Given the downfall of one of my (five) favorite characters, this was perhaps the hardest book to write so far. The quote on the image there is from Patricia, who senses something isn't quite right in the Fairn household - but this is a family that keeps things "in the family", so nobody is talking about it.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Monday, April 19, 2021
My number one peeve is when Word loses italicized words. More specifically, it can change entire italicized paragraphs into regular font while you're busy formatting your document.
My workaround is laid out below in easy-to-follow steps along with screencaps to make everything clear.
Friday, March 26, 2021
Wouldn't it be great if readers could click on your books directly from your profile page, without having to scroll down or scan all the other busy sections on the page?
So, how can you add clickable book covers to your author profile on Goodreads?
Read on for step-by-step instructions, along with a downloadable template for the HTML code.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
With over half a million Wattpad reads on my stories, nine books published and one more to go, I have loads of stories and ideas still to share. I've created a Patreon account where you can find the latest news on both the Wynter Wild series and my future projects (some of which will be set in the same "world" with crossover characters).
To "follow" me is free! After clicking the button, you'll end up on a payment page where you have the option of making a monthly pledge, but you can ignore that page. Just following me will put my posts in your Patreon feed, and for now all my posts are open to all readers.
I'll be adding content as fast as I can over the coming weeks while I finish up writing book 10. After that I'll be sharing cover reveals for my relaunch of the series, excerpts from my WIPs, Q&As, behind-the-scenes stuff about my writing process including cut scenes, and lots more.
See you there!
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
If you've been collecting the paperbacks and want a matching set, grab this one quick. In a few months I'll be relaunching the series with new covers.
It's been well over a year since I finished this book, and at least three years since I wrote some of the chapters. Looking back, I have to say it includes some of my favorite scenes to write.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Following on from this post where I described a few family entanglements revealed in the Wynter Wild books (ones I hadn't plotted out from the start), in this post I'll present increasingly spoilerific family trees as a visual aid. To avoid spoilers, you can stop when you get to the latest book you've read...
Note: The series starts in January 2013, two months before Wynter's 15th birthday.
02 Out of Tune
Thursday, February 18, 2021
I've made my Rule212 playlist public on Spotify - take a listen below. You can also follow me on Spotify to find other playlists related to the books:
I've resisted being too specific in the books about Rule212's sound, beyond a vague "indie rock" (which could mean anything these days) and a lot of electric guitars, which moves them more into the hard rock category. Or nu-metal, post-grunge... whatever new-fangled label seems applicable. So this list is "representative" of their sound but don't take it too literally.
I'll add more songs when I think of them, as there's definitely not enough riff-based music, and too many ballads...
Sunday, February 14, 2021
I started the Wynter Wild series with five characters in mind - the three Fairn boys, the two sisters - along with a few adults in their sphere. As their world expanded across ten books, I ended it with 365 named characters (admittedly, that does include the chickens). Somewhere along the way, a few of those characters became entangled in ways I hadn't envisioned when I set out.
A primary example is Xay. I created his character at the same time as I created Wynter's past in the cult - an Aussie boy she secretly befriends who leaves her behind. But making him Harry's son was an idea that came later (although before I started writing in earnest). Other ideas came when some of the books were already complete, and it's no easy task to weave revealed secrets into the plot when you didn't even know those secrets yourself!
As an insight into my writing process, I thought I'd lay out how some of my decisions evolved.
Friday, February 12, 2021
When I started writing the Wynter Wild books, a stream-of-consciousness half-million words covering several years of her life and written out of order, I knew early on that it would be a long series. So the necessity of naming the books in some sort of coherent manner was an issue I dealt with early on.
I wanted titles that played on a single theme, but I hadn't decided what that theme would be. I jotted down endless ideas using themes from the story - not only music, but also "threads" (a recurring theme relating to broken or frayed threads, and of course braiding of hair and bracelets), lines from classic folk songs, matching words relating to family, and others.
Having decided on music, I brainstormed phrases and then matched them up with the relevant books. The later titles weren't finalized until the earlier ones were already published, since those plots weren't fully developed yet, but I had a list to select from.
