Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: writing (Page 1 of 6)

Friday thoughts and reading recommendations

Just a quick post today. I’m doing my best to stay away from politics — my blood pressure thanks me as does the mush of what calls itself my brain. Why is it that the first few days after finishing a book are lost when it comes to accomplishing much more than getting out of bed and vegging for the rest of the day?

Monday, I start the final review of Nocturnal Challenge and then it is off to the beta readers. Yay! Of course, Myrtle the Muse is already hitting me with more stories, including more detail about what the next Nocturnal Lives book will be. I’m going to try to make a few notes today so I don’t lose the thread. That’s important since this next book will tie up the final threads of the current story arc. Myrtle, being the evil muse that she is, has also given me the threads for the next arc for the series.

I’ve spent the last two days doing things that needed to be done — cleaning my office. It’s amazing how much stuff I accumulate while writing a book. Everything from slips of paper with notes on them to research materials to who knows what. I’ve also been reading. That’s always my reward for finishing one novel. Before moving on to the next, I get to hit my very large TBR stack. I’ll post some reviews over the next few days.

In the meantime, Next up are a short story (possibly a novella) in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe as well as the next Honor and Duty novel. It looks like I will be working on them at the same time — we’ll see how that works. But both are being very loud right now.

In the meantime, here are a few good books to try if you haven’t already. Oh, there may be one or two of mine in the list as well.  😉

Dipped, Stripped & Dead

by Elise Hyatt

A Dyce Dare Mystery

When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.

Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.

Life is just about to get crazy… er… crazier. But at least at the end of the tunnel there might be a relationship with a very nice Police Officer.

Tom

by Dave Freer

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this.

He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

The Chaplain’s War

by Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

Nocturnal Origins

by Amanda S. Green

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Vengeance from Ashes

by Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Random Thoughts

A couple of things caught my eye this morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee and scanning headlines and social media. The first is that I am really, REALLY glad I don’t have to be on I-30 this morning in Arlington. Traffic is never fun during rush hour but this morning it is much worse than usual. Several hours ago, police began a slow speed chase in Hunt County of an RV. According to reports, the driver allegedly shot a woman who managed to escape and call for help. However, there were children onboard so the cops had to act carefully to make sure nothing happened to them. Long story short, the RV caught fire in Arlington. Fortunately for the kids, the man did go to the back where they were and let them out. Then, according to latest reports, he shot himself. Tragic events that could have been much worse. Over the next few days or weeks, I’m sure we will learn more about what started this terrible chain of events but, no matter what, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved and most especially to the kids.

I’ve kept quiet, for the most part, about what happened in Manchester. For one, I wanted more information before commenting. However, as it becomes more certain the bomber was an Islamic extremist, I have a couple of things to say. First, we can’t condemn every follower of Islam for what this man — and I use that term loosely — did. As with any religion, there are fanatics. Islam has more than its fair share but to paint them all with the same brush would be just as wrong as painting every Christian with the same brush as Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps.

Second, we can no longer sit back and rely on memes and hashtags and “I stand with …” to fight back against those like the bomber. It is time to cut the head off the snake, salt the ground, saturate it with pig’ blood and end the matter. ISIL and organizations like is hide behind the Koran, knowing the West will bend because they are simply following their “religion”. Nope. They are not religious warriors. They are terrorists and the sooner we deal with them as such, the better. We are at war and, whether we want to admit it or not, war is not civilized. We can’t expect the enemy to play by any rules, much less ones we try to impose on them. It is time we adapt and overcome. If not, we will continue to see soft targets being hit and, next time, it might just be on U.S. soil.

On a lighter note, it’s 40 years ago that Star Wars opened. Some of us remember when there were no prequels — hiss, burn them!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased or downloaded through KU, Battle Wounds. I have a favor to ask as well as a question. The favor is simple. If you’ve read Battle Wounds, or any of my other work, would you take a few minutes and go to Amazon to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long. The thing is, reviews help not only entice other readers but Amazon has a threshold number of reviews you have to reach before it starts listing your title in the “other customers bought” section.

