List Post, Numéro deux:

Because “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” here is my updated List for this week October:

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  • Two more (print) books purchased, to read this month: a memoir and a work of literary fiction. Both signed by the author, and both authors are new friends
  • On track (?): WIP at 15k words…If I write 1,000 words a (work)day between now and Thanksgiving (and allow for my trip to Bouchercon in November), I’ll meet my goal of 50k by then. If. 
  • Work on Cover for ALL THE ABOVE has begun. Thanks, Michael!
  • Atlanta area bookstores: Some will stock a few copies of UNDERWATER upon its release by Thomas & Mercer on November 25, 2014. Lesquelles? Books for Less in Buford, GA; Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA; Charis Books in Atlanta, GA; and possibly Bound to be Read Books, also in Atlanta! (If it’s not in your bookstore, ask them to carry it)
  • Keeping up with travel updates from friends in the Czech Republic and in France maintenant!
  • Trying out a new Atlanta restaurant with mon mari later this month to celebrate mon anniversaire
  • Preparing my presentation at my Author Focus panel at Bouchercon 2014; looking ahead, même chose, plus ou moins, at the Atlanta Writers Club January 2015 meeting (“Member Minute”)
  • Taking heed of some advice of un ami, un auteur bien connu, en ce qui concerne my (unnamed) WIP and its writing, editing and development
  • Following and watching football: the Atlanta Falcons, the Georgia Bulldogs (Dawgs!), and the UNC Tar Heels!

UNDERWATER New Cover Reveal!

After months of anticipation, voici the brand new cover for my suspense novel UNDERWATER, to be rereleased on November 25, 2014!

You can pre-order the novel on Kindle here.

UWnewcover copy

Thomas & Mercer cover artist Scott Barrie created an updated, powerful, more menacing cover, n’est-ce pas? Merci beaucoup, Scott! And – wait until you see the back cover! Here is the updated description there:

After years of guilt over a long-ago tragedy, Candace Morgan is finally poised for success. The CEO of her own women’s shapewear company, she’s about to launch a new swimsuit line—and make a fortune. When she is guilted into loaning her brother a huge sum of money for real estate, she believes she’s simply fulfilling a family promise. In reality, she’s enabling a devious sociopath…and now, she’s roped into the renovation from hell.

For years, Monty Carawan has envied his sister’s wealth. Spiteful and self-centered, he’s convinced that her success came at the expense of his own future. But when the housing market plunges and Candace attempts to disentangle herself from Monty’s mess, her brother’s malicious streak brings the family tension to a dangerous boiling point.

Kindle, Print and audio versions of the book will be released on November 25, 2014, just in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season!

Who to hang out with?

If you want to be smart, hang out with smart people.
– Anonymous
 

Okay, it’s probably not that easy. But maybe it helps..and it can’t hurt, I don’t think.

And – it translates into some of my other objectives, when I substitute any of the following words for “smart:”

  • creative
  • productive
  • a writer (or, an author)
  • a French speaker
  • or even, a person with a good sense of humor 

I work alone, but I like to connect with others, especially fun people, and those with whom I have something aspirational in common. (Is it really all about the 5 people you spend the most time with? Perhaps…)

Anyway –

  1. Creativity: People who like to imagine, design, and brainstorm (en français, un remue-méninges). These are fun people, and open to inspiration. They like music, dancing, art, and the challenge of coming up with something out of nothing (like a blank canvas or a blank computer screen).
  2. Productivity: People who work to achieve their goals, who are persistent and who don’t give in to discouragement, writer’s block, procrastination, or the idea that everything will just somehow happen. (Okay, I procrastinate, but I try not to, and always keep in mind how much better I’ll feel when I don’t procrastinate.) *
  3. Writing: Those who write, whether it’s fiction, poetry, songs, or non-fiction. Those whose books are published and those whose aren’t yet. Those who can’t not write. Those who want to have their work read/heard. I’ve learned a ton being around these people about how to write, what makes a good story, and how to make what I’ve written better.
  4. French: I knew my first novel would be set in France, and there was going to be a little bit of France/French in all of them. Donc (therefore), a few years ago, I set out to reattain my (youthful) fluency in the language, and I’ve gone from making un effort to succès.  I’ve been surprised at how many French speakers I’ve met in Atlanta. Hanging out with them is toujours une bonne idée. 
  5. Humor: Okay, this is an easy one. My husband can (still) make me laugh, and so can my dearest friends! Because without humor, life is, well, a life without humor, and that’s impossible.