Here's my reasoning for each title - and a trip down memory lane for those readers who have stuck with the series until book 10.
Monday, February 1, 2021
Here are the four Palermo cousins from Vermont: Alyssa (an art student), Jessica (who claims to look like Jesse), Paige (Jesse's favorite, because of her inquisitive mind), and little Daisy:
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Here are Caleb's girlfriends and dates from the series... and whew, I didn't realize there were so many until I put them all together like this. (I omitted the mystery Canadian girlfriend because we never actually met her.) Bea was the harried single mother with dreams of marriage. Nicole was the colleague from Florida who raised Wynter's hopes, but only had one date with Caleb. Anita was Caleb's high school girlfriend for a few months, became Wynter's down-to-earth counselor, and went with Caleb on the trip to Arizona. Olivia was "sunshine", according to Wynter, but Caleb nipped it in the bud after a few weeks. And Kim... well, there's still hope...
Saturday, January 30, 2021
One use for Artbreeder is to "breed" any two images together (such as a cat and an octopus, which was the first thing my daughter did). So you could upload "parent" faces and create "children" - but in my case I just wanted to visualize my book characters.
Creating faces is not entirely under the user's control - you can't tweak a nose exactly the way you want because you're mostly adding or subtracting "genes" from different parts of the world. But you can easily get photorealistic portraits with a few twists of the dials.
So, here are my results - just my impression of how the characters look, for my own amusement. Most of these characters are related to each other one way or another, so for many I started with the same "base" and fiddled with the age, gender, hair and eye color, etc.
[Mild spoilers ahead for the later books in the Wynter Wild series.]
Thursday, October 15, 2020
We've already heard a bit about him in the previous books, of course. Getting into his head was a refreshing change from the other four characters. He has a positive optimistic outlook on life, making the best of things, but harbors bitterness over what happened to him and his best friend Roman at the ashram. When he finally discovers that Wynter escaped the Light and is living what he believes is a dream life in Washington, it raises all kinds of self-doubt in Xay.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Wynter and her brothers are ready to rock venues all over Seattle. No one can deny the natural chemistry Rule212 has on stage. Behind the scenes there's tension brewing.It's not easy to work, play, and live together. Family means everything to Wynter and she'll do whatever it takes to keep it together.But something at the very heart of this family is ripping it apart. They are finally learning that things went wrong years before they were born. No secrets or lies—it's one of Caleb's house rules. So why does everyone keep breaking it?
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Firstly, because it was the first book where I was starting from scratch. While I wrote half a million stream-of-consciousness words a few years ago that became the basis for all ten books, once I put the scenes in order, I only "completed" 8 books before I started publishing book 1 on Wattpad. I don't really mean completed, as I was rewriting and editing (and adding thousands of words to) the books as I published them, but essentially the plotting and two-thirds of the writing was done.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Gone are the days when writers had to spend hours in the library researching how to care for their character's pet python, or on the phone exploring the price of a plane ticket, or at the bookcase in the next room flicking through classic novels to find the perfect quote.
Everything's at our fingertips - and not just for researching our stories, but for editing and publishing our books as well. Here I'm focusing on some of my most-used tools and websites, and they're all free. Some do have paid services that expand the options available, and for others you will need to make an account (often, signing in via Facebook or Google is possible).
I've mentioned a couple of these tools before, and added lots of new ones.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
I bought myself a new guitar, which I'll write about soon, but here's my daughter - then (age 2) with the Rock Band controller guitar, and now (age 10) with the new, actual, real guitar. Despite no amp she says it's already "too loud". Four+ months of remote learning at home has apparently lowered her tolerance for noise.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
It's not really a spoiler to say that in the forthcoming and final book of the Wynter Wild series (The Beat Goes On), Xay Morant is going to launch his singing career. He's a rockstar through and through (or will be, he hopes!) - and I've put together this playlist to give you an idea of the kind of music he sings. Follow me on Spotify to find more playlists for the Wynter Wild books:
If you don't listen to anthemic rock music (as opposed to the indie rock of Rule212), these songs might be an eyeopener. They're mostly from current but not particularly huge bands (in some cases, unknown bands) including a couple of covers. In style and lyrical content they represent the spirit of Xay's music. Cigarette-lighter songs included!
