Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Journey in Terror

My sketch of Perry Palomino

That's a pretty lame blog title, I must admit. It's before 10AM though and my brain isn't working and I should just be happy I'm writing at all. Blog posts, that is.

A week ago I completed my third novel. It was a labour of love and... well, just a lot of love. Also resulted in some disturbing dreams and a few months of being anti-social (when I wasn't traveling). And a few months of neglecting this blog. Poor thing *pats it on head*

But, I'm done. The third book in the Experiment in Terror Series, "Dead Sky Morning" is complete (well, first draft anyway). At 102,000 words, 20 chapters, it took me about 2.5 months to do, writing almost every day (maybe every other day to round it out).

In comparison, the first book in the series, "Darkhouse", took me 6 weeks. Yeah, you all know the story, I was blogging more then (shame on me!), but that was a quickie. But that was my goal, right? October/November 2009 I had set a goal for myself to write every day for 30 days... just to see if I could do it. Earlier that summer I had a great idea for a book. I wanted to start a series, I wanted to do it from a female's POV and I wanted it to be about ghosts. NOT Vampires (never, ever Vampires), but ghosts. I am the old-fashioned supernatural lover and ghosts always get my goat. Or something.

The idea came to me in just the form of Perry Palomino. I knew her name, I knew I wanted to write scary stuff (I was born to scare people - but that's for another blog post), I knew she'd have a younger sister who was into fashion. And that was about it. I mulled on it, put the idea away promising myself "one day" I'll write a book. Just as I had done for 27 years.

Man. 27 sounds really young now compared to 29. Huh. ANYWAY.

Then I just decided to do it. Build a habit. I was kind of taking part in NANO, where you write a novel in a month. The min word count there was 50K and it took me six weeks to do 82K so I guess it did kind of count. Well, it got the job done. Waking up at 6AM and writing for an hour in the cold winter mornings, plus an hour at work, then an hour or two at night (EVERY DAY) and that's how it all came together.

So with Darkhouse's first draft coming in at 6 weeks, it was time for the second book. "Red Fox". It took... a year. Seriously. I wrote a bunch in January/February 2010. More in July (on the plane to Finland and back). And finished the rest up in the fall.

I never thought I'd write one book, let alone three. But I've found something that I love. These books mean everything to me, the characters are as real to me as the sun and the moon. I'm starting to go a bit nutty here as a result. They talk to each other in my head at night, so much that sometimes I have to get up and write it down. Just scenes, dialogue - it may belong to the next book, it may belong to book #7.

Yeah, there's seven books in this series. Possibly more, but seven so far. They have all been plotted out - least I know the main focus, location and events in each book. In a way, I am telling just one big story that is spread out, so each book digs up certain clues or milestones for my characters. There's a massive backstory here, and some of it actually springs up as I continue to write. The characters have come SO far from that first book. They write the books themselves now - I admit I am just the messenger (yeah, now I am really sounding like a loon). Sometimes they will do something I didn't expect that ties in with something I hinted at in an earlier book and then it's like BOOM! I discovered something about THEM. Weird, huh?

But with the third book done, it's time to look at what I am doing with them.

No, I have not sent out a single query letter to publishers or agents. I have declined to go that route (for now, of course) for several reasons.

A) I like to be in control. I like to DIY. I have an army of talented friends who can help me out with everything from copy-editing, cover design and artwork, websites, photography, filming (oh, you'll see where that is going), PR work, social media tools...whatever. I have these resources around me and I will use them. I LOVE being involved in everything I do. This is all up to me and who I choose to help me and there is no one else to blame if it all goes sour.

B) Though the books are really about the characters Dex and Perry, the subject matter (GHOSTS) is a timely one. Experiment in Terror (yes, I know it's a film...and a song...and no, titles are not copywritable), is a webcast run by a pair of amateur ghost hunters. Ghosts are in right now. Well, ghosts are always in, but seriously, there are ghosts everywhere these days. EVEN IN MY KITCHEN!

But the point is, if I was lucky enough to get a book deal TOMORROW, the first book would not come out until 2013. 2013!? We're all dead by then! But seriously, if I do it this way, the self-publishing way, the first book will come out sometime in May. 2011.

C) I'm not afraid of hard work and I have the time. Yes, this is hard-work. Yes, I have been working around the clock. I may not have a traditional "job" but I have a career. I write freelance for three websites (and get paid to do so), I have some other music-related writing work that comes in, I do background work for film when I can, and I write my novels. On average, I write for about 6-8 hours a day. That is nothing to sneeze at, all you sneezers out there.

