naomi_jay: (by the sea)
One thing all the adult paranormal romance novels I've ever read have had in common is sex. Whether the heroine is a virgin or experienced, young or old, short or tall or whatever, somewhere over the course of the book, she'll have sex. It's a romance after all, and sex is the culmination of the romantic journey the heroine and hero go on throughout the novel. It's natural, it's expected, it's fun.

And it doesn't happen in THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE. Evanthe and Morrow never have sex.

Oh, they did in the first draft. But it felt misplaced and a little seedy. Evanthe had just fought off a zombie. She'd been badly bitten. She needed stitches and medical attention. And yet I decided in the first draft this would be the perfect time for her and Morrow to get hot and heavy. *shudders* Nothing says "romance" like a zombie attack.

The other problem with that original sex scene is the characters themselves. Evanthe is young (twenty). Morrow is...not. He's pretty resistant to the idea of them entering a relationship for that reason alone (although when you read the novella you'll see there are other reasons). For him to suddenly decide that right then and there was the moment he went from mentor to lover felt...skeevy. When I read back on the sex scene, it felt inappropriate for these characters. Yes, Evanthe wants to be with Morrow, but she's young, inexperienced, and vulnerable. And yes, Morrow wants to be with Evanthe, but he knows she's young, inexperienced and vulnerable and he knows he's...not. On a second take, the scene felt dirty in the wrong way.

So I cut it out. I wanted to show two characters discovering and admitting their true feelings in the NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE, but I wanted that discovery to be natural and unhurried. And frankly, admist everything else going on - forbidden spells, rogue zombies, idiot demonologists with horrible cars - a sex scene would have been ridiculous. In a novella there isn't the time for anything that doesn't move the plot along, and Evanthe and Morrow stopping to have sex wouldn't have contributed to the plot.

That's not to see I don't think this is a romantic book with a romantic journey. But I feel I owe it to the characters and the readers to let events unfold naturally and with the sweetness and...well...old-fashioned sensibility I feel Evanthe and Morrow have at their hearts. Morrow doesn't want to rush things. He wants to court Evanthe. And Evanthe is just happy Morrow's finally admitted his feelings for her.

So I guess THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE isn't a typical paranormal romance. But it's actually more reflective of me than a lot of my other books. Like Evanthe, I was a late-bloomer when it came to romance. I was shy and awkward, and desperate to demand what I wanted but terrified of being rejected. Like Evanthe, I eventually got what I wanted. Unlike Evanthe, I didn't have to fight off zombies to get it. So this is a story for anyone who loves zombies, grave-robbing, necromancy, and black magic. It's also a story for anyone who ever despaired of getting that first kiss, let alone anything else. And maybe if you think all these paranormal girls just move too damn fast nowadays, well, then this is a story for you too ;)
naomi_jay: (dragon girl)
The release of THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE is sneaking up on me fast, so I thought this week's Writerly Wednesday could be best used for some pimpage. So here you go! The opening paragraph in all it's opening glory:



"Evanthe shivered as the icy wind ripped through the graveyard, tossing dead leaves and grave dirt against her, whipping her hair into her eyes. The half moon was hidden by storm clouds, casting the graveyard in near perfect darkness, so Evanthe was forced to grope her way blindly from one crumbling, mossy headstone to the next. Her torch battery had died almost as soon as she flicked it on, leaving her feeling lost and faintly ridiculous."
naomi_jay: (pen and paper)

This picture is a pretty accurate representation of how I felt on Sunday when I finished Night Breed's first draft. It clocked in at just over 72k, which means between September 1st and October 2nd I wrote just over 60k. Oh man. I don't want to do that again. I mean, it's nice to know I can, but forget that. I want to be able to sleep and watch Thundercats too.

I've sent the draft to my editor at QueeredFiction and am looking forwards to not thinking about it for a while. I'm not sure how well I've pulled off what I wanted, and I already know the emotional intensity needs amping up, especially towards the end. But it's a book, dammit, and it wasn't a book a month ago, so that's something.

(By the way, I do need beta readers, so if anyone's up for reading through, drop me a line. No pressure, no hurry).

So! What's next? Well, Anti-Nano sign-up has begun. If you're interested, go take a look and join the cult fun. I loved doing this last year and it spawned a year-round write-a-thon which has been awesome to be part of. In a change from last year, when I ran Anti-Nano from my LJ, I'm going to start a master community this year, which will incorporate Anti-Nano, Winter-Write-a-Thon, and Springathon. So if you want to join in one or any of those things, stay tuned!