Monday, July 27, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Monday, July 13, 2020
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
In this book, Wynter puts together her first all-girl (well, not quite) band. While she'd love to be playing just about every song with the amp turned to 11 to maximize distortion, the Mail Order Chicks play mostly 80s and 90s British pop. This story also sees the genesis of the rock band she puts together with her brothers.
"Distortion" refers to how the siblings' mother, Miriam, has affected her children by her actions years ago. Particularly for Indio, he believes the ongoing absence of maternal love is what has formed him, rather than the abandonment itself:
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Little Sister Song (Book 1) is available here.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
Monday, June 8, 2020
Monday, April 27, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
These days the voices available for this sort of software are pretty good. They sound human, although they don't always do correct phrasing, but it's good enough to get a feel for the rhythm of your prose and to pick up typos and repeated words.
Friday, March 13, 2020
For those of you less familiar with babies or who don't remember (like me!) what they are like at different ages, click on the image above for a 20-second video of a baby the same age as the one you might be reading about if you're reading my books.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
After the 2019 awards I was vocal about two major problems (as I saw them): that previously published authors won two awards (I wrote about this and the outcomes here), and the rules book was misleading, contradictory, repetitive, and dense, with valid questions from Wattpadders seeking clarification going unanswered by Wattpad staff.
This year the Wattys have changed in two major ways, one of which makes business sense and the other is just common sense:
1. Only novels 50K are eligible (no non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, novellas, short stories) - Given Wattpad is looking to publish the winner(s), they won't make money from anything shorter than a novel. To recognize these other types of writing, they will have other contests later in the year.
2. Only finished stories are eligible. Last year, one of the judging criterion was (obviously) plot - does it have a beginning, middle, and satisfying end? It befuddled me at the time how this was supposed to be judged when the story was unfinished.
So far, so good.
But I have gripes.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Saturday, February 8, 2020
In my next post I'll show you some of the other characters' homes and hangouts.
Anaconda, MTIn Minor Key (book 8), the family visits the two homes in Montana where the boys grew up (at least, the last two homes they lived in - they moved around with Miriam before this).
Friday, February 7, 2020
Early on I found houses to match each of the places Wynter and the boys have lived in. I looked for houses the right size and price (using Zillow estimates for the year in question, where possible), and in the right location. This helped me enormously in visualizing my scenes. Zillow also sometimes has photos of the interiors (when they've recently been on the market).
Below are screenshots of some of the homes mentioned in books 1 to 8. They're not necessarily perfectly matched to the way I ended up describing the buildings, but most are real homes in the actual neighborhoods given in the books. I've listed them in the order they appear in the books, not the order they were lived in.
Seattle house, Columbia City, Seattle WA
Monday, February 3, 2020
The silly season is over, the child is back at school, and I've finally managed to get Duet out there. The book is available on Amazon Kindle at these links
or purchase from Smashwords in multiple formats.
As always, I truly appreciate the support of my readers and ask you to please consider writing an honest review at Goodreads. It's the best way to support indie authors!
Friday, January 31, 2020
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Monday, January 27, 2020
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Fellow writers might also be interested in my earlier post, Personality Typing for Made-Up People.
I did personality tests on my characters about one year into writing, when they already pretty well established in my head and on the page. I thought it would be interesting to see how closely they matched the established "types", and also knew it would generate some ideas for how they deal with stress, and with each other (particularly what causes conflict).
I became interested in this method of personality typing a couple of decades ago. 16Personalities is a useful summary site to familiarize yourself with the 16 types and take the test yourself if you want. (Not all sites use the same "shorthand" descriptor, e.g. "debater" for ENTP, but the idea is the same.) It's up to you whether you find this psychological approach useful for real people, but as a writer I do find it useful for character generation - or, in this case, for delving deeper into characters I'd already created.
