Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Novel's Journey--Interrupted again

So after a great start writing a new DragonEye novella, my writing came to a screeching halt to do some galley proofing for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, as well as get geared up for a book tour.  Reading through galleys can be a frustrating process, but having a good relationship with your editor or publisher makes it a lot easier.  I'm sure I drove Kim Richards nutty when I sent back my suggested changes--I even gave the e-mail the subject line "INCOMING!" if that gives you any idea. 

It also helps not to be shy, but to ask after things you feel are important.  I wanted some special formatting--nothing too extensive, but enough to give the impression of programs, marquis, "Tweets" (I made a new system called Blabber), and Kim was not only willing but enjoyed doing them--however, the requests I'd made in the manuscript had been deleted at some point in the editing process, and she didn't know I'd asked for them until she mentioned she was putting the e-book into formatting, and I asked her about them.

Close relationships like this is one of the advantages of working with a small press.  I Left My Brains in San Francisco comes out September 1st.  If you like e-books, I highly suggest getting it from the Damnation Books website that day, as they do a special promotional the first day called variable pricing:  The first copy sold is free, and the price increases by 25 cents for each copy afterward until full price is reached.  That's the first day only.  I'd LOVE to see my book get to full price before the day's end.

Let me leave you with an excerpt.  (Please note the full scene is longer):

Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday. 
Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee.  Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting.  Was it only last Christmas? 
He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind.  “You want to live!  We want to live!  That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”
Yeah.  Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.
He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.
God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back.  Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside.  He needed to delete Marley's old code from it.
He cleared his throat.  “Listen up!  You want to live!  We want to live!”
The exit door clicked.
“That’s impossible!” he declared.  The store fell silent. 
“Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.
“That’s not what I meant!  Security team to customer service!”
He reached under the counter for a shotgun.  Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw.  They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.
The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.
Clint to blasted him with the shotgun.  The impact knocked the Marley out the door.
Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot.  “He brought friends!  Call Nine-One-One.  I’m putting this place on shutdown.”
“Screw that!  I’ve been prepping all my life for this!”  With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door.  She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.
Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.
He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1.  It’d be too late by the time they got there.  All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.
God bless survivors.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Story time! Reading aloud from Live and Let Fly

I even made pictures and some snarky comments. That way you don't have to look at my face for the next six minutes. 

Enjoyed that?  You can buy Live and Let Fly at or Amazon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Sins of the Brother

My writing career really took off when I wrote a fantasy noir story called "DragonEye, PI" for an anthology called Firestorm of Dtagons.  So it seems only appropriate that I restart my writing with another DragonEye noir to submit to an anthology.

"Sins of the Brother" is based on the 1954 noir movie World for Ransom.  The plot is pretty simple--cynical PI in Singapore is checking up on the husband of the woman he loves.  Husband, of course, is a con man in over his head when he helps kidnap one of the leading nuclear scientists in the world.  PI wants out, but the girl promises to run away with him--once her husband is safe.  But of course, she betrays him in the end--she was never good for him, anyway.

Of course, the plot needs some serious changes to fit my universe.  Vern, as an androgynous dragon, isn't going to fall for some dame--but he might be beholden to a friend, especially a human who had shown him great kindness.  The plot will have to involve some danger to Mundanes or Faerie or both--which means it has to involve the Gap.  Instead of a murder, I'm having a kidnapping to motivate Vern further.

Finally, the real trick: taking a movie with an omniscient POV and translating it to just Vern's angle.  That means a lot of stuff I saw happen on screen Vern simply has to learn about second hand.  Takes a little more work to keep it interesting, so I'm introducing some colorful side characters--a dirty FBI agent, the Magic Mirror of Snow White fame. 

