Writing in the Time of COVID

On the Big Table

I don’t get extra time to write in. I save maybe 20 minutes of commute per day, but I’m desperate to get up and stretch after a 9 hour shift telecommuting. I work for local government, and the work I do keeps the money for vital services flowing. I’m glad I can do this– it feels like I’m helping the community get through this and having something to do keeps my anxiety under control.

But I am anxious. I have severe asthma, as does my husband. Some other conditions that bump our risk, too, but since inability to breathe is the main killer with this disease, that’s where my mind goes. This isn’t the first time my health has forced me to be bound up indoors for over a month, but it is the first time I felt so endangered. A bad asthma run usually just leaves me feeling half-dead… which is part of how write the inside view of a vampire’s physical existence as being uncomfortable.

Beyond time management and distraction, editing my most recent manuscript, Forever in Deep, pushed me to reveal something sooner than I’d planned about Nicola Durante’s family. The 1918 flu pandemic and aftermath had not been something I expected to be so relevant to today when I was working on his background.

Allan’s been unable to work from home, but he is working hard. Currently, he’s working on the cover for Forever in Deep. (The painting above wasn’t done by him, but me. I thought it just seemed seasonal, and it has a book in it.) And he’s recording Forever Haunted. 

I hope you are all staying well and safe. This is one strange virus and we still don’t know the long term effects on the survivors. Flattening the curve is buying society time to deal with it.

Happy Easter if you celebrate it. Try and enjoy the spring whatever what you can, even if it’s just opening some windows and hearing the birds sing.

Hello, world…

No, I’m not coming out as a computer simulation of a writer. I just want to directly and specifically welcome people to comment or email me, with their questions, comments, etc.

I know I was very shy about writing to writers I liked. Many writers have day jobs. The ones that write for a living have deadlines, contracts, pitches to make, queries to send, and so on. I worried that asking them to take time to respond to one person was impertinent and intrusive.

Now, I’m on the other end of the pen, as it were, and I can tell you– it can feel kind of lonely! When you’re on stage before an audience, you get continuous real time feedback from multitudes. When you paint, you do art shows and get to peek at people’s reactions as they look at your work. Sometimes they come over and tell you what spoke to them, or what well-known artist’s style you’re reminding them of. But there’s a time delay with writing, almost always. I have Allan read my stuff in front of me, often, because I want to gauge his reactions. When I sent out my main draft to my beta readers, I was lucky enough to have a couple who were moved to write to me in the middle of reading it. That was quite helpful– sure, I loved my book, but it needed to be good to other people.

I’ve fixed a typo a reader spotted that slipped by proofreading, and I suspect my Spanish and Russian dialogue has flaws. If you want to give me a correction, I am likely to find it helpful.

All this is a long way of saying, I really do value my readers and welcome feedback. I’d even be glad to know who is reading my blog, even if you haven’t gone for the book. Some people just like to see how writers think and plan. Where are you from, and how is life treating you?

What you write, vs. what you mean to write…

I didn’t write a horror book. At least, I didn’t think I did. I wrote a detective novel… with elements of supernatural danger.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RSGKTDF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

But… while there was some scary scenes, the overall tone, I felt, was too optimistic to be horror. It was an adventure tale. A friend said she couldn’t read scary tales when I was writing it. At first I told her she’d need to skip a chapter and I’d give her a synopsis. Maybe two. Then she said Harry Dresden books were too scary for her. I told her to forget it. And I didn’t hold back when it came to the creep factor if I had a good idea to build the tension somewhere.

But it was not a horror story. I’d written horror before, short stories. Those were grim. Forever’s Too Long wasn’t grim. It was full of friendship and love, music and kindness. Levity was sprinkled throughout.

A coworker refused to read it on the grounds of she didn’t read scary stuff.

I rethought how I’d been looking at it. It was an adventure, yes, and a tale of friendship and love, but couldn’t you say the same about Dracula, which authentically was about Johnathan struggling to get to Mina, Mina resisting the call of the vampires, and friends coming together to fight the undead monster who had killed an innocent among them. You couldn’t call one of the classics of horror not horror just because it had a happy ending. And the creepy stuff was creepy enough I couldn’t push it on someone who couldn’t stand anything mildly scary.

So, I sent a copy to a friend who reviews horror. I’ll see whether she thinks it’s horror or not.

***

When Allan got the idea for The Vampyre Blogs: Coming Home, he wanted to write the story of a man who was changed by an encounter with a creature from a parallel Earth. In the Para-Earth series, infinite, or nearly so,  timelines exist and in some Earth exists, but evolution happened differently. In this case a kind of intelligent slime-mold formed a symbiotic relationship with the man blown into it’s universe. And although he gets home, he finds that as a result of the bonding he is to all intent a living vampire, with a very prolonged life. Yet over a century later, he must deal with a monster from that same universe which found its way into his world. I’m a co-author on that series, because, although Allan does the majority of the actual writing, I’ve done such extensive work with him on the science aspects, creature development, and character interactions, he sees me as co-creator.

Allan wanted to introduce him to the audience through the eyes of two teen girls, one who had known him since her earliest days, and another meeting him for the first time. A lot of the story revolves around them.

Over a year after it was released, a friend pointed out to him that he’d written a young adult novel. He re-read it and yes… the teens were really the ones with the most important story arcs, as they underwent more personal growth in that frame.

Okay, so he’d written a young adult novel and it was obvious once someone else said it.