In other news, Fictional Candy has reviewed AFTERLIFE and given Nicomedes some love. He needs the most love. I decided last week that since I'll be working on Halflife for Anti-Nano, I'd try to garner some fresh reviews for AFTERLIFE. You know, so people know what I'm talking about and stuff. And maybe buy AFTERLIFE and get excited about Halflife. So hopefully there'll be some more nice reviews coming soon!

In other other news, it's a little over a month until THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE is released! Eep. I'm working on some promo ideas for this. I'm a bit worried it'll be an odd one to work with. It's a short novella (just over 20k), it's a sweet romance (kissing but nothing more), and I haven't found many review sites that will look at sweet romances, especially sweet paranormals. I did find quite a mighty list of review sites here, though, so I'll plough through and see what comes up. I'd like to do some giveaways and prizes and fun stuff, too, possibly involving Bud Ducks. I just like Bud Ducks, okay? And you should like them too. Look at them!

naomi_jay: (wayward son)

I finally managed to book a week off work! Come on, 8th August. *waits*

I was just checking over my writing to-do list ahead of this and came to the following conclusions based on the last time I updated the do-to list:

 

Stuff! And things! )

So my hope for the week off is that I'll have cleared enough of the editing stuff to be able to just write and watch copious amounts of Come Dine With Me. I'm making a start on the critiquing this Sunday (we have to go to a wedding tomorrow. I know!), and I'm trying to avoid social engagements for the next couple of weeks anyway because frankly, I think I've seen enough people this summer already. Yay! Pure, unadulterated writing time is just a few weeks away!
naomi_jay: (create)
I got confirmation this morning that my Damnation Books editor's contract has been received, so yay! Should be getting my first assignment shortly, which I excited about. I hope I make a good editor. I think I do, but there's a difference between critiquing for friends and doing it professionally, and I hope my style carries over and doesn't offend any writers.

I've also just arranged a freelance editing gig, which I'm also very excited about. I have the edits for THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE to get working on tonight (hoping it'll be a short job because it's a short novella and the editor did say it was a pretty clean manuscript). So basically: edits, edits, edits.

At first I was a bit worried about where I'd fit my actual writing in around all this, but now I've realised this is going to be good for my writing. Editing/critiquing for other people makes me more aware of my own work and strenghtens it, I think. And it will force me to be disciplined and not skip around writing on whatever fancy thing catches my attention whenever I like, but rather focus on the important projects.

In animal-related news, turns out Remic doesn't hate me or my perfume; he's getting ready to shed. He's gone off his food and spends all day loitering near his shoebox being pale and cloudy-eyed. Hopefully he'll have shed by the end of the week so normal service will resume.
naomi_jay: (typewriter)

It's all happening at once! In between the excitement of getting Remic* and Fergus moving in, plus mine and Kyle's Excellent A&E Adventure over the weekend, I'm playing catch-up once again on Night Breed. My main priority this week has to be finishing the edits on Wicked Witchery, which with a bit of luck I'll do tonight. The first round edits for THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE came in this morning, but my editor has ordered me to take my time, and added that it's one of the cleanest manuscripts she's worked on, so I'm hoping it'll be a light job. I probably won't get cracking on those til the weekend though, as this week is filling up with social occasions.

I'm meeting some friends tomorrow for drinks in the village. I haven't seen them for nearly a year, so we're well overdue a catch-up. Thursday night is going to be a mass Arkham Horror night, as apparently everyone we know wants in on the action. I'm not sure our house is even big enough for six or seven people crowded around a giant board? It'll be cozy, anyway. Friday night is D&D night for Kyle, which doesn't really affect me beyond that we host it, and my living room is full of men pretending to be dwarves or whatever until 2am. I like watching though, and I generally get plenty of work done because the whole thing is oddly inspiring.

Oh God, and the English Defence League is marching in Cambridge on Saturday. Seriously? There's going to be a massive counter-march, and I want to go along, because, seriously? The EDL? In my town? I am worried about violence though, as they've apparently already been sneaking about the local cider festivals being racist twats.

So anyway, yeah, in order not to fall too massively behind on Night Breed, I'm doing a couple of things. First is hand-writing. I rarely hand-write anything anymore, because it makes the nerve injury flare up far worse than typing. But I can manage about fifteen minutes at a time, and I can do that on the bus or in the morning before work starts, or on my lunch break, etc. I'm also writing out of order. Usually I'm very linear - I might know exactly how chapter twelve is going down, but I won't write it until I'm done with chapter eleven. I've started just jotting down scenes as they come to me though, figuring I can piece it altogether later. I don't know how well that's going to work for me, but it keeps me writing, which is good.

And that's me.

