Teaser Tuesday – A Lesson In Wickedness!

That’s right, lovely people, it’s Teaser Tuesday! I know it’s normally Thursday, but I’m switching things up, just to confuse everybody. I’m going to share a little snippet from A Lesson In Wickedness, the 5th book in the Grim Alliance series, which is well under way! So enjoy a little light reading on your break, ladies and gentlemen. 🙂 (Bearing in mind this is still unedited!)

Tuesday Teaser

The night air was cool as it kissed Mika’s cheek, still damp from the evening’s rain. She leaned back against the white bricks of the house, folding her arms as she cocked one leg against them too, blowing out a harsh breath. She closed her eyes, welcoming the sting of relief as her tired eyeballs rested for a moment. It had been a long few weeks for all the Reapers, but Mika was feeling it now. As the oldest—besides Greek—she had always felt more wearied from than the others. A cold shiver travelled across her skin as an insect dropped onto her arm, flying off again rapidly as her eyes snapped open to stare at it. You’d think they wouldn’t like dead flesh, but there you go. A morose smile curved her lips as she gazed across the garden, lazily watching the tall wildflowers and grass bending against one another in the semi-darkness of twilight.

Her nerves jumped as she was startled by the sound of heavy footsteps coming through the hallway, and Gabe stepped out through the open front door. He pensively turned his green eyes to Mika, rubbing a hand over the blond stubble on his head, giving a shifty look over his shoulder back inside. The sound of the others chatting travelled out to the still air, and he cleared his throat softly. “Er…you’re not going to tell Talia I was out here, are you?”

Mika raised an eyebrow, grinning coyly. “Why? Lover’s quarrel?”

“No, but there might be one if she spots what I’m doing.” In answer to Mika’s frown, he pulled a crumpled pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket, holding them up for her to see before tapping the packet and pulling a slim stick out. He rummaged in his other pocket, finally pulling out a yellow lighter, snapping it and holding the flame close as he took a drag. The tall Reaper’s eyes closed in pleasure, and he took a long drag, placing the lighter back in the seat of his jeans. “Oh, gods. I needed that.” He gave Mika another panicked glance. “Seriously, don’t tell Talia. I’m trying to quit, but it’s fucking hard, you know.”

“Gabe,” Mika admonished, giving a cluck of her tongue. She peered around the corner of the open doorway. The hallway was dark, a shaft of light showing across the floor from the door to the living room, left ajar by a few inches. Laughter came from within, and she could hear the raised sounds of the TV.  Groaning aloud, she turned back to the stillness of the night air, shaking her head at Gabe. “You know I’ll get in trouble if your faerie sees you. And I don’t want to be on the wrong end of Mother Bear.” The Reaper pushed herself off from the wall, her hair bobbing with the movement as she stared at Gabe. He stared back, unblinking, taking another sharp drag of his cigarette as though it might be his last. Eh. It’s his un-life. “Fine. But you have to give me one.”

Gabe scoffed, his forehead wrinkling as he widened his eyes in surprise. “Since when do you smoke?”

“Since you lot never notice me sneaking out the back and spraying myself in deodorant. Since when do you sneak out the front to have one?”

“Touché.” The blond Reaper held his pack out, allowing Mika to take one. He tilted his head back as he passed her the lighter, narrowing his eyes. “You know, smoking is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The lighter made a grinding noise as the flint struck, and a large orange flame leapt up, dying down as Mika pulled it, and the poisonous contents of her cigarette, into her lungs. Passing the lighter back slowly, she blew out a long plume of smoke over her shoulder, resting one hand on her hip. Great, more deep talk. Just what I need when I feel like my brain’s wound down for the year. She cast her eyes back towards the waving wildflowers at Gabe’s statement. “What do you mean by that?”

