Thursday, February 15, 2018

Different Strokes of the Pen

Different writers have different ways of writing.
Some people throw a whole bunch of words out, then edit up to a dozen times, doing rewrites and changing the order of scenes. This type of writer usually writes faster in the beginning.
Some people write much slower, resulting in a cleaner first draft. They often have less rewriting, because they are more methodical in the initial writing.
In the end, each of these takes about the same amount of time to write and finalize their books, with generally the same level of quality, depending on the skill level of the writer and their editor(s).
I am very much the second type. NaNoWriMo is a very real challenge for me because I tend towards slow, methodical writing. I end up doing maybe five rounds of edits, max, but the initial writing is emotionally draining for me.
Now that NaNo is done, I’ve still got a bit more to write on The Chains That Bind, book 3 of the Runespells series. Then I will take a few days off to recover from the emotional trauma… lol.
Once that is done, I’ll run through the first round of edits and send it out for Beta Reading. While I’m waiting for those to come back, I’ll be working on one or two other projects, one of which will be determined by my patrons on my Patreon page! (Check it out HERE)

In 2017, I put out 1 novel, 1 novella, a collection of short stories, and 4 short stories in anthologies. In 2018, I’m going to shoot for 2 novels, 1-2 novellas, and up to 3 short stories in anthologies. Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Chains That Bind, Excerpt Chapt 9

This excerpt is from The Chains That Bind, book 3 of the Runespells series. You can order Fluffy Bunny, book 2, published in 2017, and Too Wyrd, book 1, published in 2016. Both books are published by Black Rose Writing.

A small rustling noise caught my attention, and I skidded to a stop. I peered into the branches of the hedges, looking for the source of the sound. A small spotted skunk wriggled out of the leaves and squatted down, staring up at me.

"Hi," I said hopefully. "Can you help me?" I pictured Stella in my mind and sent it towards the creature. It sniffed the air for a moment as if tasting the thought, then it shuffled away.

I noticed the skunk musk as I followed, but it was light, as if it had faded away. The skunk moved quickly, and I had to break into a jog to keep up. A small opening appeared in the hedges along one side and the creature darted into it.

I crashed through the tiny space, branches and leaves clawing at my arms. The skunk was gone. A huge tree towered over me, roots exposed and clinging to the rocks around its base.

I stared in awe at the branches soaring in the air a hundred feet over my head. My eyes tracked down the trunk, covered with a rough bark. The roots entwined across the granite and hung down in a curtain over a dark opening among the boulders.

I stepped forward tentatively and pushed the trailing roots aside. The cool air of the cave brushed against my face as I stepped inside. The darkness of the cave morphed into a soft glow in the air with a push of my will and desire.

I moved through the tunnels, hoping for a sign of Stella or the skunk, or anything else that could help me. Twice I tripped on roots arcing up from the floor of the tunnels. The second time, I reached out to the wall to catch myself and scraped my hand against the rough rock. Blood glistened against my palm, but I wiped it on my pants and kept moving.

I turned a corner and the tunnel opened into a large cavern. Stalactites and stalagmites lined the walls like the teeth of giant monsters. Quartz glittered in the rock walls, and water dripped rhythmically from somewhere I couldn't see.

I moved through the space, shivering. My eyes darted around, latching on to each glint of light and shift of shadow. I rounded a large stalagmite and froze.

The creature before me stared with yellow eyes that flashed red in the shadows. Huge teeth filled an elongated jaw, and its fur flared in a ruff around its neck in shades of black. The beast lurched to its feet and shook itself out.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author's Hierarchy of Needs

I’ve been thinking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs lately, and how it applies to writing.

In the interest of context, here’s the deal. I am a full-time author. My husband just came out of a year of schooling to be an electrician. Due to some politics and technicalities, and some bad luck and bad timing, he’s been having trouble finding a job that is more than just temporary. He is currently working in manufacturing, which isn’t a bad job, but not at the rate to support a family on a single income.

I’ve tapped out our resources pretty thoroughly to get us through this, but we are doing a lot of extras: plasma donations, free/reduced food options, and I’m looking for a job that will work with my kids’ schedule. It would be either prohibitively expensive or functionally impossible to find the type of childcare we would need for most jobs I could get quickly, so it’s going slowly.

That said, we are doing okay, but there’s a lot of time and mental energy going into keeping us going until we break through this very short rough patch. Which brings me back to Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Essentially, this theory states that humans can only really focus on one level if the lower levels are being met. It’s not completely exclusive, but it makes sense. The first level is immediate safety. You probably aren’t going to ponder your spiritual development while being chased by a lion. (Why is it always a lion in these scenarios? Why not a rhino or a wolf?)

