Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Home Again

My journey has reached its conclusion! I got to hang out with my father for a week, while my sister had some much-deserved respite time to visit her oldest daughter in Missouri. I thought that my niece was going to give birth, but actually they were just setting up the nursery. That’s fine, though. My sister has Dad all the rest of the year and she deserved to get the break for any reason she wanted to.

It wasn’t super hard to watch over with Dad. He mostly took naps, but I did have to make sure he took his correct medications (and didn’t accidentally take them twice) and ate meals, etc. Dad claims to never be hungry, but I did notice he would take his walker into the kitchen and snack on chocolates or garlic-stuffed olives. Which sounds bad, but at age 93, what are we trying to save him from? Everyone agrees that the man can have an olive or three if he wants them.

No surprise, traveling and getting myself familiar with Dad’s care threw me off my pace for writing. I joked to my brother that my characters were walking down a slope for three days, and it was about time to let them move on. So I did write the rough outlines of three really good scenes during the week, and now I have the task of getting them written into the manuscript.

I’m also going around the yard gathering vegies and snagging the occasional weed. My husband did a good job of keeping things watered, but didn’t pick any of the tomatoes or blackberries. What a hardship it will be to eat those yummy blackberries this week!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

My husband came back from a horror movie he had been looking forward to. When I asked how it was, the first thing he said was that people kept doing stupid things. It made me wonder why some authors (not only in horror) seem to develop their plot so that it depends on characters being stupid.

Okay, sure, not every character will be quick thinking or a good judge of others’ motives. We want characters to be fallible so there’s real suspense about whether they’ll get out of whatever the situation is. In fiction, there’s also a theory that things need to get worse before they get better. Having the characters do dumb stuff can be one way to worsen a situation.

However, the audience for a book or movie probably IS smart and a good judge of people’s motives. Like my husband, they can be irritated when characters act too silly or get careless in dangerous situations. Raising the stakes this way can feel forced or manipulative.

I guess it’s something that creators have to balance as we plan our projects. How many dumb mistakes are too many for the credibility of the story?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

I Made a List

Every writer needs to do publicity, and today I’m exploring a new publicity option. Book Shepherd helps authors conect with potential readers and helps readers discover new books.

Their mechanism is through reading lists. Just as on Goodreads, Amazon, etc., authors create a reading list based on a theme. Ideally, of course, the book list relates to our own work. Authors also show off a single book of theirs to readers who choose their list.

My list is going live today! The theme is 20th Century Fantasy that Centers Powerful Women. Go ahead and take a look if that sounds interesting. If you enjoy my list, you could even share it around. I promise I wouldn’t mind!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

While I’m on my trip, I’m going to be stuck in airports and such. What can a discriminating writer read while waiting for her connections? Here’s what I’ve gathered so far.

Two are paperbacks from my shelves. Dragonflight is the starter for Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. I first read it in high school and it’s still my favorite of the series. Also Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Tombs of Atuan, second in her Earthsea series. All those books are incredible, and they’ve been an inspiration to me, but Atuan has a special place in my heart. A young girl strives to find her own identity, while trapped in an eldritch labyrinth and surrounded by jealous older colleagues.

Two others are contemporary e-books. Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire, is in the middle of another series I’ve been catching up on. You know how in YA fantasy there often are Earth children who visit fantasy lands? The Wayward Children series is about a home for such children who find themselves back on Earth and struggling to adjust. McGuire hasn’t always been my favorite author, but she’s hitting my sweet spot with these.

I’ve also picked up a brand new release, A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys. It’s a near-future novel where environmentalist enclaves are trying to maintain some semblance of a civilization while fending off pollution from industrial enclaves — only to have aliens show up! The combination of post-apocalypse with utopian striving sounds intriguing.

Well, friends, what have you been reading this summer?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

What’s Happening? My cel company was bought by another company, which required me to switch to their system and also buy a new cel phone. So I’ve been jumping through their hoops and getting the new cel phone set up. I was worried that it wouldn’t get here before I travel, too. Fun in the modern age!

What I’m Working On. The Tale of the Drakanox is over 80,000 words and it feels like I’m reaching the top of the mountain for both main plot threads. Then I can get to the conclusion! The work seems so slow, yet I’ve added over 12,000 words in the month. You’d think by now I would trust myself.

What’s Next? I do travel this month, giving my sister a respite from taking care of our elderly dad. My niece is going to have a baby, and my sister deserves to be there. Guess I’d better set up a couple of posts to cover while I’m gone.

Fun and Games. I’m playing a game I was very curious about, Subnautica. Your character is a space worker suddenly marooned on an ocean planet. You have to find survive until you can be rescued. But of course the rescue becomes complicated! So far it’s been an enjoyable challenge, although I went easy on myself with the survival settings. I also enjoy Animal Crossing for quieter moments, of course.

