Archive | Novels RSS feed for this section

Update Post is Updatey

8 Jul

Ooooh I dropped off the planet again, I know. It has been a very weird month around these parts–well, month-and-a-half, really. But now I finally feel like I have a grip, which is good, because I’ve got a super awesome and busy couple of months coming up here to finish out the summer. So just to get past the whole update thing quickly!

Personal things (skip past to the interesting stuff, if you like, I will understand):

  • Had a pretty crushing blow. Close family member died unexpectedly. Everyone was really thrown off by it and we’re still not okay, but yeah. Glad we moved back to Ohio where we’re closer to most everyone. We’re one of those gigantic families that tends to work through things best when we do it together.
  • A few weeks later we had an excellent wedding. Everyone was still pretty emotionally worn out, but it was exactly what we needed. The wedding was brilliant and beautiful and my cousin Shannon was the cutest bride ever okay. A good time was had by all. Just. All the feels.
  • And of course the Fourth of July immediately following, which as some of you know is one of my favorite holidays. But after that month with all the emotions and the driving and the worrying and the uh, drinking, I think my body just kind of gave up on me, so I’m dealing with some serious back pain right now. Working through it! Hot pack/cold pack!

Writer-y things:

  • This interrupted service on a few really exciting projects I’m editing right now. For one, there’s an RPP special coming up shortly. I’ve reached an agreement with one of my favorite artists to do the cover and… well, I’ll save it for later. But by the end of the summer we should see something really exciting and wholly new at The Red Penny Papers!
  • Plus all our usual stuff, of course. Got a new serial in the works and a summer issue that’s amaze. That’s just how we roll. It’s so good to be back.
  • I’m working with the amazing Shannon Page right now on her forthcoming novel, Eel River, for Morrigan Books. This book is an absolute pet of mine; I’ve had my hands on it from submissions and begged for the edits to be assigned to me too. Mark did me a solid with this one. Cannot wait to unleash this one on the world. It’s scary as hell. Hippie horror!
  • The other me has another book meant to drop in September. More superpowered romance, so yay good times! That contract turned up just when I needed it most, in terms of ‘oh god, something good happen, please!’ Yay!
  • I’m also prepping for some cons and writing some things. The second Family book has been trying to get ready for months now, but life keeps kicking poor James while I’m down. Almost there, though. Maybe I can just hide for a week and do nothing but finish perfecting it.

That’d be a great vacation, right?


Okay back to my heating pad for the moment, but that’s the basic “where the hell have you been and what the hell are you doing right now” rundown. ♥


18 May

Stuff goes on over here. I went to WV last weekend to see Mom–whom I haven’t seen since New Years, which is just depressing–and the rest of my time has been all about revisions. Oh, and drinking heavily because I managed to fuck up my back during the trip home. (Better now; I can turn my head and everything! Yay heating pad/cold pack! Yes, I am like 84091 years old, it’s true.) Honestly though, it was a long time coming. I always fuck up my back when I’m stressed, even if it’s for no reason at all. Like now!

Now that I’m over it, I can discuss the awesome spiral of suck I experienced while coming down from Italy. You know that thing where you’re just really, really tired from nonstop SOMETHING for weeks and you come home to loads of work to do and you’re pretty sure you’ll never be caught up again and hey, you’re a writer, so your life is all about rejection, which is usually fine but not in that fragile state? (To clarify, I didn’t actually have anything rejected at that time, it was more the expectation of it, which is always worse–but I’m getting to that.) Yeah, so that happened. I know, I know, I went on a long Italian vacation, my life is sooooooo fuckin’ hard, right? If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that these things can’t be rationalized. Sometimes you’re just tired and you hate everything you’ve ever written. Fact.

So I came home and, uh, see, I had this plan to sub to Angry Robot’s two week open door period this year. I had this epic fantasy all written and I worked really hard on editing it and since I’ve got a lot going on it’s just been languishing. [Side note: the fuck is up with me and the run-on sentences today? Sorry.] But of course, it wasn’t totally ready to go before I left for Florence, so I came back to the task of squishing a 150k novel into two pages–not just a synopsis, but character descriptions, one-sentence summary, and author motivation/inspiration statement. And then there’s the endless combing and recombing of the first 10k words to send with it. You know what I’m talking about.

