September 26, 2016

Signing in the Cemetery!

What a haunted hoot I had with fellow paranormal author Shani Struthers last weekend! Saturday was our morbid-yet-merry book-signing at Brompton Cemetery.

One of London's "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries from the Victorian era, Brompton was the birthplace of my novel What the Clocks Know. I stumbled on this graveyard immediately after relocating to London several years ago, and it's been my favorite London location ever since. As Morrissey sings in the Smiths' song "Cemetry Gates":
So we go inside and we gravely read the stones
All those people, all those lives
Where are they now?
With loves and hates
And passions just like mine
They were born
And then they lived
And then they died
That's what I contemplate, too, whenever walking through Brompton. This cemetery has some notable residents resting in peace there, like the renowned suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. But the unknowns also fascinate me as I wonder who they were. Now of very special note to me is one Charlotte Pidgeon, whom I "met" early on during my Brompton strolls and ended up fictionalizing in my story. (Beatrix Potter, too, used to take names for her Peter Rabbit characters from the headstones here.)

So you can imagine my thrill when the lovely Friends of Brompton Cemetery agreed to host this signing, and that joy increased exponentially when Shani Struthers agreed to sign by my side. Shani is the author of Jessamine, the Psychic Surveys series, and the new This Haunted World series (which just launched with book one, the Amazon bestseller The Venetian). Her ghost stories are among my favorites, a wonderful complement to my own paranormal fiction, and fit in perfectly with our unconventional venue. All of our books paired well with wine, too. ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿท

Also at Brompton's chapel this month is artist Iluรก Hauck da Silva, who gave a talk about her "Minotaurs of the Mind: The Second Coil" exhibition prior to our signing. She and her work are stunning, and I was captivated by her inspirations and process. 

Shani and I originally intended to hold our event inside the chapel, too, but we were graced with lovely weather (something you cannot take for granted in London!) so decided to move the party outside. The sun eventually tucked behind the clouds, but we still enjoyed the fresh air and our view, as well as greeting passersby.

Among our attendees was an actual ghost-hunting team! Does it get better than that??! We are so grateful to Twilight Ghost Hunts for stopping by before their overnight ghost tour of the London Tombs.

Our excitement lasted right to the very end, when we raced against time to pack up and reach the gate before we got locked in the graveyard overnight!! We did make it out, carrying on our supernatural celebration with "spirits" of the cocktail variety at the Troubadour cafe. Here is Shani looking ab fab at our private post-party:

Needless to say, we had a spooky and splendid time on Saturday, and now our souls are restless for more! ๐Ÿ‘ป ๐Ÿ‘ป

September 4, 2016

Madness to the Method, Part 2: The Outline

In my previous post, "Madness to the Method, Part 1: The Brainstorm," I discussed how all of my stories originate from a very sloppy, scattered place: my brain. And the only way to get them out of my head is to kick up a windstorm in there and blow the ideas out onto paper like so much debris. At some point, though, these ideas need to be swept up into a plot pile, which then gets tidied into a story arc.

I've written short stories and vignettes here and there ever since I was a kid, and in crafting those, I usually do just sit and write from start to finish, having a general idea of where I want to go but pretty much making it all up along the way. So when I first took a crack at writing a novel, I automatically assumed I could approach it the same way. Which, when I now think about it, was incredibly naive and insane. Writing a few hundred or thousand words is one thing (don't get me wrong, short stories also benefit from advance planning), but taking on several tens of thousands is quite another. It can become a management nightmare if you just run into such a vast and wild, unexplored frontier with all creative guns blazing and no strategic plan. So as I continued to revise my first manuscript, I had to learn the hard way that backing cohesion and proper pacing into a novel is difficult as hell, and it would have behooved me to have an outline first.

Which is what I did for my second manuscript. I gathered my miscellaneous brainstorming and started to slot it into sections. Still spastic scribblings in my journal, by no means neatly divided into tiers of A, B, C, i, ii, iii, but guidance nonetheless. This bullet-pointed bird's-eye view helped me tremendously by giving a sense of the story's shape and direction without also confining my creativity. I wasn't bound to every idea that I jotted down here, nor were any of them fleshed out enough to dictate every step of the journey. Some writers might prefer a more detailed outline than this, but I've found I personally thrive under this balance between the concrete and the as-yet abstract. The organized and the organic. That gives me the breathing room I need to let myself change my mind if the characters want to head somewhere else, and it allows for those moments of magic when, truly and almost inexplicably inspired, you just write without knowing where it's going and end up creating something better than you could've ever achieved if you'd thought about it too hard.

Giving myself over to the story this way inevitably demands script changes, then, and sometimes I still manage to write myself into a corner. I leave certain aspects open to possibility so reach the inevitable fork in the road where I must commit to one outcome versus another. And I don't always want to go with what I originally planned--or have written myself so far outside that scope that it isn't even an option anymore--at which point I'll sit with pen and paper yet again and hash it out. In the case of both Seven for a Secret and What the Clocks Know, I was closing in on the final chapters when I needed to stop, step back, and brainstorm my way through a State of the Story outline: basically, Here's where my characters are at right now. Is this where I want them to be, and, if so, what are their options from here? It became a decision tree of sorts that ultimately helped me work out the solutions (and bust through my writer's block).

