By Robin Van Auken
The Wholehearted Author
Melody Johnson has completed yet another marathon, and her reward is the publication of her upcoming novel, "Day Reaper," the exciting conclusion to her "Night Blood" paranormal romance series. The books feature heroine Cassidy DiRocco, a crime reporter living in New York who discovers vampires living beneath the city.
Writing a novel is not a sprint for this young author, but rather a long-distance event, writing on her books at least one page per day. It's a lesson from her college creative writing mentor, and one she's never forgotten.
She recalled how, prior to college she would try to write too much in one sitting. "I tried and failed several times to write full manuscripts," she said. "I'd sit down and be inspired. I'd have all these great ideas and write in one sitting — write 20 pages, 30 pages. Then a few weeks would go by and I would, and I would think about my book, not know where I wanted to go with it. Maybe sit down a month later, I'd sit down and another 20 or 30 pages, get all these words down. Then, maybe a month later, get bored with that book and start a new book. I would have like 50 pages of five books all started, none of them finished."
That's when her creative writing professor instilled in her the notion that writing isn't a sprint.
"You can't just sit down, write 30 pages in one day, sprint to the finish line, and try to do that every once in awhile. You'll never actually finish a book. You'll never actually get to the finish line. Writing is a long-distance event. You have to take your time, you have to do a little bit each day, and so I keep track of my pages every day. At a minimum, I have to write one page a day."
The concept of writing one page a day, even if it's a few lines written while in line at a grocery store, means that at the year's end, you'll have 365 pages written: a complete manuscript.
Another piece of advice that Melody shares is to keep moving forward. "No matter the stage of your writing career — whether you're writing your first manuscript or your fifth, pitching to agents and editors, negotiating contracts or making revisions and resubmitting your work — just keep swimming toward your dreams with strong and steady strokes, and eventually, at the end of that journey, you'll win the race," she said. "Unlike swimming, however, the long-distance event of writing never ends. There will always be that next draft to revise, that next book to write, that next agent or editor to query, and the only way to lose is to stop trying.
Melody graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College in 2011, with a bachelor's degree in creative writing and psychology, and credits her time at Lyco with enhancing her writing skills, but also making her a well-rounded individual. She used her time wisely at college, playing the flute in the band, as an intramural swimmer, and as a writer. She focused on sharpening her skills, interning with an urban publisher as a copyeditor, then accepting a copyeditor job after school. It paid off, and about a year after graduating, she signed a multi-book publishing contract with Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press for her Night Blood series.
Her debut novel, "The City Beneath," published in 2015; the second book in the series, "Sweet Last Drop," published in 2016; the third book, "Eternal Reign,'" published in 2017; and her fourth and final book in that series, "Day Reaper," will release in April 2018.
Melody credits her membership in the Romance Writers Association, which she joined while in college, with much of her success. While in college in central Pennsylvania, she traveled to the New Jersey meetings to learn more about her chosen field, mingle with agents and publishers, and improve as a romance writer. She was a finalist in several Romance Writers of America contests, including the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests.
"They were a part of my whole writing journey," Melody said. "We'd have monthly meetings, bring in other authors, agents, sometimes publishers. Also we'd bring in other professionals in their fields. We'd bring in retired police officers, retired FBI agents, to be able to hold craft workshops. All of that is really helpful for the creative process. Also, we'd have opportunities to pitch to the agents and the publishers."
The Nigh Blood novels comprise a serial story. The same characters move through problems chronologically, to the story's end. It's taken Melody four novels to tell the complete story, which spans several months. Now that her serial novels are completed, she's excited to move on to her next project.
"By the time I got to my final book, I was so ready for them to have their epic conclusion," Melody said. "I love that series. It was the first series I ever completed. The first complete story arc for a character over multiple novels. For my next series, I'm going to do an actual series, not a serial. Some of my favorite scenes to write are the first kiss, the first look.That building of tension and them resisting of coming together. So I'm really excited to be able to write some of those scenes again."