* Now, to stop procrastinating and get back to writing that pesky WIP (work-in-progress), Book 4!

Ceci et cela (This and That): List Post

  • Recently received: 2 handwritten thank-you notes in the mail. One from France, one from Dunwoody, GA
  • The one from France written en anglais, avec une photo; the other, from une amie de longue date (old friend)
  • Writing research: Found (long) paragraph in THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES describing how Sherman McCoy is “going broke on a million dollars a year!” (Chapter 6, p 137)
  • Missed her: mom’s neighbor, “Z” (with whom I practice français de temps en temps) home from France where she was for the summer, but already on her way back there for a week
  • Stacking up: Books to read, on my nightstand (see my Goodreads “to read” list)
  • Falling: Temperatures…and time to enjoy the patio le soir
  • Tried it: Zumba! Toning. A break from spinning class…Fun! but hard on knees.
  • Writing: between now and Thanksgiving: 50K words in WIP? (that’s just 5K a week)
  • Planning: My (solo) 20 minute Author Focus panel at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach, CA, le 15 novembre à midi
  • sprechen Sie Deutsch? Amazon Crossing of Amazon Publishing is translating UNDERWATER into German! Release date sometime next spring.
  • Organisez! My notes for Book 4 (WIP) and my French notes!
  • Traveling: Not me (until November), but those I know, to the Bahamas, Rosemary Beach (FL), Folly Beach (SC), Turks & Caicos, Martinique, Las Vegas, Australia, Fiji, Prague, The Dordogne (France), Paris…Of those, I’ve only been to Vegas and Paris
  • Preparing: Book 3, ALL THE ABOVE, a true story, for publication in early 2015 (probably February). It’s been edited, but needs a cover. Can keep some quotes of song titles in it, but not song lyrics 😦
  • Finally….watching: Football! UGA Bulldogs, UNC Tar Heels and Atlanta Falcons!

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Author Focus Panel!

I’ve been asked to participate in an Author Focus panel at this year’s Murder at the Beach: Bouchercon 2014  in Long Beach, California!

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The annual World Mystery Convention of readers, writers, publishers, editors and others who love crime fiction, thrillers and suspense is being held there over November 13-16, 2014.

My Author Focus panel will be at 12 noon on Saturday, November 15! Check out the programming schedule here !

I will be speaking and answering questions about my suspense novel UNDERWATER, to be released in November by Thomas & Mercer of Seattle, Washington. I will also be attending various other panels and activities at the convention, my first Bouchercon!

What Readers Want

What I heard: Jackie K. Cooper’s entertaining interview of authors Karin Slaughter and Chelsea Cain

Where I was: Decatur, Georgia, at the Decatur Book Festival’s presentation “Internal Affairs,” part of its Mystery/Thriller Track, with my friend, author James Huskins

What I learned  heard, but was happy to be reminded of: 

1. Characters need to have secrets

2. Characters need to be damaged in some way

3. Violence and sex* are to be included if they move the story forward

4. Writing dialogue is a good way to get over “Writer’s Block”

5. Short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs create fast pace in action scenes

(Okay, I didn’t hear #5 there; I saw that on Twitter. But this week I read Cop Town by Slaughter and noticed it)

What I did: Listened intently, laughed, clapped, was inspired – then got drenched in a rainstorm walking to my car, but was in such a good mood that I  we laughed some more

What I did next: Downloaded Cop Town, read it (couldn’t put it down), and worked on my next Suspense (Book 4), paying attention to #s 1-5 and focusing on what readers want: 

suspense, surprises, a well crafted plot, good pacing, well developed characters, vivid descriptions, realistic dialogue…

* To my “beau-frère:”  I’m doing my best on this in Book 4!

Flash d’information (News flash): Award Nominee!

UNDERWATER was chosen as one of the Nominees for the coveted

2014 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award™ in the Best Novel Category!

According to the Killer Nashville event, which established and holds the Silver Falchion Award™ annually,

“The purpose of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award™ is to honor the best books readily available to a North American audience in any format within the past year. The categories include both fiction and nonfiction.”

