Category Archives: writing

The Joys of Revision

CA.Apostate2A while back I told you that I was about a third of the way through APOSTATE, Book Three in the Celestial Affairs series. I was sure at that time that I’d be closing in on finishing the 1st draft by now. Not so. I am, in fact, at about the halfway mark.

Why so slow? In addition to me not ever being a fast writer, I kept getting this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I learned the hard way with FORBIDDEN TALENTS to listen to that voice. (It took me six months to figure out what was wrong with that book.) So I went back and revised. And pondered. And revised some more. As a result, I think APOSTATE will wind up being a better, more layered book, but it also won’t be released until early next year. (Here’s the cover, by the incomparable Jaycee DeLorenzo of Sweet N Spicy Designs.)

Some of my ponderings have led me to research PTSD, Domestic Abuse, and terrorism–and I’m not done yet. So wish me well, and I hope that when you finally read APOSTATE you think it was worth the wait. (And in the meantime, you can read books one and two if you haven’t already: LIGHTBRINGER  and GUARDIAN, as well as the “sidecar” novel BETRAYED BY TRUST.)

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A Field Mouse, A Crow, and A Writing Lesson

Have you ever been reading along in a book that has multiple viewpoint characters and wondered for a moment, “Who is talking here?” I confess, that’s happened to me a time or two–when I was reading my own stuff. That’s when I know I haven’t been doing my job properly.

Fae Rowen has written a great post about how to fix that problem.

A Field Mouse, A Crow, and A Writing Lesson.

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I’m Back!

I’ve been busy these last few months, and this fall will see a flurry of activity.

  • This month VEILED MIRROR will be re-released as a Castle Rock book with a new cover and some minor revisions.
  • Next month BETRAYED BY TRUST will debut. It takes place in the same universe as LIGHTBRINGER  in 1979. It’s not exactly a prequel, but you will get to see Gideon again.
  • I have the sequel, SEDUCED BY TRUST, outlined, and I already have a cover for it, but first–
  • I’ll be writing a novella set in the Vinlanders’ Saga universe. It’s working title is DEBTS and I already have a cover for it too.
  • After that, I promise to get to work on Gideon’s story, GUARDIAN.

Today I’m revealing a new cover for DANGEROUS TALENTS. I think Jaycee DeLorenzo of Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Designs has done a fabulous job. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

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Back At Work: BETRAYED BY TRUST

After some unexpected Life Events I’m back at work revising my next release, BETRAYED BY TRUST.  For those of you who have been waiting for another Celestial Affairs novel, you’ll be happy to know that Gideon plays a role in this book. It takes place in 1979, and although it isn’t exactly a prequel to LIGHTBRINGER, it does tie into the Celestial Affairs story arc.

Here’s a teaser:

It’s January, 1979. The Vietnam war is over. The oil embargo and long gas lines a bad memory. And Three Mile Island is just a Pennsylvanian power plant that no one has ever heard of.

Marianne Benton works for the Trust, a secretive organization guarding against abuses of occult power. Marianne’s assignment, rescue an Elemental Spirit from slavery — by seducing the heir to a corporate dynasty.

Dan Collier is a former Green Beret. His assignment: keep Marianne alive.

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Odds and Ends

In a post a few weeks ago I asked the question of whether doing public appearances helped sales. Based on a very limited sample size (one) I can address that question (sort of). The answer is a qualified yes. I spoke on a panel last Saturday with three other authors at a local library. Thanks to Amazon’s relatively new ranking info which is reported on its Author Central site, I can report that my novels enjoyed a very small bump in sales.

For a new author like myself (and I do still consider myself a new author, even though I’ve been writing for years and have four novels out) even a small bump in sales is worth celebrating. So yes, speaking locally was worth the time and effort. People who had never heard of me now know about my books. So even those who didn’t buy a book last Saturday, may recognize my name the next time they hear it. And all it cost me was a little time and minimal gas money.

