Posts Tagged ‘novel’

Where am I now? Not dead, for one.

But more importantly, where am I with my writing plan and goals? This is an author blog, after all (or so I tell myself between sappy, self-indulgent posts). As you may recall, this was the agenda:

  • Get to the next milestone in the new story
  • Outline the restructure of the rewrite novel
  • Restructure the rewrite novel and write new scenes
  • While rewrite novel cools, edit fan fiction novel
  • Post fan fiction novel
  • Edit rewrite novel
  • Return to new story

Shockingly, despite all the efforts of my mind and body to derail me, I am currently working the third/fourth bullets.

I am in the midst of restructuring my rewrite novel, marching through the new outline, rewriting scenes, and adding new pieces as I go. And I am actually loving the work. The book is taking a new shape that I don’t hate, and I am enjoying being back in that world. I remain a touch salty about abandoning my initial vision, but I am making my peace as I see the potential in what it is becoming.

I also sent the fan fiction novel to an editor. I have it back now, so I just need to prep it to release here on this blog. I have an artist friend (anyone who follows me closely knows who) who might contribute some creepy visions to accompany the words. I believe my plan is to release it serially by chapter. Perhaps one per week. It might be more apt to wait until horror season or when the franchise releases another movie but… fuck it. This is a passion project, so it’s about me.

I feel good. I feel like I am regaining my stride, nothing like before this slump (crash/burn/near abandonment of the writing I’ve done since I could hold a pencil). However, I have accepted that I do not need to always be that vicious with my time. The pandemic changed my perspectives (a little) on time management, balance, and being busy.

My marketing and promotion has gone to shit though. Aside from trying to recapture my joy and there being no joy there and trying to find new avenues post-COVID, mostly I am lost in the algorithm-laden bullshit of social media. It is inordinately challenging to connect with people now, even more difficult to get traffic on posts without paying. It’s all content into the abyss. And I have not landed on an alternative yet. I have been spending so much time trying to rekindle my drive that I have not been able to cast a glance in that direction.

Problems for another day.

I am looking forward to having produced something to release into the world. Without the traditional publication process and formal requirements just makes it easier. I am looking forward to reshaping my rewrite novel and hopefully creating something better so I can find a home for it. Then I can return to my WIP novel and start fresh again.


On an unrelated/related note, (I don’t want to jinx it but) I feel like I might be coming out of the recent heavy gloom. I don’t want to be faked out by a fleeting mania, but this feels more substantial. As if I have finally breached the surface and can breathe again.

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

On Being Edited

Posted: March 9, 2022 in writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

So after Followers and during a pandemic, I wrote another novel. Spawned from a blend of world events and inspiration from random history articles, this story took me out of the horror genre for the first time since I started publishing my work. This story also flowed out of me like Savages, and I felt very strong about it. When I started editing and reworking it, I didn’t change much.

Insert red flag.

Then, when I thought it was ready, it got universally rejected. I know every parent thinks their baby is adorable, but even I could understand that this meant something was wrong with my creation. So, for the first time, I turned to an independent editor outside a publishing house.

I have worked with editors before (on all my published works), and I always use beta readers in my drafting process. Yet this is the first time I have interacted with the editor prior to the submission acceptance and outside the publishing process. Call it a new author experience for me. My authoring career is evolving, and I can hitch this on to the dreadful agent querying process.

My book clearly needed help, so I asked around and got recommendations for an independent editor. I sent her my raw, trembling, little baby, and she (and an associate) went through it before providing me an editorial letter of feedback. Standard process, as I understand it.


It is what I asked for. It is what I needed. But damn, it stung.

With my previous books and stories and my other editors, we have worked my pieces over very collaboratively. However, they have never ripped any apart or suggested severe rewrites. In short, I have been spoiled. I have been pushing my boulders up gentle hills and have just now encountered my first mountain.

Currently, I am in the “processing the feedback” stage. I have the editorial letter, and I am digesting the many ideas therein. Next, I will meet with the editor(s) to discuss and brainstorm. Then the fork in the road–what to do? I will need to decide whether to pursue the story, and if I do, I determine what changes to make to it.

Insert heavy sigh weighed down by how daunting this all seems. Didn’t I just finish this book?

My initial emotional reaction was, with so much feedback, was there was anything redemptive in my book? If the plot and the characters and the names and everything need to change, is the story even worth salvaging? Is it really only the idea that survives? Honestly, these insecure pangs still nibble at the back of my brain as I mull it over.

As I am processing the ideas and they are cooling, the sharp edges are blunting. The looming shadows are scaling down so they no longer blot out the sun and I can see over them. Critiques are gradually reshaping into possibilities. If I can remain pragmatic, I can use this arrangement as intended to improve and evolve my story, to level it up into something an agent will accept.

This is not my first critique and far from my most brutal. This is not new territory. However, I feel like I have been coasting for a while, sneaking by in a sweet spot that did not force me to confront my shortcomings.

