A little riff – rambling, reading and editing

I’ve been away from the keyboard for a little over a week now. This post may be a little rambly, but I’ll just have to ask you for a pass on that one (after all, the description at the top of this blog does specify “ramblings” as part of the content). Seattle has taken me on a wild ride between working and exploring this fabulous city. There hasn’t been a lot of time for writing, though I have been reading a lot – and if you ask any author worth their salt, they’ll tell you that reading is as important, if not more so, that actually putting words on a page.

The book I’ve been reading is by my favorite author, Anne Bishop. Now, I will say that her books are not for everyone; I totally get why a person wouldn’t want to read The Black Jewels Trilogy, a story which was dark and explicit enough that the first time I opened it I considered throwing it away. I like reading the books of authors who exemplify in their work what I hope to show off in mine, and Anne does an amazing job (in my humble opinion) at writing edgy, lovable characters. She has certainly done that with her latest novel – the one I’m waist deep in at the moment – Written in Red. If you like urban fantasy with a strong character focus, I highly recommend that you check it out. I don’t know how good it will be for your brain, but I certainly think it’s been good for mine! I might post a more extensive review when I finish it, who knows.

While I haven’t made a whole lot of writing progress lately, what I have been doing consists of somewhat tedious content and cleanup editing. Unfortunately for me, editing is this trance-like state of ruthless abandon requiring exquisite concentration… and I’ve had approximately none of that since I’ve been displaced from my home, living out of a suitcase in an alien city.  Nonetheless, slow, painstaking progress has been made. If you’d like to take a look at things I’ve been working on, I’d recommend clicking on over to Teveres’s Intro – the first half of Tragedy’s prologue up on createspace.

I think that’s about it from me, folks, so I’ll leave you with a question: which authors have inspired you, and why?

Have a great week!

Self-Promotion: The Hardest Part

Before I get into my ‘click here, check this out’ portion of the post, I would like to give you a token of my appreciation. Several of you have been liking these blog posts and following along – it’s not much, but it’s a start, and I appreciate each one of you. For those who are interested I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Elden, one of the lesser but still very important characters from Tragedy. Enjoy the sneak peak!

    Elden leaned his weight against the newly-stained wooden banister, looking out over the bar scene below. He swirled the tincture of fire in his glass as he watched from his perch. The establishment, while not necessarily new, was well-kept and recently repainted. Smoke and soft chatter wafted up to his quiet indoor balcony, keeping him company like an old friend. A young woman played a pleasant song her violin against the far wall, just beyond his view. Two bartenders worked in tandem behind the L-shaped bar, a handful of young people gathered around ordering drinks and talking. The tall bar tables were abandoned at the periphery – everyone wanted to be close to everyone else, except him. Solitude suited him.

     Taking a drag from the minty Covash smoke between his lips, he smiled to himself. While most of the dozen-or-so people in the room were having a good time, there was discord off to the corner of that bar between the slender, fair-haired Willow and her painfully thin summer-colored boyfriend, Douglass. Willow was on the offense again, her tree twig finger pointed squarely at Douglass’s chest while Douglass hand his hands open, his whole body curved away from her. Elden could read the cluelessness plain on Douglass’s face.

    It would have been easier to feel bad for the sap if he wasn’t the thousandth man in Vail to get tangled up with Willow. Elden made it with her for a solid week before Willow’s malicious nature drove him away. It was all well enough – the sex was good, and he only expected to get a night or two out of it at the maximum. He considered the experience overall as a win.

    Douglass, on the other hand, was never the brightest kid in Vail. He had an undying belief in one day finding a woman and having a family, even as he destroyed his body with covash and lylic. He was the last of the romantics.

    In the year since he arrived in Vail Elden had made many acquaintances, but no real friends. To even think that he might someday find a person to settle down with was preposterous. He had yet to meet a man or woman who could accept the fluid nature of his existence. Six years ago at the age of 16 he left his home in the border town of Chall to travel the world. In that time he had lived in at least a dozen different places. Each time he found a place to stay, something seemed to happen. He would save someone falling off a roof, or he would shatter the entire bar’s stock of glassware, and suddenly wherever he was living lost its hospitable charm. Surviving an entire year in Vail without incident was nothing short of miraculous.

