Writing Goals for 2019

Every year I write out a list of the stories I’m currently working on, or stories that I’m planning to work on. It’s kind of become my New Year’s tradition to post up what I call my WIP To-Do list.

So here we go!

2019 WIP To-Do List!

Look at all those novels!

Wait, where are the short stories?

So you might notice a change from the lists I made in Jan 2016 and Jan 2017. I don’t have a section for short stories on this list. That’s because I really am just no longer focusing on them as much as I used to. I’m still writing them on occasion and granting access to my Moonlight Wanderers Facebook Group members, or to my mailing list subscribers, but I’ve really pulled back on how many short stories I work on these days. I may submit to a few anthologies on occasion (I have one pending right now actually), but I’m just not going to put a bunch of my time into that.

There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I’m really trying to get my novels off the ground. I want my stories to be front and center more often. Usually in anthologies, my work is appreciated, but doesn’t go far enough out there to get a mention in reviews, which can be tough. In my longer pieces though, readers get more engaged and I get far more comments on my work (both good and bad haha) which I appreciate.

Second of all, I just don’t have the time anymore. I used to browse prompts on Duotrope to see what could spark my interest and get the creativity flowing, but these days I have so many ideas that I’m usually juggling multiple books at once in various stages of publication. Novels and novellas take time to write, to plan, to flesh out. The world-building is far more intense than what is typically seen in a short story, so my energy is stretched pretty thin.

Finally, there’s the payment. It’s a dream goal to one day have a story picked up by a professional short story market, but in my now nine years of writing professionally, it just hasn’t happened. I’m shifting my focus to books because I feel like I can reach an equal level of happiness through that instead of writing a new story regularly to try and grab the interest of flooded professional short story markets.

I see my books as building a structure. I’m not making much right now with it, but eventually I want to. I want my books to be loved, my characters to be cared about, and for readers to fall into my worlds. I just don’t have that kind of flexibility with short stories. So now I’m focusing all my energy on novels.

Are those new books I see?

You’ll see all three books of the Stolen series up there: Stolen (coming out Jan 22!), Broken (my current WIP), and Chosen (my next WIP lol).

One Way Down (book 1 of the Colton Fen series) is probably the oldest manuscript on this list and will soon be getting quite a facelift. Smoke and Witchcraft, the sequel, will also likely be getting a huge edit either this year or next.

The Seeking is finished, I’m just waiting for some time to breathe before I submit it around lol.

Then we start getting down into my planned books, and I don’t think I’ve posted about these before. Please note that these titles are just placeholders. It takes me ages to figure out a good title haha.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • The Two Sorceresses – A Snow White retelling that I’m keeping pretty close to the chest. Once I’m done with the Stolen series and the Colton Fen series, this is what I’m planning to tackle next.
  • Cruise Ship – A YA Horror on a cruise ship? Oh yes. And it’s the slipstream kind, so you know it’ll be fun.
  • Southern Gothic – An homage to one of my favorite comic books with a nice horror twist. This one will have many types of monsters too.
  • Mercy’s Revenge – The much asked for sequel to The She-Wolf of Kanta! I’ve had so many people want this book that I’ve lost track. I don’t know if I’ll get to this novella this year, but if not it’s definitely planned for next year.

So there you have it – my WIP to-do list for 2019! Yes, there is a lot to do, but I feel really good about this year. I’m also thrilled to share my WIP plans too, though if you follow me on Twitter you kind of got a peek at these back in December.

Happy 2019, everybody! And please let me know if you also do WIP To-Do lists! I find they’re really motivating to do each year and really help me to plan out my beats throughout the year during the writing/editing/publishing process. Cause you know it’s easy to forget about the road when you’re on the path.

Too Close to Home

Each October, horror authors converge on a site to share stories about one of the best holidays of the year: Halloween. We talk about spooky stories, some of them true, some of them not. We share information about our books, and maybe even do a giveaway.

Today I talk about growing up in a haunted town and in a haunted house. This post was more difficult to share than I expected it to be. I’ve been flighty about even admitting this to myself for a very long time, so getting it put up online is a big step.

Drop by and enjoy! Maybe even leave a comment. Halloween Haunts: Too Close to Home

After all, these only come once a year…

The Benefits of Being VIP

I just wanted to take a moment and talk about some of the benefits of hopping onto the mailing list for this site. I know on WordPress especially, I’m bad about just hitting the Follow button and not thinking about it, but that can really limit you on what access you have and what you’re missing out on! So here’s a quick primer on some ways you can keep up to date and get early access to my content.

What You Get

  • Early Cover Reveals. I’m actually drafting one of these right now. And let me tell you, you won’t want to miss this gorgeous cover!
  • Early access to short fiction. I just released a never before published YA Dark Fantasy piece at the end of July exclusively for my VIP groups (for now). And knowing how slow I am, it’s going to be a while before it’s available on my blog haha.
  • Input on all the bookish decisions. For the Facebook group, you can vote on what short story is coming next, have a say on what kind of book swag is coming, and even get to share in any milestones along the way!