The summer is heating up but I hope you can all keep cool. And if you need something to read… Look, it’s right over there in the side bar!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

My Aunt’s Poem

As a follow-up to last Wednesday’s post, I’m sharing a poem of my aunt’s that was in the trunk. This aunt, my father’s younger sister, is from a branch of the family I hardly ever had contact with. When Dad told her I was writing, she wrote to me and shared some of her work. It was encouraging to me, knowing that writing ran in the family.

Joyce was born in the mid-1920s, in northwestern Kansas. Her voice in this poem sounds like that of a teenager or young adult, so I’m speculating she wrote it in the late ’30s or early ’40s.

Before you ask, I am not throwing out her original! I’ve transcribed it into a PDF, so I can share it with family in the modern era. Especially if I ever hear from Joyce’s children. She didn’t title the poem, so I’ve been arrogant and assigned one.


Ride and Ride

by “Auntie Joyce” Dunn Shelley

Give me a day that is sharp and clear,
When the wind blows fresh and strong.
Give me a horse — stout-hearted and true,
And let me ride and ride, all day long.

We’ll be together, Gypsy and I,
And thunder into the dawn.
We’ll share in the magic of wind and sky,
And ride and ride all day long.

We’ll race with the silver that runs in the creek,
We’ll race with the clouds on high.
We’ll race with the Sun as he climbs to his peak,
And starts his trip down from the sky.

We’ll rest a while midst the sea of green
That rolls on the valley floor.
Gallop over the hills where the air is keen,
While the Sun slips out through the Heaven’s door,

Leaving his trail of molten flame
That heightens and towers and dies.
Then we’ll ride to the ridge where the Moon appears
And climbs her way into the skies.

Give me a night with a sky full of stars
And a wind that’s a sigh in the trees,
And a horse — whose silent friendship
Like an echo, answers the breeze.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

The Old Trunk

Actually, it’s a storage tub. In order to get our AC put in, we had to move a whole bunch of things. Scrap wood, power tools… and tubs of stuff we hadn’t looked at in 25 years. I’ve been going through those, trying to decide what we still need to keep. Among the discoveries:

High school and college yearbooks. Doodles and scribbles from high school. There’s even one of my very first attempts at a fantasy short story! (For reference, I graduated high school in 1977, so I guess those were in the tub for a lot longer than 25 years.)

There are also some old letters from family who have since passed. One of my grandmothers wrote a short biography of her early life. (The people she depended on kept dying. Also, her family had 9 kids. We forget, with modern medicine, that such things were common.)

Letters about the first fan club I wrote for, Comics Heroines Fan Club. Even a few lost loves. My first heartbreak. The first heart I broke. (He liked me a lot more than I liked him. I had to say so.) The engagement that was a wonderful disaster…

They are precious, but I’m not sure if I need to keep any of this. At my age, everything I hang onto is something that my kids will have to deal with after I pass. Certainly I’ll preserve my mother’s letters and Grandma’s biography. However, the fan correspondence won’t mean anything to my kids. And the high school annuals? Those are just too darned big.

I’m still mulling over the love letters. Not that I’m ashamed of having had boyfriends in my twenties. Nor do I have any intention of following up on old flames. My husband encourages me to save them. Maybe I will.

It’s been fun to sort through all of this. We’ll see what I end up keeping. After all, what’s a few more years in a trunk?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Teaser 6

It isn’t as nice as making a sale, but this week I actually got in on a submission window for a publication I’ve been really interested in. Here’s hoping!

Today’s character is new to the Minstrels of Skaythe series. I wasn’t expecting her, but my philosophy is to try and incorporate every idea that comes in the first draft. If it ends up not being important, then I’ll trim it later. Anyhow, I realized early in The Tale of the Drakanox that Countess Ar-Torix, from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh, wasn’t going to be traipsing around Skaythe in person. She needed a minion.

This is where Nyette comes in.


“An explanation that explains nothing,” Ar-Torix mused. “Now why would Meven feel the need to defend herself, if she has done nothing wrong? This requires further exploration.”

“Shall I send for your horse, Countess?” Hurth asked.

Pearls gleamed in the countess’ hair as she considered. “Not yet. If this is some sort of trick, I’ll not rush into it. Ar-Selviss.”

The instructor quickly stopped the match and bowed. “My lady?”

Ar-Torix went on, “I believe it was Nyette who won the bout just now. In your opinion, is she ready for a different sort of challenge?”

“An excellent suggestion, my lady.” Ar-Selviss smiled obsequiously. “The arena does not always prepare our students for conditions in the field.”

The student in question was already on her feet. She was tall, and Shonn had the impression of an athletic build beneath the stiff brown robe. Black, curly hair fell to her shoulders, where it was cut off in a straight, hard line. Two dainty hairpins, shaped as butterflies, held it away from her face.

“Command me, Countess!” she cried.