The synopsis wasn’t that hard. I convinced my friend Jay, who had no prior knowledge of the story and therefore was in a position to tell me, “Hey, this makes no fucking sense, btw,” to check it out for me. The problem was that by the time I was done with it I was like, “Oh god, this is absolute shit. What was I thinking? Oh no, it’s not just this, everything is shit oh god nooooooo!”

Which is silly, but y’all know exactly what I’m talking about. Tired cranky writer is tired and cranky and hateful. I bought myself Fantastic Four Season One and that Scorsese movie about George Harrison (which is awesome) as retail therapy. I looked at my Italy pictures. I worked on RPP–which, what did I do for sanity before that? Seriously? (PS: New issue=awesome!) Raven the Editrix emailed and told me I had a romance novel accepted.

Okay, that last one kinda set me straight, not gonna lie.

But I was still carrying around all that needless tension in my back, so I guess it was time to get properly fucked up and get over it. And here I am, out the other side, yay! And that’s my less-than-exciting story of douchey anxiety.

Anyhow, some of y’all may be interested to note there’s a blog hop with a great message atm, the Hop Against Homophobia. It’s mainly reviewers, authors, and publishers who work with romance featuring m/m pairings (some people call that a genre–I call it romance, but whatever). Anyhow, it’s worth checking out, and if you like theater stuff maybe you’ll dig my post about The Laramie Project.

Right, check y’all later. And sorry for being a pill last week. I put on my big girl pants now, promise.

WiP Wednesday Comes Out of the Coffin

25 Apr

In theory, I am now home from Italy, but I’m setting up another WiP Wednesday post because I’m sure jet lag owns my ass right now. Here we go, more vampire fun.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned several times that Liam is the first in a series. This is currently called The Family because, while these vampires aren’t particularly clannish, the events in Liam start a chain reaction that lead to, naturally, a lot of blood and mayhem. But there’s also another force working  to bring them together in a way that isn’t terribly natural to lone killers. It has its own reasons for making a family of them. That’s another story for another time. (Meaning, of course, book four or five.)

The second book is called James, the title hero being Liam’s little brother. Yeah, woo, you heard it here first! Well, at least, those of you who haven’t been listening to it for the last decade heard it here first. James has some issues that are hinted at in Liam’s book, and that come to a head three years later in his own. They sort of force big brother’s hand about that whole coming out thing.


So here’s a little snippet from my rewrite, which I’ve been pecking away at intermittently for some months now. Unseen by editorial eyes, so this is me in my proverbial writer underwear. Here’s James. Ta-dah!

“Yes. I’m coming. And I’m going to watch you vamp the fuck out on someone. And then I’ll be sure you’re not out of your goddamn mind, and I’m not out of my goddamn mind, and I can get on with deciding if I want to hate you or not.”

Liam winced.

So sensitive for a monster, right? Next thing, he’d be crying into his blood wine and eating rats or some stupid shit.

But even while I was making up these mean, sarcastic scenarios in my head, the truth was that my heart fucking ached. All I could think of were all those nights he’d kept me from crying. All the times I’d come to him and he’d made me feel better. All the secrets and laughs and, I mean, eighteen years of him being a dependable bright spot in — okay, my life hadn’t been a bad one so far, but there had definitely been rough, dark patches.

My point is that most kids scream for their mother when they have nightmares. I screamed for Liam.

I fucking loved him. This guy.

This unrepentant monster. He never apologized to me, never even looked sorry. Oh, about upsetting me, sure. But not about the murder.

So, fine. Bring it, monster boy.

He sighed. “James. I don’t — Fuck, I’m sorry. I never thought you’d have to know.”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better? Knowing you planned to lie to me my whole life? Really?”

Another wince. “You really want to do this?”

“No, I do not fucking want to do this. I want it all to be a bad dream, this and the last three years of mass fuckery. But it’s not, so I’m gonna do it anyhow, and you’re gonna help me and like it, you prick.”

He clicked his keychain. The car unlocked.

