Archive for July, 2017

I didn’t have this link to share yesterday. But I have it now. The audiobook of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is part of a nine-book giveaway running this week–through August 7th.  Go, enter now.Untitled-design-30


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My (mostly) unbreakable rule about first drafts is that they have to go in only one direction–forward. If I let my editor brain get involved in fixing things during the first draft–well, I just might never get to The End. Early on, I had to force myself into this by writing out the first draft long hand.

After all, first drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect.

Normally, I only permit myself to go backward to make a note of something I need to set up earlier or some other change that will be necessary–in the revisions. And, usually, those changes are relatively small. Often, it only requires a line or two to set something up. For instance, in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I’m quite likely going to decide that one character needs to have a small scar from an earlier encounter.


I’ll just make a note that I need to set that up in some way. (Not having him have a habit of rubbing that scar. I already have a character–in a different story–who has that particular tic, so I’ll have to come up with something else.)

But . . . some things need a little more set up than that. And I’ve recently realized that one of the reasons I was having a bit of difficulty getting into one scene is that it really needs some earlier set up that will increase the tension. Set up that will also help to show my antagonist at his weaselly worst. (This antagonist also featured in the small extract I shared a couple of weeks ago.)

So, I’ve gone back to add two scenes to an earlier chapter. Since they are entirely new scenes, not revisions, it doesn’t really quite break my rule. Just bends it.


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Not much progress to report today. I’ve spent most of my writing time wrestling with the boxed set, BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC so I can publish it wide through Pronoun.

By Sword Boxed Set

The formatting of this one is more complex than my other boxed sets, because this one has three unrelated stories, each with its own fonts and glyphs.

First, I had some stray fonts that didn’t belong. Then I realized all the images had mysteriously disappeared and had to put them back. Then I realized I had left in an individual call to action that hadn’t been updated.

And, of course, everything takes longer with a boxed set–saving the file, compiling the .epub, uploading, and checking–just because of its size.

But, I think I’ve finally got it right. And, hopefully, it will be worth it. The boxed set for DUAL MAGICS is currently my best seller on Pronoun

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

(which is still not much to brag about, but it’s only been a little over a month and I haven’t done any promos, yet.)

So, that project will nearly be finished. The only thing remaining will be to upload the newest versions of the last four books to Amazon after they figure out the glitch that was turning all my text red.

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As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, I’m mostly a discovery writer, which means I don’t outline in a formal way. But I often do sort of a rolling outline a few chapters ahead of where I am. Subject to change or, more often, addition, of course.

Now that I’m forging into new territory on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I’ve got something sort of like that.


In this case, what I have is a few chapter headings, each on its own page, and a short note about what will happen in that chapter. Perhaps a snippet of dialog if that was in my head when I set it up.

Apropos of #dragonweek, here are the titles (subject to change) of some of the recent, current, and future chapters I’m working on:

  • Preparations for the Hunt (done, Benar’s POV)
  • Counter Plans (done, Cordan’s POV)
  • Dragon Hunt (very rough first draft, Gaian’s POV)
  • Suspicions (done Benar’s POV)
  • Triumphant Return (current chapter, Gaian’s POV)
  • Repercussions (next up, Cordan’s POV)

After that, things are a little up in the air. I have a few more chapters mapped out, but if I follow that plan, this book is going to wrap up way too fast. Or else it’s going to go past the point where I thought the first book of the series would end, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Decision point not far ahead.

Also, if you like dragons, you definitely should check out the Fellowship of Fantasy dragon week books.

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Plan B

Well, I was planning to share a sample of the audiobook of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, but apparently WordPress won’t let me do that. 😦

TSC Audio



Here’s a little glimpse at another brotherly relationship–not between Gaian and Benar (the subjects of BECOME: BROTHERS)–that will have a huge impact on the plot:

Benar left the nursery, shaking his head. Father and Gaian were still in there, watching the infant sleep. While Benar was honored to have been asked to act as foster father—Goddess forbid that the need should ever arise—he couldn’t grasp the fascination of watching a baby sleep. Frankly, the tiny, squirming little thing hadn’t been that interesting when it was awake. He had enough younger brothers—and wasn’t that far from his own childhood—to realize the baby would get more interesting as it grew. But, right now, watching grass grow held about as much interest. Then again, he had to admit, he might feel differently someday, when the child was his.

He turned toward the stairs, to find his full-brother, Cordan, apparently waiting for him. Benar slowed his pace to allow Cordan to keep up with his stiff right knee, the result of an early riding accident that had never fully mended despite all the healers could do.

Benar shook his head, chuckling softly. “Out of all of us, I would never have expected Gaian to be the first to become a father.”

“No,” Cordan agreed. “You realize that this changes everything?”

Benar stopped and turned to face his brother. “Everything? How so?”

“He’s going to need to provide for his son. A home, at the least. What other home does Gaian have? And where could he give his son better training? He even has a son to follow him as king someday.”

“No.” Benar shook his head. “You’re wrong. What Gaian wants is to spend his life with Kalindra. She’s practically all he talked about all summer. He can’t do that and be king.”

“And if Kalindra dies?” Cordan asked.

Benar made a warding gesture. He liked Kalindra. “Goddess forbid! But she won’t. Mother Thedra said that the healers expected her to recover fully.”

Cordan cocked his head to the side. “Perhaps. This time. What about the next one, though. Because you know Gaian isn’t going to stop doing what brought this one along. I wouldn’t. Neither would you, if you’re honest.”

“I expect they’ll be more careful in the future. Anyway, I don’t see the point in speculating about such things.”