Ultimately, every writer needs to find what method works best for him or her, and surely the process continues to evolve with experience. With only two novel manuscripts down, a third in the works, and a fourth largely in the brainstorm stage, I have personally learned that I will never again attempt one without some semblance of an outline and especially encourage the practice to anyone out there who is writing a novel for the first time. 

August 23, 2016

Madness to the Method, Part 1: The Brainstorm

In a previous post, I shared the random freewriting that planted the seed of a story several years ago. At the time, though, I had no clue what sort of plot I could shape around that and never believed that I'd ever have enough ideas (or time) to seriously write a novel-length fiction. Freely written vignettes were more my thing back then and are still what greatly help dislodge ideas from my scattered brain so I can find some cohesion among them on paper if I can't in my mind.

My brainstorming process isn't pretty. I admit it. But the only way I can write is to write everything down that swarms inside my fool head. I wrote my two manuscripts on the computer, but they both started out as pen-to-paper scraps of ideas, which I wrote on literal scraps as well.

The photo above is where my novel Seven for a Secret was born: character profiles jotted on the back of my husband's resume at Cafe Nero in London, popular 1920s names listed on hotel stationary in Singapore, the catalyst and its ripple effect on different characters scratched onto a torn piece of paper who knows where, and the draft plot outline, key questions, and possible scenarios scribbled into a notebook at a cafe in the French Alps.

Yeah, it probably all sounds very Hemingway and romantic, the expat writer crafting her stories in foreign cafes and hotels when she's not at her typewriter up in a garret, smoking and sipping absinthe all the while, but the reality isn't all that quaint (or substance-abusing). My creative process is messy and mental and just plain mean to me sometimes.

And the lame reason why I ended up alone and able to outline my entire tale in the Alpine village of Val d'Isere is because I don't ski. While everyone else went frolicking into the majestic mountains to flaunt their athletic awesomeness, I needed something to do at loser--I mean, lower elevation. Hot toddies were certainly in order, but my mind was too restless to even read. So, pictured here is the pretty (cheap) lil' journal I bought in a small shop that day, documenting that I outlined my story in early 2011.

And over three years later...huh. Let's just say I've never been so happy that I don't partake in winter sports. :)

July 18, 2016

Please DO Judge a Book by its Cover! #CoverWars

Let's get ready to rrrRUMBLE!

What the Clocks Know is duking it out in the Cover Wars this week. Though more than one person has asked (oddly enough), no, that's not a photo of my back. Crooked Cat Publishing and get all the credit for this image; all I did was choose it from so many lovely options offered. But I couldn't be prouder to throw it into the ring. Though they say you can't judge a book by its cover, this one truly couldn't suit the story better.

If anyone's keen to vote, here's the link:

Please share and vote every day if you want! And by week's end, may all my worthy contenders be a little slug-nutty from the Clocks cold-cock. ;)

(Ooh, them's fightin' words!)

June 7, 2016

Turning a NEW Leaf...Literally!

What the Clocks Know is back, PAPERback!!!

Hurrah and huzzah! I was so delighted to discover yesterday that my latest paranormal fiction is now available in both print and ebook, which means those who prefer the feel of paper between their fingertips can now flip and dog-ear pages to their heart's content. Just mind the paper cuts, darlings.

This also means I'll have books to SIGN, so I hope to schedule signing events in both London and Chicago later this year. Please stand by for those details...

In the meantime, you can find What the Clocks Know in both paperback and Kindle formats here:

And for a chance to win a FREE paperback copy, try your luck at my Amazon giveaway this week:

May 20, 2016

#99c this weekend! What the Clocks Know #OneClick

Yessiree, through this weekend only, What the Clocks Know is on sale for only $0.99 / £0.99! Here's what reviewers have to say so far:

"A unique tale of the paranormal―as beautiful as it is haunting."―Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series (★★★★★)
"It's not unusual to find a ghost story couched in the broader tale of a lifestyle change; but what brings What the Clocks Know to real spooky life is its ability to timeslip the protagonist between Victorian and modern London to enter different worlds that each serve as a microcosm of love, hate, and everything in between. . . . [A] powerful novel packed with eye-opening imagery and tales of spirits dead, alive, and evolving. . . . The entire production is a gripping read, highly recommended for ghost story enthusiasts, timeslip novel readers, and anyone who likes romance and powerful protagonists facing unexpected circumstances."―D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review (★★★★★)

"Rumer Haven presents a twisted paranormal story in her latest novel. . . . A unique approach to Haven's writing style is her use of red herrings. Taking advantage of her principal character's vulnerability, Haven keeps her audience often confused as they are trying to figure out if Margot is suffering from a mental condition, is really experiencing the paranormal, or both. By using this literary tool, Haven is able to not only produce a consistent narrative flow, but also provide a flurry of unexpected character scenes up to and including the story's close. What the Clocks Know offers paranormal enthusiasts a refreshingly gripping yet keenly deceptive read."Red City Review (★★★★★)

"Traveling between Victorian and 21st century London, this is a thoughtful and well plotted suspense/ghost story"―Rosemary S, Librarian, NetGalley (★★★★)

So, snatch up some ghostly goodness for yourself or gift it to a friend using Amazon's "Give as a Gift" feature!