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Back to Work!

Today is the first day of college classes, which means that I am now seriously back to work. Even though I’ve sort of been back to work for two weeks now. Now I’m serious! I mean it!

Yeah… it’s past 2PM and I haven’t written a word yet. So maybe not quite?

I’m learning more about the characters in Balance of Power as I write. One of Aeris’ Companions has hayfever. In the books, they say that they’re flower sick. But it led to this delightful little scene:


“How long have you been awake?”

“Who says I’ve been asleep?” Tiras opened their eyes and sat up.

“You drooling on my sleeve says you were asleep.”

“And snoring,” Aeris added. “You were snoring.”

“I was not!” Tiras protested. “I don’t snore!” They looked up at Gannet. “Do I?”

“Not much,” Gannet admitted. “Except when there’s Maiden’s Lace blooming. Then you get all red and blotchy, and you snore at night.”

“And Maiden’s Lace is in season now. There must be some growing along the road.” Dyna set down her stitching and held out her hand. “Let me see.”

“I hate Maiden’s Lace,” Tiras grumbled. “My head gets all foggy and my visions get weird. Owyn says he’s never heard of a Smoke Dancer whose visions are controlled by their nose before.”

Aeris frowned. “But Smoke Dancers used to train in the vents of the Smoking Mountain, and they were breathing in the smoke. Owyn was one of the last trained that way. So why is smoke different from the scent of flowers?”

Gannet looked thoughtful, then shrugged. “Because Smoke Dancer sounds more impressive than Perfume Dancer?”


I have to admit, the whole idea of Perfume Dancers makes me smile. According to Gannet, they use fans. And… well, I’m not sure if it’ll come up again later in the book, but it’s fun when something like this comes out of my fingers, because it amuses me.

Work on The Sea Prince continues, and we’ve moved into writing new content instead of fixing the content that already existed. There were a lot of changes to the existing files, which adds up to changes for the direction of the story, and I think I like where this is going a lot more the original. It means that we may not get to use one scene I’d planned for, but maybe we will. We shall see.

The Sea Prince
(The Coral Throne, Book 1)

49406 / 120000 (41.17%)

Balance of Power
(Heir to the Firstborn, book 7)

11990 / 90000 (13.32%)

In other news of the writer world, Written in Water is still available as part of the Brave New Worlds giveaway. You can enter for a $20 giftcard to your bookstore of choice while you browse the books — over 50 of them!

Image of deep space, superimposed with a woman looking down and away. Text reads "Brave new Worlds. Free Sci-Fi and Fantasy Ebooks. August 1-31. Win $20."

And I’m starting to get ready for Necronomicon next month. I got my shipment of copies of Princes of Air over the weekend… and discovered the formatting error. So the copies that I have on hand will be discounted at Necro while my publisher gets that corrected. I’m hoping to have the anniversary copies of House of Sable Locks, but I’m not sure where we are with the new cover, so while I have my fingers crossed, I’m not holding my breath.

It is, however, a very pretty cover and I will get to share it with you very soon.

Maybe… next week?

Tune in to find out!

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I Win!

Camp Nano, that is.

For the record, this win was for 30,612 words in 30 days. However, the book is still not done.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven duology, book 2)

92924 / 108000 (86.04%)

Based on where I am, I figure that this book has about five or six chapters left. Yes, I know I said that last week. No, these are not eldritch chapters where you write a dozen and you still have a dozen left to go. Honestly, there’s nothing eldritch about that. That is totally normal. Really. I’m still on target for finishing this book by the 19th. I think. I did leave myself some wiggle room before the end of the school year, though.

And then? This house will be CLEAN!!! (Yup — the ritual “I finished a book, time to deep clean the house.”)

And then what? Well, research for Imaginative Anthropology. Worldbuilding for The Sea Prince. Synopses for the untitled Adavar book, and for a new thing that my brain fed me because it’s bored with ravens already and wants something new and shiny. Courtesans and merchant princes and intrigue, oh, my! Possibly set in the same universe as The Iron Virgin, which came about because of that trip to Nashville I took two years ago (the Gaylord Opryland had a Pirates and Princess event going on, and it percolated into something interesting…) The synopsis is written, and I’ll actually write that one of these years. The feel of the world is the same, so perhaps they are set in different kingdoms or something… I’ll figure it out once I know more about both of them.