I'm 5000 words into it, and trying to hold a pace of 1000 words a day.  It's been grueling gtting started again, but rewarding afterwards when I read what I'd written.  Here's a little about him talking to the Mirror:

“Mirror, doomed to affirmation, I’m looking for some information.”
The glass smoked, then a face appeared—noble, compassionate, understanding radiating from its eyes…
Then it saw who was talking to it and dropped the facade.  “Vern!  By all that is clear!  What a relief.  Get me out of here.”
Oh, no. I was not carrying this conversation in rhyme.  “Bad day at work?”
His jowls drooped and circles darkened around his eyes.  “You have no idea what it’s like—having to find nice, truthful things to say all day long.  These people are so...needy!”
I shrugged.  “You’re the one who took a confident queen and turned her into a megalomaniac—“
“Hey!  I warned her beauty was fleeting, and she was the fairest in the land until her stepdaughter just…blossomed.  I mean, seriously!  Did you ever see Snow White?  What a dish.  But you know, at least the Queen believed me.  The losers I get in here are always doubting me!  Me!  The Magic Mirror who sees all and speaks truth.  But no!  It’s always, ‘I think my nose is too big,’ or ‘You haven’t seen me without make-up’—“
“Babbling mirror of affirmation, I came here for information!”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Tour: It Was Only Set on Stun by Declan Finn

Blurb:  When security specialist Sean A.P. Ryan agrees to protect actress Mira Nikolic at a Science Fiction convention, he thinks it can't be all bad. It's only a three-day weekend with some colorful characters in costumes.

But Sean is hardly prepared for what awaits him; the costumes, the fanboys, the freaks and geeks are only the beginning. There are actors with attitude problems, writers with rabies, and how do you spot an assassin when everyone is wearing a mask?

This doesn't even account for the real threats. When his client left Europe, she had been a figure of peace in a region that didn't want it. Now that she's an international celebrity, factions from the old country see her as the start of a reunion tour, with guns. Not only that, but she is being stalked by Middle Earth's Most Wanted Elven Assassin; he thinks that the actress is actually an Elven princess, and will do anything to prove it to her, including murder.

And what is that body doing in the middle of the vendor's floor with a sword-cane through his chest?

AUTHOR BIO:  Declan Finn lives in a part of New York City unreachable by bus or subway.  Who's Who has no record of him, his family, or his education.  He has been trained in hand to hand combat and weapons at the most elite schools in Long Island, and figured out nine ways to kill with a pen when he was only fifteen.  He escaped a free man from Fordham University's PhD program, and has been on the run ever since.  There was a brief incident where he was branded a terrorist, but only a court order can unseal those records, and realloy, why would you want to know?  It Was Only On Stun! is his first novel

MINI REVIEW:  I'd like to preface by saying that I am a picky reader who has been known to put down books even by best-selling novelists.  However, I have to be honest—despite the con setting and the humor, this really wasn’t my kind of book.  By the third chapter, I was convinced that the MC was a sociaopath with a violent temper, and I could not see how the other characters thought he was a level-headed guy who would avoid a fight if possible.  He reminded me more of my son’s bounty hunter on Star Wars: the Old Republic than a contemporary Mal Reynolds.    

Having said that, however, I can say this book promises the excitement of a first-person shooter game, and some fun scenes.  Declan Finn has a wry wit and definitely knows how to craft a good—and logical—fight scene.  I give him BIG KUDOS for that.  The premise looks to be a lot of fun, as well.  I’d suggest checking out the blurb at and judging for yourself.

Read the Prologue

Purchase from Amazon
Purchase in Kindle

Keep off my back, Uncle Sam, notice:  I received an electronic review copy of this book for free.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Writer's Journey: Slow steps back

Well, after last week's declaration and a burst of energy that took my e-mail level to-do list from 125 to 31, I figured I'd be full steam ahead on writing, but my parents came to visit, which inspired me to do some home improvement projects with them.  We now have doors that make me happy instead of annoyed when I see them, some minor fixes to major appliances, and, of course, Liam's new chair.  We also went shopping, out to dinner, played games, etc.  Overall, a good visit, indeed.

Of course, one of the shopping trips was to get a new dog.  We hadn't intended on looking so soon, but my daughter wanted to volunteer with a pound or rescue, which led to pictures and to phone calls, and on Saturday, we adopted a hound/shepherd mix, Toby.

He's a puppy, so in one sense, he'll be yet another project for me, but will also challenge me to keep my writing at hobby level.  He's also excellent with the kids, always following them around instead of me.  (Sometimes, I had to protect Layla from a kid who wanted to snuggle too much.)

