Nocturnal Lives

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

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Busy writer is, well, busy

First off, today is my day over at Mad Genius Club. Please check it out. I talk about changes in plans and writing habits and a little bit more.

As noted over at MCG, one of the things I’ve done over the last week is set up my publishing schedule for the next year or so. I say “or so” because Myrtle the Evil Muse made sure to infect me with several titles I hadn’t planned on. One of them I am really excited about. It is in the Eerie Side of the Creek series and introduces some new and, I think, exciting characters. Yes, our regular cast of zanies and not-so-zany is there as well. I know the basic plot and my subconscious is already tweaking some of the plot points I noted down. More on this when I start writing it.

I also want to thank those of you who have bought or borrowed Nocturnal Rebellion. I’d really appreciate it if, after you read the book, you went over to Amazon and reviewed it. Those reviews help.

Yesterday was spent writing a series of blog posts, some for here and some for other sites. I’ll post links to them on this blog when they go live. It was fun writing them but it also meant little fiction was written yesterday. So today I have to double-down.

One thing that surprised me after finishing Rebellion is my reading. Usually when I finish a project, I tend to spend several days reading fiction. The first day is light, easy reading. Titles I don’t have to really think about. This is reading to escape and relax. After that, I might go to more challenging books. This time, it’s been non-fiction from the start. Among the titles I’ve either read or am reading right now are:

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell.

Now it’s time to get to work. Until later!

Old plots made new

Like most writers, I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. Once I knew how to write, I started putting those stories down on paper. Some, I remember and others I no longer do. That’s like there are some of those old stories I still have in hard copy, whether written out long hand or typed or printed. Most of them will never see the light of day. No way and no how. However, that doesn’t mean some of those characters or the plots don’t come back to tickle my imagination from time to time.

That is exactly the situation I found myself in last night. I’d spent much of the day doing writerly housekeeping. I blogged about some of that yesterday. Maybe that’s why, when I finally packed away the laptop and relaxed for the evening, my imagination refused to settle down. But, instead of thinking about any of the titles I’d made notes on during the day, it turned to a “novel” (and I use that term loosely) I wrote probably 25 years ago.

I’ll be honest. There has always been something about the main character in that novel that’s intrigued me. Hell, let’s be honest, it’s called to me. But I knew the novel wasn’t anywhere close to salvageable, much less publishable. So it has sat and, unknown to me, it’s been waiting for me to figure out what to do with it.

So, instead of going to bed last night when I should have, I pulled up what what I have been able to find on old discs and read through it. Oh my, my instincts were right. The book is a mess. A very big, stinking pile of a mess. But there is some goodness in there as well. The biggest issue is that I tried to put too many plots and sub-plots into the mix. Even though I know the story, I got confused. But, there was some good stuff in it, more a feel and characters than actual writing and plotting.

Let’s face it, the story structure sucked eggs.

So, hoping I hadn’t just cursed myself with yet another book or — gasp — another series, I shut down the laptop once again and went to bed. I slept better than usual and woke with the main character and her backstory teasing me. I can almost see where my subconscious wants me to go and have already made three pages of notes.  I’m still not sure it will work, at least not in the way my mind is currently taking it, but I’m intrigued.

I know enough now about writing to understand this will be something where I throw out everything I wrote before, barring one or two scenes. But the main character and her backstory are awesome, or at least they have the potential of being awesome. She’s been broken and has worked hard to pull herself and her life back together again. She most certainly isn’t a superwoman or a Mary Sue. The scars are what makes her interesting and human. I love those kinds of characters.

Below is a scene from the original work. I think I’ve posted this before but, if I have, it’s been a long time ago. But this is what started me thinking about her again and that got Myrtle the Evil Muse thinking, which is never a good thing. At least not for my schedule. The only thing I have done today is change the main character’s name because, well, it will have to be if I actually move forward with this project. If I do, I don’t know if this scene will actually make it into the book or if it will only be referenced. Anyway, here goes.

***

Coarse ropes bit painfully into skin rubbed raw. Rivulets of blood, some dried and others all too fresh, traced a wild map of varying shades of red down her body. Lips, dry and cracked, bled onto the filthy rag that gagged her. Her mind screamed in fear and agony. Screams of silence. She no longer possessed the strength to even moan in protest. All she wanted, all she prayed for, was a release from her torment. Even death was preferable to what she’d been forced to endure the last few hours.

Had it only been hours? It seemed like an eternity in the Hell the village priest had warned them of when she was younger. That Hell where all your sins were revisited upon you in the most horrendous ways because you’d been foolish enough not to repent.

