Monday, November 4, 2013

New Website

Hello loyal followers (I seriously need punctuation that represents tongue-in-cheek sarcasm),

This blog is now located at!

I will leave all of the content on this page, but new posts will ONLY be made at the new site.

I'm gonna miss this place.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

On Finishing! The Ten Stages of Finishing and Some Stats.

Yesterday, somewhere in the yawning abyss of time between 4:30 and 5:30, I finished the "first" draft of my mystery novel, They Called Her La Llorona.

This is the third or fourth novel draft that I've finished in my lifetime (not really counting other iterations of this particular book), and I've come to realize that, for me at least, finishing a draft is a very mixed experience. Here is my list of the ten stages of finishing, in no particular order.

1. Disbelief. This can't really be the end, can it? *scroll through entire document, looking for a reason to keep writing*

2.Relief. I actually finished, dammit. I beat the odds and this won't be another half-written tale in the pile of shame under my bed.

3.  Euphoria. I AM WRITER! HEAR ME ROAR!

4. Doubt. There is so much left to do, should I even be celebrating this minor milestone?


6. Lack of Direction. My purpose, my raison d'etre has been THIS PROJECT for the past however many months and or years. Now what?

7. A Million Possibilities. Now, one of those other projects tumbling around on my bigger-on-the-inside noggin can come out to play. Which one to choose?

8. Hope. Because, despite the amount of revision I KNOW I will soon be doing, some of my words are actually pretty dern good, if I may say so myself.

9. Overwhelmed. There are a million more things to do now, like the writing of query letters and synopses and dedications...



Excuse me while I stuff all of these reactions back into my pocket and give them a stern talking-to.

Okay, Righty-O then.

THEY CALLED HER LA LLORONA is currently 72,200 words long, and will probably reach 80,000 by the end of the revision process. Probably more exciting than that, to me, is the fact that I wrote this entire draft in A LITTLE OVER THREE MONTHS.

I don't think I've ever written a faster draft without a co-writer.

I'm gonna go dance around my house, now. THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zombies and "Inaction": A Couple of Posts**

Sometime in the fairly recent past (time is a jumble to me because of the SHEER MADNESS that was graduate school), I wrote a couple of blog posts for my writing pal, A.L. Brown. They are linked below. Click them. Read them. Love them. Send me virtual lemon bars as a reward. Call off the demon assassins you summoned to attack me for not posting frequently enough. Or ignore them.


See it I care. (I *DO* care! Don't abandon me!)

On That New, Undead Fad: Zombies, a brief-ish post that tries to answer the age old question: why in the name of all that is good would anyone write about such rotten people (pun very much intended)? Also, I love zombie movies, but when I state in this post that "I really like... Survival of the Dead," the fairly recent George Romero flick, what I really mean is *coughitsuckedcough* I found the premise slightly intriguing.

When the Action Fades: What We Write About When "Nothing" Is Happening. The title is pretty much self explanatory (almost wrote examinatory, which would change the entire arc of that post). I think it's chock full of my own slightly demented brand of dry humor, and not at all as boring as the title might make it sound. But don't take my word for it [cue Reading Rainbow montage].

**This post goes well with ice-cream. Or wine. I suggest wine. Merlot, to be exact. Mmmm. Merlot.

Tricksy Hobbitses: Tricks, Treats, and the Craft of Writing

When you're a writer, a real writer who doesn't just have delusions of grandeur but actually acts on those delusions, you are all about one thing: writing to completion. Well, you're actually about lots of things, like reading and rainy days and coffee and, oh yeah, that crazy little thing called revision. (You though I was going to say "love," didn't you? Well, I've got news for you: most writers are sociopaths.* They are really good at mimicking emotion but it's all fake. Fake, I tell you! Now, don't tell my husband I said that. He already looks at me sideways a little bit too much).

But, to get back to the very nice focus I had before my little aside, writers have one important task to accomplish before they can do anything else (by which I mean bask in the glory of publication and fame). One word looms large in the writer's vocabulary, and that word is finish.