Click HERE and scroll down…the nominees are listed alphabetically, and you’ll find UNDERWATER listed right above UNSEEN by (Atlanta author) Karin Slaughter!

Killer Nashville is a Writer’s Conference being held this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Writing what you know, and eschewing surplusage

“Use the right word, not its second cousin.”
– Mark Twain

 

Making the right word choice is one of the tenets of my writers’ group. At a recent meeting, we discussed the whether the words basic and ubiquitous mean (basically) the same thing–at least, in the sentence we were considering. So I looked them up in my iPad dictionary app. As you might guess, they don’t. 

But in that context, were they so close that one of them should go? The person whose work it was would decide. At our weekly meetings, we offer feedback, make suggestions, encourage one another, and talk about writerly things. We have a few sayings, too, some stemming from the below Mark Twain quotes:

1. “Write what you know.”
We say this one a lot–it may be ubiquitous. Note that it doesn’t mean, tell a true story (unless you’re writing non-fiction). “What you know” includes the places you’ve been, the emotions you’ve felt, etc.
2. “As to the adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.”
We often say the second part of this (“when in doubt, strike it out”). Also, see above (basic and ubiquitous).
3. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
See #2.
4. “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
See #2.
5. “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”
(Show, don’t tell.)
6. “One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.”
(I’m guilty of this one, but I’ve gotten a lot better. Haha.)
7. “Write without pay until someone offers pay.”
I mean, what choice do we have, if we want to write?
8. “If the writer doesn’t sweat, the reader will.”
(Work hard.)
9. “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
(Conflict! And, see #1.)
10. “Eschew surplusage.”
(Don’t be wordy!) I’m working on this one, too. Just to be sure I understood it, I looked both words up, since it looks and sounds a little like “Chew sausage.”
 

And those are the basics.

Words, my friends

Somehow, July came and went – in a word, that was fast!

Independence Day, The World Cup, Bastille Day, the Tour de France, the milestone birthday fête of a friend (a few weeks late)…there was so much going on!

14-juillet-feu-artifice-Tour-Eiffel-tricolore-|-630x405-|-©-Groupe-F-Thierry-Nava_block_media_very_big

[VIDEO of fireworks (feu d’artifice) at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, July 14, 2014]

But during juillet, I was chez moi – I wasn’t en vacances. I was working, and I didn’t write a single blog post…

Cependant, I wrote fiction.*

I’m approaching the 10k (words) mark on Book 4, a suspense novel which is not a sequel to UNDERWATER, but which does tie into it…how, I won’t reveal yet.

I’ve also been working with the team at Thomas & Mercer to get UNDERWATER ready for its rerelease in November! It will be available not only in print and on Kindle, but as an audio book too.

While working on both of those projects, I’ve been steeped in words – coming up with them, changing them, cutting them, rewriting them, considering them, looking them up – and even using them when I play Words With Friends on my phone with, well, friends.

As I said to a friend (but not a WWF friend) at the birthday fête, I’ve learned a lot since writing my first novel, MAKE THAT DEUX. Just like anyone – including him, il y a longtemps – in any new job  trade  endeavor  métier  career  occupation  well, job, you don’t know everything when you start. It takes time, and commitment.

De toute façon, while working to revise what I write, I’ve noticed a few things:

1. I tend to use these words too much (and so they get cut a lot):

just 
yet
at least
down
now
right now
okay
huge 
well

 

2. I really try not to use these words:

really
truly
finally
suddenly
and anything -ly (adverbs)
 

3. I try to do the following (with the help of my writers’ group):

minimize -ing words (put in action, instead; i.e. -ed if in past tense)
put action BEFORE dialogue, minimizing tags
insert narrative in dialogue scenes, but don’t overdo
alternate narrative scenes with dialogue-driven scenes
paint pictures with descriptions, and try to be vivid
avoid clichés (should be obvious, but I have to remember it)
minimize the use of italics – only use when necessary
 

For me, it’s fun to work with words…after beaucoup de travail, eventuellement, they turn into BOOKS!

• My 3rd book, ALL THE ABOVE, is creative nonfiction (a true story) and is finished! I’ll be choosing its cover this fall and planning its release for early 2015!

 
 
 
 
 

My turn on “The Writing Process” Blog Tour

This post is part of a blog tour on the writing process. Thanks to Kathryn Gray-White, a fellow Atlanta author for tagging me to take my turn.

