Oh Curses!

“What kind of books do you write?”

This is the most common question I get in a crowd. My answer – Horror and Dark Fantasy – never fails to surprise the non-writers in the group. I’d say 90% of them respond with an “Oh. You look like someone who writes children’s books.” (Snort) I admit it. I’m a short, cheery looking lady in her 50’s who really does look like she should be writing children’s books about purple elephants or orange kangaroos.  Those, however, are not the stories I’m given.

Fascinated by the constant struggles of Good vs. Evil, I write stories with characters who have a foot on each side. Gruff mutant tracker. Murdering convict. Pariah and thief. These aren’t your typical “Dudley Do-Rights” of the world. Which brings us to our blog topic and another question I’ve gotten from readers.

“Oh, why must you curse so much in your books?”

Looking at the characters I’ve just listed, it’s pretty self-explanatory. I keep my sarcastic answer deep inside.

“You’re okay with the sex and bloody violence, but it’s the occasional F Bomb you get heartburn over?”

I typically write about characters who wander on the seedy side of the street. They hang out with the dregs of society. Their dialogue has to be authentic to the story and the setting. Bill Dolan (Lost Man’s Parish) is a convicted murderer in a prison city. If I had him say “shucky darn” rather than a strong expletive, he wouldn’t be real for the readers and he’d probably get beaten up. This truthful (and hopefully helpful) answer usually sets them to nodding. I’m not sure if this is in understanding or agreement.

Cursing can be useful in underscoring a character’s personality. Using it, however, for the shock factor doesn’t make sense in this day and age. Make sure it’s organic to the story. There are times when it isn’t appropriate and can be off putting. In my upcoming Epic Dark Fantasy, The Lords of Valdeon, cursing would be as out of place as “shucky darn” in a prison. In the world of Andara, gentlemen don’t curse. There are those among them that do though. You’ll find an occasional “Bastard” thrown in there, but typically it describes someone as the bastard son of so and so.

Word choices are important. Enhancing the story is good. Awkwardly pulling the reader out of the story is bad.

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The Juggling Act

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[Image from Dreamstime.com]

I’ve reached that glorious state in my writing career when I have more than one literary project active at the same time. It’s exciting and empowering. My motivation level is way up on the “Can’t wait to share with my readers” scale. It’s a very positive situation to be in, BUT there is a downside. How can I get everything done on time without going crazy?

The Projects:

Pariah

My 104k word urban fantasy, Pariah, is back from my editor.  It’s almost impossible to see the white of the page through all the red ink. Seriously, she did a fantastic job. Who knew I was clumsily misplacing those slippery modifiers?

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My target goal is for an early Fall release. This is an Indie Pub effort, so I have to coordinate with book formatters, designers, distributors, printers and book tour folks. They are all waiting for me to complete my final edits. No pressure!

Son of Lions

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll have heard laments of my ruined epic fantasy. Poor advice and a lack of self-trust sunk my rubber ducky on the first manuscript. Fast forward six years to find me rolling up my sleeves for another go.  I love this story. It’s very near to my heart. Frankly, I’ve invested too much time and emotion into this nine book series (all in draft form) to abandon it to frustration.

My target goal: Complete a workable draft of the first book to send for review by Spring 2015.

Marketing: The never ending project

This is ongoing. It’s never a good idea to completely ignore your published book babies.

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Phantom Harvest and Lost Man’s Parish

The Plan:

I took a revisions workshop at the last Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference. It was given by Colorado Author, Cindi Meyers (Check out her books). In my opinion, Cindi is the foremost expert on juggling literary projects.  Okay, she may have a little competition from James Patterson.  Visit her site and you will see how many wonderful books she has out there. During the class, Cindi described how she managed her time editing one book and writing the draft of another – sometimes ON THE SAME DAY. Respect!

In my day job as a program manager, I’m expected to juggle many projects, tasks and pieces of information each day. Unfortunately, I have not been able to master this ability with my own creative projects. YET. I’m not going to beat myself up. Instead, I’m going to play to my strengths.  One skill set I’ve developed is the ability to completely focus on a project. No distractions. How do I use this to my advantage when I’m juggling several literary projects? Planning. My brain has to focus on one story at a time. I determine how long a task (Final edits on Pariah for instance) will take me. I schedule this for “X” amount of days/weeks/months. When I know the date I’ll finish, I schedule another project to start on that date.

