Tag Archives: breath of stone

Collision, Concussion, Consequence

carcrash3.1If you follow me on different platforms–okay, primarily Twitter, truth told–you’ll know I was in a car accident about a week ago.  At first, I considered myself unhurt, applying the rather incomplete and stupid standard of, “No bleeding, no broken bones, able to walk–I’m good.”  Then I spent the night with an increasing painful headache, dropping off to sleep whether I wanted to or not, and awakening over and over with room-spinning nausea.  Word mix-ups, wonky scent and taste perception, and time distortions came next.

Yep.  Concussion.

So I’ve been under all sorts of restrictions, including time spent on any sort of screen.  Much more than thirty minutes in, and I have to quit for at least a couple of hours because the headache and blurry vision start closing in.

Writing by hand is a tad easier, simply because–unlike computer work–the vision starts to blur before the headache comes along.  Believe me, as much as I’d rather speed along on the computer, I’ll take the blurry-vision warning over the headache any day.  But it does mean I pretty much can’t work right now.

Putting together a blog post over the course of two days is one thing, but copyediting ad and marketing copy is quite another.  And keeping the plot straight while revising a multi-POV novel.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

So while I’m waiting for my smooshed brain to recover, I’ll just remind y’all my Patreon is still plugging along with original articles on self-defense, fight scenes, whiskey, and puppers.  A dollar a month gets you first-eyes access.  In the next four weeks, there will be a new fight scene analysis, too, so it’s a good time to jump in if you haven’t already!

And I’m having a Post-Collision Concussion Sale on all the novels!  Sand of Bone, Breath of Stone, and the stand-alone Sword and Chant are all only $2.99 until the doctors clear me to resume working.  If you’ve been waiting for the price-drop, this is your chance!  If you liked any of them, please pass along the links!  If you didn’t like them at all… well, thank you for sticking with me anyway!  🙂

Next week, brain willing, I’ll also be talking about the upcoming Sirens Conference, timing for new releases, and the cookbook that I swear I haven’t forgotten.

So in the meantime… Stay safe, my Darlings, and enjoy this season of transition.

#SFWApro

 

And Now, For the Next Step…

Thank you for buying Breath of Stone!  I hope you’re enjoying it.  If you’re so inclined to leave a review at the point of purchase, Goodreads, or both, I’d much appreciate it.

The next in the series is solidly underway.  There’s some plotting left to do, and a couple nifty ideas popped up to bump up my excitement level, too.  One cool aspect is the inclusion of a character created by a Patreon backer who looks to become a key viewpoint character.  I do feel as if I have a lovely running start at this one.

I’m also poking at a shorter work that is both loosely related and completely different.  We’ll see how it comes along.

For anything other than the basics of writing fiction, writing for clients, and Auntie-ing for my nephews, the month of July is all but gone.  Sure, I can catch the occasional meal with a friend, but I’m not seeing much time beyond that.  Lots of family events–moving, wedding, kid events, and so forth–shall eat the days before I know it.

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Breath of Stone Is Up!

Breath of Stone, the second novel of Desert Rising, is available now!

Bone returns to silt and sand,
Blood to salt and water,
Breath to wind and stone,
Soul to sun and storm.
The desert consumes us all.

522-BreathOfStone-cover - CopyFor an instant, the desert heeded Syrina’s call–sand and fire, wind and stone, igniting and attacking at her command. But the triumph killed ally and enemy alike, leaving her with a handful of survivors, broken expectations, and a dead man’s boots.

There is no time to mourn.

The desert longs to feed on any Velshaan, and Raskah is willing to trade his own soul to command the sands. With hostages to ransom and the desert itself as his thrall, he will demand Syrina’s surrender before surmounting the rest of their kin.

But Commander Pyrius rejects defeat and refuses surrender. Despite years of exile, his skill and honor is remembered by Blade and bloodkin alike, and he will risk everything in his past to forge hope for the future.

But none of then yet understand that what is gained cannot always be lost when one chooses, and what is possessed sometimes refuses to be abandoned.