I met Kathryn at a combined book signing event that we participated in last month called “Books in the Garden” at Specialty Ornamentals in Watkinsville, Georgia; the other authors were Rona Simmons, Valerie Connors and Linda Hughes. Kathryn was signing her book, ATLANTA’S REAL WOMEN, and we chatted with each other and with readers who came to the event. We finished the day with a one hour appearance at Avid Bookshop in nearby Athens.  Prior to meeting Kathryn, we connected on Linkedin. She is a historian and an assistant professor at Georgia Gwinnett College.

MY WRITING PROCESS….

What am I working on?

I’ve just started writing my fourth book (and third novel), a Suspense/Thriller so far unnamed. Book 4 borrows a few minor characters from my novel of the same genre, Underwater, and it turns one of them into a major character. Underwater is the story of a successful businesswoman whose brother guilts her into funding a luxury home just before the housing market drops, plunging the family into a downward spiral of deceit and violence. Book 4 is about another family in conflict over a house, this time a two million dollar beach home that three siblings will inherit upon the death of their wealthy stepmother.

When her sizable liquid assets are stolen by a crooked investor, the stepmother considers selling the beach home to fund her lifestyle in a luxury retirement community. Two of the siblings suggest that she obtain a reverse mortgage on it instead, to keep it in the family and protect their inheritance. But the middle child is secretly grappling with huge debts and unwilling to downsize or compromise. When an unforeseen event occurs, her income drops drastically and her demands multiply. Soon, her hostility toward the woman who took her mother’s place decades ago turns from anger to hatred. How far will she go to get her way, and to get her hands on the money she believes is rightfully hers?

While writing Book 4, I’m also working with my freelance editor, Laura Ownbey, to revise and prepare my third book for release. A work of creative nonfiction titled All the Above, it chronicles my nineteen-year-old son’s battle with brain cancer.

In addition, I’m working with my editor and team at Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, who recently picked up Underwater for re-release this fall.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My first book, a French Travel/Romance novel titled Make That Deux, is a semi-autobiographical tale based on my year as a junior exchange student in the late 1970s. So many books are set in France, but I could find none quite like mine, which also falls into the new New Adult genre, where the protagonist is in college, not high school like in Young Adult (YA). All the Above is a personal account of my emotional struggle when the unthinkable happened to my son. Underwater and Book 4 are about adult family members caught up in conflicts over money; the stories pose questions about generosity, enabling, guilt, and duty. Tension builds to a boiling point, and then…

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I like to read, and I like to read a variety (the only types of fiction I dislike are Fantasy, Science Fiction, and anything Paranormal). We expose what we value by how we spend our time and our money, and I’m drawn to fiction about families in conflict over the latter, with fragile relationships to complicate matters. I enjoy writing from different characters’ perspectives because I like showing that individuals can have goals, feelings and personalities that clash. It’s interesting to look at how family members can view the same events and issues in vastly different ways, and can have opposing memories, desires and fears – and keep them secret from each other.

How does your writing process work?

My writing process has evolved over time, and I’m constantly open to learning. I write full-time and have a routine, but one in which flexibility is important; you’ll sometimes find me writing during slow weekend afternoons and up at 3 a.m. when an idea won’t go away. Normally, though, I write for four to five hours on weekday mornings, then two or three more in the afternoons.*

I pay close attention to pacing, and I start with notes, a plot outline and characters that I can get my head around. I ask myself what I’m trying to say in the story and figure out how my characters will show it. I massage my notes as I go and decide when to end chapters based on intuition. I keep track of multiple POVs in a separate place and continually ask myself (and answer) who should speak next in the story.

My writers’ critique group, an offshoot of the Atlanta Writers Club, provides feedback and gives me suggestions and encouragement. I learn a lot from listening to others read their work. I shoot for writing 5000 words or more a week. I write, cut, revise, write, cut, revise…etc. Eventually, the book gets written, and then my editor does her thing. Then, I break down her edit and work on revising once again. After a copy/line edit, it’s finished, and I start on my next project!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry in The Writing Process Blog Tour.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, follow this blog, or connect with me on Twitter (@MakeThatJulie), and Like me on Facebook (JuliaC.mcdermott).

 

*That’s what I aim for, and what I do, most of the time..Of course, I also take breaks, and get up to do lots of household chores, and exercise!

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