Monthly Archives: August 2013

And for the last . . .(post 8!)

As mentioned in the previous Indie Block Party post these last two prompts have been difficult for me. This one, social networking, takes the cake, though.

I maintain a blog and a FB account. I don’t know that I use either well enough for marketing. Mostly, between working 40 hours a week outside the home, having a small zoo to take care of, and an assortment of other things taking up my time, writing gets the bulk of my left over time. Even when I want to be spending more time on marketing and supporting other peoples’ marketing endeavours — like this party — I generally fail. There isn’t the time.

I realize that at some point I need to start working the time in *somewhere*. But so far, I’ve mostly kept my toes out of that water.

The Bridge of D’Arnath series by Carol Berg: a review

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I’ll admit it — this was a reread for me. I’m linking to the first book in the series, but while I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as I can, I am going to talk a bit about the quartet as a whole.

While I’m stuck waiting for a variety of holds at my library to come my way, I decided it was time to reread some books and see about thinning out my collection. (I started with Jack of Kinrowan thinking, maybe it’s time to let go of some of my de Lint books. I used to have a rule about only keeping book I knew I’d reread. Yeah. Said reread nixed that idea, and so, too, did my reread of this series) I’m a few books behind on Carol Berg’s newer releases, but she has yet to disappoint. I remember especially adoring the third in The Bridge of D’Arnath series and I thought, hey, let’s go visit.

One thing that sets this series apart from other fantasy series is how the books are written. Son of Avonar could very well sit as a stand alone book, tragic and heart breaking, but complete if you know nothing about the following books. The story jumps around a bit, chronologically, but it all makes sense is the end. It may not be the conclusion that we *want*, but, it works.

The following books change that by giving us multiple point of view characters throughout the series. We learn that where once we thought we were dealing with one world we are, in fact, dealing with two — if not more — and nothing happens quite the way we expect it would.

I love, love Carol Berg’s writing. She convinced me with her novel Transformation and she really hasn’t stopped since. The Bridge of D’Arnath has to contend with her Lighthouse Duet for my all time favorite, but the cast of Bridge may win, in the end. So many amazing, larger than life people to adore, with such fascinating stories.

Writing Tips — Indie Block Party post 7

These last two posts has me staring at the prompts, wringing my hands, hemming and hawing, but this particular one I realized, as I hemmed and hawed, I actually had something to say about.

Regular readers of this blog might already know: part of my deciding to maintain a writing blog in the first place was to learn more about myself. Sure, I want to get information about my work out there where people can see it, but I have no delusions about my audience — I’m a barely-named author at this stage in the game, and so a good part of this blogging for me has been about noticing trends, ups and downs in my writing production, to chart experiments, to see what works and what doesn’t.

In the beginning of 2012 my goal was somewhat enthusiastic. I was going to put life on hold and spend 4 months getting a novel rough draft done. This was of course while working full time. And for two months I managed it, and then I was miserable, I hated the story, I hated writing, and I thought maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t be a writer anymore. Never mind that ‘writer’ has been part of my internal landscape for most of my life. Never mind that killing the part of me that enjoyed writing killed a part of me that enjoyed stories. Never mind that in April of 2012 my grandfather sickened, that by July he had died, and that my grandmother would spend the remainder of the year lingering until she could join him. By April I was pretty sure that I hated writing. By July I was pretty sure I didn’t really care about much other than dealing with crisis after crisis and being there for my family as much as I could be, despite being three thousand miles away. Oh, right, and one of our cats died, too. Huzzah!

Many months, and many, many, many bottles of wine later, 2013 arrived, and with it renewed dedication. The other novel was set aside — it was a struggle to begin with, though I love the premises, but it is now linked to the year that can kiss my ass, and so, enough. I returned to the universe of The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales, to start a series of stories for the second book . . . and instead Brit and Thistle wouldn’t let go of the story, and suddenly I was walking home from work playing out dialogues between them. (Yes, out loud. What?)

That work currently sits at just under 40k words, and in need of completion. I realized I’d written most of the Brit and Thistle scenes, and I need to go back and deal with Keti and Brit scenes, Thistle and Keti scenes, and various other scenes, but right as I realized that I realized: novel writing drains me, and so I’m currently on a short story kick. Short to novella length stories are my natural length, and instead of trying to square peg into a round hole it, I’m attempting now to honor what I know of myself. Because, goal wise? Goal wise, I want to write. I want to get the stories out. And I have a ton of shorts to write, and a number of books to write, and I want to keep goinggoinggoing!! So, instead of writing novels and trying to fit the short story writing around that, I am now writing the stories and fitting the novel writing around that. And it’s breathing new life and love and excitement and, most of all, curiosity, into my writing.