    Elden glanced about his dark little corner, a six-foot-long space with two broken down tables and sets of chairs. Only card-players ever came up to the balcony, and even then only on third nights. No one ever bothered him when he took over the space. He tossed back the rest of his drink, distantly missing the way it used to burn his throat. Too many years of drinking the swill numbed him to the sensation. Even the energizing buzz from the tincture’s herbs barely touched him anymore; they only served to keep him sane.

    Night air blew through as the front door opened below him. At the base of the staircase to his dark, abandoned balcony was the doorway to the outside, and in the doorway stood an intriguing young woman. Her auburn hair was spun back in a bun to reveal wide cheekbones. Underneath her cloak she was dressed in the work clothes of a healer, or perhaps an engineer – he could never tell the two apart. He could visualize her curves, the kind he hadn’t ever seen on one of the local girls. She had to be either a traveler or new to the town.

    He almost yelped when she looked up at him like she could hear him thinking. Her eyes were striking – the color of new spring lilacs, with a sheen of intelligence. She screwed up her lips to one side of her face thoughtfully. As quickly as she commanded his attention she suddenly broke from it, approaching the bar to place her order.

    She maintained a forcefield-like barrier between herself and the others around her. No one came close or spoke to her. She watched them, just as he watched them. She sat there a few minutes examining the others around her before her drink arrived and she turned her attention back on him.

    His curiosity sufficiently piqued, Elden took one last puff from his light before he gripped the edge of the banister and hopped over it to the stairs below. He was not a large man, standing 5’11” with the physique of someone who clearly spent more coin on tincture than bread. His boots landed softly on the wood, calling for glances from only a handful of patrons who quickly shrugged it off. They expected such things of him anymore. Vail was getting too comfortable with his presence.

    The girl kept sidelong eyes on him, a mug of ale in her hand. Her intensity was almost a deterrent, the way she analyzed him without a word. He put on his best lazy, alluring half-grin, to make it look like he didn’t notice. Men and women instinctively moved away when he walked up beside her. It was for best, for certain; if they didn’t move, he would have had to push them. No one enjoyed that.

    Domini, the large, black-haired bartender at that side of the bar gave Elden a casual wave.

    “Need anything E?” Domini’s booming voice asked.

    Elden shook his head, strands of slightly-too-long golden brown hair brushing over his eyes. “Good here Dom.”

    The girl was amused even by his brief exchange with the bartender. She raised one eyebrow, sipping her ale delicately like she might sip tea. “Can I help you with something, then?” she asked. In her voice he could hear the hint of an accent, one he’d heard from people raised outside the cities. A country girl.

    “Might be,” said Elden. He offered a hand to her, which she shook with a light touch, her pale skin contrasting against his olive-tan hands. “You must not be from here.”

    “I’m from Alta,” she said smoothly, withdrawing the hand. With her accent it was unlikely she was from Alta, a sizable city on the Kaldari border, but it was no matter. “Came here for work.”

    “Oh yeah? What sorta work?”

    “Not the kind you’re looking for,” she said with a laugh.

    Feigning insult, Elden guffawed. “Have I said something unwelcome? I don’t think so.”

    “No, you haven’t said anything of that sort.”

    The way she responded was curious, like someone who was lying by omission. If he were looking for something serious, he would have walked away immediately. He could see that she was trouble on legs. It didn’t stop him with Willow, either.

    “You’re not in here looking to make friends, are you?” he challenged her.

    “Neither are you,” she used a grating matter-of-fact tone, “I’m an alchemist, since you really want to know.”

    “So you’re here to fix the town.”

    “Town would have to want fixing.” She look him up and down critically. “So would you.”

    “Nothing broken here, hon.” He gestured with flourish, “I’m the most put-together guy you’ll find in Vail, that’s a fact.”

    “Oh, no doubt,” She laughed at a private joke. “Where are you from?”

    “Nivenea,” he lied.

    “I spent a while there,” she said. “Nice place. Why’d you leave?”

    “That many gifted people in one place makes me nervous.” Half-truth, this time. He was gifted himself, but not in any way that people respected. His parents were gifted, too, but like most of the divinely gifted, they had a narrow definition for who did and did not fit in their world view. Elden was never able to meet that standard.

    “So what do you do here?”

    Grow covash and piss on the law. “Handy man. I do whatever people need.”

    A subtly as he could manage, he used his mind’s eye to travel the outline of her body. He pulled her towards him only by a half centimeter, gently. It was something he had done a hundred times before on other potential partners; usually the slight decrease in distance between them encouraged discussion.

