While I’m trying to nap

Insomnia sucks, especially when I’m too busy to take a dang nap.  Here’s something that Finding Insight E-bookmight tide you over until I get back to functional:  Finding Insight is up for pre-order!  This one’s about Sebastian, and his new friend Gabriel, who isn’t a spirit but still has a few secrets of his own.  The special launch price is $0.99 though the first week of July.

Sebastian is determined to keep his people safe.  Even those who don’t know they have magic.

Sebastian Russell is fiercely protective of his family, and of the secrets of his community at the Village at Rancho San Calafia apartments.  Still reeling from the violent betrayal of his human brother, he continues to do regular patrols around the area, looking out for anything that might threaten those he loves.

One night he stumbles across a young man sleeping in a makeshift camp at the entrance of a nearby cave.  The boy is plagued by nightmares and looks far too thin.  After a chance encounter with the boy during daylight hours, Sebastian realizes that there is far more to young Gabriel than first appears.  And when the two people harassing the young man turn out to be Hunters, Sebastian has some quick thinking to do.  Not only do the Hunters want Gabe’s special skills for themselves, but once they have him, they will use him to hunt down and kill every non-human spirit they can reach.

Gear ratio

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been trying to sort myself into some vague semblance of organized.  I know, I know, it’s a bit of a dream, but even a little effort can make a huge difference.  But there’s so much to do and so many different ways to do most of it, and so many ideas and projects and schedules and people to work with and… Well, it’s pretty overwhelming.

gnome-garden-decoration-dwarf-littleSo… last week my anxiety started to get the better of me, and I spent most of my morning chatting with my husband over the internet.  Unfortunately, since he already lives in Tokyo, he had to go to bed at some point though I’m pretty sure he stayed up late for me.  So I was left to myself around lunchtime and my brain started spinning out of control.

So.  Many.  Projects! Holycrap!!

And each project has a damn to-do list as long as my arm: get an outline started, get the thing written, get it edited and critiqued and edited again, get a cover for it, figure out a title and a blurb… And that’s just writing the stories.  There’s a laundry list of behind the

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Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com on Visualhunt / CC BY

scenes stuff going on too, and the move and general day-to-day living and parenting and on and on.  And my brain started to kind of blow up a bit.

I may have sent my friend Mookie a panic-drunk text.  He’s been a professional writer for well over a decade and immediately sympathized with my lunacy, and he talked me back from the ledge.  He gave me the best advice that we’ve all already heard, but usually forget when it all blows up: take everything one step at a time.  Don’t try to do everything all at once.  Slow down, make a list, and then start locking that shit down.

So, I did.

First up, the Finding Insight pre-order should be up in the next couple of days.  Amazon is being slow in approving it for some reason, but then giant multi-national corporations don’t exactly move cheetah fast.  While I’m waiting for that I’m buckling down and working on sketching out my outlines.  I’m likely to keep pantsing a bit, but having that framework already laid did help me finally finish Insight, so I’d like to try it from the beginning.  I’m talking to my cover designer about the next Los Gatos book (don’t get too excited, it’s months off yet.  I’d just like to have the cover ready to go.)

So I have a list now.  It’s about 2 pages long, but still.  It’s a list, in pretty much the order I need to do stuff in.  I’m sure I’ll find out other things I need to add, and I’ll change my mind on others.  No doubt moving will make a significant dent in my best-laid plans.  We’ll see.  Still, the Anxiety Gnomes didn’t even get off a real attack this time, so I’m calling it a win.  How do you keep your brain from spinning out when there’s too much going on?  I’d love to have a few more tricks up my sleeve for next time!

Changing gears

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Having been thrown completely off my stride the past few weeks hasn’t exactly led to a great surge of productivity, as I’m sure you noticed.  However, it did force me to evaluate my methods.  One of the things about being an indie author is that you are your own company, responsible for everything from marketing to time management to actually putting words on (digital) paper.  I am good at approximately one of those things.

StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4TSo I’ve been trying to work out how to get better at a few of them, or at least get them a bit more organized. There are going to be a few changes coming up soon.  Exciting things that I hope you all like or at least understand and approve of.  Right now I’m not planning on changing the blog schedule or the newsletter.  I might post a bit less on Facebook, but that’s easier to take with me as I go.  However, I’m working on project planning and I now have a list of things I’m going to work on over the next few months.   I’m only planning a few months out since I have this giant move looming over my head, but I think overall you will all be pleased with my ideas.