And we endured the most awkward fifteen minutes in the car ever.

Normal service should resume soon. Thank you for enduring my random ass WiP rambles this month, but I couldn’t bear the thought of the blog being barren, and all my vacations are working vacations, with loudmouths like this in my head. <3

WiP Wednesday Gets Its First Kill

18 Apr

Okay, so now I’m in Italy, yay! (Or, I hope I am, anyhow.) This is another pre-set WiP Wednesday post, but today I’m changing gears. The other thing I’m working on right now is Liam, my upcoming vampy novel. One last runthrough before I hand it over to Jodi and the folks at Belfire, and I won’t see it again until someone else has had at it with a red pen. How exciting!

So I figured why not post some vampire-ness. This is a scene I wrote for the first time… longer ago than I’d like to admit. Of course it’s gone through some major changes, but it’s still a fun one for me because it manages, in just one page, to say everything about both main characters. For me, the biggest manifestation of a vampire’s personality isn’t their weird vampy superpowers (though those certainly contribute, though Liam doesn’t have his yet here), but in how they kill.

And so, with Liam’s very first solo kill, he begins to find out just what kind of monster he is.

Time stopped, and I closed my eyes. There was no thought, no control. I spun and grabbed him by the throat before he could flinch. Oh fuck yes, the thudding pulse, the rush under my fingertips as I slammed him against the tree one-handed.


His knife clattered to the ground, and he scratched at my jacket, trying to get a grip.

I leaned close, breathed deeply–Christ, the fucking smell of it made my brain go numb. The jugular thumped visibly as I held him by his neck. He kicked at me, and his windpipe popped and gave a little. Slow, too slow, painful, but all I felt was the desire to tear him apart and get at what was inside. Scared eyes, dark, terrified. Looking at me like I was the devil.

I buried my face in his neck and sunk my teeth in. Closed my lips around the wound, tore deep. Flattened him to the tree with the first rush of blood. Waves of alive, swallow after swallow of him, so good, hot, fast, that same whiskey burning in my middle, into every corner of me.

When it was over I pulled away, staggering with the heady drunken feeling. The newness of being alive radiated out from my center, tingling through my limbs.

He slid to the ground, landed with a boneless thud.

I remembered where I was. I turned, and there Gianni stood, the dirty woman’s knife at his feet, and her in his arms. She had her head on his shoulder; her eyes were closed, and she was smiling.

He petted her hair, but his eyes were on me. “Perfectly done, Liam.”

I looked back at the dead body, then to him again, not understanding, but not really caring. Being blood-high is a feeling you only get in dreams–standing at the top of a tall building, certain that if you jump, you’ll fly.

Except for real.

Understanding Gianni wasn’t my first priority, just then.

“Better wipe your mouth, bello.”

I licked at my lips, tasted blood. I suppose I was vaguely horrified, in the most academic sense.

“Ready in a moment.” Then he looked down at the woman, and she looked up at him like he was her knight in fucking shining armor. Like he was her long lost love, her father, her brother. Anyone she’d ever wanted to see again. He tilted his head, looking like he might kiss her. Her eyes closed, and he went for her neck. Gorgeous bastard didn’t lose a drop of blood.

I looked down at my hands, one of which was smeared with red. I squatted and wiped it on my victim’s coat.

It came off easily.

None of this “take a sip and throw em back” thing. Though I dig that, it’s all or nothing for these vampires. Balls to the wall, man.

So yeah. Fun. Monsterlove.

WiP Wednesday in Disguise

11 Apr

Today I am packing. Tomorrow, plane. Therefore, pre set-up WiP Wednesday fun–since I am positive I will be working on editing this baby down on the plane…

I promised a war and politics excerpt from my weird epic fantasy/clockpunky Plaguebringer, I know. Thing is, most of that stuff won’t excerpt properly, so I went for a sort of subsidiary issue: Nieva Zarathas (why yes, yes she is the hero of “The Silver Quarter”, along with swordboy from last week’s excerpt–that story is their shared history) and her quest for ET.

