Category Archives: My Work

The Sarcastic Muse

DSCF9942 - with flamesOver this past week,  Amanda Headlee, K.S. Blacketer, Michelle Mueller and I have launched a new blog titled The Sarcastic Muse.  Why that title?  Because each of us feels and appreciates the sarcasm our writing life offers.  Jen Bradlee and Robyn LaRue will also be writing for the site.  We will soon be joined by another writer as well.

Our voices and styles are wildly different.  Jen writes romantic erotica – hot stuff!  K.S. writes romance and is published at Romantic Shorts.  She rates fiction kisses by whether they give her butterflies.  Amanda writes horror and deep suspense and has a short story appearing in an anthology later this year.  I don’t read her stuff in the dark.  Michelle writes whatever comes (often fantasy) and is poetic.  Her prose is lyrical and rhythmic like good poetry and music. Robyn writes adult contemporary, suspense, chick lit, and other genres.

The Sarcastic Muse will also feature a weekly video on the topics of writing and creativity culled from sources such as The Big Think, TED Talks, publisher and bookstore websites, and individual authors who share their knowledge with us in video format.

The bulk of my writing about writing will appear there, while I will continue here about my individual projects and personal journey.

Hannah Scott:  @thewritinghabit

K.S. Blacketer: @KirBlacketer

Amanda Headlee: @amandaheadlee

The Sarcastic Muse: @sarcastic_muse


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First Queries Out

I did it!  I sent my first batch of five queries yesterday.

And had my first rejection today.

I expected it, but my reaction still surprised me.  It’s a milder version of how you feel when you finish a novel: part letdown, part loss, part guilt, part relief.  It didn’t last long, though.  I’ve started a new novel to keep busy.

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Edge of Dawn Rough Draft

7888171192_b2cf1d68c6_zThe rough draft for my latest novel, Edge of Dawn, is complete at 81,000 words.  I’ll take the weekend off and start the continuity check on Monday.

This is the first novel I’ve written in entirely chronological order.  I really enjoyed that.  I expect I’ll find dull and boring passages as a result, but it sure comes out more cohesive that way.  I don’t want to get used to it.   Edge of Dawn is my sixth novel*, the third in terms of possibility for publishing, and the only one to come out in chronological order.  Recompense (Gold Hill) came out in scenes, disordered, unattached, unrelated, and all over the continuum of the story.  It was the worst of the six in that respect.

I like that each one is a different kind of birth.  I learn a lot each time I disgorge a rough draft.  They are unlike my short stories, which are born mostly intact.  Some novels come in pieces and have to be assembled.  Some come out essentially backward.  Some give me the first 20,000 and the last 20,000 words and I have to create the middle 40k.  If variety is the spice of life, I am very spicy!

I’m happy with the premise.  My MC is in witness protection and terrified to get close to anyone because the villain is appealing his conviction and death sentence.  The secondary character doesn’t want to let her get away.

I’m happy with how these two first connect in their mutual love for their dogs and an appreciation of each other’s art.

I like the by-play and interaction between his roommate and her U.S.Marshall.

I like the crisis scenes and the ending scenes.

I like the bits of comic relief.

I like it all now. I might change my mind on Monday when I dig back into it.  After continuity and making a list of the major issues, Edge of Dawn will rest for a while.  I learned that trick with Recompense.  Revision is so much easier once I’m no longer “in” the novel with the characters.


**  The first three will never see the light of day.  Excellent “practice” pieces, but they were just that:  practice.  I learned so much from each one, though!

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New Novel


So, as soon as the beta readers for Recompense acknowledged arrival, I started another novel.  This one has the tentative title of Edge of Dawn.  It comes from a comment the MC makes “I feel as if I live on the edge of dawn.  If I can just hang on a few more minutes, light will arrive.”

So far so good.  My word count is typical for first drafts, hovering around 3,000 per day.  The MC is behaving enough to satisfy the premise, but leading me around enough to make her more interesting.  I love her dog, Stella, a sleek, small-boned Doberman.

I think it was Hemingway who said he could only write about the U.S. in Paris, and Paris while in Spain and Spain while in the U.S. (I might have them out of order).  His point is that we internalize and remember these places best when we are no longer in them.  Such is the same for me.  My  seven years in Tennessee have become a backdrop for Edge of Dawn.  Carrie is driving streets I drove, shopping at stores I frequented, and eating in restaurants I loved or wish I’d gotten to try.  That part of the story has been fun.

Her circumstances are less fun to write.  The “villain” is offstage, so to speak, and in the past, so his character and villainy need to be related through memory, dialog, and the odd dream.   Interesting process.


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Title Changes

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABeta notes are trickling in on Gold Hill along with a suggested title change.  I was reminded that Gold Hill is what we called it for lack of a better title during revisions two through five.

My writer’s group talked it over, considered the short list of suggestions, and acknowledged that there really isn’t much else out there like this story right now.  It’s set in an odd time for YA (though a big year for the U.S.), in an out of the way place, and is layered enough that most titles only describe part of the story:  the thing in the cave, Lillian’s character arc, the history of the area, or how the thing in the cave came to be there.

We settled on Recompense, a word that most closely covers all the elements of the story and speaks, at least in some small way, to the events in our country in 1952.

I still call it Gold Hill in my mind and suspect I might for a long time to come.  I still feel close to Lillian, Cassandra, Nate, and Jimmy.  I still identify with each of them in one way or another.  I hope one day they will fly free so others might get to know them as well.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The urge to keep picking at it, improving it, changing words here and there is still present, but muted now.  Perhaps, after incorporating beta reader suggestions,  it is time to let Recompense be done.

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Revising a Novel

I dusted off Gold Hill and read it over.  The time it rested was sorely needed as the scene order changes I had made during revision five needed to be undone in several spots .  After nearly a month, I am pleased with the way Gold Hill has shaped up.  I submit to beta readers in a few days and hope for the best.  Here’s a little snippet:

4691923293_581f4350f0_b            We reached the end of the trail after a grueling 90 minute hike.  The blonde and I were both winded.  Of course, the boys were in better shape.  Perhaps I should join the swim team or play volleyball.  Or hike more.  Or something.  This huffing was embarrassing.  My hair was plastered to my sweaty skull and my shins, arms, and hands were covered in scrapes.  We turned off the trail toward the cave while I worked to master my breathing.  Showing weakness was not my thing.

Evidence of the tramp’s temporary presence lay scattered about the cave entrance.  The mouth itself seemed innocuous.  It had been altered from whatever original state the miners found to a smooth tunnel approach with a squared entry and mostly straight sides.  Rotting beams framed the entrance.  Warning signs were posted, weathered and rotting on their uprights, all faded save one showing a recent slap of paint.  A year had softened the stink of the grizzly wafting from the cave.  Jimmy stepped right in.

“It’s safe, guys,” he said after a moment.  “It’s a natural cave, not dependent on timbers.”  I went forward, Cassandra on my heels.  Nate hesitated, then folded his lanky frame to pass the entrance.  Jimmy removed a ball of twine from his pocket and tossed it to Nate.

“Tie that around something solid.”

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