Now the question. It takes time to write novels — duh. I’m averaging one every 3 – 4 months. There are a lot of variables. Sometimes is isn’t quite as long and other times it is a bit longer. So, would you like to see more short stories, not only in the Honor and Duty series but my other series as well, in between? This wouldn’t impact release times for the novels. Let me know.

I guess it’s time to get to work. Nocturnal Rebellion is coming along. It looks to be on target to come out next month. Target date is June 20th, give or take a day or three.

Quick update

Just a quick post this morning. Real life called, demanding my full attention until later today. But the good news is Battle Wounds is off to the beta readers and, unless they find something really off with it, it will be released Tuesday as planned.

This short story has been a battle, not so much to write but to keep it from turning into more than it is. When I first planned the short, it was with much the same eye as the other shorts in the series. I wanted to give the readers a little insight into Ashlyn Shaw’s background, the events that helped shape her into the person she was when Vengeance from Ashes opened.

What I hadn’t expected was for the threads that have been laid in the three novels to find their start in this short story. That slowed me down because I didn’t want to give away what is going to happen in the novels (in case someone reading the short stories hasn’t read the novels yet). So that took a bit of finessing and, as I wait to hear back from my beta readers, I’m hoping I managed to do it.

Once I get the story back and make any edits necessary, it will be converted and uploaded to Amazon. Then it will be time to finish Nocturnal Rebellion. After that, Victory from Ashes (which will probably be renamed) and so much more. But, for now, I’m off to deal with real life stuff and will hopefully be back with a second post later today.

In case I’m not, have a great weekend and read a book!

Working Weekend

Sorry for the lateness of today’s post. Between staying up late last night writing and getting up this morning and doing some more redesigning of the site, actually writing a blog slipped my mind. So, what to blog about?

I guess we’ll start with this site. You’ll be seeing more changes over the next few days. I’m going to combine the blog site (this) with several other sites I have so there is only one actual site to log into and keep up to date. Back when the pen names weren’t open, it was necessary. But now, not so much. So URLs will need to be redirected, some more redesign of this site will be done and, hopefully, by Monday or Tuesday, everything will be in place.

You’ll notice I’ve added cover images of most of my titles in the sidebar to the right. there are a couple of short stories that haven’t been added as well as one series. Eventually, the series will go up but only after I get new covers for them. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, the books are broken up by author and series. Yes, I know there needs to be some tweaking on alignment but, like Faceplant, WordPress often works to make what should be simple functions more than a tad difficult.

On the writing front, I commented the other day that I was having problems with Battle Wounds. The opening just didn’t feel right. I worked on it, massaged it, tweaked it and finally tossed the opening. I tried a couple of different things that I thought might work and nope, nada. Until last night. It suddenly fell into place and it works.

Of course, that sort of major revision means there will be some tweaking to the story arc. I don’t think it will delay me too much but it does mean the story isn’t coming out this weekend like I planned. The goal now is to have it go live on Amazon on Tuesday the 9th. Although I may delay it to the 16th.

This Tuesday will probably be a reading day. Why? Because the next book in one of the few series I still religiously follow comes out. It’s been too long since we’ve had a new Jane Yellowrock novel and I’m looking forward to this one. Faith Hunter doesn’t write sparkling vampires — thankfully. Her fantastical characters fit into the New Orleans setting and I have yet to be disappointed in her books. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, click on the image to the left. BTW, this is one of the very few non-Baen books I will buy as an e-book and pay release date prices. Of course, the fact that price is $7.99 as opposed to the $12.99 or high I all too often see is part of the reason why.

Now I’m heading back to work. I have a short story to finish and I really, really like how it is coming along.

When the writer brain is tired

Over the weekend, I spent some time painting part of the inside of the house as well as doing other “chores”. Very little writing was done because, to be honest, the writer brain was tired. I’d spent the week before doing prep work for the next several projects, as well as updating my promotions plan and more. So, because I didn’t have the brain power to read or write, I watched movies. To be specific, I watched some really bad movies. The lesson learned was I really do need to pay attention when my friends tell me a movie is so bad you don’t even want to watch it when it’s free on TV.

