Drowning in the Pool of TBRs

Last weekend, I found myself with not a lot to do. That’s my favorite kind of weekend. Yes, I knew that I should start working on the next installment in the Twisted Soul series, but honestly I wasn’t quite ready yet. So what’s a girl with free time to do?

I opened up the Kindle app on my iPad and was promptly overwhelmed. You know all those wonderful free books that you find to download on Amazon everyday? I’ve apparently been doing a bit of stockpiling. I scrolled down, and down, and down, and down some more. Whoa- I knew I was behind on my reading but this was ridiculous.

I thought I had been pretty good about tracking my downloaded books and adding them to my TBR (to be read) list over on Goodreads, but like so many good habits that one feel by the wayside sometime in April.

So coming back to all the free time I had last weekend- I gave myself permission to read. That probably sounds a little silly. I can read whenever I want right? Well, with all of the work that went into the creation, release, and promotion of Shadows Deep, I felt guilty about taking time away from that to read. So I didn’t.  At least, until last weekend.

Since then, I’ve read 4 books and I’m getting ready to start on my 5th. I’m thrilled to say that none of them stunk either. (You never know picking up free books.) In fact, I’d even say that a few of them were freakin brilliant.

I’d rate them like this (most favorite at the top):

Wool by Hugh Howey

Breakers by Edward W. Robertson

Darkhouse by Karina Halle

Wet Linda by Paul Parducci (on this one you have to ignore the rather blatant formatting issues in places, but hang with it)

I’m going to feed my brain some nonfiction goodness with my next read- I’ll keep you posted on that one. In the meantime, I think I’ve figured out to float in my TBR pool and the water’s just fine. 🙂

Why I’m Still Afraid of the Dark

Confession time. I’m 36 years old and I still jog up the staircase at night after turning off the lights on the floor below. I’ve got an inner dialogue going on the whole time that sounds something like this:

“This is so stupid. You are way too old to act like this. Seriously, what (or who) do you think is going to come after you? The boogeyman?”

Followed quickly by:

“Man, I need to get to the gym.”

That second part is a self-deprecating story for another day.

Let’s focus in on the fact that I turn into a ten year kid in my own house by letting fear almost completely overrule every rational thought in my head. When it comes down to it, I’m not a fan of the dark. I don’t find it particularly comforting, and instead it has always represented in my mind a place where things that want to hurt you hide away until you are completely vulnerable. Then those things will lunge out and grab you with no remorse and reduce you into a crying, terrified, now-I-need-therapy mess (that is, if you weren’t completely spirited away into another universe of course).

You may chalk it up to my early discovery of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and the like. Or the fact that I read every Stephen King book I could get my hands on somewhere between fifth and sixth grade. My middle school mind was shaped by these big uglies who had their terrifying agenda of revenge and often stalked their prey at night. You know, when everybody was sleeping. I got older and even though I knew that none of these things were real, I was even more drawn to them (ahem, vampire junkie anyone?). But that fear of the dark remained.

Then as a grown-up, I learned a shocking truth. You don’t need a Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers to come along and do evil things. Human beings, the ones that exist here and now in the real world, are just as capable of the dastardly awful things that I saw in movies and read about in my fiction books. I learned that there are people out there who don’t know me, but given the proper motivation (in their minds anyway) would hurt me without hesitation or provocation. Usually you can’t see those people coming either. They hide behind normal faces in normal places. They could be anywhere. That fear becomes even more pronounced as you transfer it to those that you love.

You may wonder how a big old scaredy cat like me could write horror or any other kind of spooky story about things that go bump in the night when I feel this way. Part of the reason is because regardless of how I feel about the creatures themselves, I still get a little bit of a thrill out of being scared inside a safely contained fictional environment. I’m the first person in line to see movies like Resident Evil (and all of its sequels) and the remakes of my favorite horror movies from when I was a kid (even though they are almost always spectacularly bad). I think the important words there, in case you missed them, were “safely contained” and “fictional”. When I’m in control of the words going down on the page, those things hold no power over me. In fact, I could erase them without a second thought. No, those fictional baddies don’t scare me.