As I type this, I know that is what I need to do and also what I will end up doing. My feelings have just not caught up yet. My emotions are wounded and tangled on any part that hurts. Based on rejection on so many other fronts, this just seems to deepen the wound. My brain seeks out the confirmation for the pain. As I work my way through it with this words, I see that what I feel isn’t even really about the book or the editorial feedback.

I had finally pulled myself out of a writing slump and dumped myself into a new story. This has knocked me out of that groove. This has me questioning my writing, my quality.

Unfounded, I know. This is part of it, I know. But feelings are feelings.

I need to remember that I do not always need to be accomplishing something. I can rewrite my novel at my leisure. There is no deadline. I can return to my new WIP whenever I want. It is not going anywhere. It is OK to take the time and take the breaks. It is better to get it right and make it better. I do not understand my own urgency, but I need to undo it.

Deep breath… Next step…

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Holy hell, November is over. Wasn’t it just Halloween? Wait, wasn’t it just summer? Or last November? I’m still in some sort of pandemic time warp where time simultaneously flies by yet drags on. How can it be both?

This year, I arrived at November beaten and bruised (mostly psychologically). I decided that November needed to be a self-care month. Part of my anguish centered around my writing career. I was struggling with finding my passion buried under marketing and promoting and querying and the general business of being a writer. I determined I would participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – a challenge to write 50,000 words in November) for the second time. However, I would use it differently this year.

For my inaugural year of NaNoWriMo, I used last November to complete my WIP novel, Green Eyes. The goal and accountability kept me very motivated and on track, and I did finish the draft of my book. That book now stresses me out as I attempt to query it to agents.

This year, the prospect of what happens after the writing had been weighing on me. Editing and submitting and publishing and promoting and selling. I wanted to get back to the writing, so I targeted NaNoWriMo to just be about the writing. Inspiration handed me the solution. I had my very first idea for a fan fiction piece.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit since the characters are copyrighted. I would never have to worry about submitting or querying it for publication and release. I could write in my little sandbox, and it never needed to go farther than that. I supposed that could be true about any piece, yet with fan fiction, I would never be able to talk myself into more.

So I wrote 50,000 words just to write 50,000 words. I wrote fan fiction just to play and try it out. It was fun. It was liberating. It was no pressure. I even learned some things. In short, it served the purpose I wanted.

For my project, I decided to write within the Scream universe. It seemed fitting to dabble in fan fiction there since it was my first horror movie, where my love affair began.

My story is basically the first movie but centered on Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. It also includes some before the events of the movie and some after. Spoiler alert: Billy and Stu are the killers, so the story details how they decided to start killing people, how they selected their victims, how they constructed their plan, the logistics of how the pulled off the events of the film, and what I think happened after the credits.

To accomplish this story, I wanted to remain loyal to Scream, merely augment it with additional perspectives, give it more depth and explanation. To do this, I watched Scream probably ten times in stuttering 2-5 minute increments.

Then I also found the movie script online to lift necessary dialog. This was a true learning experience. I am not familiar with script writing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or read a real script. I am, however, pretty familiar with the film, so it was a trip to see it captured on the page. Where the actors adlibbed or followed the lines. How much is scripted versus directed. These are things I never knew or appreciated.

So I spent the month just writing and living inside one of my favorite movies.

Is it any good? I have no idea. No one has read it yet, including me. What will I do with it? I honestly have no idea. Perhaps I wrote it just for me. Maybe it was just a writing exercise to get my creative juices flowing and my passion rekindled. Or perhaps I will put it out on this blog for free, which is about all I can do with fan fiction.

What do you think? What should become of my little pet project?

While I was not as successful on the rest of self-care November, my NaNoWriMo project did the job. I feel refreshed to approach Green Eyes again. I also have a new original novel idea. Then I have five existing books out there to sell!

Christina Bergling

What happens when online followers show up uninvited into real life? Find out in this reading from Followers. Out this Friday from Crystal Lake Publishing!

You can pre-order Followers on Amazon.

Christina Bergling

My fifth book, Followers, comes out from Crystal Lake Publishing on Friday. It seems like an appropriate time to introduce some of the cast of characters contained within its pages.

Sidney lives part of her life with the people around her but also has a secondary life online. As such, the characters in Followers appear in Sidney’s real and/or virtual life.

Real Life


Sidney is the protagonist of Followers. A single mother with a dull day job, Sidney has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. She’s determined to make her website a success, and if her growing pool of online followers is any indication, things are looking good.

Sidney loves horror, perhaps too much to see horror blossoming in her own life. Despite all the grief she gets from her mother and ex-husband, she continues to pour fake blood on herself in pursuit of her goal. She uses all the online followers she accrues online to soothe the insecurity she feels from wrecking her marriage. The more she amasses, the more addicted she becomes to the adoration.


