I recently sent two different works to complete strangers for a beta read. For those of you who don’t know, beta readers are fellow writers who volunteer to read through your work. They offer constructive criticism and feedback. I had never participated in either end of the process, so I decided it was high time.
The result has been truly worthwhile. I have received incredibly helpful notes and ideas. Throughout the many years that I have been writing, I have followed the same process. I write and revise, write and revise. It is always me looking at each successive draft. Not only did it keep me from moving forward with my writing, but it kept me from seeing new possibilities within my own work.
I also decided to take on some work as a beta reader. It has been more fun and informative than I thought it would be! I find it really interesting to read other author’s works in progress. To see what people are working on, before an editor gets to it, has been great. And the whole process has given me a stronger sense of community.
And you know what? The writing community is amazing, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.
For my third installment of Music to Write by I’ll be highlighting a few of the pieces I have listened to while writing my latest work. I’m calling it Fidelity right now.
Let’s set the scene
In order to appreciate the music, here is the blurb for the novel. You know, the back of the book copy that draws you in and makes you buy the book (well, hopefully).
When computer programmer Sora Leroux intercepts secret plans to destroy the upcoming peace accords with an alien nation, she doesn’t know whom to trust. One thing she does know, however, is that she’s in danger. She decides to run, but the Special Ops captain sent to track her down has other plans.
Captain Graham Smith has been sent bring in Sora Leroux, a woman implicated in a terrorist threat. When new information reveals a greater conspiracy, Graham must decide who is telling the truth as he races to save London from a hidden threat.
Piece the first
Okay, I must start with the piece of music that started it all. Biplane by Andrew Lockington. This piece is from the movie The Space Between Us (worth a look, if you’ve never seen it). A pivotal scene of the novel came to me while I was listening to this track. It gets amazing at minute 1:50. Wait for it.
It’s sweeping, it’s adventurous, it’s romantic. I love it. I was sitting in my son’s room, helping him fall asleep by just being there, listening to this piece. And I pictured Sora and Graham. So thanks Andrew Lockington.
Piece the second
The second piece that was super inspiring is “I Feel You” by Alan Silvestri from Avengers: Endgame. If you’ve seen this movie, you might remember this part. I love it. But I love the music even more.
Is that not just wonderful? Okay, I’ll admit it — I love dramatic, sweeping pieces. Throw in some strings and I’m done for. I Feel You is the score behind a very important scene in the novel. There may be explosions. There may be declarations. I love it.
There you have it. My two major pieces for Fidelity. The ones I have listened to on a loop. Other works on my playlist include the soundtrack to The Martian by Harry Gregson-Williams, Man of Steel by Hans Zimmer, and The Host by Antonio Pinto.
If you’re interested in the first two posts of this series, check them out here and here.
I often have to do a bit of research for my writing. This latest novel, which is set here on Earth in the near-ish future, required some digging into some interesting topics. I’m currently researching types of explosives (and wondering if I’m getting myself placed on a watch list somewhere). Before that, it was the city of Plymouth in England. This same story called for information about the Banana River in Florida, and the Darling River in Australia.
At one point, my heroin needs a place to stay in London and she chooses to stay at a bed and breakfast. I knew just what I was looking for (and indeed, what I had already written), and I wanted to find something like it in London. I guess I thought it would be cool if something that it were realistic and available. Well guess what? I found it!
I give you, The Hurlingham Bed & Breakfast:
It is simply lovely looking. Now, most of you know that I have never been to London, or England, or anywhere except a small town in Canada. No matter! I have Google maps and street view. Using my super tech skills (haha), I did some sleuthing and realized that this lovely, perfect, idyllic gem of a place is just too far from the hospital in downtown London that I chose for some important scenes.
Not to be stumped, I decided to do a bit more research and find something closer. And ta-da! I found a hip, affordable hostel that I would absolutely stay in if I didn’t have to share a room with strangers (sorry, it’s a thing).
I give you, The Horse & Stables:
This place is an awesome looking hostel right in the heart of London. It’s situated across the Thames from the Palace of Westminster. Westminster is also a key location in my novel, so that was a plus. The Horse & Stables looks really cool. Sort of hip. I mean, check out these other photos:
Totally slick, but not the right fit for my heroin. What’s an author to do? Smash ’em together and bend the truth! So while my bed and breakfast isn’t exactly either of these, it was inspired by both of them. Add these two spots to my (very) long list of places to visit once I get to England!
Here’s the thing with works in progress. If I’m not careful, my works in progress can stay in limbo forever. Not being edited, not be published, just percolating. I have a story I’ve been working on for ten years, one I’ve been working on for about twelve, and one that has only been in the works for less than a year.
I’m currently revising this one, which I’ve called Fidelity. I really don’t like the title, but I do love this story. There’s adventure, romance, aliens, and technology. It needs work though. As I work on revisions, I thought it would be fun to post a little bit from one of the early chapters. Have a read, and let me know what you think.
Excerpt from Fidelity
“Sora, I need those latest files sorted and delivered to the appropriate departments within the hour.”
She felt a surge of annoyance. Whittle new darn well that she was the fastest tech on the floor. But she tamped it down and said only, “Of course, Mr. Whittle.”
Whittle wrung his hands in a practiced manner. “Your uncle asked me especially to make sure you kept up on your work, Sora.”
Sora gaped at him. She knew Uncle Victor had been chummy with Mr. Whittle, but to ask that he check up on her? That he made sure she got her work done? That was absurd. She was nearly twenty-two, and had been taking care of herself since her and Toma’s parents had left when she was nineteen. She closed her mouth, her face flushed with anger, but she forced herself to take a deep breath.
“The files will be sent within the next twenty minutes, Mr. Whittle. Is there anything else you needed?”
A little flustered by her direct response, Whittle only mumbled a negative and wandered off to micromanage someone else.
Okay then. If Whittle and her uncle needed these files sent right away, then she had no choice. She tapped on the abnormal file and dragged it to the open application.
She knew immediately that something was wrong.
This was no inventory list. It was an unreadable text file. But it wasn’t an error—this file had been security scrambled. At first, Sora thought it was a secure transmission that had been mislabeled. But she didn’t recognize any of the security codes the author had used.
Indecision snaked through her, and she glanced over her shoulder to make sure Mr. Whittle had truly gone.
How could she know how to direct this if she didn’t decode it? Yes, it might be classified data, but it was mislabeled. Surely that wouldn’t come back on her? Screw it.
A few tabs of the keypad and her console was running the decoding algorithms. The computer beeped as it processed the first page. It was a data file—a blueprint. Sora puzzled over the details of the unknown structure, but she couldn’t make it out.
The computer beeped again. This next image file was of a map, and one she recognized. It was London. Blueprints and maps of London? It made no sense. Just when Sora was beginning to think that someone’s personal vacation plans got scrambled in the ether, the computer beeped again.
This was a text file. They were directions. Detailed directions on how to plant a soft bomb so that it wouldn’t trigger security protocols.
Sora felt her heart began to race. She took a shaky breath. Soft bombs were incredibly lethal. They had been banned since the end of World War III, over 60 years ago. Who would even have the ability to procure the components? And what were the planning to do with it?
With a sickening jolt, Sora understood. The Dendriforms. The soft bomb was to destroy the Dendriform delegation. To halt the peace talks. That had to be it. But a bomb like that wouldn’t just kill the Dendriforms, it would reduce London to ashes.
The Meryton Press blog is hosting a month of haunting, spooky, and fun tales from its authors (including yours truly)! The first story, The Ravens of Pemberley, is already live on the blog. Kelly Miller has written a lovely little story that I found both sweet and mysterious. Please do check it out.
My vignette will be posted on the Meryton Press blog later this month. I’m excited to share this little story with you, as it is completely different than anything else I’ve written.
When one project closes, I tend to get a pulse of energy to review, reorganize, and reboot. What’s working for us? What’s not? Now that the blog tour for A Chance Encounter at Pemberley Woods is over, I’m looking forward and examining the multiple facets of my life. It strikes me that I am very busy, but it’s a purposeful busyness. A chosen way of living right now, in this season of my life.
So as I look ahead, I’m feeling full of energy about upcoming projects, ideas, and plans. I have three writing projects in the revision stage–two adult romance novels, and a young adult fantasy/romance. I’m excited to get these projects ready for some beta readers.
I also have a chicken coop to build! I’m excited and scared about that one. It will involve circular saws and drills. Yikes.
Isn’t it beautiful?? It’s from The Garden Coop, and I’m so excited about it. It will have plenty of room for our five hens, AND it’s modular. So I can expand the run later if I want. But first I have to build it. *Gulp*
Which is, of course, impossible when you are the mother. We all look a bit like Marianne around here. Well perhaps that’s too dramatic. I only feel like Marianne looks here.
Jane Bennet is more accurate. Fingers crossed that this is our first and last big illness of the Fall. One can dream.
Hopefully the virus will be vanquished by our White Blood Cell Knights, and I’ll be back to writing and posting lovely things by next week.
P.S. Fearing I was drifting into a fever dream, I decided to Google ‘white blood cell knight’ to see if anyone else pictured them this way. Nothing relatable came up, except an anime called Cells at Work. Is this a real thing? Sadly, I’m afraid my readers will not know.
I couldn’t resist this picture. It’s like a fancy version of me. It’s not me, but it could be a picture of me as I read reviews. It’s so nerve wracking! Whenever I check on the Amazon or Goodreads pages, I take a deep breath. “Please don’t let them hate it.”
My Mr. Tilney just looks at me funny. “Haven’t people already said they like it?”
Yes. But…what if everyone else hates it?
Then yesterday, while reading a fair review with just criticisms, I realized how helpful reviews could be. For one thing, thoughtful comments from people that have read my work are like golden pearls of information. Learning what my readers liked and disliked will only help me be a better writer. I’ve already been inspired by one reviewer to write a sequel of sorts to A Chance Encounter.
So I decided to write this post for myself. That way, when reading reviews freaks me out, I’ll just bring this up and talk myself down.
I’m happy to be able to share more information about the print version of my novel. The final proofs have been submitted and the print version should be available in approximately two weeks. So by mid-September, I should be able to hold my book in my hand!
Once the print version has been produced, it will be available for purchase through Amazon. Nikki at White Oak Coffee House keeps encouraging me to have a book signing. So that will be happening this Fall too! Maybe we’ll turn it into a Jane Austen appreciation night!
Hurricane Dorian Relief
In other news, our vacation was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian. As sad as we all are, we are home, safe and sound. Many others have lost their homes and their livelihoods. The devastation in the Bahamas is heart-wrenching.
A group of authors over at Jane Austen Variations is raising money for Hurricane Dorian relief. Head on over to this post to see how you can help. It’s fun! You can buy copies of excellent books, with the authors donating 100% of the proceeds to hurricane relief. You can even make a monetary donation and have a character named after you!
I am so excited to announce that my book, A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods, will be published by Meryton Press at the end of this month! Stay tuned for exact dates for the cover reveal, pre-order, publication, and blog tour!
I am a strange mixture of excitement and nerves. Sharing a story is akin to revealing a part of your inner life to the wide world. However, I must say that I am so happy to be able to share my story with everyone. Cheers to the end of the month!