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Six Months

I knew it had been a bit since my last post, but I didn’t realize my last one was six months ago. It’s rather exhausting just to think about what all has happened in those six months. I don’t really have any deep thoughts or words of wisdom to offer. Most of 2020 was survival mode for many of us, myself included. I’m not here to get into the weeds on that and spill my guts of what I think about this topic or that topic that made 2020 what is was.

I, like others, was hopeful 2021 would bring a better since of hope. I’m not sure it has. I’m not sure it hasn’t.

Some friends asked if I would write a novel about a pandemic to which I responded: NO!

I had no desire to write a story about such a thing. The sting of 2020 is still fresh for me. Writing about a pandemic is not something I want to do/re-live. Hard pass on that one.

BUT … The third book in the Echoes Trilogy, well that’s a different matter. I can tell you this was the most difficult book I’ve written to date. I was way out of my comfort zone and had to do a lot of research to write what I thought would be good naval battle scenes and such. Last year threw some added delays in the writing process overall. But apparently last year was good for some writers because editors are booked up right now. Awesome for them!

I don’t know when Echoes #3 will release yet. October was a goal, but I knew it would be a stretch to hit that mark. The novel just finished up with the copyeditor and is in the work queue for my proofing editor. So the book might release Nov or Dec. Not sure yet. Cover art is in the very early stages of development. This task has its own snag … I don’t have a title yet. Oops. That’s kind of a big thing for a novel and cover art. 🙂

So until that all gets sorted out, I’ll continue to be run ragged by a puppy and happily shoveling snow in the frozen north. I’ll also try to get back to my monthly-ish posts instead of once every six months. As you’ve probably noticed from prior posts, time tends to zip right by on me, so no promises!

 

 

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Three Months in a Flash

Apparently three months have passed since my last post. I truly did’t know that had happened and where those three months went, but as I look back over my calendar, I can start to see where/how things turned into a blur.

April:

Plague. Quarantine. (Yes, I wear a mask in public). Work. Interior formatting finished for Echoes of Darkness. Started setting up Echoes of Darkness on IngramSpark. Learned the hard way the difference between Library of Congress Control Number and US Copyright (I needed an LCCN and somehow landed on the copyright site and applied for one of those instead. Got the LCCN too once the error was found. Now I know!)

May:

Plague, masks, and quarantine continued. Work. Murder hornets (I think these guys were May. Might have been April. Don’t know. Don’t care. Plot hole – they disappeared from the 2020 dystopian sci fi apocalyptic shit show (for now)). Finalized cover art for Echoes of Darkness. Finalized set up for IngramSpark to order and receive ARCs. YAY!

May continued: Started packing to move out of my Augusta apartment to go nomadic again. Some writing here and there.

June:

Plague and quarantine continues (no shocker there). Still wearing a mask in public. Work. I got a haircut (much needed since I was turning into a woolly mammoth and happily wore a mask to get it done)! Finished packing up my apartment and threw everything except bare bones into storage again. Met a neighbor my last couple of days in Augusta and made a new long-term friend and soccer fan buddy. I even told him I was fairly miffed that we just met and I was leaving. He is from Ghana and is a wonderful young man! We’ll certainly cross paths again. He said he and his roomies called me The Ghost Neighbor since they never knew if I really lived there or not in the unit next to them. It was both hilarious and true. I was rarely there.

June continued:

Black Lives Matter exploded onto the scene globally and I cannot begin to tell you how happy this makes me to see the world uniting though the reasons and circumstances are so tragic and have been tragic for so long. I’m glad some police reforms are happening finally. I have friends that are police officers. I can tell you that they would NOT be my friends if they were shit heads like the ones in the news killing people. (No, I’m not an officer. Never have been. Never will be. No, I don’t know what their jobs are like. But I can tell you this: I worked as an ICU and ED nurse for ten years. Us having to restrain patients at times for our and their safety was common. I can tell you that I and my coworkers NEVER placed a choke hold on a patient. We NEVER restrained them to the point of unconsciousness or death. If you think working in the hospital means it is a safe place to work, do give it a try and have that thought process crushed into oblivion. Does hospital work equate to police work? No. But there are clearly right and wrong ways to restrain someone).

Bangor Maine Police Department. Want to see how a PD operates within their community to foster a relationship with that community that makes them not just loved by the locals but loved world wide? Check them out and their fb page. Bangor, ME has around 33K residents. The Bangor PD fb page has 310+K followers. Yes, you read those numbers right. This is me last fall at the PD with the Duck of Justice (DoJ). Yes, they have a duck. It’s very popular.

If you think that my support of BLM means I hate the police, well, you don’t know me at all and you are wrong. Save the whales doesn’t mean fuck all the other fish. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean everyone else can piss off. It just doesn’t. If you’re pissed by my support of BLM, it is your right to feel however you want. And please feel free to unsubscribe/unfollow/un-whatever for us to part ways if you want. I’m okay with that.

June continued (holy crap June has been busy!):

ARCs started shipping out, and I have more to get in the mail soon. All online retail outlets have Echoes of Darkness ebook and print ready for pre-order. YAY!

I got a puppy.

This is Rowdy. He is the cutest, snuggliest Boxer pup you’d ever want to meet … until he is tired and needs a nap. Then he turns into a land shark/piranha-needle teethed-demon dog from hell. I’ve had him for two weeks. I’m sleep deprived. He is not. Writing time has taken a sharp down-turn in volume. Sigh.