The first was a short, perhaps part of a series. I’m not sure and not interested enough to find out. The premise wasn’t unique by a long shot. The world is coming to an end soon and it is up to one martial artist to prove himself worthy and to save us all. We’ve seen it a million times. The difference this time was that the martial artist was an African-American government agent of some sort. The plot itself wasn’t bad but the fight scenes were so poorly choreographed as to be laughable. Anyone knowing anything about fighting, much less martial arts, would be able to spot the problems with what they were doing. Because of the way these sequences were filmed, the tension of the fights, the excitement that comes with a well-done fight scene was lacking. If the short had been anything longer than half an hour, I would not have kept watching.

The second was the first of several movies I watched — or tried to watch. It was the new version of Ghostbusters. Now, I loved the original. It was fun and didn’t take itself seriously. This new one, nope. I didn’t think it possible to make a movie with effects worse now than they were 30 years ago but you can. And they did. The writing was anything but inspired and it was not funny. Sure, I may have smiled, slightly, in a couple of places but it was nothing close to the original.

There were some talented actors (male and female) in the movie and that is what makes it such a crime. I blame Hollyweird for not being creative. It is easier to take something that was a hit years ago and remake it or rebrand it ot whatever. The problem is, that rarely works. We’ve decades of examples the bean counters should have looked at but didn’t. All they saw was that the original worked so surely this would.

Nope and nope and nope. The best thing about the movie was knowing it was over and I had the option of deleting it from my DVR. Which I did.

The biggest disappointment was another movie I’d heard was a disappointment but I had to see for myself.

Independence Day: Resurgence had the potential of being awesome. The original, despite screwing the science up so badly, was a fun flick that I have watched more than once. Part of that was the “we can and will prevail or die trying” attitude of the main characters. Part was the relationship between some of the characters. Then there was the comic relief of Randy Quaid. There was enough fun in the movie as well as explosions and evil aliens, etc.

This new installment. Nope and nope and nope again. If I had paid to see it in the theater, I’d have asked for my money back. The acting was, on the whole, second and third rate. The plot, which could have been great, was predictable and, there’s not way around it, If they explained what happened to some of the characters from the earlier movie, I missed it. (I think I dozed during part of the film. Either that or my mind shut down out of self-protection,)

It comes down to this, if you are going to do a sequel to a much-loved movie — and it doesn’t matter how cheesy the movie is — you need to do the original justice. You can’t simply slowly stroll through the plot and hope folks will stay with you just because they expect aliens and explosions at some point. For example, the original ID4 opened with that great sequence of something passing by the moon. You saw the footprints on the surface and the flag and then it was darkened as something very big and ominous passed by. That immediately signaled something big was about to happen and it might not be a good thing. In the newest installment, you don’t have that. There is no hook, nothing to keep you — or at least me — interested.

So, in a way, I guess the weekend viewing was a lesson for me to remember as a writer. Hook the reader right out of the gate. On that happy note, it is time to get to work. Later!

Of print and digital and all that jazz

One of my goals over the next month is to not only get Dagger of Elanna released in print but to make sure I have updated print editions of all my novels up for sale. The problem with this is not knowing what Amazon is doing right now. Createspace is still in place — or it was last week when I last checked. But Amazon also has a new service through your KDP dashboard where you can set up your print book there as well. The problem being this new setup doesn’t have all the same functionality and benefits as Createspace does.

But what has me wondering if I ought to just wait a bit is the fact you can now transfer your books from Createspace over to this new print side of KDP. Does that mean Amazon is going to phase out Createspace? If so, do I want to set everything up over there and then have to transfer it over to KDP, risking something going wrong?

And there are things that can go wrong. The first thing is that they are already saying there may be issues with the covers set up for Createspace not necessarily working with this new interface. I don’t want to have to recreate my cover flat — or ask my cover artist to do it.

Then there is the potential of the interior files not printing the same way for the new venture they did for Createspace. So, you can see my quandary.

There’s another reason why I’m hesitating on doing quick re-releases of some of the print books. Setting up new print files as well as new cover flats takes time away from writing and editing, both of which I not only need to do but want to do. That seems to be my constant conflict as a writer. I’d rather write than do the promo work I should, the “business stuff” that needs to be done, etc. But it will be done. I’ve just got to decide whether to wait a bit longer and see what Amazon has up its sleeve or not.

And no, I am not interested in going with Lightning Source right now. It is wasted money because I don’t make that much on print books and, at the moment, can get author’s copies for less from Createspace than from LS.

