Tag Archives: Sand of Bone

Violence and Viewpoint

In self-defense, hesitation can kill.  We’ve talked about that One-Mississippi before, yes?  Waiting to act—even when that wait is a natural “Is this really happening?” moment—can mean the difference between striking before the attacker grabs, or having to fight with a bleeding head injury.  It can mean the difference between an escape made on your feet or fighting a losing battle the ground.

That push against hesitation must be balanced against circumstances, though.  If a drunk gets handsy with me in the pub, I shouldn’t hesitate to stop him… but I should not slam the ridge of my hand against his throat, gouge out an eyeball, and stomp his ribcage until I puncture a lung. 100_2182

Hesitation can kill a story, too, especially when it comes to emotional impact.  We writers shouldn’t shy from realistically portraying the cost of making choices or exploring the consequences of action and inaction. But writers must, too, find a balance—especially when depicting violence in accordance with genre expectations.  Continue reading Violence and Viewpoint

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.

#SFWApro

 

Cover Reveal: Breath of Stone

Thanks to the wonderful work of Cabil Services, we have the perfect cover for Breath of Stone.

522-BreathOfStone-cover - Copy

 

I love it.  I love, love, love it.  And I totally love how the two covers work together.

Now: One of the most wonderful comments a writer can hear from readers is, “I hope there’s a sequel!”  And I do a happy dance of joy for each reader who said that after reading Sand of Bone.

I so wanted to have that sequel, Breath of Stone, completed for you by the end of April.  Alas, it simply isn’t going to happen without sacrificing quality (and sleep, and sanity, and paying my electric bill…).  In the spirit of total honesty, I confess I both greatly overestimated what I could accomplish in the time available to me and greatly underestimated the number of life events that would demand my time and emotional energy.

I hope to do better on both in the future, and apologize for the delay.

The revised target date is July 2015.  The additional time will make it a better story.

See, the thing is, I’m really excited about the story Breath of Stone is shaping up to be.  There’s all the action and intrigue of Bone, but the stakes are higher, the choices more brutal, and the characters more demanding of their own dwindling faith.  No one reaches the end unscathed.

Actually, no one reaches the halfway point unscathed.

But for all the darkness, there is hope and devotion and deserved loyalty as well.

And though Breath of Stone completes the major story arcs set forth in Sand of Bone, there are plenty of openings for another pair of novels if y’all tell me, “I hope there’s a sequel!” again.

So.  July.

Thank you for understanding, my darlings.  I intend to give you a story worth the wait.  You deserve nothing less.

And if you want to be among the first to access Breath of Stone, receive a free ebook of Serpent Heart, and have input on future projects, consider signing up for the Sand and Stone Newsletter.

 

#SFWApro

 

 

 

A Review, A Musing, and A Last Call

 

The Review:  As you might know, fantasy author Mark Lawrence put together the framework of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (details here), and Bob Milne of Beauty In Ruins is the book blogger randomly assigned to evaluate Sand of Bone.  Can I just say that any review whose opening sentence includes the phrase “quite astounding” is enough to make this writer do the Snoopy happy dance?  Check it out for yourself–both the praise and the critique.

*quickly pulls out soapbox*

And I’ll reiterate my belief that connecting more trade-focused/trade-exclusive reviewers with quality self-published works is vital if we (writers and reviewers) want to remain relevant to the conversations readers–those marvelous beings who sustain us all–are having about books the trade industry might not known exist.  If a self-published writer pulls down seven to eight thousand sales in pre-orders, and the majority of trade industry participants have no idea who that writer is–let alone that she exists!–that’s an issue to be considered, my darlings.

*slides soapbox back under the desk*

The Musing: In the past, I’ve discussed my approach to reading and analyzing reviews.  In short, I believe the old advice of “Don’t read your reviews” is rather unhelpful because analyzing reviews help the writer identify what she can do better on the marketing front as well as the writing front.  A writer who understands what her supporting readers love is a writer better able to reach similar readers.  It’s with that in mind that I fold Milne’s review into my understanding of why people like and dislike all or part of my work.

More than one reviewer (though, thankfully, not the majority!) have mentioned the pacing flagged for them somewhere in the middle.  Of those who specified why, it’s about an even split between basic training elements and palace intrigue elements.  (Of those who didn’t specify, it’s quite possible everything felt slow to them. ) Yet folks on both sides say they are glad they pushed through that section to finish the novel, so… what gives?

On the surface, it can seem to confusing, even contradictory.  Should I reduce the palace intrigue?  Should I reduce the military/training aspects?  Should I just let it be and assume readers who enjoy one but not the other will continue to “push through” to the end?

The answer is no, no, and no.

Truly, Sand of Bone’s final chapters would have delivered a completely different visceral package had either element been missing.  The decisions made on the palace-intrigue side would carry completely different implications without the military and basic training elements.   The consequences on the military side would be so much less important were it not for the palace intrigue.

As a reader and a writer, I want both elements in my stories.  I’m as interested in what happens on the frontline as I am in what happens in the secret bunker.  I want to know what the soldier and the general thinks, believes, fears, and contrives.  So the solution isn’t to choose a “side,” but to improve my ability to write compelling chapters that unfailingly funnel the reader to turn to the next chapter regardless of the story elements.

Last Call:  The Sand and Stone Newsletter will go out to subscribers the night of Wednesday, April 22.  It’ll include your link to a free and easy download of Serpent Heart, the latest news and cover reveal for Breath of Stone, and an opportunity to give input on future projects.  If you’d like to be part of it, sign up here.

 

The Military Fantasy Thing

Somewhere along the way, I ended up writing military fantasy.

I didn’t intend to, really.  Maybe way back, when I was first putting stories together, I had a notion.  But really, I can’t recall ever thinking to call them “military fantasy.”  But once others applied that label, and when I read their reviews and impressions…  Let’s just say I’d forgive you for not believing me, because of course it’s military fantasy.

Sword and Chant Cover

So here’s how the truth tapped me on the shoulder:

Continue reading The Military Fantasy Thing

Insert Catchy Title Here!

My internet access last night was as slow as an exhausted sloth slogging through mud with kettleballs chained to its ankles, and writing on the computer in any position — sitting, standing, reclining, whatever — was distractingly uncomfortable. Thus I spent some hours stretched out across the bed to write by hand while the hip discomfort receded to an ignorable dull ache.

Excellent forward progress was made on Breath of Stone, the sequel to Sand of Bone. Considering I cut thousands of words with a fell swoop not too long ago, I’m pleased to have gained ground once again. Best of all, the collection of chapters that actively fought to escape the rules of a timeline are now behaving properly. I’ll still need to do some trimming of edges here and there, but no characters now need teleportation to arrive at their proper plot-required destinations.

I’m closing in on the sprint. I can feel that sense of urgency coming—the sudden clarity that happens when I can hold the entire plot in my head while, at the same time, focusing on an individual scene. By the end of the week, barring intrusions, I should hit stride again.

Oh, and I had a birthday yesterday. Nothing terrible happened. In fact, it was rather pleasant. Best of all, my sister—who readily points out she is the younger sister—flew into town last night. Icky roads and flight delays meant she didn’t arrive until around midnight, but we stayed up until 3am to make up for it. So worth it.

Maybe I’ll actually risk planning something fun and interesting and ambitious for my 45th birthday next year.*

And in the meantime, links and commentary!
Continue reading Insert Catchy Title Here!