Tag Archives: sword and chant

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

 

Options and Decisions (aka An Abundance of Ideas)

Over the last couple days, I’ve mentioned here and there I’m in the process of evaluating career options, and a subset of that evaluation is choosing the fiction projects that’ll come up once Breath of Stone is launched in the coming month(ish).

The overall career stuff is… complicated. A matter of deciding priorities, time expenditures, current needs, future plans, and professional satisfaction. Some things are working wonderfully, but I’m not certain I want to keep working them. Other things are more risky and will require time investment, but I’m drawn to them nonetheless. We shall see. 🙂

Anyway! It was suggested I share my Next Project Dilemma to see what y’all might want to see next. So! *drumroll* Here are the fiction projects on the horizon!

Books Three and Four of Desert Rising: These are the SheyKhala novels, picking up after Breath of Stone. These are long books—at least 125K words each. They take awhile. That said, Book Three is completely plotted and partially written. Book Four is partially plotted.

Tomorrow’s Bones: Continuing the story of Sword and Chant. Chant was written as a stand-alone, but was always the opening to something more. This is a story that nags me often, but has a much smaller audience (at least at this time).

The Slaughterer: Something completely different! A stand-alone about a bounty-hunter pulled into his family’s decision to run a kind of Underground Railroad for magic workers.

Suffragette Story: This one dropped into my brain, almost fully formed, during last year’s Sirens Conference. It’s alternate/secret history of the fight to gain women the right to vote, complete with magic and martial arts.

The new series I still struggle to describe: If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s paranormal rural, but sometimes urban, contemporary fantasy. There are ghosts and small towns and historical sites and some city settings and sentient elements being manipulated as weapons. Each book is shorter than my usual tome, and I’d likely complete three of them before even publishing the first.

So… There are considerations that must be taken into account. Current faithful readers, market sizes, audience potential, variable time to be invested on each project…

But I’d love to hear what you think! The reader’s perspective, the writer’s perspective, your perspective.

Help me out here, my darlings! Talk about preferences as a reader, scheduling experience as a writer, knowledge, gut feelings, EVERYTHING.

Crossposted at These Certain Musings.  Comment here or there.

 

#SFWApro

 

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.

 

#SFWApro

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

New Bits On SAND OF BONE

At last!

Sand of Bone is available for Nook through Barnes & Noble.

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There’s also a great review by Sherwood Smith at Goodreads.  (Cool news about her upcoming release can be found here.)

My favorite thing about the review?  She discusses her grimdark limits as a reader and where Sand of Bone falls on that continuum — information so important to readers choosing their story experience.

I want the folks who buy Sand of Bone to be GLAD they did so.  I don’t want readers surprised by a book that’s darker than — or not as dark as — their expectation.  As I’ve said before, my goal as a publisher is not to sell as many books as possible.  It’s to sell as many books as possible to readers who will enjoy them.

And folks have been buying Sand of Bone through Amazon and Smashwords!  Hooray and thank you!  (And it’s been nice to see Sword and Chant get a little bump as well.)  Now all you wonderful Nook readers can get in on the action.

 

Remember to sign up for the newsletter that’ll keep you up to date on my upcoming books,  convention travels, writing progress and more!

The “I Can’t Make It To Worldcon!” Sale

Maybe you can’t make it to Worldcon, but you can meet a new author or spend some time with a favorite one, without spending too much money.

Starting today, August 14, you can pick up any of the titles below at special staying-home prices.   Sword and Chant is included at the sale price of $1.99 for Kindle and Nook .

The sale ends August 20, so pick them up now, let your friends know, and enjoy!

Continue reading The “I Can’t Make It To Worldcon!” Sale

Breaking Rules For Principles

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Honestly – I don’t go around looking for rules to break. I don’t get my kicks and giggles from bucking conventional wisdom. It just… happens. I didn’t like the education opportunities others had created, so I’ve homeschooled my son for nearly nine years. I don’t like standard workweek obligations and expectations, so I contract and freelance all over the place. I didn’t like driving slowly on mountain roads, so I drove my ’66 Mustang around hairpin curves while stepping on the gas and—

Wait. Never mind. Ahem.

Continue reading Breaking Rules For Principles

Writer’s Blog Tour In Four Questions

I was tagged by the smart, talented, and generous writer Janice Smith to answer questions about my projects and process. If you haven’t already, go read her answers first!

