The End – Finally

The end. I love writing those two words.  Finishing that first draft is one of the best feelings in the world, in my opinion.  It doesn’t matter how crappy it is, or how much editing it will take to make it readable.  I made it to the end—an accomplishment that frequently seems impossible from mid book. Last week, I got to write those two words again.  Yes, I finally finished FF3.  It’s off with beta readers now.  I’m afraid I won’t make a December release date as I was hoping, but it goes for editing in early January, and cover art mid-month, so it shouldn’t be too much longer. It frustrates me to no end that I can’t write faster.  Yes, I do have a day job and a family to take care of, but four months seems like a long time to write a first draft.  My writer friends assure me that the process gets, if not easier, at least more reliable the more you do it.  And though I’ve been writing for decades, I’ve only been taking it seriously for the last year. Back in September, I wrote a blog post about improving my method.  I decided to give outlining on honest try.  It certainly helped, but I’m a long way from mastering that technique.  Even if I don’t turn out to be the sort of writer who plots every scene ahead of time, I do think it’s incredibly helpful to have some kind of roadmap before I begin.  So, I’ll keep trying to find the method that works for me. Thanks for your patience as I find my way.  Hopefully, the next book will come together...

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Speaking English – Kinda

I sometimes joke that I don’t speak English; I speak Appalachian. Most folks don’t think Appalachia when they think Ohio, but the rolling hills in the southern part of the state are actually the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I tend to use words like y’all and reckon (as in, I reckon I’ll go write a blog post now), though I try to keep a handle on it when I write. Last weekend, I hosted a writing retreat. My beta buddies Kendra and Lindsay joined me for three glories days of writing, but at one point, we did laugh about my accent. (Although Kendra’s Oklahoma accent wasn’t all that different.) The first time I noticed that I had an accent was in high school. My Girl Scout troop had gone to Columbus, Ohio to spend the weekend volunteering at the Ohio Special Olympics. We met other groups from all over the state, and people kept asking us if we were from Georgia. Nope, Southern Ohio (pronounced o-hi-a). We found the notion funny because we knew what a southern accent sounded like. All you had to do was cross the Ohio River into Kentucky (we lived right on the border). For some reason, the accent is much stronger there. Curious the way a physical boundary can make such a difference, even in our world of cars and bridges where a river in no longer a true boundary. When I decided to write a blog post on this topic, I did a little research. I wanted to see exactly where the boundaries of Appalachia were. I ended up on Wikipedia and found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_English. I read through the article, and was shocked to discover that I really do speak Appalachian. Okay, not to the extent shown in the article, but I frequently hear a lot of people who do—especially the older generation. Words like wash pronounced worsh, or droppin’ the g in words that end in –ing. I’ve seen street signs with holler instead of hollow, or crick instead of creek. It’s not just how the words are pronounced, but sometimes the word itself. One of my favorites is substituting the word mango for bell pepper....

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The Series So Far Giveaway

Since it’s going to be a few more months before the next book releases (I’m still shooting for December), I wanted to do something to keep my name out there.  So I’m giving away an autographed set of the first four titles in the series.  This is a Goodreads Giveaway so you’ll need to enter over there.  You can find the entry page here. This giveaway is open to everyone, no matter where you live.  (Yep, I’ll even spring for international postage.)  Unfortunately, I only have one set to give away.  Don’t wait to enter.  Giveaway ends on Halloween (10/31/14). Good...

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Making My First Book Trailer

I’ve wanted to make a book trailer for a while now, so for The Final Formula’s first birthday (publication birthday), I decided to give it a go. I ended up having a lot of fun with this project, but there was a learning curve. When I started, I knew nothing about trailer making–or any kind of video editing. After studying some of the other trailers out there, I wrote a short script, then went in search of the imagery.  I dug through loads of stock photos and footage–what a time sink that was–and finally found some things I could work with. I wasn’t familiar with any movie making software, so I decided to use what came free with my computer. I highly recommend iMovie to anyone just starting out.  It was easy to use and gave the final product a, dare I say, professional appearance. I love visual media and wish I was more handy with such things. One of these days, I need to learn to use Photoshop. I’ve been into digital scrapbooking for years, but the software I use for that is a bit limiting. I think it would be a blast to make book covers, but that’s a project for another day. Meanwhile, I have a novel to write.  😉 So without further ado, here’s my trailer.  Hope you like it!  ...

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Shattering Illusions, One Beaker at a Time

The covered crucible rattled against the glowing red support ring. When it took a little hop, I stepped back. No need to risk my eyebrows. Again. The opening scene in The Final Formula is based on a real event.  It wasn’t quite as dramatic, nor did it happen to me, but I’m pretty sure the stain is still on the ceiling.  Fortunately, no eyebrows were lost. When I tell someone that I’m a chemist, I usually get an enthusiastic response of, “That’s cool!” I suspect they imagine a white lab coat, flasks of mysterious liquids, and explosions. I’m afraid the only truth here is the lab coat. (Yes, as I mentioned above, there is an occasional explosion, but in real life, explosions are not a good thing. They usually involve cleanup, paperwork, and frequently, a follow-up safety meeting.) In today’s post, I thought I’d share a little bit about what goes on at the day job and how it influences my fictional world.  Unfortunately, I’ll probably shatter the mad scientist image you have of me.  *sigh*  So much for being cool. As a chemist, working in industry, I find my job very repetitious. I’ve run the same analysis for years, moving samples through the process much like an assembly line worker. The work involves not only wet chemistry (the typical bench work with reagents and beakers), but also the use of computerized instrumentation and loads of paperwork. There aren’t many shouts of “Eureka!” or opportunities to cackle over a bubbling test tube of weird colored liquid. This might sound dull, but there are opportunities for creative work such as developing new procedures or puzzling out why a sample didn’t work they way you expected. I also have a great bunch of co-workers who get my dorky science jokes and make the daily drudgery fun. But it is through my fictional world that I really get to play the stereotypical mad scientist and blow things up. One of the fun aspects of The Final Formula Series is adapting magic to our world. The study of alchemy is where modern chemistry got its start, so it made sense to have my alchemists start their careers as chemists....

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