*We spent, like, fifty quid making sure Remic had lots of nice, natural-looking stuff in his viv, a big hide for him to sleep in, lots of greenery for him to climb around, and where does he spend all his time? In the five-year-old shoebox we put in there as a temporary measure until we could get to the reptile centre. Ungrateful!


naomi_jay: (ZP - Shuggoth)
I remembered the other stuff I wanted to blog about. It's actually not that interesting, but it involves making lists, which I like.

So Kyle is going to stay with his mum for a week soon. Not sure when yet, but early July as we have a wedding to go to in late July. I'm hoping if the timing works out, I can take that week off work and have some "me" time. I'm supposed to give two weeks' notice for holiday, so ideally Kyle needs to book his train tickets on Friday for the second week of July. Even if I can only get a long weekend, I'll take it. I need it.

I have a ton of writing commitments going on right now, and I need some extra time to get back on top of those. First priority is obviously Night Breed, which I have fallen behind on.

Immediate urgent stuff alongside Night Breed is:

Queered Fiction horoscopes (will do those tonight).

Wicked Witchery - the anthology is at the lower word count limit for publication now. I'm waiting for one more author who's doing some revisions on a story, but I'm thinking I'm going to put the end of June as the deadline for submissions. I'm going to take a break from editing any more SM anthologies until Night Breed is done.

Critiquing - I've got two pieces from writer friends I'm reading over and I'd like to get them wrapped up before much longer. Happily for me, they both seem to be fabulous thus far.

Other writing stuff that is not urgent is:

Snakeskin, a novella I've been playing with as a sequel to a novella called Snakebite that I submitted to Damnation Books a few weeks ago
(21st of May, as it happens, not that I'm anxiously counting off the days or anything). Snakebite clocked in at around 13k, so really short, but I liked it and I'm interested to see if someone else likes it, so I thought, why not submit it somewhere? So I did. I imagine Snakeskin will be around the same length, and if the first part gets picked up, I'd like to have the second part ready to submit straight away. I'm about 6k in at the moment.

Blood Romance - a longer novella set in the same world as THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE. It's really low down the priority list, but I do want to finish it and, at some stage (probably next year now), write a second novella featuring Morrow and Evanthe.

Blood and Bones - ideally I'd like to finish that off this year, but having assessed my schedule and thought about where I want to focus my writing efforts, I don't plan to publish it until February 2012, a year on from NIGHT AND CHAOS.

Halflife - I'm planning to pick this up as my next "big" project after Night Breed is done, and hopefully crack on with it during Anti-Nano this year (I'm doing Anti-Nano again, regardless of whether anyone else is).

Other writing stuff I haven't actually started yet but am planning to:

Caged - the second Vargulf book. This is almost definitely going to have to wait until 2012.

Another Ethan Banning novella - I have plans for Ethan. Possibly evil plans.

Two more Theo Kane short stories - PAINLESS is roughly 5k, I think I could manage two more stories that length this year.

Around all that, there will be edits for DARK HUNT (we're aiming for a late summer/early autumn 2011 release as far as I know). I will have to crush my desire to write Arkham Horror fanfiction until at least 2013.
naomi_jay: (angel fire)

Today is the deadline for Serve in Heaven, Reign in Hell. I've got three more stories to read through, and then I'm calling the anthology full and closed, and going into the editing phase. I'm really proud of the stories in this one, and of how Wicked Witchery is shaping up, but I'm going to take a break before starting any more. For one thing, Static Movement has dozens of open anthologies right now, and I think there is such a thing as too much choice; for another I really need to cut some stuff out of my schedule for my own wellbeing. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I'm exhausted and verging on being a nervous wreck, and something has to go.

I think I have to take that approach to all my other writing stuff too. My main focus at the moment is Night Breed, the third Urban Wolf book. I don't want to get all distracted and delayed with that like I did last year with DARK HUNT because of DEMONISED, so I'm attempting to be strict with myself. Things being as they are, it hasn't worked very well so far, but I'm optimistic that once Serve in Heaven... is edited and outn of my hands, that will change.

I'm musing a lot right now about where my focus should be next, and what sort of writer I want to be. I'm getting disillusioned with the indie route, but the traditional route kinda scares me right now. Epubs and small presses are great, and I'm very loyal to QueeredFiction and Damnation Books, but I'm feeling torn right now between being two types of writer: one who writes a ton of different stuff and gets it all published one way or the other and is known for having a lot of work out there, or one who has a couple of different series (in my case, Urban Wolf and Shoregrave) and sees those through to completion before moving onto the next. I see benefits and disadvantages to both routes. I'm not sure where I'll end up, but one of the reasons I'm getting disillusioned with the indie scene is that so much of the focus seems to be on getting your next book published, not writing the best book you can.