I didn't work on fiction, but I did enjoy writing my blogs this weekend, which was one of the things I had lost enthusiasm for.  Also, I do feel some of my enthusiasm for marketing coming back.  I'd not been able to come up with a book trailer for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, and an e-mail reminded me of the September 1st launch date, so I went looking for music for the trailer.  I came across a really fun calypso/reggae beat by Kevin MacLeod, and lyrics popped into my head.  Now I need someone to sing it!  We're going to make a contest of it, so I'll be working out the details this week.  Stay tuned!

Between dogs and parents, and doctor appointments tossed in, I probably won't get started on writing until next week, but that's okay.  I think I'm back on track.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Camo chair

Last week, my parents came to visit, and we took the opportunity to do some home tasks.  One that had been longstanding was a new chair for my son, Liam.  He's been dealing with a chair with broken arms for a while.  Meanwhile, his older chair, while ratty, was still in good shape.  I still had some leftover cushion from when we did the kitchen chairs, so Mom and I used it to make a new chair.

We went through my fabric box and found some of Rob's old BDUs--the forest green pattern military uniforms.

It's pretty simple concept: 

1.  First take the chair apart
2.  Cut the foam to cover the seat and the arms.
3.  Cut the fabric to cover the seat, arms and back
4.  Staple the fabric tightly to the seat
5. Put the chair back together.

The seat turned out to be easy.  The back, however, was a challenge.  It was just a little too large to slide the shirt over once we cut the sleeves and sewed it back up.  We finally had to remove the buttons and undo the stitching for the reinforcement on the flap.  We cut off the collar to make a flat  top. Thus, we were able to make a tube that fit over the back, with the front of the BDU shirt (with the pockets and the patches) on the back. Then we sewed the top in a squarish pattern to fit the chair.

I got a little creative when it came to the arms.  Liam is always has stuff sitting on his desk, from pencils to candy to sodas, so I wanted him to have a place for some of it.  On one side, we simply cut a pocket out of another of Rob's old shirts, finished the edges and stapled it to the underside of the arm when we did the covering. 

The other side has a cup holder.  I took one of the arms we cut, and used some other spare fabric to make a round bottom.  We took a plastic bottle (from those Clorox wipes, and cut it in half.  That made the holder.  Then I cut out part of the sleeve so that I had a flap for the sleeve to hold the cup.  Then I stapled the flap as I did  with the other side.

In all, the project took about 4 hours, partly because the screws were stuck, and the back was difficult, but Liam is thrilled with his "new" BDU chair.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

My writer's journey: Starting Fresh

Last week, I came to the conclusion that I'd make my writing success too high a priority in my life.  God called me to be a wife and mother, and I've let what should (for now at least) be a hobby consume my time and energy beyond what it deserves.  So the question is, what to do now?

Well, many of you probably won't be surprised to learn that my first goal is to cut the clutter.

I have a lot of writing clutter--promises to other writers, reviews to request, follow-ups to pursue, interviews to apply for...  My to-do list last Thursday was 125 items long, some of the tasks nearly a year old.  It's like the closet where you stick stuff in case you need it someday.

So I resolved to do no more writing until I had killed that list fully.  I have read books for endorsements, critiqued stories, followed up on marketing leads, and sent replies to friendly business e-mails that I flagged to do when I had more time. 

I also followed up on submissions that have been sitting on editors' desks.  Mot of these were second follow-ups and had been sitting for six months or more.  I've decided to do a 3-3-3 method from now on:  follow up once in 3 months, a second time 3 months later, and count it a loss at 9 months.  I need to face facts: if my stories were so impressive, they would not languish so long.

I prepped review requests for all my books and have them in the drafts folder to send out one a week.  Once I've cleared the backlog, I can start sending them out as they happen.

I also deleted a lot because they'd been put off too long, or I found with my new attitude that I didn't have the time or energy to pursue them in light of what I figured are the returns.  In the past, I was willing to try a lot of new things; now, I'm going to be more particular.

This was not an easy process.  Sometimes, I shed a few tears when a task would remind me again of how I have not achieved the sales success I'd hoped to.  But with those tears and the accomplishment or deletion of the task, I healed a little.