So, the most important bit of advice that I can think of? It’s not write what you know. It’s Know Thyself. Which, ultimately, is my aim in life in general. If you don’t know yourself, you cannot pursue your goals, because without knowing yourself as fully as you can, you have no idea what those goals are. And, the questing after yourself never stops. Ever. And you know, that curiosity? It’s important. Keep learning.

The Perfect Story

For this, the sixth post in the Indie Block Party we are supposed to list our favorite top five books.

I think the people behind the brainstorming of this party are meanie-heads. Five books? Asking a reader to name their top five books is just cruel! But, at least it’s a cruelty they also have to endeavor to accomplish, too, so maybe the last laugh is on them?

I’ve talked before about my perfect books, those books that hit every need a reader might have, all in one tome. Since I can’t list all of Charles De Lint’s books and stories as number one on my list of favorite books (or can I?) I suppose I’ll have to pick one. Except that makes my brain hurt a bit. I opted for Memory and Dream because that book started the obsession, for me. That was my gateway book into the awesomeness of his mastery. memorydream_orb200But, really? Almost all of them belong in this number one spot. His tales just hit every need, from the high to the low, and I leave the reading nourished and wrung out and hopeful and with eyes open just a little bit wider to the worlds around me.

sunshine2008-100Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Since writing that post, I’ve re-re-read Sunshine out loud for story time, and my praise of the story has only grown because of it. Look, I read a lot of books out loud for story time. Some of my favorite series, my favorite writers, but I’ve discovered that some of my favorite story tellers are a bit weaker in the technical aspects of writing. They don’t pay attention to sound, or at least their aesthetics and mine are not the same. I’ve had beloved works by authors I adore which I’ve had to stop reading out loud, because of it. Not so, with Sunshine. I wish that this was a series, so very badly.

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The Orphan Tales by Catherynn M. Valente both books, obviously. She’s written a bunch since these were released, but they remain my favorite of her work. Love. So much love for these.

200px-TheScar(1stEd)The Scar by China Mieville. I’ve tried more of his work. It’s stuff I need to be in the mood for, and some I haven’t cared for, but, this. Oh, this. One thing that all these books have in common, what gets them onto this list for me, is they recall to me the limitlessness and the awesomeness of story telling. Story telling can be amazing. It can be so very freeing. There are no limits, save what you decide to have. And reading outside your favored genre can help remind you of that. I’m not typically interested in steampunk stuff, but really? I want awesome stories. The setting matters not as much.

Okay, and yeah, you know, it takes place largely on a ship. Of course I’d love that.

WE-John-CoverMark Chadbourn’s Age of Misrule trilogy. Yes, it’s a trilogy. Look, I read fantasy, okay. It’s what they do. You can’t count just one book as one book when it’s a series of two or three or more. You can’t, and you won’t expect me to. So there.

My perfect book list is longer. It needs updating. But, to pick five right now? (or eight, depending on how you’re counting), these are the ones.

Currently Reading!

I’m one of those people to have a few books going at one time, and that has only gotten more true as the reading devices have expanded. I have a book for reading to and from work and on my breaks, I have whatever story time book we’re reading, and I generally have a non-fiction going at the same time. My reading habits are influenced by my moods, to be sure.

PassionsSacredDance_w6021_750_zps15998ea0Currently I’m reading Passion’s Sacred Dance the first book in the Harshad Wars books, by Juli D. Revezzo (and yes, I recommend it!), as well as rereading George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones for story time. I’m somewhat still picking through Color: A Natural History of the Palette, but I’m only a few chapters into it and am bringing it back today. Not sure which nonfiction will be next . . .

Passion’s Sacred Dance!

So, I’ve been sitting on this for about as long as I can. I am as excited about this as if it were my own book — how long have we been corresponding? How many hours spent bouncing away story ideas, plotting out courses of series, helping each other tear away the chafe from the wheat? Grueling hours, bruised egos, so very very many stories.

PassionsSacredDance_w6021_750_zps15998ea0

Yes, I know, I know. Passion’s Sacred Dance is not actually my book. I’m just a lowly beta reader. I have seen incarnations of this book, and I’ve heard about many more. Small things, little changes — fellow authors will know of what I speak. The magic of writing is not glamourous; it’s tediousness and the willingness to strip down and build back up, again and again and again.

Juli D. Revezzo landed a publisher with this series, even. Not that I see anything at all wrong with indie publishing (obviously, I should hope!) I will say this for more traditional publishing: it’s less work for the author, and it allows one to go from the final final edits to the next project that much faster.