Except it's usually plastered is letters six foot tall in every nook and cranny of your squirrely little mind. Because you'd rather be in facebook. Or twitter. Or tumblr. Any of those blackholes of awesome procrastination.


Yeah, I'm a big believer in visuals. Mostly because we live in a very visual society, not because I'm much of a visual person. When I "watch" TV, I'm usually actually listening to the show and doing something else, glancing at the screen every once in a while when it sounds like something interesting is happening. But I am a writer, therefore I am a strange individual.

While we're on that subject, let me just tell you a secret. It is hard to finish things. It is hard to finish a draft; it would be easier to pull out all of my hair and light it on fire. In front of toddlers. And then pay for their therapy for the rest of their lives, even though I would have to get twenty-five more jobs to do that.

Why? Because the voices in my head want to be creative and free-spirits and all of that hippy-dippy, happy happy joy joy crap. Which means that I end up spending hours on pinterest looking at pictures of other people's tattoos, hours reading other people's books and other people's writing tips, hours scribbling notes to myself about my stories instead of actually writing, and etc.
Now, I don't buy into the whole muse thing, mostly because my Muse is almost always on vacation (I think she's in Hawaii this year. You might remember her trip to Greece, if you are one of my two longterm readers). If I relied on Muse, I'd never get anything done. Ever. Because when she's around she's really needy. She wants Ben and Jerry's (Coffee Heath Crunch is her favorite) and Doctor Who episodes and online shopping sprees.

My Muse is expensive.

So, in lieu of throws of creativity and artistic passion, I trick myself. And then I growl at myself like Gollum, cursing my tricksiness and my treachery and the loss of my precious...

But I digress. I trick myself into finishing in a very specific way: I maintain the illusion of freedom. I don't keep a set work station. I have two "formal" writing spots in my house and, most of the time, I end up working somewhere else. Like at my kitchen table so that I am close to the coffee. Or the living room floor, using the coffee table as a makeshift desk. Or the front porch in late afternoon, when there is shade and the roaster-oven that is the New Mexico summer is beginning to cool and I can watch the sun set and listen to the birds chirp in terror as they try to evade the ridiculous number of stray cats that seem to live in my neighborhood. Seriously. There are at least thirty.

I trick myself into thinking that I am free and unfettered by simply taking advantage of portable means of writing (it doesn't have to be a laptop, a notebook will do in a pinch) and, for some reason, even though I know I am tricking myself, it seems to work.

Tricksy hobbitses. Filthy hobbitses. My precious. My precious draft. It's finished.

*When I say most writers are sociopaths, I mean it because it is statistically 100% true.** And I'm good at math.***

**Writers have a tendency to lie. Especially this writer. It comes of stringing words together with all the intensity of an Obsessive Compulsive on Ritalin. 

***My lawyer (who may not actually exist) insists that I mention that I am not, in actuality, all that good at math. I shudder at the sight of numbers, especially when they come with this weird sign: %

Friday, June 7, 2013

My-Novel-Writing-Month (or My-No-Wri-Mo)

Hello dear readers, it is I, The Crazy Writer, or, you know, Courtney.

I'm writing today because I've made it my goal to finish my mystery novel BY THE END OF JUNE. *Cue lighting and thunder as if by celestial decree*

No, seriously, it's thunderstorm season in New Mexico and I am not being dramatic. Those words have been heard and acknowledged by the gods.


Anyway, here's the story (and the details):

About, eh, five years ago, when I was still a lowly undergraduate at my local university, it occurred to me that I should write a novel, and that I should set that novel in my lovely home state. Why, you ask? Because I stumbled onto, the former web HQ for the Tony Hillerman Prize (which can now be found here:

Since that fateful day, I have worked through not one, not two, but THREE iterations of the novel. Refining characters, throwing out crazy/newbie-mystery-writer-plots as I went. I also finished an undergraduate and a graduate degree during this time period, which in part accounts for the ridiculous amount of time I have spent just trying to find my story. I mean, you'd think after five years I would at least have a polished draft and a half-a-dozen rejections letters from literary agents. But no, I've got diddly squat (by which I mean, 10,150 words as of this afternoon).

