Preorders, sales, promotional graphics, oh my!

You may wonder what in the world I have been up to lately, and let me say – a lot. April is a rollercoaster and I’m not strapped in. Please expect me to be absolutely mad over here.

Currently, I’m preparing to leave for Salt Lake City (or rather, its environs) where I am attending a writing workshop called Futurescapes. It’s looks to be an amazing experience, and I’m so excited to tell you about it later if I survive the next few weeks.

That said, I have some lovely things to share with you if you haven’t already seen them on my Twitter, Tumblr, etc.

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First, Daughter of Madness is up for preorder! I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago but I was not perhaps exuberant enough. Specifically, the ebook is what is up for preorder. The print book will be releasing at the same time, but you will have to wait until June 2nd to get your copy.

Speaking of June 2nd, you can get an ebook of Mother of Creation anytime before that date! I’m hoping to have it for $1.99 soon but there has been a technical glitch at Amazon so I will do a special post to update you on when that is resolved. I made a cool graphic to share to folks….someday…..

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I’ll also be doing some blog tours coming up. I will crosspost those here and mostly put a hold on original content for The Bramble until those are finalized. But we still have a couple of weeks until then, as the beginning of the tour is May 7th.

Phew.

Send me kind thoughts, readers, and let’s power through!


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Being sick, release dates, and other stuff

Life is hard, friends. I was sick with a terrible cold for two weeks and it threw me straight out of any kind of rhythm. I’ve been scrambling to get back on the metaphorical pony, and it’s been slow going.

You may know that it is almost April, and that I have some big things coming up in April. First, I will be at Roanoke Author Invasion on April 7th. I did this last year and it was a lot of fun, so we’ll see how it goes this year. Second, I will be traveling to Salt Lake City for a thing-that-is-writing-related-but-not-an-appearance in April from the 13th through the 16th. So that’s the first two weekends of April shot for writing things. (Not that I won’t be doing writing-related stuff, but I cannot actually write while I am doing appearances, etc. for obvious reasons.) Given that there are only two weekends left between now and then, that’s a little intimidating in terms of my timelines.

Accordingly, I’m announcing now that the release date for DAUGHTER OF MADNESS will be June 2nd. To cut the edge off of pushing it back a bit from the hoped-for April date, we now have preorders available on Amazon. This is my first time doing preorders, and I’m excited to see how it goes. You can preorder the book here.

To clarify, DoM is written, I’m just doing the fine-tuning and the formatting at this point. Being sick, however, meant that I lost two weeks on that (the dayjob and the other necessary bits of living have to come first, and when I only have limited energy that means no writing). I’ll be more sane and we’ll all be happier with the finished product this way. The perils of self-publishing and all.

I’ll have more news soon about a release event which I am very excited about and I’ll also have some cool graphics and other fun things to help get people excited leading into this process. I’ve even included a sweet banner with this post which you will have already seen if you’ve been to my Facebook or Twitter, and I plan on using that for all DoM-related posts going forward so you’ll know what you’re getting into. Enjoy!


Someday I’d like to make writing my dayjob, but I can’t do it without you. Pitch in at my Patreon or buy my books.

The best thing I learned at MystiCon

I go to conventions to spread the word about my existence, sure, but I also go to conventions to learn. (And to meet awesome people, but that is a side benefit to the utility, even if it is a very important one.) This year, I had a number of great experiences – being on an all woman panel was one, I enjoyed that immensely – but the most meaningful learning I did was as moderator on the very last panel of my time there, Epic Scale Fiction.

As might be imagined, I focused most of my questions on the “scale” piece of this topic – that is, how to expand a story. And the most obvious method of expanding a story that’s already out there is to write a new story (or a continuation of a story) in the same world. I’ll admit my bias – writing a sequel has been a totally different affair for me than writing an original story, with a whole new set of skills that I needed to acquire. Check on any of my posts which contain progress updates on Daughter of Madness and you will see what I’m talking about. But I didn’t have the language to articulate what, exactly, I’d done wrong with my second book in the Creation Saga the first time around, and what, exactly, I was doing right with the rewrites.