But this wasn’t Hell. This was all too real.

Eyes closed, she forced herself to breathe slowly, evenly. Through the fog of fear and pain, she knew one thing: she couldn’t let him know she was awake. If he knew, he’d hurt her again and she couldn’t stand that. She simply couldn’t!

Dear God, just take her before it begins again.

The rustle of leaves, the tread of a step and she knew her ruse hadn’t worked. But maybe she was wrong. Please, let her be wrong, let it be an animal, anything but him.

She lifted her head and forced her swollen eyes open. Despair washed over her. It was Hell. Hell on Earth and she could do nothing about it.

“Well, little one, have you been enjoying our time together this afternoon?” One finger lightly traced a pattern across her breasts and down her belly.

His voice sent shivers down her spine. A single tear tracked down her cheek, burning the cuts he’d so carefully inflicted earlier. Her stomach knotted and lurched and she struggled not to be sig. The small part of her brain that still worked knew that would be bad, very bad, gagged as she was. But what did it matter? She’d soon be dead any way. Did the manner of death really matter after all she’d been through?

“What is it, Meggie? Too choked up to talk?” he taunted. His hand cupped her right cheek, his face so close she could smell the stale odor of whiskey on his breath as well as the cigarettes he’d smoked – and used for things her mind flinched away from. “Surely that’s not the case. I’ve never known the time when you’ve not had something to say.”

Even if she hadn’t been gagged, she couldn’t have replied. She’d never have the words necessary to tell the shitehawk how she felt. He’d stolen apart of her that day, a vital part. One she’d never be able to recover.

Damn him!

When she didn’t respond, not that much of a response was possible, he laughed gaily. Then his hands turned rough as he once again sent them across her already battered body. If she could have, she’d have shuddered in revulsion. Instead, she moaned lowly as she realized the nightmare wasn’t over, not yet.

Not ever.

***

As I said, this was written years ago. My craft has, I hope, improved, but this character is one that keeps coming back to me. We’ll see where it goes, if anywhere. In the meantime, don’t forget that Nocturnal Rebellion is now available for purchase. You can click on the link above or the image to the left for more information. Or you can click on any of the images on the right of the page for information about those titles.

Until later!

Holy Cow!

I am late posting today because I’ve been doing some writerly housekeeping. I love writing series but the problem is it sometimes gets difficult to remember exactly what you have planned in the future and which series is supposed to come next in your publishing schedule. That is especially true when you have an evil muse like mine. Yes, Myrtle, I’m looking directly at you.

So, I sat down this morning and decided I needed to get down on paper — well, on my hard drive — a few notes about the projects I have coming up. It’s my way of looking at my schedule, seeing if it is workable and where I can fill in with some of the new projects I’d like to do.

What I came up with are basic plot outlines or simple notes on six different titles, belonging to three different series. So, here’s what I have on my plate over the next 12 to 18 months. Remember, there will probably be other titles as well because I have a couple of stand-alone books I want to do.

Victory from Ashes (current working title and will probably change). This is the 4th book in the Honor and Duty Series. I have updated my plot notes to go along with the very rough draft I already have written.

Foil of the Gods (current working title). This is the 3rd and final installment in the Sword of the Gods series. I have a very, very rough draft I wrote some time ago but wasn’t happy with. Today I pulled together some plot notes (6 pages of them to be exact) that will help pull the draft together and bring the series to a satisfactory end.

There are four titles currently set in the Eerie Side of the Creek that I’ve plotted out over the last two days. Two will be novellas. One is, I think, a short story but it might morph into a novella. One is a novel. The two definite novellas are the continuation of Skeletons in the Closet and will bring that particular story arc to a close. Again, I’d had other ideas for the follow-up to Skeletons but they didn’t feel right. These do.

You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned anything else happening in the Nocturnal Lives series. Nocturnal Rebellion ended the current story arc. I am starting to get a feel for where the next “chapter” will go but I’m going to let that germinate for a bit. All I can say for sure is I woke up this morning with the sound of Mac’s voice in my head asking if a baby born to two shapeshifters who shifted into jaguars required diapers or kitty litter boxes. Yes, there was more than a hint of panic in her voice. No, I am NOT going there — at least not right now. But there are more stories in that universe to come. Whether they include Mac and a baby — and diapers or kitty litter — I don’t know.

No, Myrtle, we are NOT writing that right now!

So, that’s been my morning. It’s kind of nice — and scary — to see actual words on paper detailing these upcoming projects. It does look like I’m going to be very busy over the next year or so. Guess that means I’d better get back to work.