As for digital, there are a couple of books I want to do re-issues of when I have time to go back and look at them. No, nothing major will change, but covers need to be updated and new back material put in. All of that takes time, something I don’t have an incredible amount of right now.

Why?

Because the writing is starting up quicker this time after finishing a book than it usually does. Hopefully, that’s a good sign. I’m about 1/3rd of the way through Nocturnal Rebellion and it is a fun book to write. I’m hoping you guys enjoy it as much as I am so far.

Now I need to run. I have an appointment in a few minutes. When I get back, I’m hoping to update my main site. I’m liking the new look of the blog and hope you do as well. In the meantime, tell me what you’re reading. I need something new to read before bed.

Later!

Back to Work

At least I think I am. I still need to decide on new themes for this site as well as my “official” site. But that’s the sort of thing I can do when I take a break from writing. I’ll be honest, I hate doing that sort of thing. To me, it’s like picking a fabric for a sofa or chair from a swatch or tile for a floor based on one single tile. I simply can’t visualize what it will look like until it’s installed. So, I tend to postpone it until I can’t stand it any longer.

Fortunately, writing isn’t like that. Writing is, to me, as important to my existence as is breathing. Oh, I can do for days without actually putting words to paper (or onto a hard drive). But that doesn’t mean my brain isn’t working on something even as I’m doing something else.

I’ve found some of my best brainstorming is done when I’m busy working with my hands — digging in the yard, building something, painting. Those almost mindless physical activities allow my creative side to run wild. So, that has been part of what I’ve been doing in the week since I released Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2).

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it. Part of it is because I have to keep busy or I will continually flip between the product page and the sales page to see how the book is doing. Most authors, if they’re being honest, feel that same tug. So we find ways to distract ourselves.

However, it’s helped as well because I needed to finalize in my head where Nocturnal Rebellion is going and if this would be the last book to feature Mackenzie Santos. Before anyone writes a nasty comment, no, it isn’t going to be the last book (assuming you guys like it and want more). But it will be the last book in the overall story arc that was hinted at from the beginning and really took root two books ago. And that is all I’m going to say about that. Otherwise, I’ll get into spoilers.

It has also allowed me to figure out how I’m going to move forward with the Eerie Side of the Tracks series and tie it in more closely with Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks). The solution, when it came to me, surprised me but in a good way. The one thing it means is there is a very definite publication order that has to be followed. Now to make the notes so I don’t forget anything.

Not to worry, I finished working out in my head what needs to be done with the very rough draft of Victory from Ashes and figured out the plot for Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor and Duty universe.

What this means is I’m going to be doing a hell of a lot of writing for the rest of the year. I like it that way. Of course, I know Myrtle the Evil Muse will ambush me somewhere along the way and disrupt my schedule. She always does. But that’s okay. Just don’t tell her that. I don’t want to give her ideas.  😉

Getting back in the swing of things — slowly

After finishing a project, it usually takes me a week or so to catch up on things like sleep, cleaning, etc. That’s been true this time as well. Of course, Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) isn’t quite finished as a project. I still have the print version to finish putting together. But that is something I can do while working on the next project, Nocturnal Rebellion. Better yet, I know that I’m about ready to start back writing Rebellion.

How do I know?

That’s simple. I spent the morning digging through my office, clearing off the desk, cleaning and putting away all the research, etc., that I’d used on Dagger. Now the desk is clean and everything is set for me to sit down and get back to Challenge.

Of course, as I noted in yesterday’s post,I’ve also been hit with the basic plot ideas for the next 3 or 4 titles for the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. Plus, the basic draft for Victory from Ashes is done. Everything looked great when I posted that and I felt sure Myrtle the Muse would let me work according to my schedule.

She still might. . . but. . . .

Last night, Sarah A. Hoyt messaged me. It seems she had been hit with an idea for a cover and it wasn’t something she had planned. She told her muse, it must be one of my books. So she put this together.

I’ll be honest. I love this cover. It absolutely fits for the next novel in the Eerie Side series. Of course, it also means that book is starting to get loud. The fact it can’t be written quite yet doesn’t mean a darn thing to Myrtle the Muse. At least Mac and Company are louder right now than Myrtle and all the rest of it.

