Archive for July, 2013

One of the ways we divide up stories, along with genre, is audience. We label stories as being for middle grade (8 to 12-year-olds), young adults, or adults. Some stories, of course, like Harry Potter, cross over multiple audiences. It’s a convenient distinction for traditional publishers and book stores, but maybe it’s becoming less important in the age of digital publishing.

Now, it’s not an issue for a lot of stories. MAGE STORM is a solidly middle grade book (though, of course, I would love it if someday it also crossed over to gain a wider audience).

Other stories don’t fit so neatly. After reading this post, I’m starting to question whether I should call THE BARD’S GIFT young adult. Not for any of the reasons cited in that post, though.

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE has always been a problem this way. Yeah, it starts with a fifteen-year-old protagonist. But the original version spanned eight years–ending with the hero at twenty-three. In the current rewrite, I’m trying to shave a year or two off of that, just to tighten things up. It’ll still take him outside the young adult age rage. And that doesn’t count the three potential sequels.

I made a couple of attempts to carve this story up to fit into either the middle grade or young adult audience, but it just doesn’t want to fit that straight jacket. And now, I have the freedom to let it be what it wants. I like that.

Reminder: You can read the first five chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER free on wattpad.

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I’m having a lot of fun with my rewrite of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I’ve never stopped loving this story or the characters. The execution the first time I wrote it–now that needed a lot of help. It’s amazing as I use the original written in 2008 as a very extended outline.

Wow. Dialog mechanics. Yeah, I didn’t understand that at all. Obviously had no idea what a beat was or how to use it. (For non-writers, a beat, in this context, is a bit of action or body language paired with dialogue which acts as the dialog attribution as well as allowing the characters to interact with each other and the environment. It isn’t necessary to use “he said” for every single line of dialog.)  Showing vs. telling. Yes, I have a much better handle on that on several levels.

I may be having too much fun with this, though. I’ve been playing instead of doing the harder work of planning the launch for BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

Blood Is Thicker Cover

I may have to push the launch date out to compensate for this. I also haven’t done what I need to on promoting FIRE AND EARTH.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Writing is just so much more fun and it goes fast when you have essentially a 100,000-word outline to work from. That’s the good news. I’ll have this first draft done in record time.

I suppose it doesn’t hurt–could even help–to take a little break every now and then. But I seriously have to force myself back to the work that is outside my comfort zone.

Meanwhile, you can read the first five chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER free on wattpad.

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Well, I’ve started a little of my weird Oz story, but it’s not really flowing yet. So, I jumped in the way-back machine (fifty totally meaningless points if you get that reference) and pulled up my first novel (not counting the thing I did in college, of course). It’s THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

Now, I’ve taken a couple of whacks at rewriting this before. I pulled out part of the story arc and wrote it as a middle grade novel I called MAGIC’S FOOL. I liked that pretty well, but I was persuaded that the age of the protagonist (thirteen in that version) would be a problem. I’m no longer sure that’s true, though. I’ve read other recently-published books that start with thirteen-year-old protagonists.

I tried again with a young adult version which started with the protagonist at fifteen, just like the original. I never got very far with that one.

Then I just got tired of trying to shoehorn the story (which I still love) into either of those categories. I like the original plot line better. Not that it can’t benefit from a few revisions and some tightening. Still, overall it’s the writing in that first version that’s the problem, not the plot.

So, that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m trying a rewrite of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. It’s an interesting experience for a discovery writer to have essentially a 100,000-word outline to work from.

Reminder: You can read the first four chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER free on wattpad. I really have to get down to some serious planning for the launch. I might have to slip the release date back a little if I don’t make some definite plans by the end of this month. I can do that at this point, but it’ll get harder later.

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Both @Sheena Dabel Boekweg and @Melanie Sweat Crouse have tagged me in this meme on Facebook.

Unfortunately, I’m not actually doing Facebook right now, other than to share these posts. (It’s not just that Facebook can be a huge time-suck. My computer and Facebook aren’t getting along well at the moment. Probably something to do with my older operating system (Windows XP) or my layers of anti-virus/malware software. But I haven’t had a chance to sort it out, so I mainly just go onto Facebook long enough to share these posts.)

The rules:

The rules… Go to page 7, 70, or 170 of a current work in progress or a recently published work and choose either the first complete paragraph or 7 lines of dialogue to share. Paste it to FB and tag 7 other authors to do the same.

All right then. From page 7 of MAGIC AND POWER:

“So? Did you ask her?” Cergio asked as he and Savyon led their horses into the palace stables.

Savyon scowled. “No. You let the others get through too soon. I didn’t have time.”