But movies like Blood Diamond and Tears of the Sun stress me out and put me in a melancholy depression for days – because even though the story may be fiction, the truth behind the story is not. What human beings can do to other human beings is ghastly and deeply disturbing to me. In the end, that’s why, at 36, I’m still afraid of the dark. It’s not because of the monsters inside my head or that I find in other writers’ work; it’s the real monsters out there that I know exist. I hope they never find my doorstep, or yours. But in the meantime, you’ll still find me looking over my shoulder when I climb those stairs at night.

Guilty Pleasures: Streaming Media

Writers write, and so when we are supposed to be writing we should be…writing? Nah. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that when I KNOW my butt is supposed to be in the chair I am finding something- anything– else to do. The name of the game is procrastination.  I do it well.

So I bring you a new feature for the blog: Guilty Pleasures. It’s not quite as naughty as it sounds. These are just the things that I am openly going to share with you that I’ve found throughly distract me from doing what I know I’m supposed to be doing: which is , of course, writing.

Today’s installment is my #1 offender. For something that entered my life so recently (just the last 2 years or so) it has become completely embedded in my life. I have to make deals with myself to stop the madness.

I love me some Netflix. Or Hulu Plus. Or Amazon Unlimited Instant Videos (in a real pinch when I can’t find it on Netflix or Hulu Plus.) Suddenly, I can relive the grand old sitcoms of yesteryear while catching up on all of my current primetime favorites. I am no longer required to be at home at a certain time every week to enjoy some tasty goodness of my favorite show. In fact, there is talk in my house of canceling cable TV altogether and going completely online. (Oh the horrors!)

I get to watch what I want to watch whenever I want to watch it. I can watch it on my iPhone during my commute. I can watch it on my TV. I can watch it on my laptop in bed. I can watch it on my iPad on a plane. It’s like I’m a god.

Until the wifi connection goes from warp speed to a snail’s pace anyway. You may wonder what I’m watching that causes me to lose these precious hours of writing time. Well, that’s another post for another day.

Until then, I have banished all streaming media from my life until Shadows Deep is finished. If I didn’t, I would be sitting here watching… something and my manuscript would never get done.

Streaming media: can you live without it?

(photo credit: Tony Crider)

The Anatomy of Sequel

Ever since I released Edge of Shadows, I’ve had readers asking when the sequel was going to be available. As an author, that is truly one of the best compliments in the world. Not only did someone read my book and liked it, but they want MORE.  Sweet.

At the time, I already had the first draft of The Soul Garden complete, and was halfway through Heiress of Lies so it didn’t make sense to stop midstream and go back to take a look at where Ellie and David’s path was going to lead them next. And I have always intended to start work on the first installment of the Purgatory series before the EoS sequel.

But as I’ve started sketching out and writing the first opening scenes to Purgatory, a strange thing started to happen. There was a little voice in the back of my head that questioned my decision to plow ahead on another new series. Was this move going to annoy and irate my fans? Probably the biggest reason that I gave some validation to that voice was because new fans were starting to read Heiress of Lies, and starting to ask about that sequel.


Not surprisingly, I hit a roadblock with Purgatory. The words weren’t flowing, and I wasn’t happy with what I wrote. So I started over again with a new angle and still I got stuck rather quickly. After journaling a lot, it didn’t take me long to realize that my head and my creative spirit were out of alignment.

It has always been my intention to have the next installments for all 4 series out by the end of the year. (Despite late nights and sore fingers.) But until I got my head on straight, I was going nowhere fast and that in and of itself just won’t do.

I had to make a decision.

Edge of Shadows fans can rejoice, because the sequel is cooking as we speak! Once I gave myself permission to start thinking about Ellie and David again, things started falling into place pretty quickly. And I have to say, I got pretty excited about it.