I’ll still be cautious about traveling out of town for conferences, though. The benefits there are more intangible, and the costs are higher.

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http://www.dreamstime.com/-image8529767On another note, BLAZING A TRAIL: YOUR SELF PUBLISHING JOURNEY is coming back from the copy editor today. Soon I’ll be turning it over to my formatting guru, Natasha Fondren. If all goes as planned BAT will be available in mid-March.

Writing a non-fiction book has been a different experience for me, and one I would have put off if readers of this blog hadn’t asked for it. Thanks to everyone who gave me a push!

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Also in March, I’ll be teaching the class “Before You Indie Publish” for WriterUniv.com. If you’re not sure if self-publishing is for you, or if it seems like an overwhelming task, I’ll be discussing the whys and wherefores of  my decision making process.

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And if you’re in the Tucson area, don’t forget the Tucson Festival of Books on March 9th and 10th on the University of Arizona campus. Hundreds of authors will be speaking there including moi. If you’re a book lover, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Start Planning Now For 2013

I know that’s not what you want to hear right now. You’re in the throes of buying holiday gifts, decorating, making the rounds of parties, and hosting guests. You’d rather wait until January to make plans for 2013. But after all the ribbons and candles are put away, you’ll want to hit the ground running, and that will be easier to do if you already have a plan. It doesn’t have to be rigid or too detailed. In fact, I think it’s better to leave it a little loose because as we all know, Life Happens. But in the end you’ll be happier with where you wind up if you know where you’re going.

One of the things already on my calendar for 2013 is a class I’m teaching for WriterUniv.com. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, co-founder Laurie Campbell asked me to teach a class called “Before You Indie Publish” next March. I have the lessons completed already, and I’m putting together a companion book (BLAZING A TRAIL: YOUR SELF PUBLISHING JOURNEY) with additional material. That’s almost done, too, and will be released in late February or early March. I’ll be finishing the production process for that in January and February. (BTW, I’m including an appendix of interviews of indie authors. If you’ve self-published at least five months ago and would like to have your perspective included, please contact me.)

I’m also talking at the Tucson Festival of Books next March. First, I’m on a panel titled, “50 Shades of What? Is Erotica Romance?” and the next day I’ll be on a panel about blending genres.

I’ll be releasing BETRAYED BY TRUST early in the year, too. (BBT is set in 1979 and in the same “universe” as LIGHTBRINGER.)

After that, I’ll be working on GUARDIAN, the sequel to LIGHTBRINGER. I’m really looking forward to writing fiction again, but I may take a couple of weeks off to catch my breath.

What do you have planned for next year?

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Secondary Characters as Heroes

Part of the fun of writing a series is having the chance to turn the spotlight on secondary characters. That’s also part of the challenge.

I have a tendency to write stoic heroes who are bound by duty and honor. I also tend to give those heroes friends and brothers who are a little flip and irreverent. These sidekicks do a good job of pricking the ego of the hero, humanizing him. But when it’s the buddy’s turn to take center stage, it becomes my job to torture him. That’s where the problem lies.

You have to make your characters suffer or they won’t change and grow. The trick is to make a secondary character who was a joker mature without losing his personality. He can have a dark, or self-deprecating sense of humor, but when he’s really suffering the reader needs to feel it. You have to make the hero’s pain real and profound for his eventual triumph to be meaningful. Humor can still work in these situations. The character may try to deflect his pain with humor, or he can turn sarcastic and biting.  But however he reacts, he can’t be quipping as usual.

I faced this problem when I wrote Ragni in as the hero of FORBIDDEN TALENTS. He had to become more serious given what I was putting him through, without losing the essence of what had made him appealing in DANGEROUS TALENTS. One technique I employed was keeping the hero from the earlier book, Dahleven, around. By comparison with his older and more serious brother, Ragni is still irreverent. By the end of FORBIDDEN TALENTS he’s gained a bit more gravitas, even if he’s still more than ready to give Dahleven a hard time.

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FORBIDDEN TALENTS is FREE from Kindle through Tuesday, 10/16/12.