“How much time does it take? It’s a simple yes-or-no question, isn’t it?”

Savyon’s posture stiffened. “You can’t just blurt out a question like that without a little . . . preparation.”

Cergio shrugged. “No, you mean you can’t. I mean, if you’d’ve been doing this right, the proposal shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to her.”

Savyon’s ears turned pink.

Cergio choked back a laugh. “Oh, no. You’ve still been going on as if you’re just childhood friends, haven’t you? Have you even tried to kiss her?”

For good measure, from page 70 of BLOOD IS THICKER (which is available before formal release on October 21 at Smashwords):

“Be more careful, Cristel,” Rolf said, shaking his head. “You and Vallie. Neither of you know when to quit.”

Vallie smirked. “Oh, and you do. How many days did you spend pouring strength into me in the hospital to keep me alive?”

Rolf rustled his wings. “That was different.” Under Vallie’s level stare he added more softly, “Sort of.”

Cristel turned toward the bronze egg. “Did it work?”

The egg was unmistakably brighter. Rolf put his hand on it, sensing something Cristel couldn’t see.

“Yes, it seems to have,” Rolf said. “But don’t hold on so long next time. Just a little bit at a time.”

Cristel nodded. “I understand.”

“See that you do. After all, we won’t be here to stop you. And you can’t stand up for our eggs if you can’t stand up.”

Since I’m not actually on Facebook as I type this, if you’re a writer and you feel so inclined, consider yourself tagged.

Also, the first four chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER are now available free on wattpad.


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Well, not really. There’s plenty for me to be working on. But . . . but I’ve finished most of the revisions I was planning to carry me into next month.

  • BLOOD IS THICKER is done and already available on Smashwords. (By the way, my other published stories are on sale on Smashwords through the end of the month. Some are even free. Check them out here and remember to use the coupon code listed right below the price.) You can also read the first three chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER free on wattpad.
  • MAGE STORM is basically done, although I’m still waiting for feedback from a couple of beta readers. I still need to work on the query and pitches some more. The synopsis could probably stand a bit of polish, too.
  • And, surprisingly, I feel like the third draft of MAGIC AND POWER is probably just about the final draft–at least until I can get it in front of a few beta readers. After the last pass, there’s just one more thing I think I need to take a look at. I suspect my characters do a lot of taking deep breaths and breathing out. Using a physical response to show emotion is good, but I probably need to introduce a little more variety there.

So, it looks like I may be starting that weird Oz story about a month sooner than I’d planned. I’m going to have to spend a little time getting myself into the right frame of mind. This one will be in first person and my character has (I hope) a distinct voice. But I don’t like taking more than a few days without doing some actual writing. Gotta keep those writing muscles in shape.

Of course, I also need to continue preparing to officially launch BLOOD IS THICKER (October 20). And continue trying to promote FIRE AND EARTH, mostly by trying to line up reviewers.

Maybe I’m not at such loose ends, after all.

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The first steps to planning the publication of BLOOD IS THICKER are under way.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

Blood Is Thicker Cover

The tentative official publication will be in the middle of October. Specific date to be announced.

And BLOOD IS THICKER is already available on Smashwords. (I’ve actually already sold one there and it only went up last night with no fanfare.) This makes it possible for me to start trying to line up reviewers for around the official release.

In getting it up on Smashwords, I needed a pitch.

In the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL, the newlyweds, Rolf and Valeriah, face a new crisis.

Born half-werewolf, Valeriah’s life has never been simple. Her recent marriage to a dragon has led to a transformation–Valeriah is now a dragon, too. But, taking the form and knowing how to actually be a dragon is not the same thing. Her life has even more complications than ever. So many, in fact, that she doesn’t recognize the signs of her own pregnancy until Rolf rushes her to the Hatching Grounds to lay their eggs.

But then things only get worse, because something’s wrong on the Hatching Grounds. The underground source of heat that sustains the eggs is slowly dying. Valeriah and Rolf have to scramble to discover what’s gone wrong and find a way to fix it before their eggs die.

Meanwhile, the first three chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER are available free on wattpad.

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Sorry to be late blogging today. I got sidelined by a power outage.

I have a final draft of BLOOD IS THICKER and a cover. Now the real work starts. I mean to do a better job of it this time. Promotion is where I’m weakest. So, I need to make a list.