What am I working on?
Right this moment, I’m finishing revisions for Sand of Bone. It’s the first in a desert fantasy series centered around a woman seeking to escape her wasteland prison, destroy her brother’s conspiracies, and reclaim the elemental mastery the gods took from her bloodkin three generations ago. It’s also about civil unrest, savage rivalries, and a dynasty clutching after the power of their ancestors. Some characters fight because honor won’t permit them to ignore wrongdoing; others pitch in because they’re bored with everything else. And there are caverns with lava tubes, people with eyes that glow and shimmer in the dark, and souls wandering the sands in search of redemption.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Umm… Actually, I think the search for novelty within the genre is highly overrated. I’ve never put down a book I loved reading with the thought of finding something completely different. I’ve never loved a story because of its niftiness alone. Novelty of technique or topic is a one-off, and the genre now too wide and deep for anyone to even know if what they’re doing is totally unique. So rather than seek ways to be different for the sake of being different, I’d rather develop skills that – when used over and over again – make readers want more of what I do.

(Consistency is all I ask. Immortality is all I seek.)

So what do I strive to do well? Characters – strong, weak, whatever – who have presence on the page regardless of the size of their part or their role in the story. Dialog readers can hear as they read. Pacing that moves rather than dallies, that holds tension behind even the quietest of moments, punctuated with a touch of humor. Prose that flows rather than clunks. Fight scenes compelling enough I can include the details I want. Worlds in which a person’s competence and integrity – not gender – determine how the person is viewed.

Why do I write what I do?
I write the stories I’d like read.
I write to explore ideas that trouble me. My stories are, in a way, conversations with my own conflicting views.
I write to entertain myself, and love it when I’m also able to entertain others.

How does my writing process work?
Every project is different, but most incorporate plotting and pantsing. A huge amount of writing takes place in my imagination long before words arrive on the page, and I tend to envision them as if I’m a director rather than a writer. I’ll run key scenes through my mind – adjusting dialog and tone, blocking, backdrops, and so forth – then remember I need to remove some of those details when committing the scene to paper.

Most of my process has evolved to include Magic Index Cards. I make one card for each scene (NOT chapter). Each card includes the following: POV character, setting, date scene occurs, the number of days since the story started*, primary events, primary character interactions, dialog, realizations or discoveries (if any), key symbolism and/or foreshadowing, and anything else I want to make sure appears in that chapter. Eventually I’ll set all the cards in their proper order and number them. When it’s revision time, I use the backs of the cards for notes. Yes, it’s messy and manual, and I’m sure folks do indeed find the Scrivener option to be awesome, but I get something intangible out of the kinetic process so I’ll stick with it.

I rarely go back to revise before finishing a project, though I will toss notes onto the index cards at any time. I’d rather remodel a finished project than rebuild. It’s a preference requires me to really think through my choices before putting them down. (That, and the fact I once killed off a character early in a story that could have really used him later on.)

When I’m pretty happy with the novel, I’ll send it off to beta readers. I have the most awesome of beta readers, truly. They’re smart, talented, creative, open to possibilities, and damn fine writers. And I never forget how lucky I am that they share those things with me. That’s not to say I use every piece of their feedback (for one thing, they rarely agree on everything!). But they always give me things to think about and consider. It makes for a novel written with awareness of choices rather than plain “instinct” or whatever.

Once revisions are done, off it goes to a copyeditor. I strive to submit as clean a copy as possible to my editor who is, for the duration of the project, my contract employee. And making life easier for my employees is, in my opinion, a matter of good ethics. (Now that I think about it, I’d likely put greater effort into keeping my house tidy all the time if I’d hire a housekeeper. Hmm.) Besides, producing a clean manuscript is just as much a skill as storytelling. It’s worth doing well.

And there you have it – my answers to the questions.

I’ve tagged three marvelous women to pick it up from here: Casey Blair, Tam MacNeil, and Alena McNamara.

*Remember when I mentioned wanting to do pacing well? Tracking the number of story-days is critical to my ability to do that as I tend to write multiple viewpoint, multiple location, multiple storyline novels, and I tend to cram a great deal into a small amount of time. Sand of Bone covers a long time, by my usual habits (four entire months!). Sword and Chant, on the other hand, all took place in less than a single month’s time.