In the meantime, Sarah’s Inheritance has gone on sale for coffee-snack-cup$.99 through this weekend.  If you wanted to pick it up, now’s a great time!  And Finding Insight should be up for pre-order very soon, so Watch This Space, if you will.  News and Announcements will be appearing over the next few weeks, not just of the book, but of a few other fun tricks and treats.

Wait, what?

I just read about a woman standing in peak-toed shoes.  She was also peaking around the corner, horrified at the site her eyes were taking in.

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I can’t even tell you how much it hurt me to read about this poor woman.  I mean what kind of bizarre body shape does she have to require those strange shoes?  Or to jut out like that from around a corner?  And what sort of superpowers does she have to suck an entire location into her eyes?

Okay, okay, we all know perfectly well that I’m talking about homophones here.  We’re all familiar with the usual suspects like ‘which witch is which?’ and ‘They’re going to their car over there.’ These are the popular ones that everyone talks about in grade school, and when we come across them we often sigh and shake our head but move on past them because we understand it.  But I have been coming across some whoppers lately that a spell check is just not going to catch, and man.  I had to start collecting them.

Reek vs wreak is a good one.  I’m not sure how someone would reek vengeance, but it sounds horrifying.  I posted on Facebook the other day about the wonton love scene.  The professor in my family facepalmed hard when I pointed out the site/sight/cite problem one author was having.  Past and passed is another one I’ve started coming across recently.  It’s difficult for me to keep my suspension of disbelief when someone ducked passed something or wants to discuss the recent passed.  And when I read about it, I don’t shutter, I shudder.  Yeah, I’ve seen that one as well.

Illicit and elicit is a new one I just dug up.  I can’t even imagine how someone could illicit the reaction the author was going on about, but it probably was illegal in several states.  One I actually come across frequently isn’t a homophone, but a spelling error that is very easy to make so I try not to get upset, but breath and breathe are not interchangeable words.

Now I am far from perfect.  I’ve gotten notes on my published books where I’ve made a whopper of a mistake, and I truly appreciate when someone takes the time to let me know about a specific error.  But truly.  Some of these mistakes are just at the peek of lazy editing.

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Photo credit: theilr on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Mary huh?

StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4TOne thing that I have trouble with as a writer— and let’s be honest, as a human being— is wanting to be someone else.  I think I’ve mentioned before how I suffer from anxiety and so on?  I try not to talk about it here too much partly because that’s not what this space is about and partly because it’s a little too personal.  For as open as I am about myself, there is still a part of me that’s kept for my nearest and dearest, what can I say?

Anyhow.

It’s one of the things that first drew me to stories, in general.  The ability to read a book and, at least in my own mind, become someone else for a little while.  And of course, I have always loved stories with strong female characters in them because then, while I read that book or watched that movie or whatever, I could pretend that I was strong and brave and clever, just like Hermione or Alnosha or even the girls in Sailor Moon.  They weren’t necessarily perfect, but they possessed characteristics I didn’t see in myself growing up, and that sort of attitude stays with me.

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Photo credit: jumfer on Visual Hunt / CC BY

According to Wikipedia:  Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. Often, this character is recognized as an author insert or wish fulfillment.[1] They can usually perform better at tasks than should be possible given the amount of training or experience.

It’s usually used as a derogatory term, and you definitely don’t want to have one in your story! You probably see where I’m heading.

I don’t actively seek out Mary Sue characters when I read (or watch a show) just so that I can identify with them and pretend that I have a perfect, idealized life, but when I do come across a character whose eyes I can see through I don’t automatically reject them.  I also look for a broader explanation.  Just because a character doesn’t have a skill at the beginning of the story, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a related skill they can adapt or a basic understanding of how the skill works without having any practice at it.  There are any number of things that can be going on in the life of a character, including legitimate giftedness.

Now I have written a couple of female characters, Sarah being the first to take center stage.  Every one of my characters does indeed have a little bit of myself in them, I can’t lie to you.  Sarah got probably a little more of my own self-doubt and social awkwardness than should have slipped by the edits, but I’ll have to live with that.  I’m fairly sure that’s not what Wikipedia means by ‘author self-insertion’ and it’s absolutely not any sort of ‘wish fulfillment.’ If anything, it put on display a part of myself I’d much rather hide from the world.  If any character in the Los Gatos universe is a Mary Sue, it’s Sarah’s dead grandmother, Lady Basically-not-appearing-in-this-book.  I do wish I was that outgoing and friendly and comfortable in my own skin.  Not to mention I kind of did envision my perfect backyard when I wrote about her garden.