So, pick up her "Night Blood" novels today, take your time reading them, and then check back in spring of 2019 when, according to Melody's long-distance philosophy of writing every day, her new book will be finished and on sale.
From Melody Johnson's Amazon page:
The City Beneath (The Night Blood Series): Book 1
As a journalist, Cassidy DiRocco thought she had seen every depraved thing New York City’s underbelly had to offer. But while covering what appears to be a vicious animal attack, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed. Her exposé makes her the target of the handsome yet brutal Dominic Lysander, the Master Vampire of New York City, who has no problem silencing her to keep his coven's secrets safe…
But Dominic offers Cassidy another option: ally. He reveals she is a night blood, a being with powers of her own, including the ability to become a vampire. As the body count escalates, Cassidy is caught in the middle of a vampire rebellion. Dominic insists she can help him stop the coming war, but wary of his intentions, Cassidy enlists the help of the charming Ian Walker, a fellow night blood. As the battle between vampires takes over the city, Cassidy will have to tap into her newfound powers and decide where to place her trust...
Sweet Last Drop (The Night Blood Series): Book 2
Cassidy DiRocco knows the dark side intimately--as a crime reporter in New York City, she sees it every day. But since she discovered that she's a night blood, her power and potential has led the dark right to her doorway. With her brother missing and no one remembering he exists, she makes a deal with Dominic Lysander, the fascinating master vampire of New York, to find him.
Dominic needs the help of Bex, another master vampire, to keep peace in the city, so he sends Cassidy to a remote, woodsy town upstate to convince her--assuming she survives long enough. A series of vicious "animal attacks" after dark tells Cassidy there's more to Bex and her coven than anyone's saying. That goes double for fellow night blood Ian Walker, the tall, blond animal tracker who's supposed to be her ally. Walker may be hot-blooded and hard-bodied, but he's hiding something too. If Cassidy wants the truth, she'll have to squeeze it out herself… every last drop.
Eternal Reign (The Night Blood Series): Book 3
Last week, Cassidy DiRocco had some influence over the vampires that stalk the streets of New York City. She was never completely safe, but with her newfound abilities as a night blood and her honed instincts as a crime reporter, at least she had the necessary skills to survive.
Now, thanks to the injuries she sustained while saving her brother from a fate worse than death, she’s lost her night blood status just as another crime spree hits Brooklyn. Dozens of people are being slaughtered, and each victim bears the Damned’s signature mark; a missing heart.
Cassidy will need the help of all her allies to survive the coming war, including the mysterious and charismatic Dominic Lysander, Master Vampire of New York City. But as his rival’s army threatens his coven and his own powers weaken with the approaching Leveling, even Dominic’s defenses might not be enough protection.
With nothing left to lose, Cassidy must find the power inside herself to save Dominic, his coven, their city, and survive.
Day Reaper (The Night Blood Series): Book 4
On the brink of death, Cassidy DiRocco demands that New York City’s master of the supernatural, Dominic Lysander, transform her—reporter, Night Blood, sister, human—into the very creature she’s feared and fought against for months: a vampire. The pain is brutal, she could lose the career she’s worked so hard to achieve, and her world will never be the same. But surviving is worth any risk, especially when it means gaining the strength to fight against Jillian Allister, the sister who betrayed Dominic, attacked Cassidy, and is leading a vampire uprising that will destroy all of New York City . . .
When she awakens, however, Cassidy realizes the cost of being transformed might be more than she was willing to sacrifice. But if Cassidy hopes to right the irrevocable wrongs that Jillian and her army of the Damned have wrought on New York City, she’ll need to not only accept her new senses, body, and cravings, but wield them in her favor. Irresistible and enigmatic as Dominic is, he no longer has command over the city or its vampires. Only Cassidy has the connections to convince the humans, Day Reapers, and the few vampires still loyal to Dominic to join forces. And maybe, if Dominic can accept her rising power over the coven he once commanded for the past several hundred years, the two of them together might forge a bond more potent than history has ever known. . .
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