See, the temptation for me is to just pump out whatever story strikes me and see if I can get it published, which is fine, but it means I'm never disciplined in my writing. I'd planned to have the sequel to NIGHT AND CHAOS ready by now. I'd planned to be halfway through Halflife before starting Night Breed. Neither thing happened because I got distracted by THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE. I don't want to keep putting out series' starters and then not finishing the series because some other shiny new idea gets in the way. I'd rather be known for producing a few quality novels than dozens of novellas and novels that promise more but never deliver. And that's the trap I could easily fall into.

This is possibly why I did something (I feel is) a bit crazy this morning. I queried an agent about WILD. I know! This will be the first and last query I make, and if nothing comes of it, I will still go ahead and self-publish WILD but it will be the last thing I self-publish for the time being. I want to focus on the Urban Wolf and Shoregrave series, as well as the Ethan novellas. I want to build a consistent name for myself as a writer, and the scatter-gun approach isn't working. I won't be pulling NIGHT AND CHAOS just yet (there's a new cover in the works, and I want to see what effect, if any, that has on sales), but by the end of the year, if nothing has changed in that area, I will. It all kind of feels like I'm moving backwards instead of forwards, but like I said, I need to cut some stuff out of my schedule and make time for things other than writing and panicking about writing.


naomi_jay: (angel fire)

I now have permission to show this beauty off, so feast your eyes!
 


 

I love it. Evanthe looks pretty kick-ass, and that's Morrow lurking in the background doing his best to pretend he doesn't find her at all attractive.


naomi_jay: (moon in clouds)
I went to work today. My boss told me I was "a funny colour, clinically speaking," and let me go home early, but I did make it til 4pm. Huzzahs? Sort of?

Anyway, in more interesting news, Just Another Book Addict is running a giveaway for WILD right now! To be in with a chance of winning an e-copy of the book that broke my brain, just head to the post and leave a comment. OMG, I'm so close to having WILD ready for publishing. I'm honestly terrified. I don't think I've ever been so nervous about a publication before. *chews nails*

Speaking of publications, I've seen the cover for THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE and it's gorgeous! It captures the feel I wanted perfectly. As soon as I have permission to show it off, I totally will because you need to see it.

Happy Days

Apr. 23rd, 2011 12:30 pm
naomi_jay: (underwater scarf)
So yesterday was my birthday! It was lovely, and the robot invasion didn't happen, which was a bonus. I had many wishes of joy, birthday cards that referenced sea monsters, and cheap mango cocktails. My parents stopped by briefly, which is always good (them stopping by, not it being brief). I went into Cambridge because it was such a gorgeous day and drank cocktails on Parker's Piece with a bunch of friends I haven't seen for a while, which was also good. Then I came home and my friend Dave bought me and Kyle a Chinese meal as a birthday present, and we watched Drag Me To Hell (awesome) and The Nines (WTF?). All in all, a marvellous day! And my gift from Kyle is yet to arrive, so I can have like a mini-birthday extension. Yay!

In other news, I got my contract for THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE, and although I can't return it yet because I don't have a printer, I can confirm that it's set for a November 2011 publication. More yay!

In other other news, I'm torn between what to work on next. I'm going to finish proofreading WILD this weekend (maybe today, if I push it). I start the third Urban Wolf novel in May. My plan is to work on that during the week and have the weekends to write other stuff. I've got SO MANY things I want write at the moment. There will be a sequel to THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE to finish Evanthe and Morrow's story. There's another story set in the same world that I started a couple of years ago that I'd now like to finish. There's Blood and Bones, Halflife, and numerous other things too. I should be disciplined and finish the Deva Chronicles first, but I'm leaning towards the necromancer stuff, mostly because it's all set in the same wider world of my Scarlett novels, and I've been wanting to get back to those for ... well, forever. 
 
We shall see. I think I'll finish the other necromancer story first, as I already have 7k or so on that, and I'm envisioning it being about the length of TNA (about 21k). I really am enjoying the fact that I can pretty much go where inspiration takes me, rather than worrying about writing what I think an agent wants, or whatever. I stressed myself out so much when I was agented because I felt like everything I wrote had to be The Big Thing, and I couldn't live up to my own expectations. Working with small presses, epubs, and doing indie things definitely suits me better.
naomi_jay: (ZP - made of win)

It's not official yet, as I need to fill in some forms and sign some stuff, but I think it's safe to say that THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE will be published by Eternal Press!
 