But then I hear that basically, every female character is a Mary Sue unless they’re terrible characters. Hermione is one. Rey from Star Wars is one.  So my question, I guess, is why is every female character that discovers a gift or a skill or a talent some sort of terrible, throw-away, trope character?  It makes no sense to me, but I’m going to take any such accusations as a compliment.  I feel like Sarah and Doc and May are all in excellent company.  Right up there with Rey and Hermione.

Next up…

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Well, first things first, I suppose.  A Spirit’s Kindred is now available for pre-order!  Launch day is March 11th, and the promotional price will last for another week past that, so if you want the fancy pants Launch Price, now’s your chance.  I hope you enjoy Kai’s story!

It was a tough one for me to write.  I had to go back several times and redo large parts to avoid Kai falling into the whiny jerk role.  I think he’s got some fairly legitimate concerns about his own abilities, but as any writer (or artist, or actor or…) can tell you it’s really easy to take a legitimate concern and turn it into crippling self-doubt.  When there are external forces pushing you down that road as well… Well, you’ll have to tell me if I did an acceptable job or not.

Other than that, we spent this weekend here in Maryland trying not to get blown away by “windmageddon.”  It was the first time I’d heard about school being closed for wind, but then it was the first time I saw a street sign blown flat over without a hurricane behind it, so maybe the school system was on to something.

Hunkering down gave me plenty of time to think about the plot for the next Los Gatos book, and I think I might be on to something interesting.  We’ll see how it all works out this week.  It seems like I’ll be spending my time outlining and plotting.  I live to make life complicated, it seems.  Well, some lives, anyway… Sebastian and Doc don’t know what they’re in for.

 

Fresh News!

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It has been gloriously springlike here in Maryland.  Rainy, yes, but we’ve needed it badly.  The drought here isn’t as bad as it was in California before I moved, but it’s bad enough to warrant concern.  Besides, I love the rain.

Even though the weather outside is gorgeous and seductive, I’ve been inside pounding away at the keyboard.  I finally got to write the wonderful words The End at the bottom of Brian’s latest adventure.  After all the trouble this one’s given me I can’t tell you how relieved I am to see those six little letters.  Of course, the thing needs some major overhaul work on it, but I’ve sent it to my Alpha Reader for a once over before I return to it for the first round of edits.  Overall I’m pretty pleased though, and I think that the bones are good.  Look for news on a release date and so on.  I’m thinking soon, though.  Once I broke past the wall, it went fairly quickly.

A Spirit’s Kindred is coming out sooner though!  Slated for March 11th, I will put it up for preorder hopefully over the weekend, for a special reduced price for launch.  The cover is shaping up and looks amazing, you guys!  You’ll get to see it on Monday I have no doubt.  I’m being a little extra picky with this one, though, which is why it’s taking so long.  I’m pretty sure my cover artist is about ready to plot my death via thousands of paper cuts.

I’ve also got a special promotion slated to run at the same time.  Sarah’s Inheritance will be free from March 9th through the 13th if you haven’t picked it up yet.  Hard to beat free as a price point!  Anyhow, that’s all the news from here for now.  I’m hard at work on a few projects:  Brian’s adventure (man, I need a title for that!) and a new Los Gatos novel is slowly forming in my mind,  and maybe a fun short story or two for my newsletter readers are starting to come together a bit. Basically, the next few months should be a lot of fun, don’t you think?

Cover story

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So one of the things I’ve been working on lately while I’ve been failing to get words on (digital) pages and editing Spirit’s Kindred is lining up book covers.  I’m sure many of you haven’t given a lot of thought to them.  After all, for an average reader, they’re just the pretty picture that may or may not be your sort of art.  Thing is that’s the whole point.   A cover is the very beginning of whatever story is contained behind it.  It’s what a reader hits before the first line of the book, before the synopsis or blurb, and often it’s  even before the title.  So it’s got to be solid.

Sarah’s Inheritance is a totally different kind of cover than I’ve used before, and I’m Sarah's Inheritanceactually somewhat excited by it.  I like the painted feeling of it, and it fits in quite nicely with other covers in the genre rather than standing out, which is more important than I knew when I started.  See, going back to the ‘beginning to tell the story’ point I made a second ago, what a reader such as yourself wants to know about a book when they scroll by it on the ‘Zon, is what sort of story it contains.  If a book has a tough looking pair of people in full combat gear and bazookas, you’re not going to pick it up expecting a sweet teen romance coming of age story, right?