The second level is food and shelter. If you are safe for the moment, you can plan on these things. Then you can focus on larger safety issues, such as environment and neighborhood. After that is interpersonal relationships, such as family and friendships.

Next is self-esteem, or the ability to believe you are worthy. Self-actualization follows, covering your place in society. Ie, career, status, etc. And finally, self-transcendence, which is the personal spiritual experience.

Since only a threshold has to be met at each level, you can have some deficiencies in a lower level while still focusing on a higher level. But if those lower levels are threatened in some way, the focus gets drawn to them again and again.

Anyways, this is probably why I’m having so much trouble prioritizing NaNoWriMo this year. It’s not that writing isn’t as important to me, it’s that I kinda have to make sure we can pay rent before I can focus on my career.

This leads me to thinking about authors, pirates and self-care.

Pirating books is pretty bad. Authors don’t make much as it is, and anything that is taken from them makes it less likely for them to be able to meet their own basic needs. If they can’t do that, they can’t focus on the making the words stuff. Knowledge is free, and most authors are willing to do giveaways, etc. But it’s something that the author CHOOSES to do, based on their own risk-benefit assessment, financial ability, etc. Stealing from them is just that: stealing.

Authors also need to spend a certain amount of time and mental energy on self-care. People like to think that writing is easy, and in many ways they are right. But writing novels that are well-crafted, interesting and meaningful? Well, that takes skill, mental energy, and technique that has to be developed over time. By the time an author puts out their first decent book, they’ve already put in years of practice, reading and studying writing skills.

I think authors should put more emphasis on knowing their own worth, and the worth of their works. But, at the same time, readers need to put more worth on the books that they love so much.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year!

It’s that time.

New year, new writer. It’s time to assess what’s happened and make goals for the coming year.

My assessment is pretty constant. I have issues when I don’t keep tabs on my psycho-emotional barometer. So this is easy for me.

2017 sucked in so many ways. On the personal life front, it was a roller coaster of hope and disappointment with a distinct trend towards the decline. It’s been so bad that, even though it’s true, I’m hesitant to say it looks like things are going to be improving. I’m talking days of crying from depression and fear.

I blame my husband, but that’s a different set of thoughts. (And, no, he’s not abusive or anything. It’s just a crap situation mostly due to timing and luck.)

On the professional writing front, I marketed my first book and put out my second. Sales seem to be climbing steadily, if very slowly, and I see this as a sign that my books will continue to grow slowly but steadily. I can live with that. At least the arrow is going the right way.

Biggest frustration: just when I promised I wouldn’t be missing any more vlogs, my built-in camera takes a nose-dive. But I got a spiffy new camera for the holidays, so I’ll be back in a jiff.

As for my goals, I’m looking forward to completing at least 3 books in 2018. I’ll still be working on sales and vlog and patreon, etc. So, I guess I haven’t been beaten down!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Goodreads Changes Their Giveaways

If you are a published author who markets heavily online, you’ve probably at least heard about the changes to Goodreads’ Giveaway service.

If you haven’t, here’s the breakdown: Goodreads just took away the free platform for hosting giveaways of a book. It was a decent platform, but only worked for print books, not ebooks, so it still cost the author to get the print book and ship it.

Now, they allow ebooks, starting at the low low cost of only $200, give or take a five-spot. If you want all the bells and whistles, which weren’t that impressive to me, you can do it for $600.

I wish those were typos, but no. We are talking about paying to giveaway books at rates only previously seen on BookBub, and the BB has specific and dedicated mailing lists PLUS you can list a book that is not free.

Seriously, Goodreads? I’m not sure what idiot thought this would be a good idea, but I can’t think of many authors who are going to drop a couple Benjamins on giving away a book on a site that doesn’t really do specific listings.

I don’t know about you, but my days of doing Goodreads Giveaways are OVER.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Chains That Bind, Excerpt Chapt 7

This excerpt is from The Chains That Bind, book 3 of the Runespells series. You can order Fluffy Bunny, book 2, published in 2017, and Too Wyrd, book 1, published in 2016. Both books are published by Black Rose Writing.

I slammed back the remainder of my drink and dropped some bills on the table. I had a job to do and, like it or not, I needed Joseph's help to safely navigate the trail. I could swallow being hurt by his words if he stepped up to get this done. The rest we'd work out later.

"Hey, bitch!"

