Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted Thu, 08/13/20

I've estimated that I'll cross the writing finish line for Bloodlust in about a month, or near the end of September. The largest binder clip no longer holds the document together, so now I'm using a rubber band to keep it intact. The book will be more than 400 pages long, so the editing process might take a few weeks as well.

By "editing," I mean reading through the entire book several times before I even send it to my publisher. This includes making a print copy so I can scrutinize it page by page and mark any changes. Then my editor at Club Lighthouse Publishing (Palvi Sharma) will go though the entire book and probably offer even more suggested edits.

To that end, I've pre-armed myself with the typical "tools"  that I use during the editing process: sticky notes, highlighters, pens and more pens (can never have enough of those!), and extra notebooks in case a major re-write is needed (hopefully not) or if new scenes need to be added.

My array of editing tools for "Bloodlust," book #2 in the Bloodline Trilogy by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

God give me strength, and wish me luck!

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Writing & Editing

Summer Doings

Posted Wed, 08/12/20

As the seemingly endless lockdown continues through the unbearable heat of summer, I've devised other ways to keep myself occupied on the rare occasion when I'm not writing.

I've caught-up on several of my old favorite television programs for free on Tubi, including Dark Shadows, Robin of Sherwood and The Dead Zone.

Watching TV for free on Tubi.

In addition, a family of ducks began visiting us more than a month ago. The mother is an albino with six ducklings, all of them ravenous at any given time. They love bread, of course, but we're trying to feed them healthier fare, such as kibble and dried corn. But they do love their bread! They usually come by at least three times daily, once in the morning, the late afternoon and early evening, coming out of the canal for their tasty snacks.

 

Reading is an ongoing activity for me, and always has been. My current stack contains The Tudors by G.J. Meyer, The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (#5 in the Outlander series), and Say Nothing (A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland) by Patrick Radden Keefe. I never leave a bookstore empty-handed, and I'm especially partial to collecting different bookmarks.

My current reads. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Jerry has a habit of rearranging my stuffed animals into a variety of positions, providing a display - usually the current even more bizarre than the last - every time I walk into the computer room. Once, I came upon the stuffed animals playing cards, another time they were surrounding an empty bottle of whisky. Other occurrences included the group watching the iPad, draped over the TV in the bedroom, perched on my computer before I start my day, wearing face masks, riding in the back seat of the truck, or staring at the camera wearing sunglasses. Click on images to view larger size in a new window.

Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.    Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.    Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.    Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.    Stuffed animals at play. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Jerry makes me laugh, each and every day.

And, depending on her mood, Hissy might keep me company during the day, sleeping atop Kiki's favorite blanket. I once found her on the couch with a bottle of whisky and a pack of cigarettes.

Hissy on the couch with a bottle of whisky and a pack of cigarettes. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Summer is my least favorite time of the year. I'm so longing for the coolness of autumn, and the changes of color during the season.

I should be finished with Bloodlust by then, too. ;)

Blog Tags: Photos & Other Images

Tags: Photos & Other Images

Camp Writing

Posted Sun, 07/26/20

Guess what I pack first for a camping trip? My "book bag." It includes pens, paper clips, sticky notes, spiral notebooks, printed material from the current book I'm writing (Bloodlust), research notes, my iPad and the current book I'm reading (not writing). We recently invested in a laptop, so it comes along for the ride as well.

My travelling "book bag." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

A few weeks ago, we went on another camping trip, this time spending five days at Wolf Creek Pass in the Uinta Mountains. We found the perfect spot to camp, just off the road and down a slight incline. It had its own fire pit and plenty of trees to provide shade. However, because of the season, we were inundated with dust and flies. Jerry put up a flytrap, which filled up rather quickly. We also had a stampede of sheep run through our camp, which I managed to get on film.

 

We usually spent mornings riding the ATVs through different trails, but I tried to reserve every afternoon for writing.

I'm making steady progress on Bloodlust, thankfully. I'm onto my second notebook of handwritten notes, the first being filled during the camping trip. The storyline is moving along fairly smoothly, just a few bumps here and there, but I'm happy with it for the most part. One of my aims is to make sure it transitions easily into the third and final book of the trilogy, Blood & Soul. So far, I'm succeeding.

"Bloodlust" is getting bigger, which is a good thing. Bottom photo was taken a few weeks ago, and the top photo was from last night. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

I'm still shooting for an autumn completion date for Bloodlust, with editing to begin right after that.