(As an aside, I have gotten deep into edits and heard back from beta readers and guys, I am very confident that you are going to love Daughter of Madness. I’m also very hopeful to have an official release date soon.)

I now have that language, thanks to the panelists. A sequel still involves changing the status quo. You sequel starts in that shift, just as your original novel did. It’s not just a continuation of the prior story. Something must change for each of your characters. So:

  • Change the status quo
  • Your sequel is not a continuation of the old story, it’s something new
  • Each book should be a story unto itself

When I started writing Daughter of Madness, I was trying to continue the story that I was telling in Mother of Creation. This is where I went wrong, and this is why two thirds of the book got chopped and rewritten. I had a solid thread on Liana’s story, with drastic changes to her new normal in the offing, but I just expected the other characters to keep doing what they had been doing and honestly? I was bored. I was bored writing it, and it showed, and it didn’t make any sense at all. Everything was bad.

Then I listened to Kameron Hurley talking about the need to throw out part of her book on her Twitter. I realized I could do that. And I started over. I started telling a new kind of story for each of my characters. One where the setting was more or less the same, often, but the stakes had changed, either internally or externally. I muddled towards the answer that the panelists so concisely gave me.

Everyone approaches sequels differently. The level of backstory required, the way that you orient the reader to the characters, changes from person to person. I very much want people to read the first book before they read the second. They are installments in the same broad arc. But they still should be able to stand on their own enough that if I as a reader came back to this series after a long time, I would be able to orient myself and still be engaged. And the only way that can happen is if the story in the second book is just as gripping and engaging, in its own way, as the story in the first. It can’t be a repetition of what has gone before, though some of the same themes and conflicts may be present.

In a way, I’m glad I had to learn things the hard way. Even if I had heard someone say those very words before, I don’t know that I would have recognized it in application to my own work. Even if I had, I don’t know that the book I would have written would have been as truthful as this one, because if I had finished Daughter of Madness sooner I would have lacked the experiences I needed to make it sing. But I am glad I know the lesson now, and I wanted to pass it on to you, in case you ever find yourself in the same boat.


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This post is a series of tweets

You may have noticed that I am providing regular updates in a thread on Twitter regarding my editing process for Daughter of Madness. I’ve linked them all together, so you can click below and look at my progress so far. I figured that might help you figure out what I’ve been dealing with.

I’ve mentioned that this is the first time I have written a sequel to a book, and that it is kicking my ass. I did mention that, right? Well, it’s kicking my ass. On the plus side, you’ll be happy to note the below:

Specifically I have 11,000 words and counting of the next book already, which consists entirely of cuts from this one to make the endings fall where they needed to for maximum tension. Sigh. All that and DoM is still at 91,000 words, so currently weighing in at a little longer than the first book. I’m not sure if it will get longer or shorter before publication. Your guess is as good as mine, honestly.

In the interim….I may have mentioned a finished a novelette and sent it out to folks to read, set in the world of The Zombie Book. It was mostly for fun, but I am in love with it, as tends to happen with things set in that world. I also mentioned a structural breakthrough I had for said Zombie Book that I think makes it a lot more fun and sets it up better for a sequel. I really need to work on that. There are only so many hours in a day, and I have a lot of stuff to write. So much.

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Speaking of, I also started working on a story that dug in to my brain and set up camp. It’s something totally new, but you may hear me refer to it as APM – an acronym for Appalachian Practical Magic, which you’ll hear once and never again. Feel blessed. I don’t have a working title yet, but I already have a spinoff concept so no doubt it will come to me. I hear some of you groaning internally. There’s really nothing I can do about it at this point, though. This book is determined to be born. The next book in the Creation Saga will no doubt start knocking once I have fixed DoM enough to actually like it, so I’ll let you know when that happens.

Alright, updates over! I’m out! You’ll hear from me soon!