Oh yeah, you can click on the book covers to the right of this post if you’re interested in any of my work. Now to get back to work.

Cover Reveals

I am so excited. I have the covers for my next two projects. The first is for Light Magic, the newest title in the Eerie Side of the Creek Series. This book acts as a bridge of sorts between Skeletons in the Closet and Witchfire Burning by bringing some of the characters together. I can’t wait for you to see where it goes. Anyway, here’s the mock-up for the cover.

This second is the mock-up for the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes. There is still some tweaking to be done, but it has the right feel and I’m excited to see what the final version will be.

I’ll be back later today with another post. Until then, why not check out Nocturnal Rebellion?

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

Later!

A quick note

I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Vellum next week on Mad Genius Club. But I wanted to make a few introductory comments today. Vellum is one of many programs out there that claim to help make your e-books and print books look more professional. Most of those I’ve tried haven’t really offered anything you couldn’t do in Word or similar word processing programs.

First impressions:

Vellum is expensive. I’ll not shy away from that. If all you want it for is producing excellent looking e-books, you will pay $199.00. In the past, you could buy single use or limited use licenses. That doesn’t appear to be the case any longer. If you want it to prepare both e-books and print layout, you will have to crack your wallet to the tune of $249.99. That’s a lot of change but from everything I’m seeing and hearing, it is well worth it.

The learning curve is minimal. This is what really excites me. I took a DOCX file and imported it into the program. I am a rank amateur using Vellum and had a file that was ready to import to Amazon, or any other e-book retailer, within 20 minutes or so. Part of the delay in getting that file can be laid directly at the fact I an learning all the ins and out. I have no doubt this will soon be cut to 10 minutes or less.

The learning curve is much lower than on almost every other program I’ve used for e-book creation and the options are much better, in my opinion. I’ll go into details next week but, for now, I’m really excited about the program and the time it will save me once I’m used to it and to being Mac-based for that particular aspect of my career.

So far, I highly recommend the program especially if you, like me, put out more than a couple of titles a year.

Release Day!

It’s here!

Nocturnal Rebellion is live on Amazon.

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did writing it. Now I’m off to finish my post for Mad Genius Club. Stop by over there in an hour or so and say “hi”.

One more day

Oh, crap! Now I’m going to have that tune running around in my head all day. It’s not that I don’t like Les Miz, but that’s not what this post is about. Worse, I know what my evil muse is like. She will take a song about the French Revolution and decide I need to write something “worthy” of that people’s revolution. Nope, not on the charts. Not right now, at any rate.

Anyway, tomorrow is the day for Nocturnal Rebellion to be released. I can’t wait. I really hope you guys enjoy it. While this ends one story arc for Mac and company, there will be other stories. Mac’s too loud to just fade away. Besides, I like her and her friends.

Here’s the blurb:

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

In the meantime, I’m back to work today. Next up is an entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. I haven’t figured out if this is a short story or novella, mainly because this one ambushed me not long ago with an opening that won’t let go. The main character is Amy Duchamp, Lexie’s best friend and Miss Serena’s granddaughter. We first met Amy in Skeletons in the Closet.

My gut feeling is this will be the next installment in the Skeletons story arc. At least that’s the way it feels right now. Anyway, here’s what hit me and what isn’t letting go:

“I still say you should have named it Bell, Book and Candle.”

I grimaced. We’d had this discussion before. “Absolutely not. No self-respecting witch would ever name her bookstore after that movie!”

The only problem was I was more than a self-respecting witch. I was a self-respecting witch with bills to pay and who liked really nice shoes. Maybe Lexie was right. Not that I’d ever tell her. . . .

Many of the cast of characters — and I do mean characters — from Skeletons in the Closet, Witchfire Burning and Slay Bells Ring will be making appearances. And, yeah, Lexie’s mom still has her undead problem and her mother-in-law problem. I’m not sure if she will ever learn her lesson.

 

And it’s done!

I just hit the enter button and uploaded the release version for Nocturnal Rebellion. Now comes the waiting. Waiting for Amazon to approve the file and waiting to see how you guys like it once it is available for download on the 15th. I really love this book and hope you do as well.

Whenever I finish a book, there’s a short period of time when I don’t necessarily grieve but when I feel the loss of the characters. After all, they’ve been alive for me for months. Now, suddenly, they won’t be a part of my every day life. It’s as though my best friends decided to move away and we can’t get together whenever we want.