Wish me luck. ;)

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Writing & Editing

Researching Fiction

Posted Wed, 06/24/20

Odd as it might sound, a lot of research goes into writing certain fiction novels in order to give locations and events precise, non-fictional aspects. At least, that's how it works in my case. As I'm writing, I tend to mix in doses of reality here and there, which can often include genuine people, accurate street names in real cities (sometimes with calculated distances), and bona fide public establishments (local restaurants specifically, historical landmarks or shops).

For example, the two main characters in Bloodlust (Kate Grady and Kirk Lester), travel to Great Britain for an extended stay before returning to their native Boston. To be exact, they reside in Chester, England for a period of time. Since I've never been to Chester, nor do I have the wherewithal to hop on a plane to go and see it for myself, I rely on travel publications, friends who have been to the city, and internet resources, to give me a general feel for the place.

For story purposes, I've been focusing on the area known as The Rows in Chester. The characters live and work there, so I wanted to provide a sense of authenticity to the scenes involved. That's not to say there is a boatload of information about Chester in the storyline, yet there is just enough to give the place definition and to hopefully provide a genuine visual of the location. Little details that seem inconsequential, such as room ambience or style, are actually crafted on purpose, and well in advance.

Kate Grady and Kirk Lester, main characters in "Bloodlust," book #2 in the Bloodline Trilogy by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton.

The characters Kate and Kirk reside in a cottage on The Rows, staying with Kirk's great-aunt for a spell. I looked at photographs of cottages and businesses in the area, scrutinizing street maps so when Kate takes a casual walk, it seems as if the reader is actually there. At least, that is my aim when combining fiction writing with existing locations.

It strikes me as somewhat comical to present a fictional story while paying close attention to little doses of reality. If it's pure fiction, why not go all the way with the fantasy? However, I've always written with an eye to the tangible and don't know if I could do it any other way.

Research can often send me veering off course for a few days when I'm in the middle of writing. I recently purchased a UK travel guide, and also did hours of perusal about Chester online. This includes images. I'm always inspired by visuals, which give me the wherewithal to paint a picture in words of a particular setting, event or person.

As Bloodlust progresses, I've decided to assign various parts to the storyline as I go forward. The following is the current layout (which can be subject to change):

  • Part One: Kate's Epiphany

  • Part Two: Shoji

  • Part Three: Calm Before the Storm

  • Part Four: Monster Trail

  • Part Five: Reparation

The newly-included various parts are the result of Kate's evolving character, which she discovers as events unfold. In essence, she learns what she is capable of in a paranormal sense, and begins to use it to her advantage. One part of Bloodlust also clears-up some of the mystery surrounding the character Shoji (as evidenced in the same-named section), who was a semi-recurring presence in Bloodfrost, first book in the Bloodline Trilogy. Is Shoji a servant of good (heaven), or evil (hell)? I hope to shed some light on the matter in Bloodlust, without giving too much away. Besides, I've slated Shoji - along with his sidekick Hoshi - to make an appearance in book #3 of the trilogy, Blood & Soul, as well.

It's hard to predict when Bloodlust will be complete. I was originally shooting for late summer, but autumn-into-winter might be more realistic at this point. I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of fleshing out the characters as the story develops in my head. Symbolism is also weaving its way through the storyline, which I'm tracking carefully because it has to overflow into Blood & Soul, third book of the Bloodline Trilogy.

I want the transition to appear as seamless as possible, not always an easy thing to accomplish with a continuing narrative.

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Writing & Editing

Crypt Release

Posted Sun, 06/07/20

The Crypt Artist has been released by Club Lighthouse Publishing, with both the paperback and e-book editions now available from Amazon.

What can I say about The Crypt Artist? The book was a definite labor of love for me, without a doubt. There was something about it that drove me, day after day, until the story was complete. I was enchanted with all of the characters that I developed over time, my two favorites becoming Irish poet Malachy O'Leary and the indomitable Howard Russell Baker. The verbal exchanges between Malachy and Howard had me laughing out loud on several occasions, even in the quiet and solitary world of creation. The fact that Malachy and Howard are both ghosts made their well-aimed barbs all the more deliciously comical.

To learn more about the ghostly characters and their quirks found within The Crypt Artist storyline, visit the book's official website >

After reading The Crypt Artist for the first time earlier this year and during the editing process, my publisher sent me the following message:

I have to say I really loved this one. It's different from your other works and I wouldn't mind seeing more along these lines. Too bad this one couldn't have been set up for a sequel. I really fell in love with just about all of the characters . . . including the ghosts, even the curmudgeonly one, Howard.