Gesturing for her to follow with a jerk of his head, Gabe turned and headed over to the far side of the house—the side with no windows—towards a large, black garden sofa. The wooden decking groaned under his weight as he marched over to the couch, sinking himself down into the cushions with a contented sigh, pulling his feet up and resting them against the arm. Mika stepped up to the far end of the corner-sofa, plumping herself down as she continued to stare over at Gabe. I want to know what the hell he meant by that statement. Fear gripped her for a second. She was always worried that her sarcasm and iciness made the others think she didn’t care about their group, when nothing could be further from the truth. I love this gang of misfits—even our new misfits. We’re a family. Even if sometimes it’s like the Addams Family. And I’m Wednesday. Who didn’t love Wednesday?

Copyright © 2016, Miranda Stork.

How To Get Back In The Writing Groove

So, as many of you may have guessed by the massive amount of time I didn’t post anything, I was away. Surprise! *grin* I was busy with family/work/study/various-stressy-things, so I had to leave my poor book-in-progress for a while, gathering dust. Which was doubly bad, because it was the fourth in a series. Yikes.

But, I’ve just published it today (Twice As Guilty, from the Grim Alliance series), so I did finally manage to finish it. And I completed some 28K+ in little over three weeks. It’s rather tricky getting back into the swing of writing every day when you’ve left it for a while, so I thought I’d share some of my tips and ideas to help you, if you ever find yourself procrastinating rather than going back into that story. It’s harder than just starting a book, but there’s less info on it. So, here we go.

1. Re-read what you have got so far.

Even if you have a writing plan written out (I did a post here on writing out a synopsis, which is what I use – conversely – to guide me at the start of a book, rather than the end), it’s still going to be difficult to pick up the same tone and ‘voice’ you were using previously, if you don’t look over what you already have. But the gem of this is that it should be almost fresh to you, if you’ve left it for a while. So you can quickly pick up parts that worked, parts that didn’t, and get a feel for what you were going for again. By the time you get to the end of what you’ve written, you should be in the same mindset as you were when you last stopped typing.

Source: (By Janpha Thadphoothon – Janpha’s Photo Collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10873988)

2. Take notes on what you have written so far.

Use re-reading as an opportunity for some light ahead-of-time editing. Cut out anything that bores you, anything that seems to drag on, and anything that doesn’t fit nicely. Coming back to a novel is difficult, but it’s also a great reason to really trim the fat of your novel and keep it on track. If you don’t use a writing plan of any sort, make sure to at least note down significant characters and events that will effect what you write later on, especially as the story isn’t fresh in your mind.

3. Get yourself in the mood.

If you listened to a particular soundtrack last time around, or if a certain movie or picture influenced the story, go listen to it/dig it out and watch it/look at it again. Remembering the feelings that inspired your story can help you keep it consistent, so there isn’t an obvious leap from last-time-of-writing to just-got-going-again. People continually change over weeks or months, and that includes you – and that will show up in your writing. Get yourself back into the place you were before, just temporarily, and engage with those emotions for the book’s continuity.

4. Relax!

This is nearly always on one of my ‘lists’, but that’s because it encompasses so many parts of life! If you’re worrying over your novel too much, you’re going to get yourself in a rut again. Just breathe, relax, and write away. The important thing is to write, even if you don’t think it’s the standard you had before. You may surprise yourself, and find your writing has improved with a little break! You never know. Just don’t stop writing again unless you really have to. Which leads onto…

5. Start small.

When you get back into a novel, particularly if you were writing a good few thousand words a day, it can seem daunting to do the same after a break from it. So don’t do it! Not yet. Start small, and limit yourself to doing 100 words a day. Then increase it if you can to 150, then 200 – and each day, if you get to an exciting part, keep writing! Before you know it, you’ll be back to writing 5K a day with no problem. I have two friends who combine this with writing challenges; each setting a total number of words that day to be completed, and sharing the outcome with each other. This means you feel more obligated to reach that target when someone else is doing the same, and it’s also great encouragement.