 

A time for edits

To everything there is a season. A time for brainstorming, and a time for reading books. A time for scribbling in notebooks, and a time for typing. A time for writing, and a time for edits.

It is my time for edits.

You know that I have finished the DoM draft, and that I have a cover. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel comfortable setting a release date. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to write DoM. It was my first time writing a sequel, so that was part of it, and I was going through a lot. Getting engaged, planning a wedding, my grandfather dying, learning not one, but two jobs. It puts a damper on productivity, all that change, and my deadlines slid past in a sea at turns colored with regret and the apathy fueled by having no more spoons.

Second, this book came out seriously broken, which is not unusual for many writers when they get to the end of the actual creative process and move into rewrites but for me? I’m having to rapidly become a better self-critic. It’s taking me a lot longer to wade through the pages than it would have if I had written the thing with a clearer vision. Heck, I wrote past the ending by something like 20,000 words. For those counting, that’s about a fifth of a book. That means I have a head-start on Book Three, if I can get DoM in a place where I haven’t written myself into a corner with two of the characters, that is. Since that’s basically the problem with the draft.

So, here we are, July 2017, and there is not a final book, and you are all probably sad. I am sad, a little, but I’m also excited because I know I can do this. Writers do things like this. We have these moments in our lives. Especially when we have dayjobs and families and all the other things that human beings have.

In the interim, I’m focusing on actually writing shorter works. If you follow me Twitter, you’ve seen me posting about a novelette project. That is scribbled and off to early readers, mostly because I had so much fun writing it. It’s a spin-off from a book that I’ve had completed for a while but that I haven’t published (see: season for edits) and that I had hoped to find a publishing house to represent, since I think it will do better. The world is one that I enjoy writing immensely. I’ve also been working on some short pieces for upcoming anthologies I know will have slush submissions. (I’ve pretty much queried my trunk, so it’s time to start creating new stuff.)

Anyways, these are the daily ins and outs of writing. Without the wedding sapping up all my energy, my productivity has definitely increased. I am very hopeful I’ll have something to share with you soon in terms of news.

For now, I’ll just keep editing.

Inspiration – Movies

While I’m at MystiCon this weekend, you get this last inspiration post. The previous two on books and music can be found earlier on the blog. You also get the complete cover for Daughter of Madness in this post! It’s at the end, so if that’s what you’re clicking in for, scroll down until you get there. If you’d like to stick around and hear about some of my favorite movies, please do so!

So honestly I don’t watch a whole lot of movies. Some of my favorite ones are Japanese animation, which I’ve mostly left out of this list by dent of it being a bit of a different animal. I do love movies, and my tastes are pretty diverse, but lately it’s really hard for me to watch or read anything that I don’t mostly know is not going to treat women like objects. I’m sure someone will accuse me of being overly sensitive in that, but luckily I don’t care. The past two months have been mentally pretty stressful for women, I think most of us can admit, so exposing myself to more misogyny than required is not really on my list of things to do. That said, most of these movies are older.

This makes sense, you know, because it’s about inspiration that led me to write The Creation Saga.

Lord of the Rings

This is sort of cheating, because I read the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit  ages ago. When I was about five, actually. My dad read us the entirety of Tolkien’s work as soon as we could reliably communicate audibly. This was the origin of my fantasy bug.

The first LotR adaptations were animated. I remember being absolutely terrified by the goblins. There are no goblins in the world of The Creation Saga, which is just as well. People are brutal enough. As a child, though, you don’t think that people can be evil necessarily.

The Hobbit is actually my favorite of these stories. It’s a story about a person who comes into himself, not about a person who is broken by what happens to him, as in Frodo’s case. Bilbo finds camaraderie and learns about the darknesses of the world. In the end he experiences betrayal, too. The world of all stories is a vast one, complicated in its own way. The right and wrong of things seems simpler than it perhaps is. Gods walk among men, or something like them – wizards and elves with powers that can reshape rivers and mountains. Rocks move and trees talk. There is something appealing about all of that, and I don’t think any fantasy writer can quite escape that appeal.

