Friday, June 30, 2017

SACRIFICING SAPPHIRE Release Date & Description

I'd like to thank all my readers for your patience while waiting for the release date of book #4 in the Sapphire Dubois Mystery Series, SACRIFICING SAPPHIRE.

I know it has been a long time coming and, I promise you, I will do everything I in my power to make sure book #5, the final Sapphire Dubois installment, will reach your hands at a more rapid pace.

As of right now, the release date for SACRIFICING SAPPHIRE is scheduled for December 12 2017.



For the full details, pre-order of the paperback, and the mini description, go HERE!  

Xoxo,
Mia


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Playlist

For every project I've ever written, I've had a playlist.
When I wrote movies back in the day and was working on a spy thriller, my writing playlist, which is not the same as my regular playlist, was jammed packed with every Bond soundtrack I could think of to get me into the right mind space. When I was working on a kids movie, I listened to songs from my childhood to get me to remember what it was like to be ten. And, when I was working on Sapphire #3, I listened to Glenn Miller and Hozier (I think a Glenn Miller song might actually be mentioned in the book) to get into Sapphire's father's two personalities--the social one, and the dark one.

As for Sacrificing Sapphire, the latest book in the Sapphire Dubois series, and soon-ish to be released (nope, sorry, don't have a date yet) I made this playlist.
While I know it not easy to decipher a story through a playlist, here's a small preview of what is to come in Sacrificing Sapphire...




Xoxo,
Mia

Friday, May 12, 2017

Time Management

So...time management.

Once upon a time, I had 10, 12, even 13 hour writing days. This was not my atypical schedule, I'm not that ferocious, but it certainly happened...especially during deadlines. The only things to ever interfere with my writing day back then, were walking and spending quality time with the dog, getting more coffee, and bathroom breaks, a side effect from all the coffee. Looking back at my old self now, I see how spoiled with time I was. I was SO damn time-spoiled that I sometimes wrote a scene, then rewrote it twice, then rewrote it back to its original state. This was before I started saving my deleted scenes in a separate folder, and clearly I didn't need to; I had time coming out the ying-yang. I was Joffrey, sitting on my iron throne of time. I was Scrooge Mcduck, doing back strokes in my pool of spare minutes. DuckTales, anyone? I was that dude at the strip club, swiping 20 dollar time-bills out of my hand like they were nothing.

Fast forward a few years and add a baby, a strict schedule, and general life that you a) didn't care about when you're 22. Or b) opted out of because the time-fairy would soon return with a fresh bag of more time, just for you. Back in the day, I made a conscious decisions to not have a life outside of writing. If I had the option to hangout at the pool with friends, or write, I chose writing every time. Now that I have a child and have to lead by example, I can't do that anymore...unless, of course I want to raise an asocial recluse with agoraphobia.

So, here we are...time management.

There are 24 hours in a day and my baby naps about 2-3 hours if I'm lucky, spread out through the day. That's what I have. So, what do you do when your writing day is cut from 8-13 hours and down to 2-3?

One: Acceptance.

You cry a little, because you realize life is now different and there's nothing you can do but accept it.

Two: It's not how much time you have, it's how you use it.

The time you don't spend writing--e.g. changing diapers, doing spread sheets, going, Hi! Hello! Bye-Bye! Toodeloo! If you're a Walmart greeter--spend it thinking, plotting, and planning out your scenes. I've always been a big plotter, but I've generally let the scenes write themselves, only knowing the scene's opener, closer, and the plot point. I always liked the surprise of not knowing every event of every story-line before it was written. Sure, it took a few passes to get it right at times, but it was worth it for the chance to strike gold.

Well, luxuries like that are for people who bathe in time, which, again, I no longer do.
Also, because I know I'll have less time for rewrites later, I now need to feel sure about the direction of the scene before I start it.

Three: What can go?

Dinner? In order to live one supposedly needs to eat, so probably not.

Sleep? I can hear other parents laughing at this, because, well...it's not like there's much to begin with. But see if you can make it on one less hour of sleep 1-3 days a week, not 5-7. Whether you're a parent, a worker, or like most, both, set the alarm an hour early, or go to bed an hour later. It's amazing how much you can write in 60 minutes.

TV/Reading time? Most of us need to unwind, and it usually involves a TV. Since I love shows, movies, books, hell, I'd take story in pill form it they had it, I don't want to give up all my TV/Reading time, if I even get any. I am, however, willing to cut it down by a half hour to get some extra writing time.