I'm writing these posts in the midst of editing (and uploading to Wattpad) book 8, so there may be minor spoilers if you haven't read that far. Read about:
Jesse: the "debater"Jesse's personality type is ENTP - the "debater". Let's break it down:
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Barring unforseen diversions and detours, this is the route their three-week tour will take them, starting in Aurora CO, ending back home in Seattle WA:
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Monday, November 4, 2019
She's not much of a dress girl, but in keeping with social convention she borrowed an appropriate bridesmaid dress from Dusk and it looks something like this (along with the dendrobium orchid corsage):
Saturday, November 2, 2019
... Not realizing you need an electrical engineering degree to assemble it! Where's Jesse when I need him?
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
I wanted a long row of spines, with tail attached, that I could pin onto the costume after the wings were harnessed on. I cut two 3cm-wide strips of plastic sheet (from a poster frame), but you could use sturdy card although it won't give the tail the same "bounce" as plastic does. Whatever you use, it needs to be something with firm edges, so you can pull the felt triangles around it, which forces the triangles to stand up straight.
For the spines my daughter chose white glitter felt, which comes in A4 sheets. You could use card, maybe metallic-coated or with a pattern, in a color that matches the rest of the costume. It needs to be able to stand up by itself.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
I boldly said I'd make her dragon wings, and rather than the soft type hanging from the arms, I decided to make proper shaped wings coming out of her back. I don't know what I was thinking! But my husband cleared his weekend D&D game off the trestle tables so I had a big workspace, and today I finished them (other than the harness). I thought I'd share how I made them.
Initially I found an online tutorial showing how to turn two kites into amazing wings, and I tried to replicate this. The only suitable kites I could find were rainbow colored. White spray paint failed to cover the color (it just doesn't stick to that fabric, and isn't thick enough), so I decided to start from scratch using white garbage bags and garden wire.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
This reminded me of a story my dad likes to tell about his father, John (Jack) Creasy, born in 1899. Jack was a chemist whose company, Titanine Ltd., supplied the nitrocellulose paint, otherwise known as "dope", for fabric used to cover the R101. After the ship was built, his team went on a tour of the airship. The story goes that Jack was so horrified by the workmanship, he declined a free ticket for its maiden overseas voyage to India in October 1930.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
The ebook is now available for purchase for a teeny tiny price:
Amazon USA (US$2.99)
It's also available in multiple formats on Smashwords, and through other online retailers. (BTW I accidentally pasted the book 7 description into the Amazon upload, and it'll take a day or two to fix. Big oops! Even I get confused when I'm working on three different books in the series at the same time.)
Friday, October 18, 2019
I started uploading my Wynter Wild series to Wattpad in December 2018, which in theory made the first few books eligible for the 2019 Wattys. I'd never heard of the Wattys until I joined Wattpad, but of course I considered entering Little Sister Song, come June, for the chance to become one of the ~60 winners. An award is great exposure for any writer using this platform where there are 500 million stories fighting for attention.
When I read the rules and found that published works were ineligible, I had to put that idea aside. (At the time, the later books in the series that weren't yet published were eligible, but I saw no point in entering book 5 or 6 of a long series, as it's necessary to read them in order.)
But back to those Wattys winners: On a hunch, I searched for one of the stories on Amazon and discovered it was self-published earlier this year (same title, author, and cover). I checked the other winners and found a second winning story on Amazon.
This blog post is partly a bitchfest about why ineligible stories won the award when I (and no doubt many others) specifically gave up our chance and did not enter because of the exclusivity rule. Yes, the chances of winning are miniscule—for example, your story has to impress a "Story DNA" computer algorithm before a human even lays eyes on it—but that's not the point. And it's partly a piece of advice to Wattpad to get their house in order and be more professional about their contest, to avoid this problem reoccuring.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Monday, October 7, 2019
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Thursday, October 3, 2019
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Caleb's bike is the 1985 Honda V65 Magna. It was manufactured for a few years during the mid 80s, and as the first power cruiser it really was called the "Beast", V4 engine, 1100cc, 116 horse power, with fast acceleration, low vibration, and high top speed. The bike below (1983 model) includes the "goofy" saddle bags that Caleb is so proud of. All photos from bikez.com. Click the images for more info.