But a decent cover can really cost.  Anywhere from $150 and up for a custom created book cover that a writer can be proud of, and that can really put a dent in the proceedings.  So I’m looking at my calendar and pondering the projects I have lined up, and I’m trying to figure out timing and designers and what sort of images to put with which story (which is not a skill I excel at, let’s just say shall we?)

The upside, however, is that I’ve gotten to look through a few amazing portfolios of some really fantastic artists.  Not that I can afford $500 for a single ebook cover right now, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

Big Reveal

You guys, I have a cover!  I have a couple, actually, but one of them’s for the newsletter folks.  ANYway.  I got the cover for Sarah’s Inheritance, and I’m super excited!  Wanna see it?  Oh, okay then, I guess I can show you.

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Pretty wild, huh?  I deliberately wanted this cover to be different from the Riverton Novels since it’s a distinctly different universe.  I don’t have a ton to say about it here, but I’m really pleased.  I’ll be finishing pulling the book together today or tomorrow, and make it available January 28.  Here’s the ‘back cover copy’ (even though there isn’t a back cover right now…)

Sarah knew she was getting a house.  She didn’t know about the rest of it.

Learning of her grandmother’s death shook Sarah Richards.  She hadn’t seen the woman since she was a child, kept far away on the other side of the country by her controlling mother.  They had built a long-distance relationship though secret phone calls and unmentioned emails, and even though Sarah was now well into adulthood she still hadn’t gathered the courage to go visit the grandmother she missed, and now it was too late.  Now, though, she owned the house Gran had lived in, and Sarah was determined to break free of her mother’s grasp.  Moving from New York City to a town just outside of San Jose, California was scary, but she felt drawn there to learn more about her grandmother, and if she was lucky, to find her own path in life.

What she didn’t expect was to be thrown into a supernatural battle between monsters from her worst nightmares and Gran’s strange, not-quite-human friends.  It turns out that the house was the least important part of what Rosemary Richards passed down to her granddaughter, and now Sarah has to decide if she is willing to learn more about the world she’s been dumped into or if she would rather go back to her mother where life was dull, but at least it was safe.

Sarah’s Inheritance is the first book in the Spirits of Los Gatos series.  If you like Andre Norten and Jaymim Eve, you’ll enjoy this tale of one woman finding out what she actually wants from life.  Buy Sarah’s Inheritance now and see what secrets Los Gatos is hiding.

StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4TI’ve been chipping away at Brian, as well.  It’s a pretty rough first draft so far, and I feel like it’s really short.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, but I’ll get it off to my alpha reader in the next couple of weeks I hope, so we’ll see about all that.  Spirit’s Kindred is bubbling along as well.  It’s out to my beta readers right now, and I’ll be hopefully starting edits on that in a week or so.  I’m really afraid that I’m going to have to push the publication dates back a bit, though.  Life has gotten way more full of assorted crap than I’d left time for, so it’s all going a bit more slowly than I hoped, so we’re looking at end of February maybe early March for the Sarah sequel.  We’ll see.

Anyway, what do you think?  It’s pretty different, isn’t it?

Personal Demons

Katherine_Kim_KSo you have no doubt heard by now that my next book is in preorder.  It’s a little bit of a different take on Riverton, poor Michael being merely a side character in this one.  Still, I rather like Brian, and now that he’s gotten through this little adventure, it turns out he’s pretty determined.  I have his next adventure already simmering away and hopefully the step back I’ve had to take from writing this month will help my brain sort through the bit where I kind of got the poor guy stuck. (Seriously, 12 hour work day plus commute time doesn’t exactly lend itself to scheduling in time to write a novel.) (And I bet you thought working in theatre was all glamorous all the time…)

Anyhow, I am providing for you now, free of charge, another look into Brian’s dilemma.  Well, one of them at any rate.  I hope you enjoy it and find yourself intrigued enough by the guy to see how his story intersects with Michael’s most recent adventure.  And if you would enjoy advance excerpts from what I’m working on right now, do sign up for my newsletter!  That link over there in the sidebar will take you to my signup page!

 

“You’ll regret this,” Kevin hissed, his fake smile finally falling away.  His eyes narrowed for a moment, glaring at Laura, then his fist was flying towards Brian’s face. Instinct moved Brian’s arm to stop the blow.

“I suggest you leave now,” Brian said, his hand wrapped firmly around Kevin’s wrist and holding it a good six inches away from making contact.  He didn’t feel any guilt over knowing that the wrist under his fingers would be bruised and probably swollen after this encounter.  Kevin clearly needed physical evidence of how badly outclassed he was in this fight.  Maybe the minor injury would keep him from starting another one?  The men’s eyes met for a long moment, both full of rage, before Kevin’s gaze dropped and he yanked his arm out of Brian’s grip.  He stormed out of the cafe and slammed the door behind him.

