In my May 18 post, I mentioned the difficulties I’ve been having writing the fifth book in the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series. Contrary to what I previously posted, I decided not to give up on basing it on the 1970s horror film Race with the Devil, and so I watched it again. In doing so, I realized why I was hitting a brick wall with my own story. The impetus for that film is violence, as it is in most horror films. Trying to escape violence is what consistently propels the story forward. I don’t want violence to be the impetus of the new Maddie and her BFF book, yet I couldn’t find another way to drive their road trip story without it. This problem led to days of not writing at all, which quickly led to feelings of despair.

Today, I sat down and decided to just write the story with no guidelines in mind, nor any outlined sequence of events as I always have before I start writing anything. I just let the characters be themselves and let that guide their story. It was almost like free writing. In watching what unfolded, I began to see that their road trip story could in fact become a story about love. I’ve never written like this before, with no predetermined story structure, but I’m going to just go with it because at least I’m writing something. And to my amazement, I’m slowly discovering a way to still base the story loosely on that horror film, without needing the violence.

Race with the Devil Poster

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I’ve been busy as an author lately. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was interviewed by two websites. The Orange County Readers website posted my interview and a review of The Scribbled Victims this week. You can read it here.

Also in my previous post, I mentioned doing a photo shoot for new author photos. I finally selected one and posted it to my social media. I intend to use this photo for the interview with the This Is Writing website as well as the back cover for the redesigned cover of The Scribbled Victims and the cover of Scribbling The Eternal, when it is released. I decided to go with a black and white image this time.

Author Robert Tomoguchi
My New Author Photo

Speaking of new covers, I will soon be releasing a new cover for The Scribbled Victims. I had been very happy with my current cover as it looked like literary fiction. However, as my designer had become too busy to work on my projects in a timely manner, I had to make the very tough decision to find a new cover designer. As I am working with a new designer, I decided to go with a new look for the entire trilogy. The new covers will feature an image of Orly, but I have high hopes the covers will still look like literary fiction or general fiction, rather than paranormal or fantasy.

Because I had find a new cover designer, this also meant I had to find a new designer to typeset and design the interior of Scribbling The Eternal. (My original designer had designed both the cover and book interior.) Because this is a trilogy, it was important to me that the interiors of all three books matched, so I had this new designer go back and re-typeset and design the interior of The Scribbled Victims. This new design will be used for all books in the trilogy. I just reviewed the second proof of the interior today and only had one change request, so I think the new interior will be finalized very soon.

The text for Scribbling The Eternal continues to be edited, but I am still hopeful for an early fall release.

Finally, I’m now writing the second chapter in the yet to be titled fifth installment of the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series.

More to come.

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Late last month I was interviewed for the Orange County Readers website. I’m going be featured there as a local author. About a week later, I was asked for an interview by the This Is Writing website. For that interview, they asked for an author photo. Since I don’t have my facial piercings anymore, I thought it was a good time to take new photos. So today, my sister took 113 photos of me. My niece Brooke came along to try to get me to smile in the photos. You can see her below making fun of me as I always look grumpy in photos. I absolutely hate being photographed. 

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It’s been weeks since I made a post because I haven’t much to report. I’ve been spending my time doing research for the new Me and My Friend Maddie book. I was trying to build a story about a road trip gone awry when the characters get stuck in a town of hipsters. I’ve been reading Russian folktales, primarily those about Baba Yaga, as I planned for her magical hut to parallel the RV used on the road trip. I also read a book called How to Spot a Hipster as part of the research and planned to structure the story based loosely off of the 1975 film Race with the Devil, staring Peter Fonda. But after all that, I just couldn’t make the story come together, so it’s back to the drawing board. 

This book is important to me because I know readers want to see the resolution between Maddie and Jackie Jinxed and I want to provide that and show where their relationship goes after the ending of The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff. So I think I’m going to do something I haven’t done with any of the other books, which is begin writing the story without having a myth in mind. I feel this way, their relationship can be explored and developed in exactly the way I want, with no restrictions caused by adhering to a myth. As the writing unfolds and the story begins to solidify, perhaps I will look for a way to incorporate a myth into the story. 

So far I’ve used Greek, Japanese, Native American, and Catholic stories to build the other four books. I’m not sure where I will venture next. Perhaps I will ultimately break convention and not use a myth at all, but I don’t know if that will be disappointing to the fans of the series.

For the time being, I’ve put the brakes on Forever Candy as I just can’t make up my mind on which point of view to tell the story from. Each time I decide on a point of view and begin to write, something happens in the story that makes me want to switch the point of view and I would prefer that this book not have shifting points of view. I’m contemplating rewriting the original screenplay version as that medium really worked well with the story. 

On a final note, now that some time has passed since I finished writing Scribbling The Eternal, and the book is being edited, my mind is naturally wandering back to Orly, so I may begin writing the third installment of the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy sooner than I expected. 

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I’m vacationing in Amsterdam, so I haven’t been able to write every day as I had been. But today, I finally found some time to hang out at a three story cafe and write until I felt too shaky from all the coffee I drank. I wrote a little bit of the new Maddie book and a little bit of Forever Candy. I’ve revised the Prologue so many times and have moved on to Chapter One. I believe I finally found Candy’s voice. 

There is a similarity between this narrative and the narrative in The Scribbled Victims. Many readers of The Scribbled Victims don’t realize immediately that it is Orly narrating the book. I drop a hint at it in the very first chapter when she interrupts her storytelling to say that she wished that she looked like Yelena. Because of that, a reviewer criticized me of switching from third person to first person, even though it was first person all along. 

Anyhow, Candy will be narrating the story of a man named Burrows, but similarly it is all in her voice. It should be more clear from the get go this time. Who knows, maybe this style will become my thing. 