Breath of Stone is currently available through Amazon.

Really and truly, my darlings, I’m so excited to see this novel finally make it to your hands, and look forward to hearing from you!  If you’re inclined to leave a review, or add it to your Goodreads list, I’d so appreciate it.

And if you’re a Patreon supporter at a higher tier, your copy of Breath of Stone will soon be on its way to you!

I can assure you the next novel is already underway–now partially written and charted out with the Magic Index Cards.

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These Books, Those Books

The revisions for Breath of Stone are nearly complete!  Folks over at Patreon are getting a sneak-peak, and I’ll have a release date set for everyone within the coming week.

522-BreathOfStone-cover - CopyThe outlines for the third and fourth novels in the series are growing muscle and flesh, in no small part because of the contributions made by Patreon folks.  One patron opted for the reward of becoming a character in the novel, and the ensuing discussion of what role the character would play has providing a strong subplot and cultural creation.  Another patron’s input on medical matters has created an entire character arc I might not have considered otherwise.  And yet another has provided information on some travel opportunities that’ll enhance the upcoming two novels.

Sure, the actual putting-words-on-paper part of writing is solitary.  But you know what?  My actual writing process has always been based on community, and for that I am so grateful.

Speaking of community, I’ve met some fantastic, smart, and supportive writers through the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and am doubly happy to have the chance to work with some of them through StoryBundle.  The top ten novels are available in a single bundle for one more week.

All Covers LargeYou will like these novels, my darlings.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  (Though why you wouldn’t is absolutely beyond my ken…)  The books in the bundle have been extensively viewed, reviewed, and vetted by ten great book bloggers.  Take their word for it.  And mine.  Combine our words, for heaven’s sake.

And choose what you’d like to pay for the bundle.  And, if you’d like, send some of that chosen payment toward Girls Write Now.

And speaking of the SPFBO, I’ve opted to submit Sword and Chant for the upcoming round, and it looks like I’ve been assigned to the good folks over at Fantasy Faction.  Someone asked me if that increased or decreased my “chances” of moving ahead.  The answer is… who knows!  I suppose I could spend a ton of time analyzing their tastes and preferences, but it in the end, such scrying won’t mean a thing.  Taste is taste, and how a story strikes a reader can change depending on the day, on what was read before, on what was read after.

SwordAndChant-cover1-white-2500pxAnd  I’ve said before, it’s a different sort of novel–written in omni, with a very large cast, that plays with tropes about blood, assassins, gods, and rebellions.  It’s my heart-novel, in many ways.  I’d guess about a third of folks who start Sword and Chant decide it is so  not the story they want, and many of the things those readers dislike are the things other readers do like.  The cool thing about self-publishing is I can choose to keep writing for folks who like it. 🙂

But to make myself (and, hopefully, you!) happy I’ve also opted to put it on sale.

 

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Mundane Miscellany

If I haven’t made huge mistakes in the trauma/recovery area, I’m thinking I can wrap up revisions on Breath of Stone by the end of the weekend. I’d like to say sooner, but I’ve perhaps a couple hours a day for it through the next seven days. (When I sell more books, I’ll get to do fewer non-fiction projects…)  Then I must draft cover copy, and that’s just… SIGH.

I’ll be posting a couple chapters for patrons over at Patreon, along with this month’s article on injuries and trauma and healing.

There is a second Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off underway! I’m thinking of putting Sword and Chant in the mix. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of novel. Even some of the most complimentary reviews mention it’s difficult to define. And it’s written in omni viewpoint.  More than ever, the response will depend on the reviewer randomly assigned the odd thing.

I’ve found new places I want to camp!  Pawnee Grasslands, Toadstool Geologic Park, Paint Mines, Palo Duro, Bisti Badlands….  And of course these longings are strongest when over a foot and a half of snow sits outside my door.

