Archive for October, 2013

I’ve had the opportunity to have a couple of people who are very good at seeing the big picture take a look at the beginning of my Weird Oz Story. With their help, I’m beginning to get a clearer picture of what went wrong and how to fix it.

This story started when I’d read one too many novels in a row that featured a supposed female protagonist who sat around and waited for some guy to show them what to do. If you haven’t noticed already, that’s a really, really big pet peeve of mine. So, I thought of dropping a new “Dorothy” into a much more dangerous Oz–basically, the Jurassic Park version of Oz.

But it’s not working. I knew that, though I was too close to it to really figure out why. Now I’m starting to get feedback that helps me to understand why.

  1. In the interests of having my “Dorothy” make her own choices, even in a strange and unfamiliar world, I set her down alone. That won’t work. L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy’s first companion, the Scarecrow, in Chapter 3. My character needs someone to talk to, someone to help her recognize the “she’s not in Kansas anymore” sooner. But not somebody to take over and tell her what to do. Most of all, another character who can provide some additional conflict. I’m working on an appropriate character for this–something or someone a bit ADHD who will be as much a hindrance as a help–more conflict. 
scanned from 1900 Wizard of Oz book

scanned from 1900 Wizard of Oz book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. The first few chapters were a bit too frenetic. The whole novel can’t be just bouncing from one threat to the next. There has to be time to lay plans, reconnoiter, and take deliberate action. There have to be try/fail cycles in which “Dorothy” fails before she finds her way out. I have to throw enough at her to make it clear she’s in trouble, but I also need to pace it better.
  2. Writing it in first-person is turning out to be somewhat problematic for two reasons. The longer it takes to convince “Dorothy” that this really is Oz, the longer I’m actually shutting the reader out of the truth, too. Because the reader has to experience everything through “Dorothy” in first person, even while “Dorothy” is in denial. Also, I haven’t really hit on a likeable voice for “Dorothy”, probably partly because of her denial. I haven’t made a decision on this yet. There may be a way I can fix “Dorothy’s” voice. On the other hand, third person frees me to let the reader in on things Dorothy hasn’t figured out yet and, if I want, even to jump to another character for a chapter. That might be the deciding factor.

At any rate, I’m getting closer to getting back to this story.


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Here’s another snippet, the opening scene of BLOOD WILL TELL:

Blood Will Tell Cover

Valeriah let the droning voices wash over her, ignoring them. Politicians and businessmen: they could talk more and say less than any ten other groups. Fortunately, it wasn’t her job to listen to them. In fact, better not, since she needed to stay alert.

She scanned the crowd again. She didn’t see anything out of place, but her instincts screamed at her that something was wrong. Sight could be deceiving, so she submerged herself in her other senses. Senses that were sharper than a human’s.

There. The sharp scent of fear overlaid with anger. That was out of place on a sunny day at the opening ceremony for a new high school science lab. Circulating inconspicuously through the crowd, Valeriah let her nose lead her to the source. The man in the bright yellow T-shirt didn’t look like much, but a concealed weapon could be a great leveler. She didn’t smell gun oil on him, but there was something else.

The mayor finished his “brief” remarks, finally. Zobran–he called himself Zebulon Towers on this side of the portal–stood to give his speech as the primary benefactor of the lab. Valeriah breathed more deeply, still trying to identify the strange scent. Not dangerous. But something . . .

The yellow-shirted man moved forward, raising his arm and shouting. “Towers Technology works for the military. Their money is blood money.”

Oh. One of those. He probably wasn’t a real threat, but her job right now was to safeguard Zobran. Still, there wasn’t any need to do more than interfere. No point in drawing undue attention over a simple protester. Before the man could complete his motion and throw whatever it was he held in his hand, Valeriah pounced. She moved so fast her leg was a blur as she brought it around behind the man’s knees. He fell. Whatever he’d held in his hand shattered and splashed red across the grey concrete of the quad. Not blood, the smell was all wrong, but something meant to look like it.

Valeriah recovered quickly and raised her eyes to see that Rayan had closed in beside Zobran, covering him in case of another attack. Good. Rayan was new, but he seemed to know his job. The few policemen on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony pushed their way towards the disturbance. Valeriah eased her way out of the crowd, moving slowly so as not to draw attention to herself.

Also, there’s another new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER available on wattpad.

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In honor of the build up to the launch of BLOOD IS THICKER

Blood Is Thicker Cover

and the publication of the CHIMERIA OMNIBUS edition


here’s the opening scene of BLOOD IS THICKER:

“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.

Rolf pulled his head back but continued to rub his wingtip along the edge of her wings. “It’s not just learning to fly and speak Draconic. You’ll have to learn dragon magic. And, because you’re a red dragon, you’ll have to learn to breathe fire, too. That’s one I can’t teach you. Golds don’t breathe fire.”

“Ten yearsss!” By dragon law, now that she’d taken it, she had to keep dragon form until she mastered it. The reasoning was sound. Valeriah knew perfectly well if she was permitted to go back to her human form to have a conversation, she’d never learn Draconic. It’d be too much easier to speak her native language. Hells, at the beginning, she’d have changed back just to walk across the room. Suddenly having to remember to move four feet in the proper order hadn’t been as easy as it sounded. It had thrown her balance completely off. She still wasn’t exactly graceful on the ground. She was a little better in the air, but only because Rolf drilled her mercilessly.

Rolf ducked his head. “Maybe I can persuade Mother to give you a break on the dragon magic. You can learn and use that just as well in either form. And, since you’re part human anyway, you won’t need the magic to mask your appearance among humans. It’s not like you’ll have slit-pupiled eyes or scales.”

If she’d known that it would take ten years when he’d goaded her into taking dragon form, would she have done it? Rolf had been so excited at the prospect she probably would have. Besides, it really wouldn’t have been very diplomatic to refuse his mother’s wedding gift to them. Giving a half-werewolf the ability to take dragon form was no small gift. Normally, diplomacy was not Valeriah’s strong suit. She was much too blunt for that. Still when your mother-in-law is the Matriarch of the gold dragons, arguably the rightful ruler of all Chimeria, a little tact is probably called for.

The trouble was, at least so far, Valeriah didn’t really much like being a dragon. Flying was nice, at least when Rolf wasn’t drilling her in aerobatics. But there were days when she wanted to weep with frustration at just not being able to communicate clearly. She might have, if only dragons could cry. The Common Speech was incredibly difficult to pronounce with a dragon’s snout, forked tongue, and long throat. And Draconic was a completely foreign language she was only beginning to learn.

“You’ll learn quickly, Vallie,” Rolf said soothingly. “Maybe it won’t take you that long. Look at Drake. He hasn’t been a dragon much longer than you and he can speak perfect Draconic.”

“Drake understood Draconic already. He grew up hearing it. He just couldn’t speak it until he took dragon form.” She spoke slowly in Draconic, only substituting a few words of Common Speech when her limited Draconic vocabulary failed her.

Rolf cocked his head to the side. “That’s true. But you’re learning to fly much faster than he is.”

Valeriah snorted at that–a very impressive sound from a dragon’s lungs and snout. It communicated her thoughts on that just fine without any language problems. Nobody had been pushing Drake to fly the way Rolf pushed her.

Rolf tried to look contrite, not a very convincing look for a dragon. “Is it so very bad?”

Was it? It was more than just the speech, as if that wasn’t bad enough. Even Rolf hadn’t anticipated the dietary problems. That shouldn’t be an issue right now, near the full moon. Both her new dragon nature and her werewolf half craved meat and lots of it.

But becoming a dragon hadn’t changed her essential nature, only added to it. The trace of unicorn blood she’d inherited from her grandmother Elsibel still compelled her to a vegetarian diet at the new moon. Dragons just weren’t meant to be vegetarians. Their teeth were all wrong and the diet gave her horrible indigestion at every new moon, until the moon waxed and she could handle at least fish and poultry. One more complication. As if her life hadn’t had enough already. Matter of fact, the heartburn still hadn’t gotten better. If anything, it was worse.

“Indigesstion,” she said in the Common Speech, not wanting to make the effort to form a complete sentence.

“Still?” The spiny crest on his head stood up as his eyes widened in surprise, making him look like a startled iguana. “I thought that would get better when you could switch to meat again.”

Valeriah shook her head. “Comess and goess.” She didn’t even try to keep the hiss out of the sibilants.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. Nobody could have predicted that. I’m sure your body will adjust before long.”

Valeriah snorted again and laid her head back down on the sand.


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Well, I’ve done it. My blog tour for BLOOD WILL TELL, BLOOD IS THICKER, and the Omnibus edition is set for November 18 through November 25.

Blood Will Tell Cover


Here’s the schedule:

November 18 Spotlight and review

Penny For Them…



November 18 Spotlight

Book Reviews by Xunaira J.



November 18 Spotlight

AC James



November 19 Spotlight and review

Diaries of 2 Thick Chicks



November 19 Guest blog 

Mythical Books


Guest Post: The Journey or the ending ( I have in view that in a Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance the happy ending is somehow expected, but that is not everything for a good book)


November 19 review

Romance with Flavor



November 20 Interview

The Simple Things in life



November 20 Interview

Musings and Ramblings   



November 21 Spotlight and review

Fang Freakin’ Tastic Reviews



November 21 review

trips down imagination road 




November 21 review

Corey’s Book Reviews     



November 22 Guest blog

Books, Books The Magical Fruit



November 22 review

Crazy Four Books



November 25 Spotlight

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews



November 25 Spotlight and review

Ramblings of a Book Lunatic



November 25 review

happy tails and tales 



This’ll be a new experience for me–and a little outside my comfort zone. Yikes. I’ll have my work cut out for me for the next couple of weeks to prepare the interviews and guest posts.

By the way, as with every week, another chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is up for free on wattpad.

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A week or so ago, I blogged about having found a couple of new critique partners. Well, I’m still slogging–somewhat painfully–through one of the critiques. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

For one thing, whenever there are several comments on every page, at some point it all just becomes white noise. Some of those comments are valuable, but it takes a lot of work ot separate the diamonds from the dross.

I’m reminded of Orson Scott Card’s “wise reader” questions–So what? (“That was boring.”), Say what? (“I didn’t understand that.”) And Huh?! (“I don’t believe that.”) Those are the most important questions a reader/critiquer can answer. Of course, it’s always really nice to know when something works well, too.

Too many of those comments I’m skipping over are of the form “I think this would sound better . . .” which is basically an attempt to rewrite my prose. That’s a no, no. In fact, in at least one writers’ group to which I belong, Hatrack River Writers Workshop, it’s specifically forbidden.

Point out writerly tics, certainly. Typos and repetition of words that cause a kind of echo are fair game, too. But, well, there’s a line that can be crossed.

On a completely different subject, I found an ebook of all fourteen of L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories cheap on Amazon. If that doesn’t help jog my inspiration for that story, I don’t know what will.

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There are a couple of reasons why I want to talk about first-person point of view today.

The first is that my Weird Oz Story is my first attempt at novel-length first person point of view. I don’t actually think that’s why I’m stuck on that one–at least not directly.

I’ve written a couple of short stories (novelettes, really)–“Heart of Oak” and “Becoming Lioness”–in first person, but never a novel. There’s a reason for that. The shorter stories could be told from a single point of view. “Heart of Oak” really had to be told in first person, so much of that story was internal. And I just started hearing “Becoming Lioness” in first person in my head–after the first draft had already been written–and I decided to go with it.

The main reason I’ve never written a novel in first person is that I usually write from more than one point of view. (MAGE STORM being the only completed exception to date.) In my young adult stories, specifically, I usually write at least from the points of view of the girl and her love interest. Sometimes, the antagonist, too. That’s hard to do in first person.

I’ve read several published novels with more than one first-person point of view character and almost universally I’ve been struck by one thing–all the characters sound the same. They don’t have individual voices that distinguish them from each other, sometimes even when the characters have wildly different backgrounds. They should speak and think differently from each other, but I have to check the top of the page to know which character is using the pronoun “I” in a particular chapter.

I don’t want to write like that, so for now I’m sticking with a (hopefully) invisible third-person narrator when I have more than one point of view character.

On a brighter note, I have finally read a story in which multiple first-person point of view characters actually sound like different characters. It’s Alchemy, by some fellow writers I “know” from Hatrack River Writers Workshop. That seems to be at least one key to doing this right–three different writers each writing a different character. It’s a really, really good story and only $0.99. You should check it out.

In other news, the Chimeria Omnibus edition (containing both BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER) is now available just about everywhere. For a limited time (but probably at least through Christmas), it’s the same price as either book alone.


Also, another chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is available free on wattpad.

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So, I decided to make progress in another direction. The CHIMERIA OMNIBUS–both BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER in one e-volume–is now live.


For a limited time, the omnibus edition is the same price as either book alone. Two for the price of one. Such a deal.

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Usually, I try to just keep calm and carry on. It doesn’t always work. Yesterday, real life hit me between the eyes. Just one more thing, but at some point it’s the one straw that broke the camel’s back. Not broken, yet, but definitely strained.

I haven’t gotten back into a frame of mind conducive to working again, yet. This comes at a very bad time creatively because I am more or less between projects.

This, too, shall pass–one way or another, but not today.


The Straw That Broke the Camel's Back

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back (Photo credit: mikecogh)

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Time to confront the truth. I’m stuck on my Weird Oz Story. I can–and probably will–finish Chapter 10. After that, I just can’t see my way ahead. I know where the story needs to end, but I don’t see how I get there.

I’ve only been in this place with a story once before. That was SEVEN STARS, the original version of FIRE AND EARTH. The reason then was that I had just gotten the story wrong. (In retrospect, it was a real stinker, too.) I wasn’t able to move ahead and produce a story I liked until I took a step back and reimagined it. A lot of things about that story changed when I did that, but it ended up so much better. That, after all, is the goal–a great story, well-told.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

So, I’m going to have to take a step back and try to reimagine my Weird Oz Story. Let my subconscious play with it and see what ideas float up out of the depths. I suspect part of the problem was with the initial idea–throwing my Dorothy into Oz alone.  One character by herself can only stay interesting for so long. Chapters 9 and 10 were about getting her some company, but I think it’s just too late. The point was to force her to take charge, but I just don’t thnk it’s working.

Meanwhile, for now, I’ll be doing some revisions to DESERT ROSE (formerly MAGIC AND POWER) and probably working on revisions to the rewrite of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. That’s the great thing about multiple projects: you never have to be idle.

In other news, I’m getting antsy, so I’ll likely move the publication of the combined edition of BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER up to next weekend (about ten days earlier than planned.)


Meanwhile, another chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is available free on wattpad. Or, you could just buy it and get the whole story all at once.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

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I’m taking a brief break from my Weird Oz Story to work through some of the critiques I’ve received on DESERT ROSE (formerly known as MAGIC AND POWER).

I’ve said before, but it bears repeating, that nothing will improve writing faster than giving and receiving critiques. Getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t, what’s missing or too thin (like description) or where you’ve taken something maybe a touch too far is invaluable. Doing critiques is at least as valuable. Sometimes, it’s just easier to see issues in someone else’s writing than in your own.

Now, I have a usual group of critique partners–the Pied Pipers (see sidebar)–but recently quite a few of our members have had to take time away because of real life. Others have drifted away for other reasons. (By the way, if you write young adult fantasy or science fiction, do check out the Pied Pipers on David Farland’s Writers’ Groups. We’re open to new members.) So, for DESERT ROSE I branched out and looked for a couple of new critique partners.

That’s made me realize something. See, the Pied Pipers have been exchanging critiques for a couple of years now. We know each others’ writing styles and the kinds of stories we tend to tell. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, in some ways it’s an advantage. But there’s something else to be learned from people who are reading one of my stories for the first time. My new critique partners are looking at and seeing different things.

It’s exciting and I think it’s already made my writing better on DESERT ROSE (and I’m only on Chapter 3 of the critiques.) So, if you’re reading this (and you know who you are), thank you.

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