  1.  Pick a publication date. Right now, I’m leaning towards mid-October, roughly three months out.
  2. Now would probably be a good time to get a decent blurb and pitch worked out, too.
  3. Line up some fellow bloggers for a formal cover reveal, announcing that publication date.
  4. Go through the Smashwords formatting process so I can have e-copies for potential reviewers. I can turn off further distribution until just before the publication date (if I choose). But, at least this will be done and setting it to go live beyond Smashwords will be trivial.
  5. Start lining up reviewers. This time, try to work it so the reviews will coincide roughly with the release.
  6. Tricky part. I want to make a two-for-one deal available. Buy either BLOOD WILL TELL or BLOOD IS THICKER and get the other free for a limited time (say, oh, I don’t know, through Christmas). But the only way I can see to make this generally available (as opposed to available only to people who have some contact with me on Facebook, through one of my writers’ forums, or through my blog) is to create a sort of omnibus edition of both books and price it the same. That way it’ll be available everywhere. Plus, it’ll be available for reviewers who want to start with the first book. (Some do.) That’s another formatting chore. Plus, I need another cover. Stumped on that one right now.
  7. Bite the bullet and try to set up a blog tour. Introvert me believes this will kill me, but I think I can survive it.
  8. Go through the formatting for print on demand, too. That way I can schedule a Goodreads giveaway along with the release. (Both books? Or the Omnibus edition?) Decisions, decisions.
  9. What else? What else? I’m sure there’s more I need to do that I haven’t figured out yet. 

 Argh! And while I’m at it, I need to order some more copies of FIRE AND EARTH to send out to reviewers, too.

You can read the first two chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER for free on wattpad.

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I’m currently about half way through what I hope will be the final draft of BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

Blood Is Thicker Cover

(Shh! There’ll be a formal cover reveal later. This is a sneak peak.) Then planning for the launch really starts.

Here’s another sneak peak. The first page:

“Rolf?” Valeriah pronounced his name carefully, even though it didn’t have any of the soft ess sounds that were so difficult for a dragon’s tongue and throat to produce without hissing.

“Hmm?” Rolf answered, opening one eye. He lay stretched out on the beach, dozing and digesting the cow they’d shared for lunch.

“How long iss thiss going to take?” Damn, those esses were hard.

“Which this is that, sweetheart?”

Show off. He didn’t have any trouble with his esses. Then again, he’d been a dragon from birth. He’d had a lot more time to practice. “Learning to be a dragon.”

Rolf stretched out his huge golden wing to embrace her and reached out with his long neck to rub his chin along her back.

Signs he knew she wasn’t going to like the answer. She felt herself tensing, subconsciously balancing her weight in preparation for a fight. As if she could fight a kitten, clumsy as she was in this unfamiliar body. That was another source of frustration. She’d been athletic in her human form. Not anymore.

“Most dragons take about ten years to master a new form,” Rolf said.

“Ten yearss!” She jerked upright, half unfolding her wings in outrage, and clunked Rolf’s jaw with the top of her head. It likely didn’t seem that long to him. Rolf was two-hundred-and-fifty years old, give or take. Valeriah would be twenty-six next month and ten years seemed like an impossibly long time to her.

You can read the first two chapters of BLOOD IS THICKER on wattpad.


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First, my books and stories are part of Smashwords’s Summer/Winter Sale this month. All of my shorter stories: “Heart of Oak“, “The Music Box“, and “Becoming Lioness” are free. BLOOD WILL TELL is 75% off, just in time for the launch of the sequel, BLOOD IS THICKER this fall. FIRE AND EARTH is 50% off. If you ever wanted to read one of my stories, here’s your opportunity. If you want to make an author happy, don’t forget to leave a review where it will count, like Amazon or Goodreads.

I’m currently working through the second draft of MAGIC AND POWER–and I’m way ahead of schedule. I expected to get through about chapter 9 this week. I’m now working on chapter 23 (of 26). I might even finish the second draft this week. Now, the second draft is a long way from a finished draft, especially for a modified discovery writer, like me. But it’s really good progress and I’m pleased.

Then I need to do some additional work on the query and pitches for MAGE STORM. My goal for MAGE STORM is still to have it ready for WriteOnCon. I’m still waiting for some of the critiques on that one, though, so I’ll probably switch back to trying to finish and polish up BLOOD IS THICKER. A finished manuscript would allow me to start taking steps to line up reviews and maybe a blog tour in advance of the launch, for a change. I need to create, at a minimum, an e-book version that I can distribute to reviewers. It would also allow me to set a publication date about three months out. Both good things.

Sometime after that, I’ll be ready to start on my next new project–my weird Oz story. For some reason, August and September do tend to be my most productive period for first drafts. I have no idea why, but I’ll just go with it.

BLOOD IS THICKER is being serialized on wattpad, but since it’s not complete, I’m only updating once a week. You can read the first chapter here.

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