And that is okay, because mystery is a hard genre to write (for all of the scoffing people do that it is "formulaic," it takes planning, anal attention to detail, an excellent sense of realism, and an obscene amount of research to produce a well crafted mystery novel). I view this time as my apprenticeship, which I hope does not smack of hubris, because I won't claim I'm done learning. Ever.

But, at this point, I  have a plot that not only works but works well. I know my characters and I know which ones have the most to lose, what motivates them, and what they need to go through as the plot progresses. I have finally figured this all out *crosses fingers* and I think it is time to get this baby written and polished and sent into the world.

I started this month with a mere 3365 words on this draft. In the past two days, I have more than tripled that. My goal is to write a MINIMUM of 15,000 words a week. I will update here and/or on Twitter (@cannfloyd) as I progress.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One-liners...The Writer's Pick Up Line and More

After two weeks of the post-graduation (that's right, I'm a Master now) watching of stupid TV shows (read: decompression), I've finally been feeling up to writing again. Specifically, I feel like working on my southwestern mystery, which is tentatively titled They Called Her La Llorona.

What does this mean? I've been rethinking my mystery plot and tweaking it to be amazing--no questions asked. It also means that I've been a doing bunch of  craft/plot related research as well. And this flurry of activity has reminded me of something I once knew but had forgotten (or, you know, arrogantly disregarded):

It helps to start your plotting with a one-liner (or a tagline, if you're in showbiz).

If you don't believe me, just keep reading. Thinking about a one-liner has forced me to rethink the beginning of my novel: the inciting incident. Turns out, I started my story in the wrong place. It also made me rethink POV. I'd been writing a third-person POV, which would have been okay if I were writing a thriller (which this could be, admittedly, if I weren't so stubborn in my vision) but is not necessarily the best choice in a more hard-boiled, P.I. style novel.

That said, I'm way too close to the problem to unbiasedly decide which one-liner is the most intriguing and  works best for my story. That's where you come in. I'm listing the rough one-liners I've come up with so far. I'd love it if you, my loyal audience, would chime in with your opinion:

  1. Confronted with a string of bizarre murders made to look like drownings, recently retired Marshal, Jesse Clacher, must track down a killer and set things right with his wife and daughter--before more women die. 
  2. When a barefoot Hispanic woman in a tattered, white dress stumbles into town wailing about the death of her children, retired Marshal Jesse Clacher is forced to seek the help of his estranged daughter in order solve the case and save the woman.
  3. When La Llorona crashes his retirement party wailing about the deaths of two young girls, Jesse Clacher sees it as an opportunity to start his P.I. business--and make peace with his estranged daughter.
 Personally, I like #2 the best, with #1 coming in a close second. But I think that #3 is interesting because of its unexpectedness (which may or may not be good, considering that I'm aiming for more of a hard-boiled feel and less of a comedic style like a cozy or a caper).

Which do you like best and why?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Writing About Trolls, or Troll-Vial Pursuit

I recently lost two week long word wars to my writer pal, A.L. Brown. But she was exceedingly gracious and allowed me to write a couple of blog posts related to one of my current WIPS: The Monster in My Pocket.

Below, you can read excerpt from the novel, from the point of view of my favorite troll, Brug. You can read the related blog post here. Look forward to another excerpt and another linked blog post, soon.

Chapter One
     Deep in the mountain-spotted wilderness, sometimes the scent of wild oregano beckons like a siren across hills and fields where antelope romp freely.
     It's a haunting scent to some, the ghost of something that has no real right to exist: civilization, humanity. But it means more--it means that the smeller has stumbled into a place truly remote, surrounded by evergreens and elderly, weather-beaten quaking aspens.
     And though the filthy city has trammeled its way into our realm, soiling it with warehouses and cities, overtaking our mines and depleting our vast wealth, our realm in this place remains.
     This is the realm of the night-dance, where the wild things wait to snare half-suspecting victims or haggle between themselves for the right to swindle and befuddle, to loot and rampage.
     Tonight it is my night.