Have you see the schedule for the Nebulas?  There is cool, cool stuff happening there, and the cost of the conference itself is, in my opinion, darn good.  Alas, the Chicago location is far too expensive for me.  Maybe next time.

I’ll still be taping my own NOTx talk on the most important aspect of self-publishing!  I was trying to set up a small audience, but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon, alas, so it’ll likely just be me talking to you.

Lastly, the ankle is improving more quickly than I would have anticipated.  Just walking, there is nothing but a lingering tightness.  Going upstairs is quite workable.  Going downstairs happens slowly and stiffly, one stair at a time.  Side to side motion isn’t all that fun, and rotation doesn’t feel very good at all.  But progress!  It’s healing!

And now, back to work!

#SFWApro

 

 

 

Little News Bits

 

Just a few days ago, I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Cat Rambo, marvelous writer and president of SFWA (who also has a Patreon you can find here).

She is an absolute delight!  The kind of writer who knows her craft and her business, and is excited about sharing her knowledge and connections with others.  The sort of person who is genuinely interested in others, and damned interesting in her own right.  Our time together, chatting about everything from family dynamics to SFWA projects, was immensely enjoyable.

I drove home from our meeting buoyed both by her encouragement and her expressions of creativity.  And I’m looking forward to jumping back into SFWA matters the moment I complete Breath of Stone.

Nothing is being done before I complete Breath of Stone, darlings.  NothingI’m down to oe new chapter that needs composing and a couple that need some extensive revisions.  Then it goes out to beta readers who have been so damned patient and supportive, I feel unworthy.  Hopefully, those betas will enjoy the novel more than they feel the need to rip it apart.  Once I hear their feedback, I’ll have a good idea on the upcoming release date.

The last year has made a few things abundantly clear: I cannot write a massive novel in the same twelve months I must shepherd my homeschooled son through the last year of high school, train a replacement to take over one business, move cross-country, and set the foundation to launch a new business in a new location.  I don’t believe I’ll be willingly taking on that level of insanity again!

A fewadditional quick notes:

–A new Patreon article will go up next week!  In this one, we’ll look at the key principles that’ll strengthen any fight scene, regardless of how simple or complex you want it to be.  And the Patreon is only $35 away from adding author/fighter interviews and fight scene breakdowns as regular, monthly features, and about $115 away from adding a monthly video.  (Yes, a video.  I’m insane.)

–Remember that podcast on fight scenes I recorded for Beyond the Trope?  It’ll be available for listening in a little more than two weeks!  I’m hoping it sounds half as good as it was fun to record.  As soon as I have the link, I’ll send it out to y’all.  Okay, as soon as I have the link, and have listened to it myself, and have decided I don’t sound like an idiot…  then I’ll let you know. 🙂

–I am registered for 4th Street Fantasy!  I had a marvelous time last year, and can’t wait to not only connect with the cool folks I know through Viable Paradise and the awesome people I met last year, but to meet new people as well.

And now… back to the chapters!

#SFWApro

Breath of Stone — Rolling Along

522-BreathOfStone-cover - CopyMy Darlings Most Patient and Understanding,

I awoke one morning last week with a solution to the writing logjam I’ve been hammering at for a couple, three weeks now.  So I spent some hours playing with it–sketching dialog (that’s always my Step One), writing bridges, checking timelines–and determined that, yes indeed, it would work.

And there was much rejoicing throughout the land!  Well, my home, at least.  It included nachos and bacon.

This solution includes five new chapters, and I’m excited to write each one.  After fleshing out the notes well enough that I can call future work on them “revisions” rather than “writing from outline,” I printed out the whole thing.

I don’t print unless and until I’m ready to call what I’m printing an actual draft.

So.  Official first draft achieved, clocking in at 117K.  We’ll see what it is once all the changes and additions are made.

There’s a wee bit of additional good news as well.  Book Three is almost 50% written already.  There will not not not not again be so many months between novels.

