Dark Side of Morning by Tierney James

Several years ago, I went to dinner with a group of aspiring authors at a writers convention. To our surprise, and the amusement of the others sharing our table, Tierney James and I ended up discussing scrapbooking and sniper rifles. We’ve been friends ever since, and I am excited she was able to take a little time to answer some questions for me to celebrate the release of her newest book, Dark Side of Morning.

This book includes a strong element of Native Americans. How did you get interested in Native American culture, and how did your experiences influence your writing of this book?
I did my student teaching on the Qualla Reservation in the Great Smokey Mountains among the Cherokee people. Years before my parents had taken me there on vacation. I told them I would return to live there. And I did. It changed my life. They experience life, nature and spiritual awakening on a higher plain. My soul rejoiced among these wonderful people. In my Enigma Series the hero is half Cherokee. His mother has the same name as my house parents on the reservation. The years have passed but my love of the culture has grown by leaps and bounds.

This book has sci fi elements in it. What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve visited the Field Museum in Chicago many times. And of course the North American Indian section is the first place I go when there. I looked into the mannequin eyes of my main character over the years and wondered if he could see and hear me. Some say it’s creepy. I say it is full of possibilities. Parallel universes started to interest me when I read Louie L’Amour’s book Haunted Mesa. He died shortly after it was published and I had a lot of questions.

Tell me about the protagonist in this book.
Dr. Cleopatra Sommers never came to terms with her father’s disappearance at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. He had been a Native American scholar that explored avenues of unexplained spiritual paths in their cultures. The museum had been her home and playground growing up where her father spent long hours working. She was always drawn to one display case holding a mannequin of a Pawnee Indian. There was no way she could know he watched her all those years until the night he crossed over to find her.

If this book were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
Robert Silent-Thunder for Wind Dancer
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) for Cleopatra Sommers
Detective Jacque Marquette I’m thinking Bradley Cooper

Your previous books are true thrillers, with terrorists and pulse-pounding action. Does this book contain any of those elements?
Yes it has those elements but on a spookier level. I talk about skinwalkers which is like a witch that the Navajo have in their culture. Those are super scary things. Then there is the possibility of biological agents that could wipe out the United States.

I completely enjoyed the Enigma series. Do you anticipate ever returning to that cast of characters?
I’m actually working on #4 right now! Think diamonds, Africa and Tessa’s son hacking the wrong kind of people.

Tierney, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and share some insight into your new book. Folks, take a moment to pop over to Amazon and check out Dark Side of Morning (and tell all your friends!).

How to Edit a Draft (novel)

Writing a novel is HARD. That’s all there is to it. When you write the draft, it is exciting and fun (well, except for that mucky middle) and I always celebrate when I write those two magical words . . . the end.

After you let that manuscript rest for a bit (personally, I think you need to leave it for at least a few weeks). So, once you’re ready to edit, how do you actually do that?

I edit in a couple of rounds. Here’s my process:

ROUND ONE: Rough Edit. Go back to the beginning and read through your manuscript from start to finish, looking for echos, plot holes, passive voice, missing bits and pieces. This is what I consider the fleshing out of the novel I drafted very quickly (usually in 30 days or less), where I add layers and things like weather and setting. I also think about characters’ growth and plot arcs at this time. This is the version that I send to my critique group for feedback.

ROUND TWO: Read the full manuscript with a notebook beside you. Note any questions a reader would have as you go. Note any issues that you notice, again, looking for echos, plot holes, passive voice. Look for continuity issues. Make sure your timeline is correct. (Note: after I finish this round, I will send the manuscript to a handful of beta readers.)

ROUND THREE: Gather your notebook and your critique partners’ notes, along with any comments from your beta readers. Make all necessary revisions to your manuscript. (Note: after I finish this round, I send out the Advance Review Copies to reviewers.)

ROUND FOUR: Proofread and polish the entire manuscript, from start to finish. This is a word by word, line by line proof.

If you want to know in more detail how to edit a manuscript, make sure you sign up for my WriteScouts list below:

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2016: My year in review – and How to Review Your Year

For the past month, there have been year in review posts everywhere, but you have taken time to review YOUR year?

I’ve spent the last four days doing an in-depth review of 2016, and I encourage you to do the same. Life is about so much more than work or likes and follows and pins and money and stuff. Evaluate what you’ve done, and identify what you want to achieve. Without goals, you’ll plod along through life, stuck in a rut . . . and you’ll never even notice.

Think of your life like a house, built on a foundation. The foundation is made up of several things that work together, like joists and concrete and steel. In order for your house to be solid, the foundation needs to be strong throughout. Imagine if you had concrete and steel, but no joists spanning the width of your home – it would sag in the middle. All of these things are important, and all need to be reviewed.

Pull out your day planner (or whatever you use to keep track of your calendar) (psst . . . I use the Me and my Big Ideas Happy Planner and I looooove it!) and look at the following:

Family: What are your most memorable moments with family over the past year?

{2016 was a big year for my family. My husband survived a major heart attack in February. My daughter celebrated her 21st birthday in June. My stepdaughter gave birth to a little girl in November – making us grandparents for the first time!}

Financial: How did work go for you over the past year? How is your debt load? Investments?

{2016 was a big year for me money-wise, too. My day job is great – I love the work I do, and I have great co-workers, but there were no raises this year. Luckily, my writing has finally started to pay off, and I was able to pay off 2 credit cards with my writing profits. I also increased my retirement savings by 1% this year.}

Spiritual: We all need spirituality in our lives, whether that is organized religion or simply how you connect with the larger world. Are you nurturing that part of you?

{I explored mindfulness after a particularly difficult 2013, and I have continued to meditate on a regular basis. There is much to learn from the Buddhist philosophy.}

Mental: I think we better ourselves when we continue to learn and stretch our brains. What did you learn in 2016?

{In 2016, I read more than I have in many, many years (using Goodreads to keep track of my challenge – join me!). I read fiction and non-fiction, ebooks, print books and audio books. I also enrolled in a membership group which allowed me to take several online classes.}

Next time, I’ll share how I planned for ’17 and give you tips to make the most out of your year.