As a beta reader, I’m already familiar with Passion’s Sacred Dance, but I’m rereading it in order to give a review that reflects the final content of the book, and not any shades of its former incarnations. And let me tell you, I love this book. Removed from the story building parts of the past, things that previously annoyed me make sense in the story as it’s written as a whole — you know, having characters that annoy you, that you enjoy being annoyed at? Think first season Cordelia Chase on Buffy, or Rand Al’thor in the first few books of WoT — hell, the first three read-throughs of the series — annoyed the heck out of me, but in an enjoyable way.

So, a proper review will be coming. But I wanted to share with you the cover, my excitement, and the book trailer. And now I have.

Meet my neighbor: Indie Block Party post 4

darkheirloom_200x300A huge part of the reason why I decided to participate in this Block Party was the thought of getting to also promote other peoples’ work. I do that a little already when I post reviews, both here and at Amazon and B&N.com. I do that, we all do that, when we talk about other books by other people. It’s important. But I really liked that this was built into this thing that is supposed to also help us promote our work. And then, hah! When I saw the titles put forth by the writer that signed up after moi? Hot damn!

Once Upon a Vampire author pic 2012Author J.D. Brown is a writer who is very sure about what her goals are, for writing. Go ahead and see for yourself. With two books released, a web serial underway, and the third book in progress, she’s quite clearly, erm, bitten by the writing bug. Between generous samples from both Dark Heirloom (cover above) and Dark Liaison, and Athena’s Oracle available for free, you have no excuse — none! — to not check out her writing.

I’m pleased to share with you my (not so lame after all) questions and her answers in this installment of the Indie Block Party.

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1) Other than your own work, which vampire books are your favorites, and why?

I’m actually a big fan of the classics. I love Bram Stoker’s Dracula and all the resulting movies based on it. Something about doomed tragic romance that transcends the ages with no happily-ever-after in sight always gets me. I’ve never been the mushy rose-tinted romance type. Of course, my books have a happy ending, but I put my vampires through hell and back to earn it.

2) What inspired you to produce a web serial with Athena’s Oracle, rather than releasing it in book from instead?

I actually did this for my fans. As a book lover, I know how much it sucks to have to wait a year for the next installment in a series. Athena’s Oracle is actually a prequel to my other novel Dark Heirloom. I thought, hey, why not post it on my blog as a serial book so that my fans can get their fix while waiting for Dark Becoming (book 3)?

3) Because I quite love to get glimpses into other peoples’ lives (hey, we’re writers, right? It’s what we _do_), what does your writing routine look like?

My routine probably makes me look really lazy! I’m so horrible… I’m NOT a morning person at all. I’m one of those people you learn not to speak to until after they’ve had their coffee and an hour of solitude to accept that the day is upon them. I check my email and facebook and do what ever online promotional things I need to do in my pajamas. Then I have my 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee, and then I write from about 3pm to 3am. Then I do it all over again the next day…

4) What is your favorite part of being an indie-published author? What’s your least favorite part? (Dare I guess formatting, or am I just projecting my own hates?)

My favorite part is having total control. I like being able to chat with my fans on facebook. I like being able to give away as many copies of my books as I want, because I’m in this to be read. But there are a lot of downsides. I wish I had an agent and PR team (or that I could afford one). Marketing is tricky and I’m no sales expert. I know I said I’m in this to be read – not to get rich – but it’s a lot harder to write and build a career from writing when you’re juggling a second job. I would like to make just enough money to pay my bills and support myself doing what I love to do. I once heard a comedian say “I went from wanting to get rich doing comedy, to wanting to make a living doing comedy, to just wanting five minutes on a stage.” I think that applies to all the indie artists out there. It’s a tough industry.

5) Is there one book you’ve read that you wish you’d written?

Any best selling novel. Haha. This kind of ties in with my answer to #4.

6) What books can you not wait for your soon-to-be-niece to read or have read to her?

I really hope she grows up to be a book worm like me! My sister (her mother) is the total opposite. She rarely get’s through one chapter of a book. I have saved one of my favorite YA series growing up – Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing. I would be really proud if she liked them too. But I would be happy if she liked to read anything.

7) Is there a question about writing or about reading or about anything which you’ve wanted to answer but have never been asked? Use this space to do so, if so!

Nope, your questions where all fantastic. I had a lot of fun answering them. Thanks for having on your blog, Jolene, and have a great time with the rest of the Block Party. 🙂

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See? My questions don’t suck. Ha!

Thanks you, J.D. Brown, for taking the time to answer these questions and for sharing a bit about yourself. Thanks to all the readers who’ve stopped by, as well. Now, follow those links and take advantage for those free samples!