My head whipped around at the man's voice. I spotted a man at the bar with his hand locked around the wrist of a woman with short hair. Part of my mind noticed that the cut was really bad, choppy and bedraggled. The rest of me focused on the man.

"What is your problem, buddy?" I shouted, stalking up to him. "Let her go!"

The man started to protest, and I grabbed his wrist, applying pressure on the bones until he yelped and his hand opened. I shoved his hand away and stuck my finger in his face.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" I demanded.

The man scowled at me. "That woman was on the news."

I blinked. "What?"

The man hefted himself of his bar stool. "You heard me," he said. "She's that chick all the cops are looking for. And you helped her get away."

I turned around, but the woman was already gone. I heard the man yell after me, but I hit the door at a run.

I stopped when I hit the sidewalk, my eyes darting around for any sign of the woman. Night had fallen and the streetlights gave uneven illumination for a search. A running figure caught my attention and I rushed after her.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Chains That Bind Excerpt - Going Berserker

This excerpt is from The Chains That Bind, book 3 of the Runespells series. You can order Fluffy Bunny, book 2, published in 2017, and Too Wyrd, book 1, published in 2016. Both books are published by Black Rose Writing.

"You need to find your trigger," Rade insisted, watching me go through the kata she'd shown me.

I panted with effort. "I have plenty of triggers," I muttered.

"What angers you? What gives you the desire to be a righteous avenger? What makes you want bring down the wrath of the gods?"

I paused and cocked my head to one side. Rade gave me an expectant look.

"What makes me want to bring the wrath of the gods?" I kept my face straight when I met her eyes. "Bad movies and rap music."

Rade rolled her eyes. I'm pretty sure it wasn't something she did often. She was too uptight for that.

I went back to the series of moves. They were fighting moves, done in a set pattern and in slow motion. Katas, no matter what style of fighting was done, were about building muscle memory. The theory was, if I got in a fight, my body would remember the moves and play them out in double time.

I figured it was good exercise and it gave me something to focus on besides my continued failure to get past my past.

Rade moved up close to my side. She kept her voice low and stayed out of the way of my movements. But she spoke slowly, relentlessly. "What angers you? What causes your eyes to flash? What brings up the rage? What makes you want to hit, to hurt?"

I let her words wash over me as I moved. My mind only needed to partially focus on the kata. The rest of my thoughts drifted.

A face appeared in my mind. Lupe. I'd gone to Zaro the first time to try to stop him from taking her as one of his many "wives". Instead, he'd taken me, and I'd never gotten a clear answer as to whether he'd left Lupe alone.

Thinking about how he'd manipulated so many, stealing their will for his own pleasure - stealing MY will for his pleasure - how he'd messed up so many people and families, how women abandoned their children for him... I could see the faces of the children at the Center, so many with a soul-deep sorrow spilling from their eyes.

I felt the anger bubbling up, and I let myself embrace it. There was no one I could hurt on accident here. Rade was more than capable of defending herself if I lost it, and Joseph was out of the way, making up some breakfast.

The warmth rushed up the back of my neck, heating my ears and making my scalp tingle. Energy and power flowed up my legs and into my torso, spilling out along my arms. My body felt like it had sprouted muscles. I glanced down at my hands and some manic part of my mind giggled over the thought that they should have turned green.

I clenched my hands into fists and flexed my body. The tension pushed its way out of my gut, and I opened my mouth to roar my rage.

My vision changed, flooding red, then fading into a kind of yellow with blood red still tinging the edges. I could still see everything, but I found that there were things popping out at me.

Rade was one of those things. She drew me like a flame attracts a moth. Her body and face sprang into sharp relief, and I could see in my mind which three spots to strike first for maximum pain.

I could also see on her face the exact moment when she understood that I would attack her. She shifted smoothly on her feet, changing the way her weight was distributed. Part of me knew she'd moved into a fighting stance, but the thoughts going through my head were hungry and challenging. The prey would be a good fight, and I could almost taste the pleasure of testing my strength on her.

I stepped towards her, my own feet moving step by step, a tiger stalking in the jungle. Prey could not run without exposing herself to my attack. I could take my time to get into position.

I hunched over slightly, coiling my body to be ready to spring. I let my mouth fall open, and I sniffed the air, letting my nose and tongue work together. I tasted the green of the trees and bushes, the yellow of sunlight warming the grass. A musky scent drifted past bringing to mind a deer scratching his cheek on a low branch.

I also smelled sweat. Not like human sweat, though it was impossible to explain the difference. Prey was nervous. I smiled. Then I lunged for the Valkyrie's throat.