No, this is not sci-fi. Emergent Technology, of course. A mercenary outfit like the Company of St. Rage needs to keep ahead of the weapons curve, after all, and who better than their very own mechanical genius to manage things? And so she returns to her home country of Navaquin with a powerful contact (Ciprian) and a fellow mercenary (Ruarigh) in search of something new. But women can’t just go wandering around these places…

The Hornet Club, hub of leisure for the sons of these rich Navaquin lords, was several steps above everything else. Apart from the real estate itself, in the coveted center of Corteva Gates, very near the Palacio Corteva itself, and the sheer incomprehensible size of it, the interiors were overblown. Never had she seen such a profusion of rich textiles, both Navaquin and Senecan, of plush carpets and hand painted tile-work, of arched doorways made from ancient mahogany and soaring ceilings. A small ensemble of guitarist and singer here, dancers there, and all of it drowning in Senecan cane liquor — the latest fashion, so Ciprian had told them — and illicit Valdonian l’anisea.

That, Ciprian seemed to think, was how they would recognize the room in which they ought to look for his contacts. Where l’anisea went, one could generally expect a tattoo-sporting Valdonian blackwood runner. In this case, one also running weapons.

They wandered through crowds of sweet-smelling men, no one over thirty-five years of age, no one with less of a fortune than a duke’s heir, whether he was or not. Here and there was a blond head or white face of a Minaddon or Fearghan boy sent for educational purposes to Corteva Gates, the heart of continental politicking. Ruarigh, who had cleaned up very prettily in Navaquin leathers, drew very few stares apart from appreciative or respectful ones. Nevertheless he hung back, allowing Ciprian and Nieva to make way for him.

Ciprian shot her an irritated glance as he snatched two glasses of cane liquor off a passing servant. He handed one to her. “That disguise is idiotic.”

“It’s not a disguise.” She accepted the liquor and breathed deeply. Smelled good, but then, alcohol made from sugar. What was not to love?

“You look ridiculous.”

“I look exactly how I always look, but with no boobs.”

“That’s what I said, Nevian, you look ridiculous.”

She hardly had any boobs, so she wasn’t sure how biding them made much of a difference. And she always dressed like a boy, anyhow. “You can’t come in here with boobs, Ciprian.”

“You could if you said you were with me. We’re surrounded by sheepfucking sons-of-whores, perhaps, but they won’t fuck with a DaCorteva’s girl.”

“Thanks for the offer, Ciprian, but I’d rather die in a fire.”

He finally shut his mouth there and led them toward the back of the club.

So I chose that little excerpt because it proves that Nieva is fairly unchanged from the adolescent depicted in “The Silver Quarter”, and realized it also refers to the other story I have out there from this world. “The Runner” is about a “tattoo-sporting Valdonian blackwood runner”. But I’ll come back to Cami later.

WiP Wednesday Goes Epic

4 Apr

As I’ve been spewing everywhere, I’m about to go on vacation. Yay!

Of course this means I can feel the pre-vacation freakout hovering in the air just behind my left ear. As Bertie Wooster says (though about a different sort of bird), “I can feel the beating of its wings.” Therefore I’m bound to be a horrible blogger once more. You know how it goes — the week before, when everything dissolves into nonsense. The travel days, when something must go horrifically awry. The being there, when time moves waaaay too quickly. The week after you come back, when all you want to do is sleep.

In order to fend off blog lethargy, I’ve decided to set up some pretty little WiP Wednesday posts to run while I’m gone. This is appropriate because while my social networking skillz will not be out in force, I will definitely be working on a few projects while living it up in beautiful Florence. Or… okay, let’s be honest: wandering around beautiful Florence utterly lost, which is more likely.

Here is the first, in re a project very near and dear to my heart, which got plenty of air time here while I was drafting it. A little (by which I mean gigantic) epic fantasy called Plaguebringer which I hope to have in submission shape before the end of the month.

It’s actually a book about political plots and, ultimately and unsurprisingly, a horrific plague/war combination. However, I’m going to throw out a bit of the interpersonal stuff that weaves through it today because–well, for one thing, those make for better excerpts. But also (warning: ulterior motives!), it’s actually relevant to my recent story in Niteblade, “The Silver Quarter”. Its hero, a badass little teenage swordfighter called Elanzah, grows up to be an even more badass swordmaster with the mercenary Company of St. Rage. And there are certain words you do not say in his presence–as “The Silver Quarter” explains–unless you want your ass kicked. Even if you’re royalty.