Huzzahs! This makes for a nice early birthday present! More details when I have them ^_^
naomi_jay: (unicorn skeleton)

So I set myself some goals for over the weekend. I had to fit them in around a visit to my parents' for my brother's birthday, so I didn't get as much done as I hoped, but I rarely do. Allow me to elucidate:

1. Write my Queered Fiction horoscopes Check - I actually wrote May's as well as April's, because A) April's were late and B) I really need to be more organised, so I figured I'd start here.
2. Write my Cambridge Explorer horoscopes Check - done whilst watching a terrible film called Dark Island, so if your horoscope next month is all about biological weaponry and bad camera work, you know why.
3. Finish The Necromancer's Apprentice (yeah, I went back to it. I cut the horrible sex scene and replaced it with some stuff about demons, which I like a lot more. I think I can get a first draft done this week now) - Check. Finished and submitted, in fact. I feel really nervous about submitting something to a publisher without anyone else having read it, but I'm also pretty confident it's in good shape, has no plot holes or typos, and was ready to go. Of course, it could be rejected roundly and then I'd feel like I'd been presumptuous and arrogant. We'll see.
4. Finish proofreading WILD. I've found two typos so far *tears hair out* - Fail. Haven't had any time for WILD since last weekend, but this week I'm going to be working on it pretty solidly as I've cleared everything else from my to-do list.
5. Get at least 2k done on Blood and Bones over the weekend - Fail, but never mind. I'm not going to get a first draft done before May when I start Urban Wolf 3 now anyway, so I'm working on a schedule for May that means writing UW3 during the week and working on other projects at the weekend. If I aim for at least 1k a day during the week, I can easily have a first draft done by the start of September.

So yeah, this week is WILD week. If I can get it proofread before the weekend, I shall be a happy bunny.


naomi_jay: (ice cream happens)
I got fed a delicious, home-made four course feast last night. There was venison and chocolate torte and ginger cream and fishcakes and port and I never want to see food again oh God.

Of course, this fabulous feast meant I didn't do anything writing-wise last night, and after my dismal efforts last week, I really wanted to get things rolling this week. So far I've failed with a big, fat, chocolatey F. So this seems an appropriate time to roll out an accountability list. In no order of importance, I need to:

1. Write my Queered Fiction horoscopes
2. Write my Cambridge Explorer horoscopes
3. Finish The Necromancer's Apprentice (yeah, I went back to it. I cut the horrible sex scene and replaced it with some stuff about demons, which I like a lot more. I think I can get a first draft done this week now)
4. Finish proofreading WILD. I've found two typos so far *tears hair out*
5. Get at least 2k done on Blood and Bones over the weekend

I'm sure I'm missing something from the list, but I'm so doped up on a food hangover and lack of sleep, I can't think what it is. I've got a story submission to read for Serve in Heaven... that I'm pretty excited about. I know that's not it. I mean, that is something else I have to do, but I'm hoping I'll squeeze it in at work if I get some quiet time.
naomi_jay: (ZP - context)
Given Hollywood's eagerness to sequalise, prequelise and 3D-inate everything in sight right now,this article is probably not so much satire as explosive revelation. That said, I am kinda cool with a new Lara Croft film. I never played the games, but I have a fondness for the films (possibly fuelled by a fondness for Angelina Jolie?) and I really like Megan Fox in a non-ironic way. But I like Oliva Wilde more, and she's actually British, so would make a fine Lara.

So anyway, I was there last night, trying to tear myself away from Alice and Kev and work on The Necromancer's Apprentice like I was supposed to and getting not even one complete paragraph written all night when I decided it was time to re-evaluate the whole pen name/romance writing thing. I really enjoy reading paranormal romance, but I realised last night that writing it is a massive effort for me because I want to be focusing on the zombie fights or the spider-demons or whatever. I don't really want the main focus to be the romantic arc when it can be, you know, zombies.

Obviously there is romance in all my books, but it's never the main point, and I'm cool with that. I know my strengths as a writer (I think), and I don't want to waste time forcing myself into a box that I don't fit into. Particularly if it's going to take time away from writing stuff I'm passionate about. I started the whole [livejournal.com profile] tessa_morelock thing as an experiment, a bit of fun, and maybe a way to make some potential pocket money. But actually my time would be better spent working on the many, many, many urban fantasy ideas I have and having my fun and earning my money that way. So the experiment is over: once The Necromancer's Apprentice is finished, so is Tessa. I really do love Morrow and Evanthe, so I want to finish the story now I've started it, and selling it would be a bonus. But if I keep putting pressure on myself to achieve masses more things with no extra time to achieve them in (especially things that I'm not really good enough at to make it worth while), I'll probably end up eating my hands.

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Dirty Little Whirlwind

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