I'm Researching What?

As a writer in any genre, the things we might have to research can range from amusing to downright strange.  Regardless, we often have to delve into things we never expected to learn about, just to make a scene authentic.

For me, it's James Blundell's impellor that has me muttering to myself, "Never thought I would need to learn about the history of blood transfusions."

What's something that you have researched for a work of fiction, that you never expected to have to learn about in your life?

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

"Heart & Fire" Accepted for Publication

If I thought yesterday was exciting, today has doubled my excitement.

My Steampunk fantasy novel has been accepted by a publisher.  I will share details as everything moves along.  For now, I have a deadline to ensure that I am 100% pleased with my manuscript, before they put it into the hands of a Big Bad Editor. 

The first rejection didn't keep me down for long, I'll tell you that.  I realize that most of my work is not romantic enough for some publishers.  Many fantasy novels are more like romance with a fantasy atmosphere.  Mine are fantasy and action, with a touch of romance.

I realize that sex sells, and that all of the subgenres of fantasy that I write (dark, urban and Steampunk) are often heavy on the romance aspect, as so many readers are women.  It's just that I find relationships to be secondary to the plot most of the time.

Though for those who *do* want to see more romance, the sequel to Heart & Fire (entitled Trust & Magick) has more sex, more romance... and plenty of Steampunk as well.  Of course, you will only see Trust & Magick if Heart & Fire does well.  ;)

What can you look forward to in Heart & Fire?  A dual revolver-toting courtesan/bodyguard who is a member of a secret society, wears telescopic goggles when chasing bad guys down dark alleyways, uses a clockwork butterfly to spy on the enemy, spends some time on a steam-powered pirate ship with something akin to an early Gatling gun (instead of a canon!), and who wields a fair amount of magick as well.

Plus, she gets it on with one hot double agent.

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

Oh My Goddess...

Serendipity:  An aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

I am hosting a giveaway for my novella, Dead Wrong, the rules of which can be found here.

My sister very kindly re-posted the giveaway to her Facebook page.  An old high school classmate of hers is the executive director of a local paranormal TV and radio show back home on the South Shore of Massachusetts.

He saw the post and told my sister to get me in touch with him.  She responded that I'm in England - not anywhere near our hometown - to which he said that's why Skype exists.  He asked me to contact the content director and tell him that he "needs" to get me on for a segment.

I am beyond stoked!  It's exciting to be profiled as a local author of dark urban fantasy! 

If anything comes of it (they also post podcasts to iTunes), I will certainly share!  Even if nothing happens, I will certainly share more about the show in an upcoming post, for those who adore paranormal phenomena!

Right now I'm feeling a mix of emotions and reactions, best characterized as:




Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

"Dead Wrong" Giveaway

Released: June 1, 2011, Damnation Books
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Even death doesn't erase the past.

Shiva is a vampire who would rather let go of the painful memories of her past. Unfortunately, a piece of her past walks back into her life in the form of a vampire slayer named Desmond. Even as they become lovers, Shiva holds him at arm's length for fear of secrets being revealed. Desmond sets out to understand why Shiva is so guarded and self-protective, and ultimately uncovers all of the details of a murderous plot set in motion by the organization in which he had so much faith.

Giveaway Guidelines:

1. Leave a comment telling me why you want to read the book.

2. +3 entries for becoming a follower of this blog, my Twitter and liking my Facebook page.

3. +3 entries for Tweeting about this contest or blogging about it (please comment to tell me where you have Tweeted or blogged).

4. Giveaway is for the ebook (in PDF format - if you do not have an ereader, you can download Kindle free for your PC).

5. Giveaway ends Friday, September 2nd at 11:59 PM EST.

The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.  Good luck to all of you!

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

A Day in the Life...

Some people write at work on their lunch break or during a slow day.  Others write at night or first thing in the morning, around their busy lives.  I'm fortunate to be able to stay home and write, but how much time I put into my work depends on the time of year.

My son is with me every 4 months *and* I homeschool him.  That means less time to write when he is with me, but I accomplish the most important things regardless, even if that means I don't get to spend hours and hours world-building.  Mornings are about homeschooling, taking care of the house, and running errands.  Our afternoons tend to be "down time", which is when I write while my son is here.  I also get a decent amount of writing done at the playground and at his Hapkido class (yes, I carry either my laptop or, more often, a pen and notebook).

This is the "off-time", when my son is with his dad.  This means I set goals for the next four months, and my focus goes completely and utterly into writing, and other projects.  My son left on Friday, so I tried to take it easy this weekend (no writing, minimal work on other projects) to start Monday fresh.  My goals for the next four months are:

1.  Finalize the first draft of the urban fantasy novel that I completed last year and begin to query publishers.

2.  Finalize the rough draft of the non-fiction book I have been working on.

3.  Potentially query agents with the completed urban fantasy novel (once finalized).

4.  Choose a NaNoWriMo project.  I have over 20 novels in various states or progress, and I need to decide which one is next.  I like to use NaNoWriMo to jump start my writing once a year.  Unfortunately, I missed last year's because I was busy getting divorced and moving back to the U.S. from Korea (all good developments, but chaos and change are not necessarily conducive to writing).  The urban fantasy novel that I am finalizing now is a product of my first ever NaNoWriMo participation (and win) in 2010.

So how does a day in the life of an at-home writer and wife look, without her child here?  (I suppose the same daily schedule might apply to some extent if my son went to public school, except my afternoons and evenings would be about spending time with him.)