Ways To Follow

  • Join the Mailing List
    • You should see a link to it on the menu for this page! Just drop your email address in, and boom, you get the mailing list delivered right to your inbox. If you just want to be kept up to date on everything, organized in a concise fashion, this is the best option.
  • Join the Moonlight Wanderers
    • If Facebook is more your style and you would rather not have more emails in your inbox (I hear you!), then join the Moonlight Wanderers group on Facebook! This team of amazing fans get to experience the journey as I go, and possibly share a few memes along the way.

So why not try one out? If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe or leave the group. I just like to make sure my fans don’t miss out on exclusive content!

Library Love!

It sure does feel like the last Friday of the month has rolled around again. I don’t know about you but July flew by. So I guess it’s time for a little slice of optimism served on a neat digital plate. I’m very happy to be part of the “We Are The World Blogfest” once again – cause the world needs to be a little bit more bright and cheery.

Now if you’re at all connected to the book world, you might have heard about an article that was getting a lot of attention earlier this week. Forbes released an opinion piece from an Economics department chair regarding the value of libraries. His verdict? That they should be replaced with Amazon instead.

If you love your libraries as much as I do, you can imagine the type of backlash that comment received. Forbes pulled the article, citing pretty much that the author of the opinion piece was misinformed, like apologizing for a burned piece of toast and quickly removing it from the kitchen table. Kudos to them for acting quickly and not just racking up the hits that this article would surely have continued to receive.

The part that really made me want to share this story this Friday with all of you though was the reaction on Twitter. That was where the majority of the backlash came from, and people came out of the woodwork to defend their libraries and to reconnect with their love of these sacred public spaces.

 

If you want to see more of these tweets and responses, check out this fantastic collection! I hope this helps you not only appreciate the libraries that you have, but that there are still a whole bunch of people who will also leap to defend them. Happy Friday, everybody!

Creepy Corridors: Why We Love Them In Horror

One of the first films I saw that really brought attention to the dread of walking down hallways by yourself was in The Shining. Little Danny Torrence would pedal along on his toy bike and you would get accustomed to the drumming of the wheels as it moved from wood to carpet to wood again. At first in the film it seems like a cute way for the kid to pass the time. But then as the film progresses, and Danny starts to experience the supernatural activity of the Overlook, that’s when each turn in the hallway makes your heartrate speed up.

Danny Torrence from The Shining

This weekend while doing research on a cruise ship, my family would help to point out particularly disturbing corridors. That is of course one of the benefits of telling your fellow travelers that you are doing research for a horror book. “Oh, Lena, you’ve got to get a picture of that one!” I would hear as they point down a cramped two flights of stairs shoved into a corner of a hallway. Or “Okay, this place just feels like a horror movie,” when we went to find a restroom in a large concrete stairwell complete with exposed ceiling pipes and wiring. I loved it of course, and snapped pictures like crazy. It got me wondering though, what is it about these places that really puts us on edge? Why do we instantly think that these places are ideal for horror scenes?

The first obvious answer is that there’s limited sight. Stairwells are particularly bad about this, and you could easily have someone several floors up following or watching you if the middle of the stairwell is open. In The Shining, little Danny Torrence turns each corner, not sure what he’s going to encounter each time. The tension increases throughout the film even though it’s literally just a kid on his bike.

The second answer is how cramped they are. That tiny stairwell down to the next floor that almost looks like it was forgotten? There isn’t much space to move there, and if you got partway down the steps and saw someone wielding a chainsaw running toward you, there would be little time to get out of the way. When you’re on a ship as well, there’s a very real sense when you’re out on the ocean of how isolated you are. The only way to leave the ship in a hurry is with the lifeboats on board, which is both exciting and frightening.

img_2469

See? Very cramped stairwell

Finally, the longer the hallway, the fewer places to run. The first time I went on a cruise I was daunted by how long the halls were for rooms. Staring down the hallway and seeing the length of space you would have to walk just to get to the main section of the ship was surprising. I’d seen ship cabins in videos before, but rarely those long halls. You get a real sense that there’s very little space to run there. There’s either forwards or backwards because every door you pass is locked. Again not only are you isolated, but you’re also very visible.

“Cruise Ship Hallway” by Satanizmihomedog on DeviantArt

Writers and film directors have recognized the innate fear that these spaces carry and have been exploiting them for decades. That stairwell with the exposed pipes and wires that we found could have easily been a filming location for the Nostromo ship from Alien. On the ship it was built for utility, but in the world of writing, it’s a perfect place for an ambush. These hallways don’t have to apply to ships either. I’ve seen plenty of buildings with halls so narrow that turning that right corner could have you running into someone if you’re not careful. Danny Torrence found that out the hard way.

What kind of hallways or stairwells have you found particularly creepy? Do you have any pictures? I would love to see them!