    She was the first person to ever react to it directly. She jerked, pushing further away from him. His mind’s feather-touch disintegrated against any amount of her strength. The sizzle of anger was in her eyes when she looked at him.

    She couldn’t know it was him, could she? No one else ever had. Coincidence, maybe. Either way, his interest evaporated. He was hunting for deer; she was a panther.

    “Well, it’s been lovely, but I have places to be,” he winked, “Handy work and all that.”

    Before he could turn away she grabbed his wrist, her fingers locked tightly against his skin. She narrowed her eyes. “What’s your name?”

    “Elden,” he blurted unintentionally, and regretted it. Something told him that he didn’t want her to know his real name. “What’s yours?”

    “Delia.” She abruptly let go.

    An awkward pause grew between them. He didn’t know what to do with his hands or his face. After several long seconds he finally withdrew from her. He saluted Dom casually on his way to the door, walking slowly even while he wanted to bolt.

    I know what you are, an unwelcome voice intruded on his thoughts. It sounded like Delia’s voice, but she had not spoken. He physically shook himself all over to clear his brain, bewildered. He’d had hallucinations before, but rarely were they so clear.

   Maybe he needed to slow it down after all. Folks said that years of tincture could cause strange reactions in people, and he was coming up on 4 years of a bad habit. He banged the bar door open, letting the icy air filled his lungs. He didn’t look back.

Now to the shameless plug part of this post. 😉 I don’t like always doing straight-up promotion posts (and I hope that I haven’t been boring you with too many of those), but I feel like it’s worth noting that my short story Fathers and Sons has been re-uploaded with a chapter from Forsaken Lands attached to the end. If you haven’t already picked it up, it’s only $0.99 on Amazon. If you like it, please review!

On the novel front, I’ve been making some headway on Forsaken Lands 2 as well as doing more cleanup editing on Tragedy with the help of my husband. I will be uploading it to Amazon as soon as the cleanup and the cover are finished. Although I will be out of town on a job next month, I will continue my work on the editing and try to get in a blog post or two. It is my sincere hope that I can get the novel out by the end of September (if not earlier).

To those following and liking this blog, I thank you for listening. Please chime in if you want to hear more or less of what I’ve been talking about. The feminism post was pretty popular, so I might do another post like that in the near future.

Peace and long life, friends.

Previews and Updates

Hello again theoretical reader! It’s been several days since I’ve had a chance to update this blog, so I’ll just get right to it.

Currently I am doing some tweaking of the manuscript while I wait for the cover art. The cover is being designed by the lovely and talented Raechel Gasparac. I am thrilled with the design and can’t wait to share it with the world! It should not be long before it’s finished, and after that it’s just a matter of getting things uploaded and formatted properly.

In the meantime, I have posted parts 1 and 2 of the prologue to Tragedy on createspace. Part 1 features Aiasjia, the female protagonist of the story, while Part 2 follows Teveres, the corresponding male protagonist. I encourage you to click the links, read the chapters, and leave comments if you feel moved to do so.

Moving has been a bit of a chore as always, but now that I’m starting to get settled in I should be able to update this page more frequently. If you are more than just a theoretical reader – dare I say an actual human being at the other end of this internet tube – I would love to hear your comments! Are you out there? Are you intrigued? Is there anything you’d like me to write about in the future?

Hopefulness

One of the authors who inspired me to take a chance on epublishing is Lindsay Buroker. The writer of the Emporer’s Edge series (which you should absolutely pick up here!), Lindsay also maintains a blog about self-publishing. She has mentioned several things that helped her get started in the self-publishing business – one of those things was publishing a short story. On that advice, I’ve decided to put a short story prequel to Tragedy up on Amazon to see what happens. That process is currently in the works, and I will update you when it is officially on the market.

Fathers and Sons was something I wrote both as a sample of my work, and also as a way for me to better understand Garren as a character. Most often I write in third person limited, but for this I went with first person present-tense, which very much matches Garren’s… utilitarian mode of thinking. I would like to write a couple more short stories from the perspectives of my main characters, if only to learn more about them for myself.

If I’m very lucky I will manage to make a little bit of progress on this promoting-the-book thing each night. I’m going to call tonight a win in that category. Back to packing up boxes… four more days till the big move!