And… I have no title for Book Three (and Four, which is all planned out, too).  I need titles.  I cannot come up with anything that rhymes with bone and stone without hitting my giggle-factors.  (Silence of Cone!  Twilight of Phone!  Tone and Moan!)  And for consistency’s sake, I’d like the second pair to have the same rhythm as the first pair.  More on that when I have ideas for bouncing.

I’m working on the fight analysis piece for Patreon, too.  It’ll be from Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell, a novel I recently read and love-love-loved for so many reasons.  Rather than talk about what does and doesn’t work — that depends too much of genre, subgenre, and targeted audience — it will instead focus on pacing, word choice, pov submersion, and so forth.

Though the fight scene articles will be Patreon-only, I’ll be posting the first one here as well so folks know what I mean when I refer to them. (By the by, I will never use a fight scene I think fails.  While it can be instructive, I’d rather remain positive.)

So there we go! Even with the holidays approached, I’ve managed to work through about a fourth of the revisions in the last week. I’m growing happier and happier with the process and the outcome. And truly, I’m thrilled that the solution to my banging-head-against-wall problem results in, essentially, an additional book.

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Revisiting the Wherefore

ClearCamaraFeb2013 112

About three years ago, my first novel came out.

No, wait.  That’s not right.  Let’s try…

About three years ago, I released my first novel.

Each sentence is nine words long.  The end result — readers can buy my story — is the same.  But the implied process was very different.

Back then, I told a writerly friend I expected it’d take five or so years for the trade-versus-indie bluster to fade.  If one knows the industry solely from popular online discussions, that estimate sounds wildly optimistic.  If one talks to writers who’ve taken the time to understand their evolving options, it’s not so far off.  As mentioned here, the “versus” is a sickly beast many have already left behind.

With that in mind, and in light of the reprised conversation on Fantasy Faction, I thought I’d revisit a post from 2012 explaining why I chose to return to SF writing as an indie author rather than resume riding the query-go-round, and see how well my reasoning held up.

Continue reading Revisiting the Wherefore

The Latest On Breath of Stone

522-BreathOfStone-cover - CopyWe are closing in on a draft worth showing to other people.  This is good news.

And yet, as you know, I’m readying to move over a thousand miles west of my current location.  I’m wrapping up my karate commitments—working with upcoming instructors on their teaching methods, adding more private lessons—investing additional time with the remaining wellness clients I’ve had even though I no longer run a practice, and trying to at least tip my hat to eighteen years’ worth of relationships.  My son and I are working to complete the final testing for his high school diploma while he works his last weeks and manages car repairs.  And at some point, I should actually pack.

Just to make things interesting, my laptop is crashing at random moments.  It always reboots, but since it’s a kajillion years old, I’m surprised every time it successfully does so.  A replacement computer isn’t in the cards until after the move, alas.

All of those things are bad news in relation to how quickly Breath of Stone will reach your hands.

And that truth, my darlings, makes clear my biggest learning curve as an indie author: accurately estimating the time any given project requires me to create.  Three times out of three, I’ve given you an estimate.  Three times out of three, my darlings, I’ve been wrong.

So… the answer to “When will Breath of Stone be published?” must now be, “When I know the novel will not disappoint you.”  Really, I could slap something together in the next couple of weeks.  But I believe delivering a substandard novel on time is far, far worse than delivering a solid novel late, and your positive enthusiasm drives me to give you the best.

The first first draft for Breath of Stone grew long.  So, so long.  So very long, I found myself rushing and cutting and cramming the story into something akin to a bad 90-minute TV adaptation of a multi-volume series.

And I was only two-thirds of the way to the end.

The solution I chose?  Change where Breath of Stone will end, set aside a chunk of chapters for what will become Book 3, and go back to the beginning to reshape the novel.

Y’see, when a writer tries to put too much story into too little space and/or time, something’s gotta give.  We end up with simplistic relationships because we can provoke a response in a reader by using a cliche or two.  Motivations seem unrealistic because we have to cut the 200-word dialog exchange that enhances a character’s flaw or goal.  Action feels choppy because transitions are pulled out.  Or—my own pet peeve—the book ends a heartbeat after the climax, as if achieving victory is harder than facing its consequences, so there needn’t be any words expended on resolution.