In conclusion…those are my tips! The most important part of getting back into writing a novel is to keep at it. Everyone panics when they start thinking of deadlines, or “I should have had this out ages ago”, or whether they’ll finish it. Don’t think about any of that (I know, easier said than done, but it helps). Just focus on the story. The story is the consistent part that will remain in your hands, whatever you’re going to do with it afterwards. If you’re enjoying writing, then it will come back to you, and you’ll be finished with that novel in no time. So focus on the story, start small with your word limits, and keep at it! Even 50 words a day is more than 0. 🙂

And remember, many famous writers take years to complete novels! (George R.R. Martin, I’m scowling at you, haha).

What about you guys? Any tips you would add to the list that you’ve found helpful in getting back into your writing?

Just A Quick Newsflash…

IT’S LIVE, PEOPLE!

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A day early, TWICE AS GUILTY is now up on Amazon, B&N, Apple, and a bunch of other places! 😀 This time you get two Reapers for the price of one…

Drew and Devin were always more than twins. More than brothers. More than bandmates.

They even died together.

When Drew and Devin become Reapers, both of them bury their past and focus on saving souls for the Hall of Rest. The darkness of their childhood, and the brightness of their brief stint as a famous band, disappear as they are reborn in their new role. They secretly long for the women who will be their soulmates—and Devin believes he has found his, in the faerie Helena.

But Empusa is already two steps ahead of the Reapers, and a spy in their midst begins to unravel the close connection of the twins, ultimately leading to destroying the Grim Alliance from within. Events will make Devin and Drew question their past, as well as their future, and will test the boundaries of brotherly love. A block on the Hall of Rest means souls are trapped in Empusa’s realm, and puts a strain on everyone involved.

The Reapers must find out Empusa’s plan in time, or the Hall of Rest will fall to the goddess’ grasp, as will the Grim Alliance—and the twins who are at the epicentre of the fallout.

Amazon US

Amazon CAN

Amazon UK

Apple (On Preorder until tomorrow)

B&N (On Preorder until tomorrow)

Thanks for continuing to read about the Grim Alliance, everyone. I’m having the most fun yet writing this series, and it’s not even got to the really juicy parts yet! 😀

News About A Unicorn

Wow, is that…is that a cobweb? Dust? Sock-eating monster? I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to tidy up after having not been here for a while, haha.
SOME GOOD NEWS ABOUT A UNICORN!
Okay, so now I have your attention…there is no unicorn. Got’cha! BUT…I do have some book-related news. The last three months have pushed stuff back even further, but I put my head down and…
*drum roll*
TWICE AS GUILTY, BOOK 4 OF THE GRIM ALLIANCE IS FINISHED!
It’s currently going through editing, but it will be available to download and continue the story of Drew and Devin on FRIDAY 11TH MARCH, people! So make a date in your calendars, or use that handy Siri/Cortana feature you’ve got, and make a date. Just to give you all a tease of what’s to come, here’s some of my favourite random or funny quotes from the book. 😉 (Yes, Greek is there twice, but really, who doesn’t love Greek?)
“You know why,” Greek promptly replied with a grin. “Remember when you and Drew crashed that guy’s bachelor party? With the sheep, and the transvestite stripper? That club had to close down and become a sandwich shop. They never did get that stuff off the walls.”
Helena straightened herself, dramatically throwing her arms around to indicate a mess. “You kind of ‘artfully arranged’ everything. That is, you turned your box upside down, threw everything on the ground, and curled up in your bed for a nap.” She turned around with a smirk, her eyes lit up at teasing the Reaper. “I left your tea on the nightstand. Seemed the only reasonable thing to do.”
Snapping her fingers to light her cigarette with a steadier hand, the Soothsayer narrowed her eyes at the group, leaning over to Greek. “Are they always like this?”
Greek rolled his eyes dramatically, throwing his hands up. “You have no idea. You should see them on Pizza Saturday. Chaos.”
The Soothsayer grinned. “And you’re the ones who don’t get punished? You poor man.”
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Copyright © 2016 Miranda Stork, The Grim Alliance Series