I'm down to 27 tasks, some of which I cannot handle because they need to be addressed in later months, and some of which are writing opportunities.  My parents are visiting this week, so I'm holding there to hang out with them and do some household tasks.  (Monday, I'll tell you about the chair we reupholstered for Liam.)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Blog tour: Priestess of the Eggstone by Jaleta Clegg


Summary:  It isn't Dace's fault she leaves chaos everywhere she goes. She didn't know Belliff, the company who hired her to courier sensitive materials, is a front for the Targon Crime Syndicate. She finds out when she steps into the middle of a Patrol raid on Belliff's offices. The Patrol and Targon both want her. But that's nothing. Her copilot has an entire sentient species chasing him for stealing their god. The two of them set off on a desperate chase to get the Eggstone god back to avert war with the Sessimoniss while evading the Patrol and the Targon Syndicate. But the Eggstone isn't just any rock. The Patrol isn't chasing her for the reasons she thinks. And Targon's days are numbered.

About Jaleta: 
Jaleta Clegg was born some time ago. She’s filled the years since with many diverse activities, such as costuming, quilting, cooking, video games, reading, and writing. She’s been a fan of classic sci-fi books and campy movies since she can remember. Her collection of bad sci-fi movies is only rivaled by her collection of eclectic CD’s (polka, opera, or Irish folk songs, anyone?).

biosmall.jpg She feels privileged to join the ranks of science fiction authors.
Her day job involves an inflatable planetarium, numerous school children, and starship simulators. Her summer job involves cooking alien food for space camp. She writes a regular column in Abandoned Towers Magazine–fancy dinner menus for themed parties.
Previous fiction publications haven’t happened yet, but she has several stories coming out this year in various magazines, both online and print.
Jaleta lives in Utah with her husband, a horde of her own children, and two ancient, toothless cats. She wants to be either Han Solo or Ursula the Sea Witch when she grows up. If she ever does.

Mini Review:  Ever been exhausted from having fun?  Princess of the Eggstone will leave you with that feeling.  Every time I thought Dacre's situation couldn't get more complicated, Jaleta found a new insanity to throw her way.  It was like riding a roller coaster--but more entertaining.  Great characters, humor, and a plot twists make this and entertaining read.  Enjoy!

Jaleta's Website

ATTN, Uncle Sam:  Since you're interested, I got a review copy of this book in electronic format.  

Thursday, August 02, 2012

My Writer's Journey: Time for a change

Well, it's been a long journey of introspection and soul searching.  I've journaled, talked with friends, done some reading, asked myself hard questions.  In some ways, I don't feel I've made any life-changing conclusions, but perhaps all I needed was a nudge into a new direction.

For those who haven't been following--I took a 6-week vacation from writing and marketing in June, but when we got home in July, I found myself unmotivated to write, even the stuff I wanted to write.  it's not writers' block as most folks think about it.  I had lost the joy of writing, kind of a mid-life writer's crisis, if you will.

As I journaled about my feelings and expectations, I recognized that I was frustrated by my low readership and sales, not so much for the money but for the recognition of a job well done.  I also confronted my feelings about marketing.  And I thought hard about the kind of person I want to be--and what kind of person God expects me to be.

The fact of the matter is,writing is a small part of who I want to be, yet it's taken the biggest part of what I do.  I have an obsessive personality, and I have too often let writing and marketing consume me at the expense of my more "mundane" roles of wife, mother, even housekeeper.  Perhaps if those efforts had paid off in bestsellers, I could justify them.  However, they have not, and my frustration lies in the fact that I've sacrificed in those areas for minimal returns to my writing career. 

As far as God's call for me--I just can't see that He would Call me to write funny SFF with puns, innuendo, and occasional puerile humor.  I don't think He minds; He may even approve--but a Calling?  Even if my books were best sellers, they aren't that significant.

And yet, I had made them too significant. 

So, now I have a better idea of where my writing belongs in my life, and it's not in the forefront as it is right now.  It's going to need a change of focus, of attitude, and of planning.  I'll be exploring that next week.