The figure that appeared in the doorway was hooded, and the candle in the hall flickered faint. But Elanzah recognized it perfectly for all that.

His heart fell into his boots.

He stepped in front of Cuinn. “You should go.”

Cuinn looked over his shoulder, but Elan stepped in front of him again, blocking his view. Cuinn’s brow furrowed. “I don’t –“

Elan shoved him toward the stairs, but gently. “Trust me.”

Cuinn’s pale eyes flickered to him, then to the figure in the doorway, but in the end his admirable tendency toward obedience won. He turned, and though he hesitated the whole way, clomped down the stairs.

When Elan turned again, Prince Ronan stood bare-headed and breathing hard, not a foot away from him. He glared like only royalty offended could.

“What are you doing here?” Elan asked. And more importantly: how had he even gotten inside?

The boy sneered. “I might ask you the same, Swordmaster.”

Elan set his jaw. “It’s none of your business.”

“Oh, I think it is. I think I have a right to know if the man entrusted with my education is a boyfucker.”

An icy sensation shot through Elan’s chest, starting somewhere below his left shoulder. Blind to everything but the pain, he grabbed the boy and slammed him into to the wall with a thump.

Elan’s head pounded, the word, that awful fucking word, echoing through it like an empty cavern. He leaned in close, inches from the prince’s livid pink face until he could see it again, still pinning him to the wall. If Ronan was bothered by his compromised position, it didn’t show. His blue eyes, usually so open, had frozen over.

Elan lowered his voice to a growl. “Whatever you think of me, I do not. fuck. boys. And if I fuck men, what does it matter to anyone?”

“It matters to me. How many of my soldiers have you had?”

He knew he shouldn’t, knew it was a mistake to show this reaction. But it came out all the same: “Just the one. So far.”

Ronan’s upper lip curled in what could only be disgust.

The cold stabbing sensation inside Elan was followed by a great crack, and the small part of him still begging for restraint was silenced. All he wanted was to wipe that look off Ronan’s face. To get rid of that word in his head.

Whether he does or not, well, I’ll leave that where it is for the moment. Did I mention that if Plaguebringer has a hero, it’s probably Prince Ronan? Oh yeah. Preeeeeetty much.


Next time, politics and war! Well… sorta.

Random genderthought moment

28 Mar

Okay so! That was a wild ass week, but I survived it, and had a good fucking time while I was at it.

I also slept for like 20 hours when it was over. I regret nothing. And I have a long and rambly thoughtpost for you, now I’m back.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been keeping up with things in my own magpie way, which mostly involves twitter and tumblr, since I can do them on the fly while I’m actually doing work. (Not so much editing, occasionally writing, but promoing is a definite twitter and tumblr friendly activity, I find.) An interesting but unsurprising pattern began forming last week when I saw Ro Smith’s comments on the Stardust movie via tumblr:

I really like Stardust, I just want to see the film where there’s a really pretty guy who’s enslaved by the lead character and whose one strength lies in emoting reallyhard, who is only valuable to others when in love and happy, and who falls in love with the woman who started their relationship by an act of domination…

Which is something I’ve always thought about Stardust. I actually do like the book and the movie (very, very different animals), but the fact is that it feeds into something that makes me desperately uncomfortable about lit in general at times. As she says: even though it’s otherwise very entertaining, and in a world where it wasn’t echoing a history of vast gender bias along exactly these lines it wouldn’t be problematic at all. Yvane is smart and capable and Tristan is sweet and kind – I want to be swept up in their love story, but at the back of my mind, there is always this.

And that’s my problem exactly. I think that was the day Jodi emailed me to let me know Scripped had been recommended to the Tiptree panel (not a nomination or a shortlist or anything — just, they’ll read it, which is super cool) so it was kind of extra weird, because Scripped is what it is for that exact reason. But I’ll come back to that.