Project 1 (Begin Date and End Date). Project 2 (Begins on the End Date of Project 1 and End Date).

If I can manage to overlap projects, while still doing a quality job, then I go for it.

Final Thoughts: This plan works for me. It might not work for you. Each of us has to determine how we work best. Above all else, we cannot forget to enjoy the journey.

Phantom Harvest Wins!

Phantom Harvest is the WINNER of the EPIC 2014 eBook Awards for Fantasy Fiction!  A very special Thank You to the EPIC Judges. This is a great honor.

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This book was a team effort. Many Thanks to my wonderful Editor, Marsha Briscoe at Whiskey Creek Press! And to Gemini Judson who did such an awesome job on the book cover and design. Cheers!

For More Information On EPIC: http://epicorg.com/

Check Out Other Books from Whiskey Creek Press: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/

 

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Mutants at the Alamo?

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My Dark Fantasy Phantom Harvest is up for a 2014 EPIC EBook Award in the category of Best Fantasy. Later this week I head to San Antonio to attend EPICon. The winners will be announced during the conference.  Despite the tough competition, I’m hoping to bring home good news. Fingers Crossed! If I win there will be much celebrating by my sister and I!  If I lose there will be much merry making by my sister and I. Hey, it’s San  Antonio and we’re right on the River Walk. 😉

Tune into the blog next week for the results!

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Pushing the Boundaries of Technology into the Realm of Fantasy

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Maialen Tate is much more than Gideon’s love interest in Phantom Harvest. She’s my vehicle for exploring the potential of biometric and prosthetics technologies. Maialen is a powerful empath who has voluntarily been fitted with high-tech implants. Her eyes, parts of her brain and her finger tips have been replaced, allowing her to merge with any technology. Ironically, she is also limited by the very technology she has embraced. If Maialen loses control and lets too much power escape, the system in her brain shuts down. This could result in permanent brain damage.

Most of the Mutant World view Maialen’s kind with fear and awe. They are the penetrating eyes of the Mutant Guild. The dangers of Maialen’s power do keep her isolated. Even the slightest touch of her skin will destroy the mind of most mutants. That same touch will easily kill a human.

Excerpt:
The limo pulled away from the curb, and they glided through the stylish streets of the Ashford Heights. Blocks of tall skyscrapers molded with glass and stainless steels were laid out in perfect symmetry. Chic restaurants and little bistros were staggered among them, catering to the whims of the wealthy.
Maialen stared out the window and watched as the buildings began to degrade. Angry graffiti written in neon paint told stories of the miserable “have nots” for whom New Athens wasn’t a home, but rather a prison. In their neighborhood, the sky wasn’t clear with a gorgeous view of the twin suns. Technology didn’t line the streets to carefully sanitize the air. This was New Athens as it really was…gritty and mutated.
“You sure you won’t change your mind?”
Maialen shook her head and gave Norm a confident smile. “Tell me about the Outskirts. Will we see any of it as we travel? How long will it take to get to Hawthorne?”
“You better hope we don’t see any of the Outskirts on this trip.” Norm stuffed a hand inside his parka and pulled out his stash of cigars. “It’s a dangerous place and home to the more maladjusted mutants of our society.” Norm chuckled at a private memory and stuffed his precious cigars back inside his pocket. “If all goes well on this trip, you’ll sleep through the night, and come morning we’ll be in Hawthorne.”
Maialen felt her fear rise again and quickly tucked the anxiety away before Norm could see it clouding her face. She’d promised to help Pete and no matter the risk, she was determined to be there for him. A tingling sensation began on the back of her hand and ran up the length of her arm when she thought of Pete. Her fingers stroked the unsettled energy upon her forearm as she reached her senses out. Something, elusive and painful, was changing in Pete’s world. Maialen let out a frustrated breath. She couldn’t see anymore.

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