“No need to get so excited.” Ar-Torix laughed, a silvery sound that drew every man’s eye to her. “I merely need you to venture into Fang Marsh along with my friend from the water-folk. Examine the ice wall with a mage’s eye, and report back to me. Simplicity.”

“I will make it so.” Nyette’s gaze was intense, in contrast to the childish note of the butterfly pins.

“Yes, yes.” Ar-Torix looked past her and signaled Ar-Selviss to begin the next match. It may have been Shonn’s imagination, but he thought the countess didn’t want too much attention on a younger woman. Not that she needed to worry, as alluring as she was.

Hurth tapped Shonn’s shoulder, breaking Ar-Torix’s spell. “Come on.”

Reluctantly, he tore his eyes away from the temptation of the countess and followed Hurth back into the stuffy building. Nyette stopped in the reception area, where a narrow staircase led upward.

“I’m going to pack a few things,” she announced in a brittle imitation of Ar-Torix’s confident tone. Hunter-guards at the counter looked around at those words. To Shonn, she said, “I assume you don’t want a troop of them escorting me.”

“No,” he immediately agreed. One passenger might fit on his raft, but not a bunch of them. “We’ll want to move quietly through the swamp.”

Wryly, Hurth asked, “Shall I explain that to them?”

“I’d appreciate it.” Nyette hurried up the steps.

“This is more than I had planned on,” Shonn complained, but Hurth was already walking away.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Teaser 5

I got a bit of good news earlier this week. My short story, “There Gold Grows on Trees,” has been accepted for the October issue of Lorelei Signal. Woot!

Now to a teaser on one of the “stealth characters” who popped up in Tale of the Drakanox. Elldri was a minor actor in Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, but with this novel her destiny comes to the fore.


“Meditation again?” Duessa raised a sarcastic brow.

“You remember that we were trying to communicate through the tower, right?” Alemin said. “If we get to know each other well, we can hear each other over longer distances.”
Lorrah nodded. “That’s how I knew where Alemin was, and it’s how we’re trying to find Tisha.” When they all didn’t jump at the chance to meditate, she got irritated. “Well, if they don’t want to,” she complained to Alemin. He laid a calming hand on her shoulder and looked to Duessa with compassion.
“It’s all right if you need more time. We have to start building trust somehow. What if you just watch, for now?”
“That sounds pointless,” Bettain said.
“Maybe I’d try it,” Duessa said after a moment. Bettain groaned again, but Elldri was scooting a bit away on the bench. When she saw Duessa looking at her, she shook her head vigorously.
Bettain was immediately concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“No, I can’t,” Elldri whispered between the fingers that covered her mouth.
“Casting? Sure you can,” Bettain scolded fondly. “I know we weren’t supposed to, back in the Larder, but everybody did. Sneaking it in was part of the fun.”
Elldri shook her head again, her gaze focused inward. What she saw there must have been terrifying.
“I never saw her work a spell,” Alemin said.
“Just go slowly and build your strength,” Bettain advised.
“Sure.” Lorrah jerked a thumb over at the guardswomen. “They’ll tell you how many times I tried to summon fire and only made this vile fume appear.”
At the stove, Razeet laughed. “It was pretty bad.”
Zathi called sternly, “I don’t want her casting wild spells around here, if she’s out of practice.”
“We’ll only be meditating,” Lorrah called back.
Elldri’s arms were trembling. “I don’t want to.”
“Well, then how do you plan to defend yourself?” Bettain’s worry made her voice harsher even than usual.
Duessa watched them for a moment. Except for that worst day in the Larder, when the former warden tried to slaughter them all, Elldri had never been this closed in. Duessa didn’t understand it, but she wouldn’t let her friend be bullied.
“She said no, Bettain,” Duessa spoke firmly. “That’s that.”


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Every writer has had this happen. You’re going along with your characters and plot, developing everything, and suddenly a new character emerges. It isn’t that they’re demanding to be a POV. You just know that they have an arc and will be important to the over all story.

So far, I’ve had two of these stealth characters show up in The Tale of the Drakanox. There’s always a temptation to push them aside. They aren’t part of the plan, and I already have four POVs as it is. However, I always try to listen to my muse . The story is always richer and more complex when I work new ideas in. So don’t take this as a complaint!

What I’m finding useful is that both these characters are not having a POV. Thus they will remain inscrutable for a lot of the story. Even though we writers go to great lengths to create engaging main characters and make sure the plot events are clear to the reader, sometimes it’s good to keep things mysterious.

We hope readers will be engaged with characters when they can “see” their needs and goals, but it can be equally intriguing when they don’t know what’s going on with a character. This brings an element of unpredictability to the tale. In both cases, the stealth characters seem to be allies, but because they aren’t POV characters, we don’t know for sure.

So who are these stealth characters? Check back on Wednesday and I’ll introduce them!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.