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An Accidental Series

I’m guest blogging over at Secrets of 7 Scribes today thanks to an invitation from Casey Wyatt, the author of MYSTIC INK and THE UNDEAD SPACE INITIATIVE. I’m talking about why I’m writing not one, not two, but three different series. Come over and say hello!

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FORBIDDEN TALENTS Is Available on Amazon!

The Kindle version of FORBIDDEN TALENTS,  book two of the Vinlanders’ Saga, is now available on Amazon!

This is Ragni and Saeun’s story, but the hero and heroine from the first book, Dahleven and Celia, are significant characters.

Here’s the “back cover copy”:
As the second son of the Kon of Nuvinland, and a priest of Baldur, Lord Ragni understands the demands of politics. He’s not surprised when his father arranges a marriage for him to the daughter of another Jarl. Unfortunately, Ragni has just fallen hard for Saeun.

Saeun never expected to fall in love with Lord Ragni, but what began as a casual dalliance with a ladies’ man blossomed into a deep passion. But her hopes for the future are dashed when her tools of forbidden magic are discovered. To save herself, and Ragni’s reputation, Saeun escapes into a deadly blizzard—leaving behind everything, and everyone, she loves.

Ragni faces an agonizing choice: enforce the law he’s sworn to uphold, or save the woman he loves.

And while the lovers’ hearts are breaking, a dark and ancient threat to all of Nuvinland is gaining strength.

FORBIDDEN TALENTS will stand alone, but you’ll enjoy it even more if you’ve read DANGEROUS TALENTS.

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To Series or Not to Series

I recently had an online conversation about whether a book being part of a series helps or hurts its sales. Almost everything I’ve read suggests that most readers like series. What they don’t like is not knowing where a book falls in the sequence, or being left hanging until the next book comes out.

When I started writing my first novel, DANGEROUS TALENTS, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just writing a story I wanted to tell. I certainly wasn’t trying to start a series at that point.

Then my critique group said, “Tell us Ragni’s story!” So I wrote FORBIDDEN TALENTS.

By this time I’d decided that writing a third book in a series that wasn’t selling yet was a bad idea, so I wrote two more stand-alone books, VEILED MIRROR and LIGHTBRINGER. Except some of the characters in LIGHTBRINGER  told me that their stories needed to be told too, so it turned out to be the first of another series. And then I decided I had to tell a story that turned out to be connected to the Celestial Affairs universe, but not actually about the Celestials. I started writing SEDUCED BY TRUST. Then I stopped because the hero’s mom needed her story told first. That’s how BETRAYED BY TRUST came to be written.

The problem with writing multiple series is that you have to keep it all straight. That’s too much for my little brain to remember, so I have  haphazzard story “bibles” that help me keep track of eye colors and name spellings. I’m also creating a series arc for the Celestial Affairs and Trust books.

Some writers just can’t stand to outline because it robs them of the joy of discovery. Fortunately, I’m not one of them. I start with a general idea for a book, some characters, a place and a goal. I’ll write a chapter or three to learn about them, but it doesn’t take long before I have to know where I’m going, so I draw myself a little map which gets more and more detailed as I go along. Usually that’s enough for a singleton, but with three more books in the Celestial Affairs series and the two Trust books to link in, I can’t wing it. I have to know.

So I’m drawing myself a big map that covers all six books. Each of the next two Celestial Affairs books, GUARDIAN and APOSTATE, will stand alone but will build to a big finale in the last book, SERAPHIM. At least, that’s the plan.

So here I am with three series begun, and readers asking for more in each of them. It might not have been the smartest way to go, especially since I’m not the fastest writer, but I’m thrilled my readers are so enthusiastic. (And when it comes out, I promise to tell you where a book fits in each series.)

In the meantime, the next book to be released is the 2nd Vinlanders’ Saga book, FORBIDDEN TALENTS. You won’t have to wait long–it comes out in early October.

Thanks for reading!

 

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