It’s funny — I’m actually looking forward to taking the summer off. I haven’t in a few years, which I suppose was the downside of doing the serial. But that means I haven’t really had a chance to reset and refill my creative bucket. Now I’ll be taking that time. I’ll still be working on things, but I won’t be actively writing. And I’ll start back up in August with… something. Either jumping back into The Sea Prince, or picking up one of the new projects that are sitting on the back burner. We shall see what yells the loudest in August when I ask myself, “What am I working on next?”

Once more into the breech… this book isn’t going to write itself!

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The Space Where Fandom and Academia Collide…

That space is the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA), an annual conference put on by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. I’ve been attending since their first October conference in 2021, and it is seriously where academia and fandom collide. Four days of panels and readings and talking and networking and realizing you’re sitting right across from a writing LEGEND and trying not to die (okay, maybe that one is just me…)

I started going to conventions at 16, and I started with Lunacon, which was the New York regional convention. And I remember panels where experts spoke at length about different aspects of fandom and meaning and symbolism, and the panels at ICFA remind me of being at that sort of convention. I’m not sure how many of those are left — the old regionals seem to be passing to younger hands, and becoming more media focused. Which just shows that I’m part of the graying of fandom, I suppose.

No, I am not shaking my fist at clouds.

I was nominally supposed to also be on a writing retreat while at ICFA. Ah… that did not go as planned.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven duology, Book 2)

54813 / 90000 (60.90%)

I didn’t get nearly as much writing done as I’d have liked. Which means it’s time to turn up the daily wordcount target if I intend to have this done by the end of the school year.

And since I’ve been playing catch-up all day, that means I need to get started on daily words. Here’s hoping for many more words this week!

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Uncertainty.

I wasn’t sure if I should even post today. I mean… everyone knows what happened Friday. What could I possibly have to say that’s important or relevant?

What do I say?

I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I sit at my laptop and the words… well, they’re not there. They’re not adequate. They’re just not. Because really, what do you say? Sorry, your rights don’t matter anymore? Sorry, but you now have less bodily autonomy than a CORPSE? Sorry, but any advances that you might have thought have been made in the course of my own lifetime were just jerked away by white supremacist evangelicals who lied to get to where they are?

I’m angry. And I’m scared.

Protest marches? No. I’m not going to march. Not here in Florida, where they made it legal to attack protestors, and where the police are more interested in being buddies with the counterprotestors than protecting our right to peaceful assembly. Marching these days is taking your life in your hands —  I’m hearing that marches across the country have turned violent this past weekend. No deaths that I’ve heard of, but at least one march had someone drive a truck through it because how dare we stand up for ourselves?

I’m fat, arthritic, and not at all fast. I won’t be marching.

Instead, I’m going to make sure my voice is heard in August, and again in November. I’m going to make some change on a local level. And those local changes may help make bigger changes on a larger scale. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, and make sure there are donations going to the places where they will do the most good.

Are you registered to vote? If you’re not sure, check here.

Now, this is going to be WILDLY unpopular, but I’m saying it anyway.

NO GODDAMN THIRD PARTY VOTES THIS YEAR!

No more protest votes. No more tantrum votes. If you want things to change, we have to get the MAGA-crew out of every office that they hold. That means that there MUST be a Blue wave across the board. No more “But I didn’t like the Democratic candidate!” We don’t have that luxury anymore. I’m not sure we ever did — things would have been very different in 2016 otherwise.

We cannot move backwards. We cannot go bravely into the past, and that’s where we’re heading right now.

We have to turn this ship around. We HAVE to.

Vote Blue NO MATTER WHO.

Oh, and if you, oh Reader, are one of those people who was celebrating on Friday?

The door is that way —>

Don’t come back.

 

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We Are Go For Launch!

This morning, I launched the Kickstarter for the audiobooks of Swords of Charlemagne! I have a fantastic narrator who is already at work on Hidden Things, and I’m anxiously awaiting his preliminary test recording (one to two weeks, he told me).

Producing all four books will cost in the neighborhood of $4000. The Kickstarter is set for a $5000 goal to cover anything I didn’t think of. It runs until March 20th, and if we run over the $5000 goal, the remainder will be donated to charity (I’ll be polling backers to see what charity if that happens.)

 

 

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OMG!!!!

I had a doctor appointment first thing. Horrible timing, I KNOW. But it was scheduled when Vivian Day was still the 7th.

Got home, handed my phone to my husband, and went to take a shower. Neglected to take off my Fitbit (which is waterproof, so no big). I am shampooing my hair when my wrist goes off. I look at this blurry, wet screen, see LaQuette’s name, and I start crying. Because I know that LaQuette makes NO calls before 11AM, because writing time is scared. So there’s only one reason she’ll be calling me today.