Today I saw an NK Jemisin post, There’s no such thing as a good stereotype, linked via Corinne Duyvis’s twitter, and it brought it back to the forefront. That one is talking about the “strong female character” type–which for the record makes me stabby. I will never forget back in like 2005 when I first queried a much, much longer, terrible version of Liam, and was told, “People want kick-ass heroines, not literary-minded boy-vampires!” I threw up in my mouth a little, thinking of what “kick-ass heroine” usually means, and that post precisely nails my reasons why.

Obviously, I love women who kick ass–both metaphorically and physically. But yeah. When a character is wholly defined by qualities that all fall into the “stereotype” category, a writer has officially stopped trying.

Related side note: for this reason, I was really annoyed with the Starz TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which a bunch of friends convinced me to finally watch two weeks ago and to which I am now addicted. The women who were “strong female characters” were backstabbing and hateful toward each other, while the “strong male characters” often formed bonds between them as friends, brothers, even lovers, that were achingly awesome. There was all kinds of meaningless orgiastic girl-on-girl, zero orgiastic guy-on-guy (hey, I’m all for exhibition sex, especially when it’s so historically relevant, but dude, treat it right). The message, though unintentional, was still encoded: women are back-biting snakes who exist to compete for the affections of men. Men, on the other hand, though oftentimes complete dicks, can also be capable of such depth and bonds of emotion that they will die for another man (or a woman, but yeah, we’re talking same sex here), in the right circumstances.

Goddamn, it’s like reading Sir Thomas Malory’s woman-hating Lancelot all over again. Or, wait, half of the shit from antiquity. Nevermind, that’s another blog post.

So yeah, there were some kick ass–and not in the physical way–women, but… they were stereotypes, for all that. And the men, who so often exhibited stereotypical qualities themselves, at least had moments where they got to break those molds.

Even Lucy Lawless naked couldn’t distract me. Guys, this is bad. And only one of the issues with that show, but whatever, it’s effectively softcore and arterial spray and I love it for all that. Um, as Liam will prove, I am the last to judge badly on the basis of softcore and arterial spray.

Season two, Spartacus: Vengeance, blows that out of the water–it’s been much better about it, with the women characters operating on much more than jealousy, lust, and betrayal and being genuinely strong as opposed to catty and mean more often than not. (I haven’t seen the prequel season they did in between, Gods of the Arena, so I can’t judge there.) Cheers to the excellent writing team for stepping up their game hardcore. My point, however, is that though there are many, many other issues there, that one bugged the shit out of me with the first season because it is everywhere in our culture. Everywhere to the point that there are people of all gender identities who actually take it for granted. Many little girls grow up thinking that boys will make better friends because girls are hateful and backstabby because this is what they are fed from childhood.

Um. No. Nonononono. (Also, this is why My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is the best thing ever. I’m not even joking. It’s brilliant. Thanks again, Corinne <3)

Now, as both Ro’s and NK’s posts suggest, there is nothing wrong with having a hateful backstabby woman character or an emotionally powerful but ultimately submissive girl-hero. Especially when they’re not utterly defined by these things, as Yvaine, just as an example, is not, or when those things are explained as the nuanced and strong characteristics they truly are, as a submissive or supportive (not the same thing!) personality really is. I love many, many novels with these types in the spotlight, because that is not all there is to these characters, and other types are presented alongside them.

I don’t generally have my heart set on a gender identity, be it binary or not, when I first think of a character. But this all made me think, as I say, of Jonah from Scripped. (Me me me–sorry, told you it’d come back to this.) I guess if you’re familiar with him, it won’t shock you to hear that I actually plotted the thing with him as a young woman. The reasons he ended up a man will be kind of obvious after the above rambling, but I’ll lay them out and try to go light on spoilers:

1. I had it in my mind that the female fairy, Sela, must be the kidnapper/captor/torturer. (Yes, I like her best, it’s true.)

2. I had no problem with a woman capturing a woman, and said woman experiencing what amounts to Fairy Stockholm Syndrome–pretty much the whole point of the book–as a result of coming to understand and eventually love her captor.

3. I did have a slight problem with said woman-captive regaining her freedom (that needs air quotes, see also: you can never go home) and self as a result of an independently thinking man’s interference and help.