That’s not the novel I want to write.  I want to give you the novel that has in it what made Sand of Bone an enjoyable read for you.  I can’t do that if I’m cramming for length or time.  I’m just not good enough yet, I suppose, to turn out lovely story in the midst of life-chaos.  I wish I were!

I suppose you’ll just have to put up with me–rather, I can humbly request you put up with me!–until I master this learning curve. 🙂

In the meantime, here’s what I need to know from you:

Do you want preview chapters?  These would go to newsletter subscribers first, then be posted on a link-only page at the website.  These would be draft quality, and subject to change, but it’s sometimes fun to get a preview of the upcoming novel and to see what happens between the writing and the publishing.

Do you want to know more about the research pieces that go into the story, perhaps including notes and comments from folks I’ve consulted with?

What other things sound interesting?  I must admit, I’m not much of a “Let’s hold a contest!” gal.  But I’d love to have more discussions, and I’d love-lovelove to post developmental and editing examples using writing samples (voluntarily submitted, anonymous or otherwise, and I’d toss my own into the mix if requested as well) to talk about choices, shaping a scene, and delivering emotional verve.

Breath of Stone is coming.  So are the next two novels in the series.  If those continue to make readers happy, there will be two more.  After all, I cannot very well write novels about the fallout of intergenerational conflict without at least glimpsing what the next generation will do with the problems created by the current one!

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If you’d like to sign up for that newsletter I mentioned above, click here.

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Update: Breath of Stone

522-BreathOfStone-cover - CopyMy darlings, there is indeed forward movement!

This week and next week are for major structural revisions.  We’re talking quite major here.  Were this an architectural project, I’d be doing something akin to replacing spiral staircases with glass elevators, and installing fireplaces in place of heating ducts.  Sure, it would be relatively simple were I just changing the artistic renderings.  But elevators and fireplaces require the installation or creation of all sorts of things that’ll be hidden behind panels and walls, and its the hidden things that make the obvious and visible function at it’s best.  That’s what has consumed my time.

Plot is easy.  Story is hard.

If I do it properly and well, if I take the time to do it right, maybe the reader won’t notice.  Maybe it’ll look effortless.  And I want it to seem that way.  I want the story to capture and resonate.  Yeah, I put in little connections and hints and call-backs, but I’d prefer they work without distracting the reader with their presence.

I don’t want to be a clever writer (which is good, because I am not clever).  I don’t want to be a writer-as-character in the story.  I want the story to be for the reader.

So.  The tentative schedule goes something like this:

Between now and next weekend, I need to retrofit the existing manuscript.  This includes stripping out a subplot that not only wandered into the hinterlands but tried to drag the main plot with it, replacing those chapters with what will actually work, and reordering some of the remaining pieces so they fit better into the structure.  I estimate it’ll take about 20K words of new material.

Then I really want to take another week to make one more pass before sending it along to beta readers.

Then I shall send it to my beta readers.  I suspect I’ll do a great deal of compulsive cleaning and packing around that time.

Then I fix All the Things.

Then I get a proofreading, and fix All the Other Things I screwed up while fixing All the Things the first time.

Then I format.

Then I send it out into the world!

Newsletter subscribers will get a release-date heads up–and access to a discounted price at Amazon*–before I make the general release announcement.  (How do you get the newsletter, you ask?  Why, you can sign up right here!)

And once it’s out there in the wild, I will again throw myself into packing and cleaning, which will likely distract me from the nail-biting wait to see the early reviews.

Thank you for your patience and encouragement, my darlings.  I promise the next one won’t take nearly so long to get to your hands.

Yes, I did say the next one. There will be more.  Hee.

*Why only Amazon?  Because when I make pricing changes, Amazon responds in a timely manner.  Other retailers and distributors take their long, long time.  Amazon’s response time is measured in hours, other measured in days and days.

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