My husband comes into the bathroom with the phone, and says “LaQuette wants to talk to you.” and hands me a towel. And I will SWEAR on a stack of Bibles and other assorted religious texts that I heard NOT A BLESSED WORD after “As President of the RWA…”

Except for the point where she asked me if I was all right. Answer? I am BETTER than all right!

I’m a Vivian Finalist!

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Cookies and Contests and Words, Oh, My!

Let’s start with words.

John Zebedee Meets the Witch Queen of Elfland
 
54248 / 60000 (90.41%)
 

Draft by the Solstice isn’t happening this year, considering that it’s the Solstice TODAY (Happy Yule, y’all!) and I have two and a half chapters left to write. So I’m going for Draft by Christmas Eve. And if I can keep the pace I started yesterday, I’ll do it. I finished yesterday with a whopping 4011 words total.

I’m not sure if my wrists will be able to keep up that pace, to be honest. But two and a half chapters is roughly between 7500 and 9000 words. I can do that by Thursday night.

Now, for contests — the Booksweeps contest for 30 erotic romances and a brand new e-reader has been extended. There are two more days to enter. Go try and win some books that will give you ideas!

 

And now… cookies. I know you’ve all been waiting for these. Turned out to be six varieties of cookies and one batch of fudge. Because that is what passes for sedate in my head, apparently.

In order:

  • Three color
  • Cinnamon mocha fudge
  • Teff peanut butter
  • Lemon Thimble (using homemade lemon curd)
  • Molasses
  • Oatmeal carob chip
  • Chocolate Chip

Once the final words are written on John Zebedee Meets the Witch Queen, I am done until January 4th, 2021. That’s when I sit down and start writing Heir to the Firstborn (Heir to the Firstborn, book 5). I have edits to work on with Wings of Air (Heir to the Firstborn, book 4), and more edits for The Lady and the Sword (Swords of Charlemagne, book 2). I have a very busy schedule for 2021 — six releases, starting in January with Hidden Things (Swords of Charlemagne, book 1) and going every two months until November. It’s incredibly ambitious, but I’m trusting myself and my ability to do this.

In 2020, I did something that a lot of my colleagues do. I chose a word for the year. My word for 2020 was Nurture. I think I’ve done that. Done a lot of that, really. Between my personal life and stepping up to the RWA Board, there’s been a lot of nurturing going on. Helping people and things get back on their feet. Encouraging. Rebuilding. Nurturing.

My word for 2021 was, I thought, Truth. Until I sat down to do my card. I picked up a pen and wrote…and what came out was not Truth, but Trust.

My subconscious knows what it wants, apparently.

So that’s my word for 2021. Trust. I will trust myself, and I will trust in my skills, and my abilities.

I may not get to the blog next week. If I don’t, let this be my wish to you for 2021. Have a happy, healthy new year. Stay safe.

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Romance Writer’s Weekly: Speedbumps

Hello and good morning! Welcome in! It’s a lovely, albeit drizzly, day here in Central Florida, and I have a new book out!

I’ll talk about the new book in a minute. For now, let’s talk speedbumps. All writers have speedbumps, those scenes that slow their writing pace to a crawl. It’s always the same — you’re writing, the characters are really talking to you, you have the energy, you’re making words…. and WHAM!!!

Speedbump.

I have two speedbumps in particular, and they both happen for the same reason. What are they? What’s the reason?

For me, it’s sex scenes and fight scenes. Both of them slow me down to a crawl. Funny, right? A writer who has built her career on steamy sex can’t just (pardon me) bang one out? (I’m sorry!)

It’s true! I’ve been known to leave <INSERT SEX HERE> in a manuscript so I can search it up later and put the scene in, just so that I don’t break my momentum. So far, I haven’t handed a manuscript to my editor with a missing scene, but you never know. One of these years, it’ll happen.

So what do sex scenes and fight scenes have in common?

Blocking.

I can’t write a “count the number of legs in the bed and divide by two” sex scene (to quote one of my favorite Terry Prachett lines). A scene that essentially boils down to “Wham, bam, thank you ma’am” (or “thank you, man,” depending on which book we’re talking about) does nothing for me. Sex scenes have to flow properly and organically, and make sense when you go from one to the next. Otherwise they just don’t work for me. Which means spending a lot of time thinking them out, planning movements, researching positions and BDSM rope dress. I can tell you that my search history would make my mother wash my mouse out with soap!