I am FORTUNATE that I have a loan to help me with this process, that I don't have to have a 9-5 job, otherwise NO WAY - I could not self-publish. But this is my job now, and even when I'm up at 2AM researching publicists, or doing fact-checking, or coming up with a business name for incorporation, I'm actually working. I even said it to my BF last night...I have been working every day for months now and it just clued in lol. I finally get what self-employed people mean when they are like "another 12 hour day" - because when you look at the hours devoted to your career, that is WORK. It's just the fun work, not the work where you punch a clock. It's still work though.

Yes, my dream would be too have a publishing house approach me and sign me to a book deal. But I hate sitting around and waiting for that to happen. This isn't about money (money WOULD be nice though, at least enough to pay back my loan), it's about sharing something that has made me and about five other people (my brave, devoted, enthusiastic readers) very happy.

SO sorry for the long post but it was LONG overdue. Hope you are all caught up. Here are somethings on my horizon:

- Currently re-writing Darkhouse for the billionth time.

- Aiming to self-publish Darkhouse in May. The books will be available through E-download for $2.99 and paperback for around $10. If ANY bloggers want to review an advanced copy for free, drop me a line ASAP, I would LOVE it.

- Red Fox will follow shortly after, probably in June.

- I will have my website for these books up and running next month.

- There is going to be a huge interactive component here with Youtube videos and I am very excited about that. The video should launch before May...

- I am currently plotting out the fourth book, entitled "Lying Season" - I don't know if that book will get actually published this year, but it will get written at the very least. That's the thing... once the writer train is going, it's hard to stop. Each book has something I'm very excited about exploring and writing about - I literally had to hold myself back the other day from starting Lying Season. Right at this minute, I need to devote 90% of my time to self-publishing and the prep stage (let alone the marketing after the book launch!).

Anyway, this blog is going to be a major tool for me as the weeks go on, so keep your eyes peeled. And, as always, thanks for reading :)


Tami said...

Sooo proud of you, and can't wait to read Darkhouse, Red Fox, and Dead Sky Morning! Thank you for the blog and keeping us up to date. I know you have your stories plotted out, but you should come visit Rustic Canyon. There's an old family cemetery plot of the old Rancho Boca de Santa Monica nearby. And people who hike in the canyons say they are haunted. I've wondered a couple of times if I've heard or seen things. It's got a great atmosphere for sure!

Lavina said...

Way to keep at the grind! Look forward to reading your work.
...and P.S. Wondering if I'm going to have a ghost "issue" at this new Apt. of mine has been a legit worry for me :/ Must. Stop. Watching. Ghost Hunters.

arbyn said...

Of course I'm dying to read your labour of love and discipline in advance. Congrats!

Megan said...

Well, you know how happy I am for you to get this out there. It's your time to shine. Looking forward to many more adventures with Dex and Perry. I'm grateful and proud to be a devoted reader.

Thanks for taking me along for the ride. ;)

Kelly-Ann Maddox said...

You're such a prolific writer! I'm envious, it's been 9 months and I'm not sure I'm even close to completing my first novel. *sigh* It is a labour of love!

I'll be keeping an eye on your blog, I do love to see people getting productive and putting pen to paper / fingertips to keyboard.

Bracelet giveaway on my blog - check sidebar for details.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm so happy to hear that you're getting your books published! And read another wonderful blog post. I wish I had the time to write my own one but alas.. maybe in the future! :)

As I am a reader of your blog from Finland, I was wondering are your paperback versions going to be able to travel here? I really don't like the concept of e-books.
I would be also interested in reviewing your book in advance but since my blog is read only by a handful of people, I don't know could I really make difference for the advertising. Of course, as an English language student and lover of writing, the practice that would come from writing a review is always welcomed. :D

Aurinkoista kevättä! :)

rafiki said...

have been your fan/follower for a while now. u rock girl! seriously! keep my fingers crossed. just keep us posted ;))

Anonymous said...

oh my, can't wait to read your books! have you made a webpage for the series or yourself as writer? I suggest also using for advertisement, getting the word out about your books + word of mouth advertisement works really good at that site also.


Cupcake Blonde said...

I am so excited to read these!! I will be contacting you about an advanced copy because I would love to review it for you. You know me and good, scary books. :)