Message in a Bottle

Me again, writing to you future readers who may or may not exist. 😉 It’s the 4th of July, and I am completely exhausted from non-writing events this week. I didn’t even bother with the fireworks today, though I did have a lovely time shopping with the mom in law. Rather than sitting outside with the Texas mosquitoes, I decided I would try to update my much-neglected blog.

Much has happened since the last time I wrote. A good friend of mine – the artist from my earlier post – convinced me to send my work to a traditional publisher. The response I received was interesting, and even though it was a rejection, I see it as a necessary part of my own self-publishing journey.

The publisher (who will forever remain nameless as a courtesy) got back to me promptly, and it seemed the editor I was in touch with quite liked the work. It got all the way up to being discussed with the marketing team, at which point they sent me a peculiarly-worded email stating that while they’re rejecting this book, they encouraged me to keep submitting, and to submit other stories to them in the future.

It’s clear that someone in that company did like the book enough to push it forward in the process, but that somewhere along the way not enough people were convinced. The thing is, I did not write this book for the benefit of anyone but myself. This creation of mine, which I would like to share with others on the off-chance that it will be meaningful to them, was not drawn up to be focus group fodder. Indeed, the more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up with for why the book might have been rejected (other than the possibility that a large number of people at the company just didn’t like the writing itself). Among them were my portrayals of religion, drug addiction, mental illness/suicide, sexuality and abortion.

I would like to state that much in the same way that I did not write this novel for the sake of other people, I did not write it with the intention to address controversial issues. My characters reflect my life as someone who has seen a lot of things and loved a lot of people who society found unlovable. Though the book is not meant to be a political statement, I did very intentionally write flawed characters, each of them uniquely important to me. I dearly hope that you, my theoretical reader, fell in love with my characters too.

With a rejection in hand, I am actively embarking on my adventure in self-publishing. I will continue writing and publishing whether my work is loved or hated by the masses in the hopes that the stories resonate with even one person.

All of that said, I am going to conclude this post. I have some more editing to do, along with preparations for a cross-country move. Change is good!

Corners embrace you, friend.

Well… it has to start somewhere

I am writing this post probably before anyone is interested in reading it, assuming anyone ever is.  I am awake at this time because my inconvenient muse is being more inconvenient than usual.

Let me explain what I mean by that, and the significance of this blog’s title.

I am a writer (in that I write, and I’ve finished something), but that is not my “job.” I am in the medical field, at the bottom of my field’s totem pole, working the hours nobody wants to work with people who are constantly judging me. Writing is something I do in my not so free time, usually when I should be doing other things like sleeping. It is something I do for myself, because I love it. It is interesting, exciting, and gives me something in my life which I have control over.

I don’t compromise my job, or my personal life, for my writing. In fact, since I started writing my ability to perform my job has improved dramatically. What I compromise for the sake of art is my sleep. A friend of mine, and fellow artist, told me that “a muse is like your drunken best friend who shows up on your doorstep at 2 am looking for a place to sleep.” She could not have been more accurate in this description. You see, around 10 pm, when I probably should be getting ready to sleep, I get a wave of creativity. I’ve taken to keeping a notebook beside my bed because these ideas that I get in my sleep-needy trance state are completely fantastic, and better than anything I tend to come up with when I’m completely lucid. My muse is inconvenient, but I would not trade it for anything.

Unless, of course, I could get the same quality work out of a muse which would show up 4 hours earlier. That would be cool.

Tonight is different. I am interested in writing, yet I find myself at an impasse. The book that I have been working on – the book which may have lead you, my future reader, to this post – is currently being reviewed by my beta readers. It is the final stage of editing before I go forward with epublishing, and at the moment does not require my direct attention. In the meantime I have been writing a short story about one of the characters by the name of Garren, which will be put up for free to entice you lovely people to give me a chance. I could be working on the short story, but what I really want to do is forge ahead to work on the sequel to the novel – unfortunately, I have resolved to abstain from writing the second book until the first one is completely sewn up.

So, I’m not feeling Garren’s story at the moment (it’s a little intense for the 2 hours I have left before I absolutely must close my eyes), and working on book 2 is a path I dare not pursue. That brings me to this page, this place, telling you these things in the hope that you might find the process of creating this work mildly interesting. I will keep updating this blog intermittently until the book is actually out, and then we’ll see where we go from there.