I have a lot of people ask me questions about my characters and the plot and particularly about what’s coming up next. Honestly, that’s always been fuzzy to me too. There are a lot of loose ends that need to be addressed, and sometimes trying to tie those up have resulted in more questions that I feel like I will need to answer.

I am a pantster type writer as opposed to a planner. And contemplating a sequel requires a certain amount of planning. The main ingredients of your story (your main characters) have already been established. Even though you are putting them into a new situation or period of time, there is a structural framework that you established in the previous book that has to be honored. Because it’s what you did in the first book that made people want more.

So for those of you who want to know what’s up next in the Edge of Shadows sequel, and without giving any too much of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, this is what I know for certain:

  • It will be told again from both Ellie and David’s point of view
  • The house is as much a focal point as it was before, and you’ll learn a lot more about it.
  • From a supporting cast standpoint, Jeffrey will definitely return.
  • Things are going to get a lot darker.

That’s what I know. The rest is up for grabs. But what I have planned (I think) is pretty spectacular. I don’t know yet if this is going to be just a sequel, or if the story will continue into a third book to make this a trilogy. Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Hopefully this is some happy news for my fans out there. And don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or drop me an email at cege@cegesmith.com with any specific questions you may have. I’ll try to answer all of them, assuming I have the answer. 🙂

Photo credit: Jayneandd

Bring on 2012: Novel Publication Galore!

So this is the post that will declare for the all the world that I am going to be a bit crazy this year.  When you have a family, a full-time job which requires 30%-40% travel, and volunteer obligations already on your plate, publishing even 1 novel in the course of a year would be an outstanding accomplishment.

I’ve learned a lot since October in publishing Edge of Shadows and The Soul Garden. I’m figuring out how long the production of a novel takes, and believe it or not, writing only gets you about 40%-50% of the way toward having it available for readers. Editing takes at least that much time again, and then you have formatting and distribution.

But I digress.  I was talking about sanity. Or insanity if you will.

In 2012, I decided to give myself a BHG (Big Hairy Goal). I wouldn’t publish just one novel. Oh no.

I would publish 6 of them.

(There was a very small crazy voice that said I should try for 12, but I crammed that voice back into a little box in the back of my mind.)

The only reason this probably works, at least in theory, is because I have at least that many novel concepts spinning around in my head. And I’m also getting questions about things like when the sequel to Edge of Shadows will be available.

I’m going to add one really BIG caveat here and call your attention to the word “TENTATIVE” below.  I reserve the right to change my mind, move things around, or pull something altogether if I need to. Sometimes, the muse doesn’t like delivering on a schedule and sometimes life just happens and you can’t control it.  I’m also not rushing any of my book titles because that usually just comes to me as I develop the story arc.

So without further ado, here’s how this year is going to roll:

Cege’s *TENTATIVE* 2012 Publishing Schedule

February 2012: Angeline’s Quest (Book One, The Robart Chronicles)

April 2012: Purgatory (Book One, Purgatory series)

June 2012: Untitled (Edge of Shadows sequel)

August 2012: Chosen (Book One, Twisted Soul series)

October 2012: Untitled (Book Two, The Robart Chronicles)

December 2012: Untitled (Book Two, Purgatory series)

Hopefully you can see that I actually am developing 4 different series in 3 different genres. Edge of Shadows and The Robart Chronicles will sit within paranormal romance, Twisted Souls in sci-fi/thriller, and with Purgatory I’ll be trying my hand at YA paranormal romance.

I know it would be a whole lot easier for marketing/promotion if I’d just stick with one genre, but I can’t control the characters who have started badgering me to tell their story. So I’m just letting it all loose and we’ll see where it takes me.

I will continue to keep all of you updated as my plans solidify. As always thank you for your support and I’d love it if you’d drop me a line at cege@cegesmith.com or comment below with your thoughts!

Photo credit: Asja