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The movies, which most people are familiar with, contain much of that magic and mystery, but couch it also in blood and battle. Eowyn is one of my favorite characters, predictably. She wants so desperately to prove herself to her people, to save those that she cares for. She suffers so much loss and rises to fight despite it. She has a lot of rage, Eowyn. I was happy for her to find Faramir, but in some ways I think it did a disservice to her character to resolve her questioning so easily in the wake of her uncle’s death.

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max is not a fantasy franchise. It is dystopian scifi, but it’s a very good example of some of the themes I was playing with in Daughter of Madness. Not the “who killed the world” refrain, though that speaks to me so well. Instead I think of Furiosa, of her sense of loss and the way that it moves her forward into rage and eventually into triumph. I think of the violence that she renders on others and which is rendered on her. I also love the vast landscapes of Fury Road, the reds and blues of the deserts. They don’t make it into Daughter of Madness exactly, but the austerity of that space was a place that provided me a lot of inspiration.

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Star Wars!

How could Star Wars not be on this list? I mean talk about movies. These were my favorite movies for a long time and I still love them. And Luke and Leia are twins! With very different fates from Liana and Liander, of course, but nonetheless. Royal twins fighting for their birthrights….it’s hard not to see some thematic resemblance.

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Still, the person I think probably jives with Liana’s character the most in the Star Wars universe is probably Jyn Erso, at least in my head. I saw Rogue One well after I had finished most of the Daughter of Madness story arc, but I felt that kinship instantly. She has the same trust issues and rough and tumble edges.

Alright, dears, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! I will be at MystiCon this weekend, as mentioned earlier this week, so enjoy this while I’m gone! (And if you are at MystiCon, check out one of my events for cool free swag!)

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Inspiration for THE CREATION SAGA: Books

So the draft of Daughter of Madness is done, and the edits continue. While we wait, here is the second piece of the cover reveal, and a list of some of the books that inspired The Creation Saga or which The Creation Saga might inspire you to read. You can find the first piece of the cover in this post about music.

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

This book contains a lovely re-imagining of the immortal fairy. You will see some familiar elements that I didn’t intentionally mimic, I swear, but which creep in regardless: the twins as main characters and royal heirs, the king imprisoned, dark magics which undermine the self. It’s a lovely series from a writer who is praised as one of the foundational scribes of modern fantasy. You may be most familiar with Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, which I read as a wee lass of thirteen or somewhere around then.

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Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This book started a revolution in the fantasy genre, so it’s no surprise that it would inspire me and many other writers. One of the things I like the most about Martin’s writing is that his women are complex and just as terrible (sometimes more terrible) as the men they interact with. Melisandre comes to mind as a fiery lady you do not want to mess with, and Arya as a relatively sweet child who is twisted into a murderer. Cersei, who you can’t help but admire in a crazy, screwed up way, and Sansa, who you go from pitying to possibly fearing – these are the kinds of women that interest me the most. These evolutions definitely inspired some of the character arcs in The Creation Saga.

The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lyn Flewelling

Compared to the previous two series, this is a lesser known book. That said, it is probably the one that had the most overt influence over my writing. This book is messed up at best. It’s about a princess and prince who are born together –
problem being that the princess is set to inherit and will be murdered by her uncle if she survives. So her caretakers murder her brother and essentially pass her off as him. It’s more complicated than that, of course, but this book is definitely worth reading if you liked Mother of Creation.

 

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

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Who, looking at the cover of this book, would not want to read it? I’ll confess that I read this book after I had written Mother of Creation, and while I was deep in the Daughter of Madness draft. It was so…echoing, to read this. Nostalgia, perhaps? I’m not sure, but the themes in this book are very much themes that come up in the Creation Saga, perhaps more than in the other books on this list in some ways. So if you are enjoying that, I recommend. Plus, there’s a dragon.

Okay, now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Check out those eyes.

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