Anyway, I’m off to relax after digging out the office. Back later.

More on ME: Andromeda and future projects

Yesterday, I blogged about my experience and thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda – PC after the first couple of hours of game play. There are a couple of things I want to add to that post, especially since I have seen a number of reviews wondering what the hell Bioware thought when they made the game. Mind you, these reviews are from sites that I usually find myself, if not completely disagreeing with then at least thinking they have taken it a bit too far. Those reviewers and professional players (youtube channels) I respect and who tend to be my go-to when I’m not sure about a game, all seem to agree with my take on the game so far.

If you look at some of the reviews, you’ll see folks bitching about the animation of the faces of a number of the characters. Yes, there is some issue. But to say the animation has taken a step back not only at least one generation but years of game development is to overstate the case. My take is that there are two issues. The first is that some, if not all, of the concerns will be taken care of in a first day/week patch. And let’s face it, we all know there will be such a patch. Very few major games are released now without such a patch happening.

Second, and this dawned on me yesterday as I played for a few minutes, some of the animation — especially when we get a closeup of a character’s face — is like what we had when TV shows were suddenly broadcast in HD. We see every flaw in the complexion, etc. There is one cutscene in particular where we see a closeup of Sarah Ryder and it is all facial pores, imperfections and — well — normal skin. Just not what you’re used to seeing in a video game

Another complaint I’ve seen — and this predates the early access release on Origin — is that Bioware seems to have tried to make Sarah Ryder ugly. Again, who the fuck cares? I’m not particularly fond of everything about the way the default Ryder looks but you know you? She looks normal. Not every video game character, and especially not every female character, has to be a “beauty”. Don’t like the preset character, use the customization options. And get the fuck over yourselves.

Is the game perfect? No. But no game is. Some are better than others. But for most of those who are complaining the loudest, they either haven’t played the game yet or they are like me. They’ve played some or all of the 10 hour early access and, to be honest, that doesn’t get you very far into the game and, if they really thought about it, there will be patches to deal with some of the issues they have brought up. I’m willing to wait and see what happens before passing final judgment.

So far, this Mass Effect feels more like the original Mass Effect in a lot of ways. There are things I like and some that I don’t. I look forward to truly being able to explore the game when it is released and there isn’t a time limit imposed on how long I can play.

In other news, I want to once again thank everyone’s support of Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). I especially want to thank those of you who have left reviews. You guys are great. Please keep the reviews coming. They really help. Now I’m off to work on Nocturnal Rebellion and plot the next Eerie Side of the Tracks title. Well, actually titles. I figured out yesterday the order for the next three titles in the series (one short story as well as the follow-up to Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks) and then the next novel which will be Ciara’s story). The next book, however, after Rebellion will be Victory from Ashes (Honor and Duty series) and that one is already plotted and a very rough draft mostly written. So, busy writer am I, especially since I have a couple of editing projects I’m working on as well. That means I need to get off of the internet and get back to work.

Countdown – 6 Days

The edits are done. Input from beta readers and editor have been reviewed and incorporated.  Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) has been converted into ePUB and one last read-through has begun. Later today, I will upload the final version in preparation of release on the 15th.

It is different reading the book on a tablet in e-book format than looking at it on the screen as a Word doc. My brain thinks more about it as a “book” instead of work. Yes, it does let me see little things that might have slipped past me — as well as the others — on the Word doc but it does something else. It lets me think about it as reader and not so much as a writer.

All I can say is, damn. Do I put my characters through a lot in this book.

I’ve had a blast writing the book. I already know what happens in the next book, at least the general outline of it. If it plays out the way I think it will, the next book will be just as much fun to write — and to read, I hope — as this one has been.

Now, I’m off to find another cup of coffee and finish checking the ePUB version. Once the few proofreading changes are applied, I’ll upload the final file to Amazon. Then I’ll take a day or two before getting back to Nocturnal Rebellion.

Don’t forget, the picture and the link above will take you to the pre-order page. Have you bought your copy yet? (Hey, don’t hat the writer for doing promo. I have kitty kibble to buy. BratCat has this thing about eating several times a day and he’s looking hungrily at my ankles right now.)

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