I'm indebted to Terrie Lynn Balmer, CEO of Club Lighthouse Publishing, for a variety of reasons - such as her enduring friendship and humor, not to mention our mutual love of cats and animals in general - but also for giving me a chance in the first place. Nearly a decade ago, Terrie took on the eight novels that comprise the Collective Obsessions Saga (written by me as Deidre Dalton), and for that I will always be grateful.

I'm also very pleased with the front and back cover designs for The Crypt Artist. Many thanks to James Wason for his talent, and for his patience in working with me to finalize the creations.

Front and back covers for "The Crypt Artist." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

There are three other people I would like to thank, for without them The Crypt Artist would not be what it is today.

  • Tracy Jon Powell: For giving me the initial idea for The Crypt Artist. Some of his ideas brought forth my inspiration for the storyline. While I did all of the writing, he also deserves credit for gifting me with initial brainwaves in the first place.

  • Brendan Gallagher: Brendan gave me several quirks for the character Malachy O'Leary (including the drunken lamppost scene). Malachy was based on a real man, the late Mick Egan from Birr, County Offaly, Ireland. Brendan's humorous "ideas" came from incidents he witnessed involving Mick Egan in his hometown of Birr, making them all the more hilariously funny. His re-telling of them put me in stitches.

  • Jerry Dalton: And last, but not least, thanks to Jerry for guessing female cat ghosts are subtly more vicious than their male counterparts, and for giving me the idea for Malachy O'Leary's pet feline, Hissy, who happens to be real and very much alive. ;) Jerry also deserves credit for being patient with me during the writing process, as he had to live with me day in and day out, and to see firsthand the joys and frustrations of being an author.

I'm also very fortunate that most of the people around me are patient, understanding the writing process and giving me indulgences to do so at my own obsessive pace and style.

You know who you are, and thank you.

Irish Eyes: The Crypt Artist

Tags: The Crypt Artist

Living with an Author

Posted Thu, 06/04/20

Being a writer has its ups and downs. Whether you're an amateur or a published author, the process of writing a book can be excruciating, peppered with bits of relief and elation. There are times it all feels like an emotional rollercoaster. Those who are near and dear to us can also feel the impact of the long process on a daily basis, which can also often prove the mettle of their character.

I've been writing for many years, long before I was even out of my teens. Throughout my life, every relationship and marriage has suffered accordingly. Be that as it may, I've never been able to relinquish my love of writing, no matter how much anger or resentment it may cause in those around me. To stop writing to please someone else is unthinkable to me, and in the end, proves to me the person involved could care less about my happiness and is only concerned with their own.

Granted, writing is not like a nine-to-five job where work stops at the end of the day. Writing goes on at all hours and on all days, sometimes for months on end without respite. Then again, there are those times the creative juices stop for a stretch, leaving an author with a sense of loss and frustration. In other words, writing is a never-ending process of imagination, creation, joy and despair, research, rewriting and editing, all with no set time frame. And when one project is complete, at least in my case, it's often right into the next one.

Seven years ago, my blog post Peripherals enumerated the life of an author, and it still rings true today.

As a writer, one thing you will likely discover in quick fashion is the lack of moral support from various people around you. Positive reinforcement is almost a non-entity, even from those closest to you.

A writer's friends or family typically fall into two categories: dismissive or encouraging. Unfortunately, more than one of my former husbands fell into the first peripheral category. Instead of being swayed by naysayers, I tend to dig-in deeper. One has to cut away the negative people and situations in order to keep on. To that end, I've frequently become the "dismisser" rather than the one being dismissed.

Writing is a very solitary business, so it's a good idea to realize it early on and learn to cope with all that it entails.

I'm very lucky now, at this stage of  my life. My significant other gives me room to write and rarely complains. He does not protest when I take along my spiral notebooks so I can write when the mood strikes during our camping trips. He knows full well when I'm in writing mode and my mind wanders, and he remains patient, sometimes teasing me about it. "When you get that look in your eye, I know better than to start a lucid conversation with you." He even offers suggestions that have frequently found their way into my books.

One of my tendencies is to take care of mundane things (laundry, cooking, dishes, and other domestic chores) early in the day, if I can. I realize life happens and interruptions are inevitable. There is no way around it sometimes. That being said, the one thing that powers me through the slog is the knowledge that once I'm finished, I can settle back into writing again.

I never lose sight of what drives me in the first place.

Irish Eyes: Writing

Tags: Writing & Editing

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