Monthly Archives: September 2011

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

With October approaching, the time has come for me to begin planning my next NaNoWriMo project. The rules state that you can work our your plot, work out your character descriptions and research all you like, as long as you don’t start actually writing until November 1st at midnight, so I like to spend October in the planning stages.  So far, I have one finished novella from NaNoWriMo (The Christmas Wager) and I’m getting close to wrapping up last year’s project, Murderous Requiem.  Obviously, NaNoWriMo is a good way for me to force myself to come up with a new novel every year.

I’m tentatively planning another murder mystery, but since Murderous Requiem breaks the rules of traditional murder mysteries — and its popularity may suffer, as a result — I’m digging up a very traditional mystery I plotted out in college, or possibly even as long ago as High School.  A magazine — I think it was Woman’s Day, though I can’t say for certain, and I can’t recall how I even came across it — was sponsoring a murder mystery contest, hosted by Mary Higgins Clark (I think).  The only rule I can remember was that it had to include a certain number of clues from a list provided in the magazine, and the only clues I can now recall are a red dress, an answering machine message and…actually, those are the only two I can remember.

I diligently plotted out my mystery, creating a number of characters and a complex plot, but it soon became obvious that my mystery, featuring gay characters, wasn’t particularly suited for Woman’s Day (not in the 1980s, anyway), and was going to end up being too long for the contest, anyway.  I was also not really up to writing it, at that time.  I started it, but didn’t get very far.  It would be decades before I learned how to finish writing projects reliably.

I’ve been searching through boxes in the attic, looking for my original notes, but this may be a lost cause.  I know they’re kicking around somewhere, because I’ve stumbled across them several times over the years, and every time I did, I thought to myself, “I should really finish this someday.”  They might turn up over the next few weeks, but for now, I’m just going to dredge as much up out of my memory as I can.  Chances are, I may come up with better ideas now, anyway.  I know the basic idea behind the mystery, but it isn’t the greatest mystery ever conceived.  With or without my notes, I’ll need to put some effort into reworking the story, if I don’t want the reader to solve it in the first chapter.

But I’m getting excited about it and NaNoWriMo, in general.  I keep poking at the website and tweaking my profile.  If I recall, they’ll open the site up for people to enter the basic info about their novel projects at the beginning of October.

In the meantime, I’ve finally worked out an ending for Murderous Requiem, and now I just need to write it.  Hopefully, I can get that done in the next week or two.  It will require a lot of rewriting, I already know, to fix inconsistencies in the plot and possibly to obscure the solution to the mystery a bit more.  It seems far too obvious to me, at the moment.  But I’ll just finish it and see what the final result looks like.  I still think it’s a fun read, and hopefully others will agree.

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Filed under Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Solving the Murder

Okay, so I’ve set up the muder scenario in my occult mystery, Murderous Requiem; I know who did it, I know how they did it, and I think I’ve obscured it enough so that my amateur “detective” doesn’t seem like a complete idiot for not figuring things out immediately.

Now what?

The murderer probably shouldn’t get away with it.  I think we’re all agreed on that point.  (Be quiet, Tim!)  But how is Jeremy (my main character) going to solve the crime?  I’ve been dropping clues, but most of them are meant to send him off in the wrong direction.  And at the moment, there’s nothing really pointing to the murderer, other than the fact that said murderer doesn’t really appear capable of killing anyone — always a dead giveaway in a murder mystery.

Then there’s the added problem of Jeremy not knowing that the murder has occurred….

Oh, he knows one murder has occurred.  But not the one that’s critical to the plot.  The way it’s set up, I’m not sure if he’ll find out about the second murder until the very end.  If he did, it might mess up my carefully constructed misdirection.  Of course, since this is my first murder mystery, my carefully constructed misdirection might be as transparent as glass to the reader.  But I’ll have to worry about that later.  For now, ignorance is bliss, and I choose to believe I’m a plotting genius.

Except that I can’t figure out where to go next.  I know it can’t be a slip-up on the murderer’s part.  That would just be lame and make my detective look like a halfwit for needing the solution handed to him.  So a new clue has to turn up somewhere, preferrably connected to the mysterious manuscript the entire story is revolving around, and one that points to the identity of the murderer.

Maybe when Jeremy finishes translating the 14th-century Italian manuscript, it will say, “Verily, the murderer is….”

Oh, dear.  We’re back to Jeremy being a halfwit again.

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Filed under Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Where do we go from here?

It’s been a moderately busy week for me.  First Lou Sylvre kindly let me rant about creating romantic suspense on her blog.  I used examples from two of my favorite M/M novels, Dark Horse, by Kate Sherwood, and Bear, Otter and the Kid, by TJ Klune, and ended up making a two-parter out of it:

Riding the suspense roller coaster in a romance novel – Part One

Riding the suspense roller coaster in a romance novel – Part Two

And We’re Both Straight, Right? received a wonderful review at Miz Love & Crew Loves Books!

I’ve also just turned in my first edit on The Dogs of Cyberwar, which is slated to be released by Dreamspinner Press in November.

I’m back at work on my occult murder mystery, Murderous Requiem, though it’s been a bit slow.  Only one more chapter added this week.  But it’s been a busy week at work and at home, so I’m hoping to ramp up my writing on that, now that I have a few days to breathe.

So having a full-length novel submitted (published is unlikely) by the end of the year is one goal I’ve set for myself, as a writer.  Everything I’ve had published in the past year has been under 60,000 words.  And there is a subtle bias in the industry that tends to favor novels over short stories or novellas, when it comes to readership.  I also still keep being asked if I can produce physical copies of my “novels.”  Until I have something over 60k, I won’t actually have a printed copy from a publisher to show people.   And the fact of the matter is, until you can produce a physical book with actual pages people can touch, they tend not to believe you’re really a professional writer.

The frustrating part is, I already do have two novels sitting in the wings, waiting to be published.  One of these — Seidhman — is, according to everyone who reads it, my best work.  It’s certainly the most polished, having been re-written five or six times and fact-checked by an Icelandic historian.  But it’s YA, and not suitable for my current publisher.

So my goal this weekend, is to draft a query letter and the whole package to submit Seidhman to an agent.  I have one picked out, but I won’t say which one, in case I jinx it.  🙂

By That Sin Fell the Angels — my other finished novel — needs one or two re-writes, before I consider sending it out.  That one isn’t suitable for Dreamspinner, either.  Not because it’s YA (which it isn’t), but because there really isn’t much romance going on.  I’m not sure where to send that one, but it’s time to start thinking about it.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing, Young Adult