4. I also had a huge problem with said woman obsessing over… well, with how it ends, which I’d rather not say because that defeats the purpose, but let’s just say there’s a lot of lack of agency going on with Jonah at one point.

I sincerely couldn’t bring myself to write a woman in that situation. There wouldn’t have been anything wrong with it, and I’m sure she would’ve been just as interesting and infuriating as characters go. But that’s all I ever saw, growing up, and I didn’t want to do it over again. It didn’t make a single bit of difference to the plot itself, to the story, to the end result, whether that character was a man, woman, or genderqueered.

But it definitely changes the way it affects the person reading it, which is the most important half of the equation. I chose male because it didn’t rub my sensibilities the wrong way–and because the character was amenable, admittedly. (The bisexuality was non-negotiable, but hey, no complaints.) And though that might seem totally arbitrary, it’s the thing I’m happiest about with that book. And, to bring it full circle, what made me happiest about someone recommending it to Tiptree, because I was like, “Holy shit, they totally felt me, there!” Which is what every writer secretly wants more than anything ever, so yay.

So okay, now I finally come to the point: do you all ever catch yourself thinking about this stuff when you write? I love it; I mean, I feel like the whole point of writing is to question these societal constructs, subvert and challenge them by playing with expectations through fiction. I love this kind of shit, and I know I’m not the only one.

But I know some people will be annoyed by the idea, say it shouldn’t matter, or something to that effect, all of which is cool. I’m just interested in the opinions of the people who actually check out this blog because, well, that means I check out theirs, and I know y’all are smart. So hit me.

If you like.

Oh, and just for the record, I know I don’t get this shit right all the time. But I’m having a good time trying.

The Magical Source, Baby

12 Feb

The magic in Scripped is kind of an understated thing. Yeah, it takes place mostly in another world just over the edges of ours — Appalachian Faerie, right? But the magic the fae themselves perform is very small and often accidental. Whether that’s because they don’t know their own capabilities or because they have no real use for it is anyone’s guess. They tend not to ask questions, as is sad but perhaps expected in a population that’s been oppressed for a century.

Jonah — who’s been faerie-napped and is being taken apart piece by piece (both literally and figuratively) — doesn’t remember what normal is/was for  him. Faerie amnesia sucks like that. But he does know that none of  that shit is remotely near to it, and is desperate to understand how and why, unlike his captors. Letting him unravel pieces of it (while they’re unraveling pieces of him…) was part of the fun of writing it. And in a book like that, you take all the fun you can get.

Most of it is typical faerie magic. Magical food, an aversion to running water, fairy hills, but tweaked out on Appalachia big time, so they’re not quite what one might expect. Some of it was just a matter of shit that I saw elsewhere. Like the source — or at least the central part — of the fae company town’s magic, the crystal cave. Yeah, best believe I read Mary Sewart as a kid*, plus I’ve spent years stuffing my head full of new age and various other sorts of magic on the subject — hell, there’s even a theory in the paranormal/ghost hunting world that a high concentration of quartz/gypsum or crystal underground might account for residual hauntings.

So when I saw this article on crystal caves under the Chihuahua Desert in Mexico in National Geographic… how could I not go there? Seriously, check out the photo gallery. It’s amazing.

From Chapter 7: Regression Therapy

He’d thought the main cavern above impressive, and it was in its own way, but this was something else.

It was smaller, not as high or long, but completely natural. Stalactites dripped from a visible ceiling, and large pools of water collected here and there. The sound of dripping water came from everywhere, faint and elusive; the smell was sharp and metallic, like copper. Like blood.

None of that mattered, though. All that mattered were the heart-stopping crystals that grew out of the floor and walls, crisscrossing the cavern like shining white stairwells in a funhouse. Jonah reached for the wall and leaned against it, trying to take it all in over Tal’s shoulder. Their radiant glow struck him again as something impossibly pure, difficult to look at after the dark of the tunnel. Their hugeness dwarfed him, even standing above the ground, looking out and down on the cavern. He thought he should be spinning, but he wasn’t, not really.

His heart was in his throat. He could believe this might be the source of everything, all the magic in the company town, easily. “It’s beautiful.”

Tal looked over his shoulder, his face half-lit in that weird light.

It didn’t suit him; it was too bright, and Tal’s eyes were too dark. They ate the glow up hungrily and barely reflected anything back.

“Might be,” was all he said.

And I’ll stop there, since this is kind of the moment that changes everything. But yes. That’s where it came from. Thank you, National Geographic! :D

You can still invite a guest to the party and get entered to win a copy of Scripped, plus some other cool stuff, before noon on V-Day!

*Also everything Arthurian EVER. Thanks, Dad!

WiP Wednesday Makes New Worlds and Destroys Them

8 Feb

So, I’ve been sick, as I’ve mentioned countless times. (Sorry about that.) Last week was a complete waste because I was so ill that I couldn’t even read. I did manage to keep up with certain administrative duties for RPP and my various projects, but that was about it, man.

One thing I did manage was to continue, little by little in moments of clarity, cutting a bunch of crap from a certain book. I mentioned a certain resolve to return to Plaguebringer last month, my gigantic epic fantasy clockpunk clusterfuck thing, and I meant it. Now, you’d think that cutting random crap wouldn’t work that well when so sick, but it made me so cranky that I was far more likely to hate everything. And as we all know, it’s much, much easier to cut large sections from a book that’s way too effing long when you’re super cranky.

I’ve cut 5.5k from the first 7 chapters, the only ones I consider finished. I’ve been working on 8 and 9, but not much got done there just yet due to catch up issues. It’s good progress, but I was really hoping to maintain a 1k average per chapter… which is probably absurd. There’s a whole new world I’m trying to intro without infodumping, after all. S’okay, I’ll catch up on later chapters. (See, I’m totally not being a dick to myself!)

For the first time in a long time, I am actually frightened of writing a synopsis. Urk. Worksheets, don’t fail me now!

I do have maps all printed out and hung up in my office, though, which is cool. And my royal family crest — which I think I shared here once upon a time before I moved to my own server, but none of my images made the move.

Aidhan Crest

(It says, in a completely made up language vaguely based on various Celtic* languages, “Our blood, Fearghan’s blood” — Fearghan being the country. Exciting, I know.)

It’s like having little patron saints hung on the walls, egging me on. “C’monnnn you can cut it down to a reasonable, readable novel! Look at all the work you’ve already done! You love us!” It’s all about creating the environment to motivate, right? Er, right.

So that’s what I’m up to on the writing front. Which is not writing at all, but destroying. Awesome. Don’t forget, by the way, that there’s still loads of time to enter the Valentine’s Day Giveaway. The guest list is already frightening, and I’m sure it will only get better. :D

*Every country gets their own aesthetic, obviously. That just happens to be the one that goes with backwater northern hick Fearghan. I like Navaquin’s best, because they have a Moorish Spain kind of feeling, but that’ll pop up when “The Silver Quarter” goes live at Niteblade next month. Wooo!


1 Feb

Many marvelous and thought provoking replies to my genre-and-author question last time. Thanks for that, and if you think of any more, please keep ‘em coming.

Today I had a little interview go up at Night Owl Paranormal — right here. It’s mostly about Scripped, but it also gets into my writing habits and has a little sneak peek at Liam. Which if you didn’t know is the first in my vampire series, coming from Belfire late this year. Yeah, it’s pretty much a  fucked up romance, but y’all know me well enough to realize that’s kind of what I do — it’s just a question of how fucked the love is going to get.

This one gets ultra fucked, as it happens. The book that asks the question: Do I want to kill him, or do I want to fuck him? And is there — should there be any difference?

If you can’t guess, you haven’t met my vampires yet. (Or my faeries — the answer’s pretty much the same there. Pretty, yeah, but mean as hell.) I hope you decide you’d like to, when the time comes.

The rest of the vampire books aren’t concerned with that sort of thing, since it will have been answered sufficiently. An answer that ends up fucking up pretty much everything in their path, as it turns out. But that’s the fun part. You don’t get to be a violent murderous monster and not have it come back to haunt you. That’s just now how the world works, boys. Mwah!