July:

The plague will continue. I will continue to wear a mask in public. I’ll continue to work the IT job and write when I can. I’ll move again. Not sure when, but it’ll happen at some point. I’m currently staying with friends in MA and will shift to a room rental/house share with another friend in MA. I’m still based out of Leeds, ME and a ME resident, but I’m once again operating in nomadic mode and some of my stuff will be housed in MA. My Augusta apartment was a glorified storage unit where I sometimes slept. The place in MA will be a similar set up until I sort out my longer term living situation and buy/build a home in Maine. So if (likely WHEN) I fall off the grid again for a bit, you’ll know why. 🙂

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Boredom is Not Allowed

I cannot claim to never be bored, but it certainly has not been an issue lately even with self-quarantine practices in place. I’m doing my part to stay home, and I’m fortunate to still be employed and able to work remotely. I’ve done remote work before, so I’m used to the routine around that process.

My biggest recommendation to people new to trying to adjust to remote work is to still wake at the same time as you would on a regular work day and get dressed. Don’t sleep in. Don’t work in your pajamas. This helps me mentally get in work mode on many different levels.

And I can’t get bored when I have plenty of book-ish things to do when I’m off work. Boredom is simply not an option. The third novel in the trilogy isn’t finished yet for a first draft. I also need to wrap up some research for that novel to enhance the world-building I’m creating for Dani and her crew for the final showdown with the Wardens.

For the first two novels, I have waded into areas of unfamiliarity that required research so I could make things more believable within the larger context of the fictional world I created. This third book has been the biggest challenge and the toughest to write from a research perspective. It’s worth it though.

World-building is a massive undertaking for any writer. Even after all the development is done for the story, the reader only gets about 10% of it. That’s not to say the reader is getting ripped off. Any more than that 10% would bog the story down. But it’s the writer’s job to make sure that 10% that the reader sees is rich, believable, and appropriate for the story. It. Is. Not. Easy.

So while I get back to my regular weekend routine of writing, enjoy the cover of the second book in the trilogy, Echoes of Darkness, and …

Be kind. Stay well. Stay home.

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Fly By

And just like that two months have flown by since my last post. It happens like that when you’re stupid busy. So now with a moment to breathe (briefly), here’s a quickie version of happenings.

Feb 8 was the talk and signing at the Bangor Public Library in Bangor, Maine. The icy weather the night before hindered travel a bit, but brave folks still turned out.

It was a load of fun, and everyone had a good time.

Work on the second book in the Echoes Trilogy is charging forward. My final draft was completed early-ish December. The editor took his magic red pen to it (late December). I finished my post-editor updates and re-read with my own red pen (January into February). And it goes next to the proofreader early March while I continue to chase down leads (started that process in January) to hire a cover artist.

In between the short lulls of activity on the second book, I’m back to chipping away at book three. If it sounds like madness, yes, it most definitely is. But this is where I thrive by having multiple balls being juggled at once. It’s fun in a rather twisted way–I do realize that fact, but I’ll take crazy busy over bored any day.

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About the Books

Q&A with Alexis Marie Chute

Alexis Marie Chute, Author of Expecting Sunshine (non-fiction) and The 8th Island Trilogy (fiction)

Alexis Marie Chute is a SparkPress sister that releases her third book in her series The 8th Island Trilogy in 2020. Below are a few questions and answers to get to know the author behind the books.

What was your greatest challenge in writing your books?

My greatest challenge in writing any book is getting my bum in the chair, overcoming that procrastination. Once I’ve gotten over the initial hump, and am in the flow, I’m good to go—until, that is, the end. Endings are just as challenging as beginnings. Then the next struggle is when to stop editing. I am a relentless, picky, and perfectionist kind of editor. There comes a point, however, when I need to hold back and declare a book, “FINISHED!!”

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I learned that books are hard to make and yet tremendously rewarding and fulfilling. Creating books, for me, is akin to getting tattoos. I am terrified of needles, and thus do not have a tattoo of my own (one day!!), but my friends who get tattoos always tell me it’s addictive. You can never only get one! That’s how I feel about writing books. I’m addicted!

What inspired your stories?

My memoir, Expecting Sunshine, arose out of the anxiety and introspection of my own life. I wanted to survive my pregnancy after loss and not go crazy in the process. Coming out of it on the other side, sane and with a living baby gave me hope that perhaps I had done something right. I wanted to share that hope with others who struggle with loss and growing their family in the midst of the storm of grief.

My 8th Island Trilogy was inspired by the belief that we go to extreme lengths to protect those we love. The three unlikely heroes learn that their past selves do not define their present bravery. They rally against insurmountable odds and discover that they possess strength they never imagined. In many ways, the trilogy is a fictionalized look at the resiliency of the human spirit. That is a topic I am obsessed with and optimistic about!

The order of the trilogy is:

Above the Star

Below the Moon

Inside the Sun

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story has characters that are simultaneously loveable and deplorable. The plot is unexpected and varied. There is a lot at stake, and the risks and rewards are always in flux. I can always tell a story is good when it keeps me up at night, lingers long after the last page, and I wish I had thought it up!

What is the one book no writer should be without?

A dictionary and thesaurus. Though I use these tools online now, I am constantly referring to them while writing my books.

Is there a message/theme in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

The resiliency of the human spirit is what percolates up in most of my work. It’s the dogged determinedness that I see in so many people, no matter the hardships they face. They inspire me, and because of them, I want my work to inspire others.

All images provided by and property of Alexis Marie Chute