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Beyond the Graves

My Writing Method blog hop

Big thanks and some very late and pretty cold by now Memorial Day 'cue to Lisa Jensen for tagging me in the My Writing Process blog hopper thingamabopper. She is the author of Alias Hook, a wild and beautiful retake on the world of the Neverland, due out in July on Thomas Dunne Books.

She may blush to hear it, but she writes really nice pirate sex. She also writes vivid gore, so do buy lots of copies of her books and pass them out at Christmas. Thanks, Lisa!

Here's how it works: I answer four questions about my work and my writing process, and then I pass the buck baton on to some more writers, who will blog about same next week.

What am I working on?

I've stepped away from the Matty Graves nautical series to write paranormal things for a while. The Crazy Adorable Faces is about 14-year-old Grace McGowan, who's being haunted by her mother's ghost and decides to go find her body. Grace's parents were ghost hunters, you see, and have gone missing.

Grace is particularly sensitive to paranormal activity, which is both her blessing and curse. Her mom's ghost scares the bejeebers out of her, but Grace also has the power to alleviate some suffering by -- wait for it -- laying some ghosts to rest.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't have anybody biting anybody's eyeballs out or strangling them with their own entrails. Not in the current book, anyway.

The Matty Graves books have a good deal of mayhem in them. But what makes them stand out is that Matty has a sense of humor that saves him a time or two. It also gets him in trouble, as he has a habit of laughing when he's scared. That's the only autobiographical part of those books.

Grace is just three years younger than Matty, but she's definitely still a kid. She crabs and whines, and can be mean, but mostly she's a good kid dealing with a hard situation. Like taking care of her alcoholic aunt and eating out of dumpsters when the money gets short.

Why do I write what I do?

Sometimes I'm working out things that bug me. Sometimes I'm just trying to make someone laugh. In this case, I couldn't stop thinking about all the Hans Holzer books I read as a kid. He was a parapsychologist, and his writings were the first ghost accounts, rather than ghost stories, that I ever read. They made me wonder if ghosts know they're dead. Apparently some of them do and are none too happy about it.

How does my writing process work?

I have to figure that out again every time I write anything, especially a novel. This one I plotted out using a nine-box grid. Unfortunately, I left a lot of "we'll figure this out later" parts in the outline, so I keep blundering into detours.

Sometimes that's good. I'm trying to find my way out of one right now, where the bad evil horrible ghost is chasing Grace around when she's supposed to be over at the fortune teller's finding out what it all means, so we can have the false resolution and everyone goes home. Until, of course, Our Heroine wakes up in the middle of the night to find her dead mother standing over her, and realizes she has to go back to the haunted house.

I keep notes, though I tend to forget where I wrote them.

One thing I am diligent about is that I write down who's who: the characters' names, their hair and eye color, height, weight, age, which arm the anchor tattoo is on, that sort of thing.

I try very hard to follow a calendar, or least always intend to have one while writing. I had a large calendar of 1800 on my wall when I was writing the Matty Graves books, because I had to keep track of where certain real ships were, if Matty was to run into them (or come across them, I mean), without history pedants experts writing me to tell me I'd gotten it all wrong. Which they sometimes did anyway, so that might've been some wasted effort.

I got away from super attention to detail, though, when my wife asked me one evening what I'd been doing for the past several hours and I told her I was trying to figure out the phase of the moon 20 leagues south of Saint Croix on Oct. 20, 1800. She told me I was nuts, and wasn't far wrong.

I had to figure out the moon again for Crazy Adorable, though, because the tide was important. It irritates me that I've had to move it three days away from where it actually was in late May of 1974, yet I glory in the writer's power to move worlds.

Feel my muscle.

The Handoff

And now for the baton shift, we give you three Ventura writers.

Querus Abuttu writes splatterpunk, horror and dark science fiction. Her novel Sapien Farm, about what happens when you f*ck with pigs, is slated for release in July. She also has short stories for the reading, and has won a second and a third in the KillerCon gross-out story contest.

Charlotte McLeod, writing as Harper Rush, has been tapping out tidy whodunits. Near Midnight: A Gracy Midnight Book is up on Amazon, and Nobles Island is still stewing in the pot.

Annnnd we have Amy Henry Robinson, who did not know we were coming so she did not bake a pie. Her lemon cookies are phenomenal, however. Livre des Morts (Morty for Short), her WIP, is a funny riff on the old time-travel, father-daughter, demon-fighting adventure genre. There are cowboys in it too, maybe? She's also working on the sad tale of an overweight vampire that I really would like to read in its entirety.
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