I’m feeling that and more right now. Rebellion marks the end of the current story arc for Mac and company. There are more stories to tell but thing have changed in major ways for Mac, not only in the previous books but most especially in this one. Her life, as a cop and as a shapeshifter, will never be the same. Most of the changes are for the good but some, well, you’ll have to wait and see.

So, before you ask, yes, there will be more stories in this world. I need to take some time later this year and figure out exactly what they are and start planning them out. Mac is already tossing ideas out there — of course, because my muse is evil, it might not be Mac but her jaguar doing the tossing. 😉

Next up will be a new installment in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series, probably something to follow up Skeletons in the Closet.  I say probably because my muse is EVIL. I never really know until I start working what she is going to make me do.  For today and the rest of the weekend, however, I’m going to be helping with the book sale at our local library.

I’ll be back to regular blogging Monday.

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Nocturnal Rebellion and help spread the word that release date is the 15th. Thanks!

 

Murphy didn’t go home

Last week, I asked Murphy to go home. Unfortunately, he’s decided he likes it here. The fallout from his prolonged visit is that blogging hasn’t happened. For that, I apologize. After a day filled with nothing but repairmen yesterday, I’m hoping today is better. Writing has been happening, in between service calls. That’s what is important.

I’ll try to be back later with a real post. In the meantime, don’t forget that Nocturnal Rebellion is currently available for pre-order. Release date is Aug. 15th. You can click on the image or follow the link above. Thanks!

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

 

Murphy, go home!

Life is nothing if not interesting. Of course, when it’s interesting in the proverbial sense, I tend to wish for dull and boring. But it is getting there. I simply need to learn to listen to not only my muse — she is an evil bitch but she does seem to know when I need to switch gears and write something new — and to my gut. In this particular case, it would have let me sleep an extra hour this morning and not have to reschedule a trip to the mechanic. Oh well, I’m up if not fully functioning.

Oh, and the plumber is due later today. Hopefully, since this is just the annual check, he’ll find nothing wrong. Please let him find nothing wrong. We’ve already had one plumbing emergency this month. I don’t need any more.

On the writing front, things are rocking and rolling. I’ve set Nocturnal Rebellion aside for the rest of the week. I’ll pick it up Monday or Tuesday of next week, convert it for my Kindle Oasis, and give it one last read. Then the final file will be uploaded for publication. Remember, it is available for pre-order now. Publication date is August 15th.

I will admit, right now I feel like Mac does in the book. Of course, while she wishes for a simple, straight-forward murder to investigate (one without shifters or the government involved), I just want a week without complications.

I am also about halfway through the updates on Vengeance from Ashes. The expanded version doesn’t change the story line but it does expand on some scenes and there will be a few new scenes/chapters as well. I still love the original novel but this is sort of my version of the “director’s cut” of the book. I’m hoping you guys love the additional material as well.

Next up in that series will probably be a short story followed quickly by the next full-length novel. At least that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse says. Lately, however, I’ve learned there is someone more evil than Myrtle and who has even more control over my writing than she does — Murphy.

And I tell you, whoever invited that Irish trickster and master of chaos into the country, much less to my house, needs to be hunted down and hung. I am so over Murphy right now. So, before he decides it’s time to get up and complicate my life any further, I’m out of here. However, here’s a little tease from Nocturnal Rebellion:

The man crawled slowly toward the bar, dragging himself inch by painful inch. He didn’t know what happened or why. One moment, everything had been normal. Drinking, smoking, whoring. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then the door opened. He’d looked up, as had others, and frowned to see four people he didn’t recognize. Few dared come to the bar without an invitation. Those few who did usually turned around and left before taking more than a step or two inside. That’s all it took to realize The Hellhound was the sort of biker bar outsiders weren’t welcome at.

And there was no way the four were bikers. Dressed all in black, they walked further inside, seemingly oblivious to the looks in their direction. Then they’d stopped. One of them pointed right and then left. Two others broke off, moving quicker and more silently than they should have been able to. As they did, the tension in the room ratcheted up a notch.

That’s when the surreal turned into nightmare. The fourth person, a woman, stepped up to one of the two tops. Before the biker he knew only as Ranger could react, her hand fisted in the man’s long hair. She pulled his head back, baring his throat. A knife appeared in her other hand. Its blade slid along Ranger’s neck. Blood sprayed and she released him, stepping back and watching as he crumpled to the floor. The fallen biker gurgled once, blood flecking his lips, before dying.

Now for more coffee and to get back to work on an editing gig before sitting down to do some more writing. Later!

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