Kendra is Sidney’s roommate and cofounder of their Divorced Wives’ Club. Kendra may loathe horror, but she supports Sidney’s ambition within it. She only wishes Sidney would be more cautious and calculating with all those strangers online.


Cameron is Sidney’s young son, muddling his way through his parents’ messy divorce. Cameron presses his mother’s guilt to persuade her to let him watch horror with her.


Brady is Sidney’s extravagant photographer accomplice. As Jagged Rainbow Photography, Brady creates all of the fake blood photographs Sidney uses for clickbait on her horror articles. Brady and his husband, Jordan, also step in to help Sidney when she needs emotional support.


Aiden is Sidney’s ex-husband. Still bitter from Sidney’s infidelity and the resulting split, Aiden makes interactions very unpleasant. He cites her love of horror as evidence of inferior parenting.


Wes is Sidney’s horror buddy. He conducts live tweets and also attends horror film festivals with her. His online persona also crosses over with hers.

Virtual Life


Adam is Sidney’s longest follower. They speak online all day, every day. Though flirtatious, he asks her about her day, and they talk about nearly all aspects of their real lives. Sidney considers him an actual friend.


Oliver is a long-standing follower who flirts shamelessly and aggressively with Sidney. He messages daily with compliments and demanding pictures.


Max is a new follower who emerges after Sidney’s blood bath pictures. He begins with the normal follower pattern but quickly escalates with alarming horror references.


Allison joins Sidney’s live tweet then begins messaging her more regularly. Sidney feels a strange safety messaging with her. They quickly become friends. Sidney finds herself confessing things to Allison she is not telling anyone else.

When Horror Crosses Over

Sidney thinks horror and her followers exist on the other side her screen. Yet the more she plays, the more she pushes on that boundary, the closer both come to her real life. Until they cross over. Find out what happens when Sidney’s online followers bring horror into her real life in Followers… on Friday!

Christina Bergling

As I keep saying, Followers is coming on September 24th from Crystal Lake Publishing. What better teaser than the first chapter! Meet Sidney and her photographer friend, Brady, as they make fake blood horror art in the opening scene of Followers.

Followers will be released September 24th by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Christina Bergling

Emma murders her dates in THE REST WILL COME. Listen to me read one such encounter. find more in THE REST WILL COME.

You can find The Rest Will Come on Amazon.

Christina Bergling

I started my reading practice videos with Savages. Fitting as it is my first book. Months later, we are back at Savages again. Have I gotten any better? You tell me…

You can find Savages here (including audiobook!):

Christina Bergling

New mic, who this? Darth Vader, apparently 😆

I wrote Savages amidst the post-apocalyptic zombie craze. How do I feel about it years later after a global pandemic and watching people freak out over toilet paper? And how do you feel about it?

Find Savages here:

Christina Bergling

Per my marketing plan (that I am trying to hold myself to), I am supposed to be writing a blog about my book Savages.

However, if I’m honest, my mind is like quicksand lately. Thoughts turn into holes that swallow and crush me until I can no longer breathe. Motivation and focus are figments I cannot seem to get my hands around. Whenever I seem to catch my balance, a hole in the bottom of my brain opens, and I am dragged below the surface again.

I am in this place for many reasons. Things happening in my life, my brain itself. This place is not new. I am a frequent visitor.

And perhaps these broken fragments of my mind do piece back together and relate to Savages. Savages started in this place, after all. The idea came from the darkness, blossomed in my hopelessness.

Sometimes, there is inspiration in the darkness.

Other times, like now, there is mental catatonia there. Lethargy. Detachment. Resignation. Overwhelm.

Yet Savages came from that terrible and wonderful balance when the darkness pinched and sliced and bled some brilliance out of me. I took everything awful I felt and tried to say something beautiful with it. Did I succeed? You would have to read it to decide.

When I read Savages (and I have and I have listened to the audiobook), I always feel the same swell of emotions that inspired and drafted the book. Savages will probably always be my baby, my first book and my first love. They are all still tucked right behind the words. I feel all the darkness soaked into the pages. So I’ll never be able to see the work objectively (as if the author ever could). It will always exist in the dark place for me.

I don’t know why depression and writing walk hand in hand for me. Mania and writing surely do not, though I would love to fuel my craft with that energy. There is just a certain point in the descent, a certain shade in the darkness where my mind unfurls and all the words pour down on me. Any deeper and it swallows and crushes me, but before that pain is some terrible sweet spot.

I have been asked if it is worth it, to suffer the pain for my art. On some days, curled up at the bottom unable to think, I would say no. However, on most days, when I hold something like Savages in my hand that was born from that darkness, I do not even hesitate. It is always worth it, and I honestly do not know how I would function without it.

If you want to read my dark baby, you can find Savages here: I personally recommend the audiobook, but I might just love to hear my words in someone else’s voice.

(Apologies for the detached brevity. Hopefully, next month finds me more solidified in my efforts.)

Christina Bergling