I’m excited this week because I can finally share the cover of my upcoming novel Bayou My Love. It’s been a long wait, but the release date is right around the corner: March 8. If you’re anxious to start the story, you can read the novella and prequel Back to Bayou Sabine, which is currently free as an eBook on Amazon. Chapter One of Bayou My Love is included–AND you can pre-order BML right now on Amazon. Remember: leave your reviews on GoodReads and Amazon (you didn’t have to buy the book there to leave a review). Your reviews make a huge difference in an author’s visibility and rankings these days. And it makes our day when you leave a review. Thank you to everyone who has left one already!
In related news, I’m still cranking away of Book #2 of the Bayou series, which is scheduled for release this fall. I’m amazed at how quick the pace of publishing can be—especially with indie publishers. I’m near the end of the story now, and, full disclosure: I have been for about two months. Endings are still one of the hardest parts for me, and figuring out how many loose ends need to be tied up is still a bit of a mystery. There’s major planning involved if course—I explained it as a series of chain reactions to a friend of mine. I’m constantly thinking of ways to keep my characters in trouble: as soon as they begin to resolve one minor conflict, another surfaces. Each decision they make has to have consequences. Each action leads to another conflict. My friend likened it to billiard balls bouncing around on the table. Fairly apt, I’d say.
I do some mapping of story points to remind me of the chain of events that happen because of a character’s actions and decisions (usually in the form of post it notes and scribbles that cover the entire coffee table). Sometimes it helps to review details about the three-act structure or the Hero’s Journey: I recently stumbled on a couple of websites that reminded me of some of the more intriguing intricacies of those structures. Sometimes just revisiting the patterns triggers something that gets me out of the writerly slump, and I see the next bad decision my character needs to make, or the next peril that needs to find her. She’s Novel has some great tips for writers, as does Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. If you’re looking for a kickstart for your own plot, check these out. There’s some great advice for keeping tension going, creating multiple conflicts, and creating momentum.
(Sidebar: momentum in general is one of my biggest obstacles. For a while I could blame Mercury and its retrograde self, but I can’t even do that anymore until April.)
Self-imposed deadline: this draft has to be finished by March 15 so I can send it out to my beloved beta readers. Then the revision phase starts, where I hole up and behave like a hermit, using pajamas as a means to force myself to stay in hiding until the work is complete. I have a reward system in place that goes something like this: write for 5 hours and you can have a glass of wine. Write for 8 hours and you can watch one episode of True Blood when you’re done.) Care packages are welcome in this phase, since going outside the house eats up hours dedicated to revision and rewards.
Next time: I finally get around to showing the letterpress pieces I made during my whirlwind Penland winter residency.