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I’m back to writing every day. I think it’s important that I write every day so that I stay present in my work and also because with writing on my mind all day, I’m generally happier and feel less despair working a day job. This idea to start writing every day again came out of a recent session with my psychologist. For the past three years or so, I’ve only been writing on weekends, because I had been feeling so overworked at my day job because of some projects I was involved with. My psychologist at the time and I decided it would be best for my stress level to stop writing every day. It helped with the stress certainly, but it was ultimately a detriment to my happiness and my feeling of having a purpose. Those projects are over now. I don’t know why I didn’t think of going back to writing every day on my own, and needed a therapy session to come up with the idea, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to be writing every day again. I feel so much more alive. True, I only set a goal to write for thirty minutes a day. But I set an easy goal as a strategy. It’s easy to find thirty minutes in a day. It’s easy to have enough motivation to sit down for only thirty minutes. But the truth is, it never ends after thirty minutes. I become so consumed with what I’m working on that it can go on for hours. And during that time and the hours following, I feel inspired and excited. 

This week I’ve been writing and rewriting a prologue for a novel version of Forever Candy. (It was originally a screenplay.) Though I’m not nearly satisfied with the writing (I don’t think I found the right voice or style for the book), I feel exhilarated just working on it. I do feel bad though that I’m not working on the fifth book for the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series, as I had made some posts on social media stating that that was what I was working on, and those posts received such positive responses. But the story I had planned to write hit a major brick wall and it seems I will need to devise an entirely new story altogether.

 

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This week I read all four books of the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series, just to get back in touch with them as it has been four years since I’ve written one of those books. I was apprehensive about getting to Book Four, The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff because of criticism I received stating that the book was offensive to the trans community. Gothic Beauty Magazine even refused to review the book after overwhelmingly positive reviews on the three preceding books. At the time I took that as a favor, thinking it was better to receive no review than a bad review. But now I don’t feel that way. 

Of course it was not my aim to offend or disparage people of the trans community. I have trans and nonbinary friends who are very dear to me and I would never think of hurting them or anyone else. 

When I set out to write that book, my goal from the beginning was to write a book where Maddie was flawed and would learn something from her BFF, rather than him always learning from her. Upon rereading it this week, I don’t know if I accomplished that. I felt like she understood what her BFF was trying to convey to her, but that her mentality was far more complex than the simple flashcard solution he presented could appease. Though it is unclear, even to me, whether Maddie learned from her BFF, it is certainly clear that she is flawed, and that’s how I want all of my characters to be. That’s what makes them human. During these rereads, I was reminded that Maddie was already portrayed as not perfect in the third book as she self-identified as a former cutter and then succumbed to the temptation to cut again.

One of the reviews I received considered the end of The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff to be a cliffhanger of an ending. I never considered it as such. I walked away from that book thinking it clear that Maddie and Jackie Jinxed would be together, but I guess that was not as clear as I thought. Perhaps I felt it was clear because in my mind I always knew they would be together in the fifth book. 

I’ve talked to readers who didn’t find Maddie’s reaction to discovering her boyfriend was born biologically female as unreasonable. They told me they too would have been surprised to make such a discovery. Some said they would feel unsure of what they would do. Some even said they would have felt lied to. Though those expressions gave me some assurance that Maddie’s reaction was within the realm of plausible reactions, it was not much consolation, for I still knew my book was seen as offensive to a community I am strongly supportive of. 

Be that as it may, I am concerned that the fifth book will come across as an apology for the fourth book, as Maddie will admit to Jackie that she was wrong and that she is not perfect. But that was always the plan. Perhaps I should have let that scene play out and end the fourth book instead of where it ended. But at the time I didn’t know that I would spend the next four years writing the first two books of the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy. I thought the fifth book would have come out soon after the fourth.

I don’t want the fifth book to read as an apology. Because I make no apology for my characters being flawed. Still, I hate thinking that The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff gives the impression that I am prejudiced against the trans community, as I know I am not. And I feel that that sentiment smears a series that I have loved writing and know many have loved reading. 

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AMS

Because I haven’t written since I finished Scribbling The Eternal, I am really itching to start writing again. I think I’ve taken enough time off. I believe the next thing I work on will be a fifth Maddie book. I’ve been slowly developing plot elements in my head, but I have yet to write anything down. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and watching tutorials about Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), so I can learn how to promote my books better on Amazon. It’s a lot of work and there is a lot to know, but I’m hoping that if I focus devote time to it, I’ll see positive results. 

I continue to dream of a day when I can stop reporting to an office on weekdays and spend all my days writing. 

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Now that I’m done writing and revising Scribbling The Eternal, I’ve been trying to decide what to write next. I always have more ideas than time. Therefore, there are many things I’d like to write. I posted this on my social media recently and it received a lot of likes and many positive comments. 

A New Book in the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series.

The last book in the Me and My Friend Maddie Gothic Book Series, The Dead Girl I Like Heart and Stuff, was published in April of 2015. The long lapse is because I was writing The Scribbled Victims and then Scribbling The Eternal. A fifth book feels long overdue. 

However, for many years I wanted to write this other story of mine called Forever Candy. It’s a story I originally wrote as a screenplay (as I did with The Scribbled Victims), but thought I could really expand the story if I wrote it as a novel. There were some difficulties in converting that script to novel form, mostly with the differences in narration. However, during the shower I just took, I believe I made a pretty significant breakthrough on how to overcome these difficulties. (I often think up stuff while in the shower.) 

There’s also a third book I’d like to write, one that doesn’t even have a working title yet. But I’ve been making notes. It would be more literary than anything else I’ve published. 

As I said, I always have more ideas than time. If only life weren’t so short. 

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