel like I’m going to reach my goal.

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You should set more than one goal, girlie!

Why stop at the number of people who follow your blog, Allie?

Great question! Why am I stopping there when I know that I need to work on my email list and the number of reviews I have on my book? Okay, well, here’s another goal…get more people to sign up for my author email list (which I NEVER give out anyone’s information and I NEVER spam people with.) I just want to keep in touch with my readers should I ever lose access to my blog or social media accounts.

I also need more reviews on my book ASTER THE SPIRIT TALKER on Amazon and Goodreads. Indie authors, like me, need reviews to reach new readers. I know I check out reviews before I decide to buy any book and so few people leave them.

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Your reviews helping me 😂

 

So what are you going to do about that, Allie?

I’m so glad you asked! (Wow, I’m a nerd.) 😂 😂

To try to get more readers that I can stay in touch with via my email list (and who will hopefully leave reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads 🤞🏻 🤞🏻 🤞🏻 please and thank you) I’m going to gift a Kindle ebook copy of ASTER THE SPIRIT TALKER from Amazon to anyone who signs up on this terrific Tuesday (extending this to anyone who stumbles across this post) by clicking here!

Wooohoooo! Getting people to sign up for email lists has got to be one of the most difficult things I’ve tried to do as an author. No one wants to do it. LOL! I get it. I’m reluctant to do that as well but I can promise you that I’m not going to bombard you with emails. I’m just a nerdy author, standing before a group of readers, asking them to take a chance on me.

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Where’s the sweet spot?

Where’s the sweet spot?

Hello friends,

I’ve been trying to blog more regularly but that’s got me wondering how much is too much and how much is still too little?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I want to post content for my readers regularly, but I don’t want to overload their inboxes either. When I subscribe to a blog and get more than one or two posts a day, I get the urge to unfollow the blog. It’s just too much when 5, 10, or it may as well be 1000 pour in. That’s all I see. I don’t even read them or check to see what the subject is anymore. Usually, I don’t unsubscribe because I don’t want them to feel bad but I really do hate it. I don’t want anyone to feel that way about me and my posts.

I don’t want to post so infrequently that I’m not finding new followers or keeping the ones I have interested in me and my journey.

So where is the sweet spot?

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Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

I guess just like figuring out the best days and times to post, I’ll have to experiment to find the answer to this as well.

I’d love to know your thoughts. So please, leave a comment below to let me know how much is too much or too little?

Also, is there anything you’d like me to post about?

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Join In The Fun! Join In The September 2018 Tea Party! — The Little Mermaid

Reblogged from The Little Mermaid. What a cool idea!

“What better way to suggest friendliness – and to create it – than with a cup of tea?” -J. Grayson Luttrell Aloha, charming WordPressers! I’m delighted to announce you that The Little Mermaid is hosting her third monthly tea party on her website. What? A tea party? On WordPress? When? How? For whom? Alright..alright…take it […]

via Join In The Fun! Join In The September 2018 Tea Party! — The Little Mermaid