Fight scenes slow me down the same way. Writing a fight scene can be very much like writing a sex scene, because the movements have to flow, and they have to make sense.

Writing The White Raven: Morrigan’s Heir took forever because it’s a sword-and-sandal erotic romance. But it’s off with the editor now, so hopefully I wrote both sorts of scenes properly and it sells!

Now, there are fight scenes in the Heir to the Firstborn series, but there’s no explicit sex (it’s all behind closed doors), so I only had one speedbump to worry about. It didn’t slow me down too much, because Bones of Earth (Heir to the Firstborn 3) is out today.

For Owyn, saving the world meant losing everything.
Losing everything led him to something worth living for.
Keeping that something may cost him his life.

You can find it on Amazon, Smashwords, Google Play, or any other ebook retailer.  There’s even a paperback, although it’s not showing up on Amazon for some reason. (Working on that!) And if you want to follow along with the final book once you’ve caught up, you can jump into Wings of Air by joining me on Patreon.

That’s about all for my neck of the woods. Time to go back to writing, and hope I don’t hit any speedbumps. Your next stop on the RRW web cycle is over with A.S Fenichel. If you’re in the mood to take a chance, she’s running a contest! For me? I’m curious to see if her speedbumps are anything like mine!

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Romance Writer’s Weekly: My Corner of the World

Hi, all! Welcome back on your RWW rounds. This week, the question was “where do you write?”

I like my office. It’s done up just the way I like, and all my stuff is here. My art (and my fountain pen ink) is on the walls. I can look out into the garden, and everything is just so.

Yes, that is Super Grover, as done by Alex Ross.  The pillows are because this is also the guest room, when we have guests. The picture in the middle is the Jody Lee cover for “Witch and Wombat” which is a silly book, and I’ll cosplay that cover someday.

My kanban board for Q2, and all of my fountain pen ink.

That pile of books there is part of my To Be Read pile. The box they’re sitting on is full of A5 notebooks. Yes, I do use them — there are a few on the floor there.

And the actual business area — laptop with a dual monitor set up. Reference books and toys. And more notebooks. Oh, and coffee, because that’s what makes the words go.

Now, I’m pretty flexible. If I can’t write in my office — say, we have a guest — then I have a smaller dressing table in my bedroom where I can put the laptop. Or I can write in the family room downstairs.  Or, if it’s nice out, I can visit the remote office, (aka my back porch.)

Next stop on the RWW bloghop is Clair Brett, who writes over here.  Her book Winn’s Fall is on sale. Check it out!

Have a happy! Stay safe and wash your hands.

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Work in Progress: Echoes of Light

Echoes of Light

9368 / 30000 (31.23%)

And here I thought that the only thing that really slowed me down when I was writing were scenes that required blocking, like fight scenes and sex scenes.

Add scenes that require verification to that — as in, where exactly was Skullyville, OK during the Civil War (when it was Skullyville, AR. They moved the border later). Reason I’m asking? It’s NOT THERE now, it’s somewhere else! From the maps of the era, Skullyville used to be right on the Arksansas River, and was a regular stop for steamboats. Skullyville today? NOWHERE NEAR the river!

So yeah, there was a lot of looking at maps and comparing them and figuring things out this past week.

I’ve also been working on Wings of Air, or at least, figuring out where Wings of Air is going to go. I plan on finishing the outline this week, and starting the actual writing.

I’m doing something new this week, as well. I’ll be doing two readings this weekend (May 1-3, 2020) at FutonCon. Friday night I’ll be holding at 18+ reading from 9PM to 10PM EST, and on Saturday I’ll be reading from 5PM to 6PM EST, with an all ages reading. I’m figuring on something from Blood Bound for Friday, or maybe bring out an old favorite and read The Succubus. Or, you know, I have an hour. Maybe both?  For Saturday, I’ll be reading from Heir to the Firstborn. 

Still no word on the rest of my conventions scheduled for the year. We’ll see what happens with them.

Bones of Earth is ready to go with preorders on Amazon and everyplace else, and I’m experiencing something I never have before. I picked several stock images for my Facebook ad series — they commonality is that they all have birch trees, to echo the birch trees on the cover of Bones.  And apparently, I picked some very striking images, because people are sharing the ads and commenting on the pictures! That’s new and different.

Then again, everything is new and different these days. It’s all strange and more than a little weird. Some of it is a good weird. Some is not. But we’ll manage.

Stay safe, everyone. Wash your hands. Stay inside if you can. If you can’t, be careful.

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