“Only this, brother. Gaian’s willingness to step aside for you may not be quite as strong as it was last summer. Just a word in your ear. You should keep your eyes and ears open and be prepared. Just in case.” Cordan turned and limped off in the opposite direction.

Benar watched him go for a moment before shaking his head. Cordan just didn’t know Gaian as well as Benar did. Gaian was not a man to go back on his word. And Cordan didn’t know about Gaian’s real goal, either.

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One of the writer’s Facebook groups I belong to, Clean Indie Fantasy, is doing #DragonWeek for next week, including a giveaway. (None of my books are in the giveaway, but that doesn’t mean I can’t promote it as soon as it goes live.)

The reason I’m not in the giveaway is that none of my books are really suitable, in my opinion. Yes, dragons do often appear, but they’re generally not central to the story.

  1. In The Bard’s Gift, Astrid misinterprets something in the New World (Thunderbird) as a dragon because that’s the only frame of reference that she has.TheBardsGiftCover
  2. In the Dual Magics Series, Quetza’s avatar is a wyvern, but that only comes up a handful of times.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
  3. My only series in which dragons are really prominent is the Chimeria series and that tips over the edge into PG13, so I’ve never included it in anything to do with Clean Indie Fantasy.ChimeriaBox

Dragons won’t have an important part in the BECOME series, either. However, it just so happens that I’m currently working on a scene in which my main character has to fight a dragon.


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I’ve finally gotten through that part of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d already done in first draft.


The last few chapters are still a bit rough–as rough drafts are apt to be–but I managed to confine myself to only making changes for consistency.

So now, I’m ready to move forward with new chapters and try to actually get through to the end of the first draft. That’ll be fun!

In other news, the audio version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is finally here!

TSC Audio

I’m planning out how to promote that, which will be a new experience for me.

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. . . because it’s been that kind of few days.

First, I wrote that scene in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING that I’d been fretting over in my last post. becomeblueUnfortunately, I think I’ll probably end up deleting it in the revisions, but that’s for later and by then I may change my mind.

Second, I haven’t done much writing or critiquing for the last few days. It’s just been too hot here (and humid, which is unusual for this area). My brain just doesn’t function as well in that kind of weather. Let’s face it, when making the bed brings out a sweat, it’s time to stay indoors (near a fan, if possible), drink lots of water, and not move around much. So, I’ve basically wasted the last couple of days on computer games. Fortunately, it feels like the weather is shifting back closer to normal–at least for a few days.

Third, I have also been trying to work out why a particular story I just read didn’t really work for me, as writers do. (No, I’m not going to mention the title. Stories are very personal and subjective things. What didn’t work well for me might be a book you really enjoy. And why should I take that from you?)

In this case, it’s the latest book in a series I’ve really enjoyed, so the question of why I didn’t like this one as much might, possibly, shed light on some greater story-telling truth. Unfortunately, I really think it mostly comes down to two things.

The main character being out of her usual milieu–not out of her comfort zone, that happens in just about every book. But outside of her usual stomping grounds–and away from the people she usually interacts with–her general snark just can’t shine as much. There have only been three books that took her away from home and I only really enjoyed one of those–the one in which at least one of her usual friends and relations went with her.

But I think the main reason is withholding–when a point-of-view character knows something (or would have to be deaf, blind, and in a coma not to realize something), has every reason to think about and react to that knowledge, and doesn’t. Withholding is one of the two issues that can cause a knee-jerk reaction that makes me want to pitch the book against the wall (impractical in this case, anyway–I was reading on my computer). This wasn’t that bad, but I think it did pretty much ruin the book for me. It made this POV character–fortunately not the main character of the series–feel inauthentic, which he never has before.

Now that the weather is improving, maybe I can get some more real work done.


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I’ve been making good progress on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.


And new ideas have been flowing. Some that needed to happen earlier, but were mainly just additions. And some that needed to come a bit later.

Now this first draft isn’t, quite, in parts. In the first place, I’d written this story–from the point of view of the wrong main character–a couple of years ago. I’ve completely re-imagined it since then. In the second place, I’ve struggled with the first third or so of the re-imagined story for months until I finally broke off the early relationship of the brothers into a prequel novella–BECOME: BROTHERS.


In the third place, I took a short break from this story after I published the novella and while I was working on taking many of my books and stories to wide distribution. So, now I’m going through what I already had to re-familiarize myself with it so I don’t end up with a bunch of consistency problems to weed out–and, of course, doing a few revisions as I go. And I’ve been getting new ideas that will make the story stronger.

Of course, the way my creative process works, at least some of this would have happened even if I were an outliner. I might have avoided trying to shoehorn the early story of the brothers into this book, but I would still be getting newer and better ideas as I write. That’s just how my muse works. Which is one of the main reasons I’m not an outliner.

So, now I’ve come to a place where I need to add a short scene. It needn’t be very long–in fact, it probably shouldn’t be very long. It’s just something that needs to point out a problem my main character isn’t aware of, yet. Not that he’s going to realize until much later exactly what that problem has to do with him, but it’s a seed I need to sow now so that the readers will, hopefully, see it coming when he does figure it out.

And so now, I have to figure out exactly where to fit this little scene in. Hmm.


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New Chapters

Well, my resolution to just make notes and move forward with BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING didn’t last.


The ideas were just too good and present. I couldn’t make notes detailed enough to have captured those ideas.

So . . . I wrote a new scene for the beginning of one chapter, edited the next, mostly for consistency, and I’m about 99% done with another new chapter. THEN I hope to be able to move forward.

But, the story will be much better for these additions, I think. They’re putting the goals, obstacles, and the stakes right up front, which is always a good thing.

And, more important, I’m really excited about this story again.

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