Favorite pastimes?
My favorite thing to do now days is hangout with my daughter. Since she happens to be the cutest baby in the world, it's not something I'm willing to give up. Just yesterday she laughed at her own foot for fifteen minutes, and if that's not worth watching, I don't know what is. It falls under the Life category and it is, as the scientists put it, real friggin' important to body and mind. Writing makes your life better, and life makes your writing better. It's about balance.

Social Media Time?
Sorry, it has to go. Unless you're doing promos or work, cut it down. If you have time to scroll the newsfeed for 30 minutes, you have time to write. FYI: I took me three days to complete this post. Why? Because in times like these, that may or may not go down in my personal history as the Great Time Famine, I chose to write instead of write about writing. Make sense?

That's all I got. It's not much, but every minutes counts. Even if you only have one hour a week to write, and it takes you three years to finish a project, by the end of those three years, you'll actually HAVE a completed book. Yay! Meanwhile, if you instead spend those same three year saying "I don't have time to write." you'll have absolutely nothing. Boo!

As my favorite greeter once said: Thanks for shopping a Walmart. And, Toodeloo!

Xoxo,
Mia

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sapphire Dubois Mysteries: Book 5

With the fourth Sapphire book, Sacrificing Sapphire, turned in for its first round at Diversion Books, I sat down to write out all the plot points for the final Sapphire installment (book 5) today. I've had the main plot of the series set up and ready to go for years, but I always save the detailed plotting for after I'm in the final stages of the latest installment, just in case unexpected plot changes have to be made.

As I wrote out the sheet, very, very tentatively titling it Stealing Sapphire: Plot Points, I was overwhelmed with bitter sweetness. I started the series when I was 22 or 23-years-old. I just now passed 30. These characters have been with me for so much of my adult life that I don't really know what it'll be like without them, entertaining me when I'm bored and torturing me when I want to sleep.
Over the years, the series have taken me on a roller-coaster, from losing ten pounds and nearly my mind during the deadline for Silencing Sapphire, to topping mystery bestsellers lists in both Europe and the US for a beat. In the end, all I can do now is enjoy the hell out of writing Sapphire and Aston's final chapter. I will savor the entire process, knowing I'll miss it all when it's over, nasty bumps and smooth sailings alike.



Xoxo,
Mia






Saturday, March 18, 2017

The List

Rewriting is super easy...
said no writer EVER.

The first time I realized the importance of rewriting and notes, I was nineteen and in school for screenwriting. It was my favorite teacher who said the phrase I'd never forget: "writing is rewriting."

The term first draft meant nothing to me back then as I only did one pass before moving onto the next project. I immediately took the wisdom to heart, and the words became a mantra over the years. But just because I understood "writing is rewriting" didn't mean I automatically knew how to execute it.

During the second semester, we had a class dedicated to the subject, and were tasked with rewriting one of our scripts. With my new mantra in mind, I set out to dedicate myself to the rewrite. We had nine people in our class and everyone gave notes on every script. So that was eight people, eight different opinions, with about two-three notes each, bringing the total in somewhere between 16-24. So, what did I do? Eager and inexperienced, I implemented them all. The result, a 200 plus page script (your average movie is about 110) full of nonsense. If the script was a plate of food, it would've been spaghetti with ice cream and relish smothered turducken. Yummy. No?

After I submitted my script and realized my mistake, I vowed I would find a system that worked for me. In the end, and after years of writing, it came down to three ridiculously simple steps.

1. Receiving the Notes


There's a moment when you initially receive the feedback that your gut let's you know if a note feels right or wrong. Go with it. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
That said, don't confuse your hurt ego with your gut. Gut in writing, I feel, is just your subconscious story-logic, while the hurt ego manifests itself through anger or in unjustified refusal. Remember that there's a reason your reader feels the way they do.

If you're dealing with a inexperienced reader, I.e. not your agent, editor, or fellow writer, learn to decipher their message. Let's imagine your gum-chewing friend Lucy says, "I
would totally love it if the guy she likes was named Edward instead... and if he was a vampire."

Your initial thought is probably: Lucy, you suck.

But what Lucy said may actually have meant: "I didn't relate to the MC's love interest."

Voila. A note you can work with.

