Archive for January, 2015

In real life, one of my current projects is to organize that room. Just about every house has one. The room that doesn’t get used very often (maybe it’s a guest room) and so ends up being the place where you put anything you can’t find another place for–or things you just don’t want to week out, yet. In my case, it’s variously referred to as the back bedroom or the closet room. Somehow, no matter how many times I’ve tried to organize it, it always ends up looking like some giant has stirred it with a stick. I think there’s a poltergeist at work.

There are literally corners in that room I haven’t been able to get to for years. Not without a lot of work, anyway. I pulled a lot of stuff out of that room when I designated a portion of my new office space for crafts. Made sense to organize and store most of the craft supplies in one of the closets. That should make it easier to organize what’s left. Somehow, it seems to have had the opposite effect.

The thing is, you never quite know what you’re going to turn up when you start poking into corners like that. Among the things that have turned up are  very early versions of some stories that I later rewrote. (Must remember to shred those at some point. The writing is truly dreadful.) And an abandoned writing journal.

I knew that the characters and at least some of the events of the Dual Magics series had been kicking around in my head for a while. Now I know just how long a while. 1987. Yikes. Back then, I used to write long hand in spiral notebooks.

Of course, it’s not quite the same story now that it was then. It’s much better and richer than that early version.

After I abandoned the book as a writing journal, I apparently used it to write down impressions on at least one vacation. The last entry is:

Long way home. Fog, rain, pelicans.

Well, at least it’s not verbose. I must have been tired.

Read Full Post »

Fantasy, especially epic fantasy or sword and sorcery, very often includes battles. And a few things this week have come together to get me thinking about what makes a written battle work–or not.

It’s a good thing to start thinking about. Towards the end of BEYOND THE PROPHECY, I’m going to be writing the first really big battle of this series. Not that there isn’t action of other sorts, and even other fights, earlier in the story. But this will be the first of two large groups colliding. (Much more of that in the fourth and final book of the series.)

First, I recently finished a book that included a multi-chapter battle. I mean multi-chapter, as in twelve chapters. Twelve. With almost every move of four separate POV characters detailed. All right, they were short chapters, mostly. But still. I was so ready for that battle to be over and to move on with the story. Only, the story didn’t go much farther. Didn’t really have what I’d call a real denouement. Just set up for the sequel–which I won’t be rushing out to buy. (No, I’m not going to name the book. Just because it failed for me doesn’t mean someone else might not enjoy it.)

All right. For me, at least, that’s probably not the way to write a battle scene.

Now, immediately the thought occurred to me that Tolkien had also written a long battle scene in RETURN OF THE KING and that one didn’t bother me. So, I got out my copy to take a look at that. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields starts towards the end of Chapter IV (The Siege of Gondor). But then it’s broken up by the Ride of the Rohirrim in Chapter V, which only returns to the actual battle at the end of that chapter. Then Chapter VI all and only about the battle–and it’s a fairly long chapter, because a lot happens in that battle. But Tolkien doesn’t attempt to tell us every sword stroke or skirmish. He evokes the chaos of the battle and then only really shows us the highlights.

I like that approach much better.

Now, while I’ve had a fight scene of some kind in most of my books, I think I’ve only tackled a pitched battle twice.

Once was in FIRE AND EARTH. That was two chapters. Three, if you count the chapter where the heroes worked out their strategy. And then one from the point of view of each of the two main characters.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

The other is in “Becoming Lioness”, which is actually a compressed version of one of the battles that will be in the fourth book of the DUAL MAGICS series. That one is mostly told from the reactions of the main character in that story.


Meanwhile, as I continue writing my way toward those battles, I’m reading Rayne Hall’s, WRITING FIGHT SCENES–and getting some good ideas.


Read Full Post »

One of my characters from the DUAL MAGICS series has a habit of getting into trouble. He showed it in a minor way in the first book, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????He got into more trouble in the second book, THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????And I’m happy to say that he hasn’t lost his touch. He’s just managed to cause a really big problem in book 3, BEYOND THE PROPHECY. I have a suspicion that he’s going to be something of a rebel where his part of the story is going to take him next.

This should be fun.

Read Full Post »

Those of you who’ve read anything I’ve written can probably tell I don’t seem to be able to write anything without squeezing in a little romance along the way. I once wrote a short story that had literally one character (man-against-nature) and I still got a little romance into it if only in the character’s thoughts and motivations. (That story has ties to my Dual Magics series and may get a brush up and see the light of day–be published–sometime in the next year or so.)

Romance, while not absent, isn’t usually a huge element of Epic Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery, yet there’s been a consistent strain of it in my Dual Magics series, too.

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE had a romance threaded through it that actually played a major role in the main character’s ability to overcome his inhibitions about magic–which, in turn, allowed him to finally triumph.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Romance was a smaller element in the second book, THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, but there was still a mostly behind the scenes love story between two of the side characters.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? The parts of that romance that were cut from the book may also make an appearance some day as a tie-in short story.

Now, in writing the third book, presently titled BEYOND THE PROPHECY, I get to write another romance that, like the first, is more central to the overall plot. This one is between two of the younger characters. (If you’ve read “Becoming Lioness” you know which two.


“Becoming Lioness” is free, by the way.) This is the early part of their relationship and they’re going to have more to overcome before their Happily Ever After. Still, it’s a lot of fun writing this part.


Read Full Post »

Another thing about being a discovery writer is that sometimes it takes a while for me to find my way into a story. It’s not that I don’t know what happens in the story. It’s just that sometimes I don’t know what happens next.

To some extent, that’s been my problem with BEYOND THE PROPHECY. I knew what the story is about. I knew, broadly, what would happen. I just didn’t know what happened next. Makes it hard to write the next chapter.

But now I do. I can see the next three or four chapters clearly at last. All that noodling around with character relationship diagrams and synopses let my subconscious play around and then give me the answers. I should be able to build momentum and really get this story moving at last.

Of course, I may have to cut some of what’s currently in the early chapters. That goes with being a discovery writer, too. We’ll see. I’m pretty sure I need to move one chapter much earlier. Those are problems for after I get the first draft done. Now, it’s just make a note and move on.

I stumbled on some things I think are pretty good while I was trying to find my way into this story. If I have to cut them, maybe they’ll find their way into something else–a tie-in short story, perhaps.



Read Full Post »

I hate synopses. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about that before. I hate writing them. I’m not very fond of reading them, either.

And I shouldn’t have to do them for books I publish myself, right? Synopses are just something agents force us to do, right?

Wrong. See, one of the decisions I made when I published The Voice of Prophecy

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????was to include a synopsis of what had happened in the first book, The Shaman’s Curse.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Just in case anyone picked up the second book first, or, you know, didn’t remember what had happened in the first book. It turned out not to be as brief a synopsis as I’d hoped.

I just finished adding the synopsis for The Voice of Prophecy. About 18 pages combined. If I keep this up, by the fourth (and final) book, I’m going to have a very long synopsis. Which means I need to do some more work, revising this monster down to a more manageable size. Trying to make it more interesting wouldn’t hurt, either. I think I’ll have to get some of my critique partners involved in that.

Also, because of Amazon’s Look Inside feature, I may have to consider moving the synopsis to the back of the book. Which doesn’t make very good intuitive sense, but that may be the way it has to be.

Especially since I’m also considering adding other ancillary material. I still haven’t got the map quite the way I want it, but maybe in time for Beyond the Prophecy.

Dual Magics BW Map

Through the second book, nearly everything took place in Caere, at Zeda, or in the Valley. Or, of course, somewhere in between those points. So it was possible to follow pretty easily without a map. In the third book, more parts of this world start to come into play, especially Kausalya and Tysoe.

And then there’s this quick reference to how the characters are related to each other.

Vatar's Family 2

Hmm. Maybe I’ll break that last one into two charts.

Read Full Post »

Prophecy of the Six released yesterday, but I got to read it early. Here’s my review.

Sabrina Front-Cover-FinalHQ

I love this sequel to Alchemy even more than the first book. And that’s saying something.

Imagine that magic is contagious. And causes insanity. Mages who survive the initial infection have to be controlled, sent to special schools that resemble prisons, or locked away in insane asylums.

Now prepare to follow four infected teens as they try to navigate the fine line between magic and madness—and determine who they can really trust. And just what part they have in the Prophecy of the Six. For that matter, what is the prophecy? Because no one will tell them.

Suspicious Seb, super senses and healing, for whom odors, sounds, bright colors, and rough textures are torture and who lives and breathes conspiracy theories.

Alternately fragile and daredevil Ana, alchemy and prophecy, who possesses the rare ability to invest inanimate objects with magic. Sometimes stolen magic. Sometimes her own. But whose sanity is threatened whenever such an object is used.

Confident Sam, temp and pushing, maybe the sanest of the four—if love doesn’t destroy him and take one or more of the others with him.

Snarky Juliette, alchemy and pushing, whose infection has robbed her of everything she loved or wanted. Her anger and fear could take them all down, but her magic may be the most powerful of all.

You’re in for a great roller-coaster ride with this book.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I honestly loved it.

Read Full Post »

I know I’ve blogged about this before. I consider myself a modified discovery writer. Modified because I once wrote a whole novel-length work that didn’t come out to be a story. I knew it wasn’t a story as I was writing the end, though it took me–back then–a few tries to figure out why.

The reason was because it wasn’t organized around a central conflict. Once I figured that out, I knew how to fix it. (I’ll confess here, that not-a-story, written back in 2009, was actually the very earliest version of what became THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.)

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????See, you really can fix anything in the revisions. I need to keep reminding myself of that as I work on the first draft of Book 3 in the DUAL MAGICS series, BEYOND THE PROPHECY. Part of my brain keeps wanting to slow down and make it like a revision, not a first draft.

Just get the story down. Fix it later.

After that experience, I no longer just launch blindly into a story. (Well, sometimes I will on the rare occasions that I write a short story, but that’s not nearly the same investment of time that a novel is.) I try to at least map out the central problem and the high–or low–points of the story. Not anything like a real outline. Just a few paragraphs to guide me along the way.

I’ve done that for BEYOND THE PROPHECY, but that doesn’t stop me from getting things a little out of order.

Sometimes, that central problem is the antagonist. The Dark Lord (whichever particular variety of Dark Lord appears in a given story) must be stopped. And the main character’s internal journey and growth is a secondary plot. But sometimes that’s reversed and the internal journey is the main conflict, while the antagonist is more of a complication. THE VOICE OF PROPHECY was like that, which is probably what threw me off years ago and why it took me becoming a better writer to be able to pull it off.

BEYOND THE PROPHECY is not like that. In Book 3, the antagonists come back to the fore. Yes, I meant that to be plural. There are two. If you’ve read the excerpt of BEYOND THE PROPHECY included in the (ebook version) of THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, then you know Gerusa’s back and making more trouble–and not just for Vatar. The other antagonist is actually someone (or someones) from the first book, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. (No, it’s not the shaman come back to life.) And, eventually, they’re going to join forces.

The reason this topic came up today is that I started to write that chapter, then realized I was making that alliance way too early. That’s got to happen much nearer the end of this book.

That’s okay. I’ve written the chapter (or most of it) and it’ll probably stand as is, at least for the first draft. Just not where it is. Now I have to go back and figure out what does happen in that space. My few paragraphs of proto-outline don’t cover everything.

And remind myself, it doesn’t have to be perfect in this draft. That’s what the final draft is for.


Read Full Post »