6:30 - 8:00 a.m.: Wake up.  I normally get up between 7:30 and 8, but some days I get up earlier.  My husband leaves for work around 6:15, and he flops on top of me for goodbye hugs before he departs; sometimes, I just can't go back to sleep.

9:00 a.m.: By now I've worked out, had breakfast, maybe some tea, cleaned house (I have a schedule, which makes it easy to stay on top of vacuuming, laundry, and dusting), and have checked email, blogs and forums.  My bird is perched in my hair (literally) and it's time to get productive.  So I write.  If I'm not writing by 10 a.m., I'm probably fighting through my mind as it runs in circles.

11:30 a.m.  Do dishes, prepare my caique's fruits and veggies for his "lunch", make my own lunch.  During the lunch hour, my husband often comes home, which can throw my focus off completely.  Bad husband.  Mess around a bit with checking email, blogs and forums.

12:30 p.m.  Run errands.  I almost always walk to run my errands, just because it wakes me up a bit.  If I need to bring packages to the Post Office, I will ask my husband to take our other car to work - I dislike driving a car with a manual transmission - and to leave me the automatic.

1:30 p.m.  Back to work at home.  Let the caique out of his cage.  Write as much as possible before my husband gets home.

4:30 p.m.  Make sure the house is fairly uncluttered, put the caique in his cage (its not safe to have him flying around while the stove is on) and start dinner.  It's usually something spicy.  ^.^  (Curry tonight.)

6:00 p.m.  If I have been tackled by my husband at this point, I am free to let our caique out of his cage until 8 p.m. (that's birdie bedtime!) and write until 10 p.m., other than the occasional getting-dragged-into-my-husband's-lap-and-made-to-watch-AVGN incident.  Though some nights also turn into video game sessions.  I usually like to shower at night as well.

However, in all, I can guarantee myself about 5-6 hours during my husband's work day to get some writing done.  The 3-5 hours of writing in the evening is just the icing on the cake.  Since I am very Type A, my day is basically schedule and To-Do listed, which is how I stay so organized with my time, keep the house clean, keep the bird and husband happy, and keep myself happy too.

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

Do you take breaks?

Do you take breaks from your writing?

I must admit that I really don't take more than a day or two between novels.  When one project is finished, I immediately refocus and zip on to the next.  Yesterday, after unexpectedly adding another 6,000 words to one of my final drafts over the course of the week, I sent it on to publisher choice number two. 

What does this mean for me now?  Well, I look at my many works in progress, clear my mind for about a day or two by focusing on other things, and then bring that focus to the next novel.  To be quite honest, I have never been very effective at completing things in the past.  I would get a fabulous idea and start a story... But finishing eluded me.

It's nice to see how I have changed in the past several years, and have learned how to see things through to the end.  In fact, I'm much happier when I am *not* inundated with ideas.  When it comes to work, deadlines, and such, I never, ever had issues with completing work and following-through.  I think when something is self-directed (such as creative endeavors), it can be a little more difficult to finish.  Maybe part of that is the idea that we are never satisfied with our work.  Even after it is published, we look back and say, "Hm, I really could have added these points to the article..." or "I wish I had developed this character more."

Hopefully thoughts like that are the impetus to improve our craft with each successive story!

Now, if you will excuse me, this will be somewhat of a break day.  I will focus on other endeavors - not writing - today. 


Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

Adding Some Shine to the Polish

What is your writing process like?  How often do you revise?  Are you ever satisfied?

I have a feeling that none of us are ever satisfied with the final product.  I know that my first draft is always about getting out the character concepts, the plot, and - mostly - the action.  Action scenes are very vivid in my mind, as is dialogue, especially through confrontation between the characters.  These are the things I am most desperate to commit to paper (or Word) on an initial write-through.

The second draft is about world-building and embellishing details, as well as adding any other profound ideas, scenes, etc.

And then the final draft is what I have after I have gotten some constructive critiques.

But I will sometimes look at that which feels complete, and feel that it could use an extra touch here or there.  I think stepping back from the manuscript is important once you feel it is finalized.  It's very difficult (for me, anyway) to find ways to improve something when I have the "it's done" mindset.

I received my first rejection in a long time yesterday.  It was on the first novel that I am trying to have published and it really didn't bother me.  My husband kept trying to talk me up and I just looked at him like he was insane.  Finally, I explained that rejection is a normal part of life for a writer and that if I took it personally, that would simply be ridiculous.  (By the way, the man is running a hand-vac over my laptop now.  I love him and every ounce of silliness we share.)

Besides the fact that I treated the rejection with a Pollyanna air of positivity, it also made me look at the manuscript.  I hadn't looked at the novel in about 2 months, it made me return to it and see if I had any fresh ideas to enhance the manuscript.

It turns out, I did have some ideas and I think they make a positive difference.

So it's on to another publisher to give it a shot!

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

A New Review for "Dead Wrong"

Heather of Book Savvy Babe posted a fairly good review of Dead Wrong. The one thing I continue to hear is that people wish the story was longer; they enjoy it and want to see more. 

While I am working on a potential sequel that would be far more detailed, I'm starting to wonder if I should develop the original story further.  It was only meant to be a short story - hard, fast, and dark.  However, I am debating incorporating the original story into the sequel and adding far more to it.  We shall see.

Is it just me, or is a writer's work never done?  ^.^

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan