Finding My Voice

Wow. It’s been a long time since I posted here. There are reasons.




My life has been a mess. It is a mess. I am trying to put something together from the pieces.

I need to reclaim a lot of things but first and foremost, I need to regain my voice. I’m trying a lot of things to get it back. This post is one of them. This blog used to be the place I could say whatever I wanted or needed to. Sure it was mostly about writing, but still, I could speak here. And I never questioned whether I was allowed to speak. So here I am, trying to work my way back to that place. Or at least some reasonable facsimile of it.

One of the other things I’ve been doing to regain my voice is writing. Yes, you read that right. I have been WRITING. I have in fact written a lot of words. 85,000 words. A whole novel.


I wrote a whole novel!!!

It’s going to need a lot of revisions. I’m letting it rest right now, to get some distance and perspective before trying. But I’m proud of it. For the first time in about four years, maybe more, I have finished writing a book.

Moving forward, one step at a time.

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Let this space stand









Let this space stand for all the things I want to say but don’t. All the things I think but tell myself no one wants to hear. For the voice I’ve lost and still search for. For the right to be heard I no longer feel certain I have.
Perhaps one day things will come back together.

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I Don’t Have To Be

An amazing thing happened today.

I woke up feeling good. And that feeling lasted longer than it took to make coffee.

Several hours later, I STILL feel good. Hell, I feel great. Continue reading

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50k Slow: A Retrospective

I wrote my first completed novel as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). It was a wonderful experience, including the pace. Every novel I’ve seen through to “The End” since has been drafted at that same frenetic pace. Daily goals, I learned quickly, are useful for me. The constant thrill of reaching and beating that goal was addictive to say the least.

The problem was that it got unhealthy. It took me a while to see that though. When you can look at 150k words in 21 days and think “Oh god, I have to top that somehow in order to be happy with myself,” it’s all gone a little too nuts.

Worse, I wasn’t enjoying writing anymore the way I once had.

So when I finally felt ready to write again after last year’s breakdown, I decided to reset and try something different. I’d write the book with a low word goal in mind (because I still love goals), something I could realistically do and still love writing. 500 words seemed a good choice.

The thing I had to make peace with, which hasn’t always been easy, is that I’d be writing this book for a while. No quick gratification. No massive word counts to announce. I couldn’t quickly move onto the next story. And I’ve had to deal with a lot of internal guilt when I do other things. The constant refrain of “You should be writing” haunts me sometimes.

But it’s been a good experience. I find I enjoy the slower pace. I’m able to think more about what I want to write, because I’m not rushing any of it. And I’m able to respond to the story better. I didn’t outline the whole thing this time, you see, just a few at a time.

The draft is also turning out better. It’s more to the point, less word-flab to it, and I feel like more has happened. I am so much happier with this version of the book (for those of you who don’t know, I wrote Where The Ether Flows once, but have junked it to totally rewrite and replot it). I’m also happier with this version of Devan. Many of the details of his life aren’t changed, but they make more sense now, and his reactions are different.

It’s also nice to think I can do other things. Gaming, reading. Or just sitting around and chatting. I can relax. I don’t have to feed every spare minute to writing. I can’t tell you how freeing that is. The idea that I can take a day off if I’m feeling poorly, mentally or physical, allows me to work when I’m at my best and it shows in the writing.

I’m not saying I’ll never fast draft again, because the future might require it. I’m just not going to let it be my default method again. I don’t know if I’ll ever do NaNo again. I love it and think everyone should give it a real shot at some point, but I’m finding a new process that’s working better for me. And that’s what matters, doing what works for you.

As of the writing of this, I’ve actually reached 60k, written across two and a half months. My hope is to have a finished draft by the end of the year. I think I can, I think I can. 😉

And if you’re curious about Where The Ether Flows, I posted a pitch and the first 250 words of it here. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think. In the meantime, I have a book to write. 🙂

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Pitches from the Pensieve

I’ve seen a lot of contests for writers go on in my years on Twitter, but I’ve never participated. Usually I don’t have anything ready. Then recently Kimberly VanderHorst asked me to be part of her team of mentors for Pitch Slam. I accepted with happiness and a small amount of trepidation (Am I really up to this?) and over the past several days, I’ve had so much fun that I need to thank past me for saying yes. The Harry Potter theme has made it even more awesome.

Pitch Slam involves submitting a 35 word pitch and the firs 250 words of your manuscript. The four Houses will each choose 9 and 3/4 entries for the final round. Those are going to be posted on blogs and agents will read them and make requests where they find entries interesting.

It’s been a lot of work, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of work our entrants have done. So many good stories, amazing pitches and fascinating 250s from all these people. Choosing is proving very hard, but Team Hufflepuff will prevail and pick the very best. Even those who don’t get selected, you have my respect and many of you have amazing entries.

In the spirit of the fun, I’m going to share the pitch I put together (very rough) and the first 250 of  my current WIP. Seriously, both of these are first draft, and I usually do at least one round of revision before letting anyone see my work. *hides*

Name: J Elizabeth Hill

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Working Title: Where the Ether Flows

Word Count: Incomplete (real Pitch Slam entries have to be finished and polished)


Necromancer Devan is drawn back into his family’s strife when attacked by his father’s minions. The deeper he gets drawn in, the greater the danger he won’t live long enough to escape again.

First 250:

Devan stared in rapt fascination at his pale, unmarked hands under the light of the waxing moon. They’d been like this for months, but he was arrested by the sight every time.

Almost everything he’d endured had been worth this. Except for Eleene.

“Devan, get down from there!”

His youngest sister’s voice broke his focus. “Moll? What are you doing back so soon?”

“Does it matter? I need to talk to you.”

She was so earnest that he was instantly on guard, then hated himself for it. They’d always been close, despite their differences of opinion in recent years on how the family’s business and war should be conducted. It hurt his heart to feel any distrust for his youngest sister now. And yet how often had his father used her as a pawn in an effort to force Devan into doing what he wished?

“You just saw me less than a week ago. You can’t have even made it home. What made you turn back?”

Rather than answer, she snapped, “Get down out of that tree, Devan Endorus!”

He tried to laugh it off. “I’ve been climbing nandoras since long before you were born. Well, not ones this big but it’s safe enough.”

“But it’s not like it was anymore. I turned back because I realized what was wrong about you.”

Her eyes dropped to his hands before returning to his eyes, white around the blue iris now in contrast to her black ones. “So?”


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Game On!

It’s been too long since I really posted here. Even longer since I posted about how writing is going.

There have been a number of reasons for that. I’ve been busy with gaming, among other things. Relaxing while I’m on vacation. Snuggling Zedd more than he’s happy with, strictly speaking. I told him that’s how he pays for his cat food.


Is it just me or does he seem skeptical about that?

But in between all that, in the evenings (okay, after 10 pm usually), I’ve been writing. Rewriting really, but it’s a fresh draft entirely. I’m improving the story, though not making the wholesale changes I’d once planned. Instead, I’m telling the story I originally envisioned, but better.

I threw out not just one book to do this, but 3. I’d written the whole trilogy, and I had to lay them all aside. I didn’t trash the drafts, but I’m not going to look at them again (unless I need to look up a name). I don’t know what exactly the other books will be, or even if they’ll exist. This isn’t the time for me to worry about that. It’s the time to concentrate on Where The Ether Flows and Devan.

It’s kind of funny, me tossing the fairly well edited draft of Ether Flows to rewrite it with significant changes. I did the same thing with Bound. That one hadn’t gone through editing, but it had more problems with the original story than this one does. This time it was more subtle, but I knew a while back I had issues with this. I couldn’t pin it down but I have now. It worked out so well with Bound that I’m not exactly worried about it.

This year has so far seen me struggle with writing. A failed attempt back in July for Camp NaNo kind of shook my confidence, but there were a number of reasons that July was a species of hell. It’s over though and I put it behind me.

Instead, I committed to rewriting Ether Flows. I started early last month. I’m still working on it, and I’m oddly happy about that. I decided to reign my goals into a much slower pace than I’ve written in a very long time, 500 words a night. I’m even okay with taking a night or two off if I need it.

And yes, I keep referring to night for a reason. I’m re-embracing the fact that I’m a night writer. It’s rare for me to write during the day. Writing all day pushed me toward burnout. So I’m giving myself an hour or two a night, before bed to write. Any if I’ve had a rough day, I take it off.

Even with all these things theoretically slowing me down, I’m making forward progress for the first time in a while. I just passed 24k last night. It’ll take me many months to finish at this rate and I don’t care.


I am enjoying writing for the first time in two years or more. That is priceless.

I’m writing the story just for the story and myself. And this too is priceless.

As always, I have the very best people being supporting me, encouraging me. I’m blessed with the friends and family in my life. Their understanding and gentle encouragement have helped me move forward at my own pace and in a healthy way. I can’t thank them enough.

I’m having fun with Devan again. Seralin is so different but so much better than last attempt. I think this is going to be a good story when I’m done with it.

Writing is exciting to me again. Life is good. And I am deeply grateful for it all.

That’s all I’ve got for today, but I’ll be back again soon enough. 🙂

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Cover Reveal: Harrowed by Brian LeTendre and Jolene Haley

Book Name: Harrowed (The Woodsview Murders #1)

Book Genre: YA Horror

Book release date: 09/22/15 by Horror Twins Press

Harrowed on Goodreads:


Harrowed blurb:

Journalism Rule #1: Always report the story. Never become the story.

Avery Blair has accepted the fact that nothing exciting ever happens in her small town of Woodsview, Massachusetts. As the editor of the high school blog, she prays for something—anything—to come along that would make for a great headline.

When Beatrice Thompson’s body is found in the girls’ bathroom, Avery has her biggest story ever. The rumors circulating the school say that Beatrice took her own life, but Avery doesn’t believe it for a second. Her instincts prove true when the next day brings another body bag.

The tiny community of Woodsview has become the hunting ground for a killer known as the Harvester. The killer targets Avery and her classmates, stalking their every move and terrorizing them with morbid messages.

With the help of her boyfriend Jason, her best friend Quinn, and an aging detective who can’t keep her off the case, Avery dives head-first into her own investigation. She discovers that the secret of the Woodsview Harvester is buried in the town’s history and its annual Harvest Festival celebration. With every clue she uncovers, Avery grows closer to unmasking the killer—and becoming the next victim.

Avery Blair has finally found a story to die for…if she can stay alive long enough to write it.


About Brian LeTendre:

Brian LeTendre Author Pic

Brian LeTendre is the writer of the Parted Veil horror series, which includes Courting the King in Yellow, Lovecraft’s Curse, and Lovecraft’s Pupil.

A gaming, comics and horror lover, Brian has co-hosted and produced a podcast about geek culture called Secret Identity since 2006, producing well over 1000 hours of programming. He also hosts and produces three other podcasts about writing (See Brian Write), design and small business (Kitbash Radio) and gaming (Co-Op Critics).

In addition to podcasting, Brian has worked as a freelance games journalist, and currently writes a webcomic called Mo Stache, which can be read for free online and will be collected in print in 2016.

Brian lives and works in Massachusetts.

Brian on Twitter:

Brian’s Blog:

Brian on Amazon:

Brian’s Podcasts:


About Jolene Haley:

Jolene Haley Author Pic

Jolene Haley is the author of the Woodsview Murders series, Harrowed (out 9/22/15) and Haunted, coming fall 2016. She’s also the curator of the best-selling horror anthology The Dark Carnival through Pen & Muse Press.

She runs a YA horror blog The Midnight Society, the author resource site Pen & Muse, and Hocus Pocus & Co., a small horror press. She writes every genre under the sun, but prefers horror.

When she’s not writing she can be found cuddling her two dogs and enjoying the beach, where she lives.

Jolene on Twitter:

Jolene’s Blog:

Jolene on Goodreads:

Jolene on Facebook:

Woodsview Teaser #2

Join the book buzz using hashtag #WoodsviewMurders

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