2.  Making the List


'Twas a very average and unspecial day, when I realized I was rewriting in a very hap hazardous, cluster f**k-y way. I'd start at the beginning and work my way through the notes as they came up. If your notes affect nothing but the page you're touching, this system works great. By the time you reach the end, pop the champagne, you're done. However, more often then not, one change sends a ripple effect through the manuscript. So, about 35, 000 K in you're not only dealing with the change coming up on the next pages, but you're simultaneously dealing with all the ripples from previous changes. The result isn't only a cluster f**k, but also something that overwhelms you and makes you feel like you'd rather stick something sharp in the eye than deal with it.

The day I wrote a precise list of changes, along with their ripples, and went through them note by note, my rewriting process from I hate my life to, Meh, this is not so bad. The simple action of numbering the notes, then crossing them off as they were implemented, made the process  ridiculously manageable. I, personally, don't even take them down in order; I just like number them so I can say: "Only number 6 and 9 left. Saucey."

This way, if you're having a particularly draining day (like the time I woke up to a teething baby, a dog with diarrhea, no toner, and a low-on-battery smoke detector going beep.....beep.....beep until I banged it loose with my Swifter) you might want to go with an easier note. If you wake up to the smell of coffee, yawning like a Disney princess, and birds tweeting on your window sill, it might be a good day to reel in that big sucker you've been dreading.

3. The Read


I didn't start doing this until my books came out on audio and I had a listen. Though Elizabeth Norton, who narrates the series, does an amazing job bringing the characters to life, all I could hear when listening were unnecessary words and repetitive sentences. So I started The Read.

No, I don't mean read your manuscript. I know you have, one million times. However, squinting at you computer's bright screen, while you read and fix, fix and read, isn't reading. Print your manuscript, once your think it's ready for the next set of eyes, then get cozy and read it, not like an author, but like a reader. I'll even read it out loud to myself, just to catch odd story
movements, certain adverbs, and other unnecessary words. This part of the process might be my favorite as it involves me, a couch, and a variety of snacks. It's my license to be lazy.





Xoxo,
Mia

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Past Year

I know, I know. You thought I'd died since I haven't posted since the turn of the century. Surprise, I'm alive...clinically, at least.

I've had a bit of a rough, but rewarding year. It all started after my last birthday, when I took a test, one I didn't have to study for, and was graded with two pink lines, a plus if you will.

The nine months (although that's a lie, it's actually ten) that followed were just as "magical" as people claimed them to be. It certainly felt magical spending every morning hugging my new best friend, the toilette bowl. Along with the other "exciting" things that happens to your body, it turned out I lost my ability to write. The computer screen made me nauseated, the thought of cohesive storytelling boggled my mind, and I spent a lot of time bawling when someone mentioned my series, Sapphire, or the color blue. To be fair, I also once cried because I'd put mismatched socks on and realized I'd have to take one back off. Hormones are a b**ch, people.

When I finally started feeling better, I still couldn't dig myself out of the writing block, especially with Sapphire #4. I was burned out on characters I've always loved to write, and a plot I was previously very excited about. As time passed and my brain remained at a standstill, I started panicking. Not only did I have readers waiting for the next installment, but my deadline was approaching.
Finally, I spoke to my agent, who is not only exceptional at her job, but a very lovely person who takes human problems to heart. Long story short, she got me an extension.
Sometime during the end of my third trimester, the token finally dropped and I was able to write again. Between peeing every 30 minutes, trying to roll my whale-like butt out of bed, and eating Gardettos with watermelon, I wrote until my fingers bled. Days before I hit my due date, I got project X sent off to the agent, and was finally making substantial headway with Sapphire #4. I even asked my nurse if I could bring my laptop to the hospital and write while I waited for my little one's debut. She laughed...and laughed...and laughed.
In retrospect, I get it.
Since I don't want to show you a photo of myself at that time, I'll show you a picture of an actual whale and let your imagination do the rest.

I went through an array of highs and lows in the following weeks. Greeting my little girl was at the very top of the best-ever list, while having post-delivery complications and nearly bleeding to death was probably one of the less favorable moments. I'd put the experience somewhere between all my teen years combined, and that time I accidentally drank expired milk.

Nonetheless, you'll be happy to hear (or possibly very sad, depending on how you feel about the series) that I'm back on track and that Sapphire #4, officially known as SACRIFICING SAPPHIRE is
in the middle of its pre-publication process as we speak. Yay!



Xoxo,
Mia