The silence after the bang of the door was broken after a few seconds by someone in the back clapping.  Soon the whole place was full of applause and shouts of “You tell him, girl!”  and “That guy’s a damn hero!”  and “Lemmee buy you two a coffee!”  One of the waiters came up and tapped Brian’s shoulder.

“Hey.  You want me to call the cops about that guy?” he said.  Laura shook her head.

“I just want to go home.”  She shivered and glanced at the door Kevin had just slammed.  The waiter nodded.

“Y’all can go on out the back door if you want.  In case that asshole’s still hanging around.”  Brian looked at Laura who just nodded and followed the waiter out through the small kitchen.  They walked out through the back, down the alley behind the shops, and out into a street several blocks over.  They were maybe halfway back to Laura’s apartment when she finally spoke again.

“Thank you,” she said.  Brian glanced over at her.  She looked pale and shaken, but unafraid.

“Anytime.  What a creep,” he said.  She just nodded. And walked a bit further.

“I didn’t know any better back then.  And he wasn’t so quick to show his creepy side.”

“Hey, we’ve all got at least one ex that we’re ashamed of, right?”  He smiled at her and got a small grin in return.  “Might be worth calling a lawyer and seeing if you can do anything though.  Like a restraining order or something, he seemed pretty determined.  Any idea why he’d show up like that now?  I know it’s none of my business.  It just feels a bit shady to me, for what that’s worth.”

She shook her head.  “I have no idea.  But you’re right,”  She looked up at him. “And I think your opinion is worth a lot.  Thanks.”  They turned a corner and she stopped, putting a hand on his elbow to stop him as well.

“I’m scared, Brian.  Kevin was never quite that…”  she groped for a word.  “That crazy, I guess.  I don’t know how to explain it.  And there was power swirling around, too.  I work at the Temple library so I know how it feels well enough to notice it.  I’m really scared.”  She looked up at him, tears filling her eyes but refusing to spill over.  He tried not to react too strongly to her statement, instead concentrating on her frightened shiver.  He could almost feel her fear as a physical thing in front of him.  His arm moved almost on its own as it wrapped around her shoulders.    

“It’s okay.  As long as I’m here, I’ll do my best to keep you and Owen both safe.”  Brian had no idea where that promise had come from, but he knew that it bought him at least a few more days of pretending to be normal, and he wasn’t above a little greed.  She leaned into his hug and rested her head against his chest and he felt her trying to control her breathing.  “Hey, it’s going to be fine, okay?”

She nodded into his shoulder.  Brian wondered how big of a jerk it made him that he was pleased she was comforted by him instead of scared of him after that display of violence.  He wasn’t used to anyone being glad that he lost his temper, even in such a small way as he had in the cafe.

“I know.  I just…  I just need this for a minute,” she said.  Laura turned towards him fully and put her hands up against his chest, holding onto little handfuls of his shirt.   After a minute she shook her head as if clearing her head, and stepped back again.  She was trembling slightly, but didn’t say anything else.  Brian didn’t know what else to do but hold on while she needed it.

“Sorry about that.  It’s so hard to be strong all the time for Owen.  Sometimes I just need to lean on someone.”  She flickered a smile at him.  “Usually it’s Mom and Dad.  Thanks for putting up with me.”

“Nothing to put up with at all.”  Brian felt heat creep over his ears.  “Everyone could use a hug once in a while, right?  I’m happy to oblige.”  They started walking again.

“So!  Do you have any sort of plan for what you’re doing next?”  Laura asked.  He was more than glad to change the subject.

“No, not particularly,” he answered.  “I was just hopping on my bike and going wherever I felt like.  Riverton seemed to be a nice place to stop for a while.  I was in New York last, and it was fun, but man it was busy, you know?  Riverton has a slower sort of vibe to it, but there’s still lots to do.”

“Would you maybe consider staying?  Just for a while?”  She said it quietly, still looking ahead of them, towards her building, but she spoke clearly.

Brian started to answer then closed his mouth and just breathed.  Should he risk it?  He didn’t want to risk them getting hurt, and he didn’t want to face his own pain when it all fell apart like it inevitably would.  Staying here actually with people who were getting to know him seemed like begging for disappointment, but it was so freaking appealing.  He liked Owen, and Laura was so damn tough, working and raising her son, and standing up to her jackass ex in the cafe.  It was the thought of Kevin coming back around that really gave him pause.  After a few steps he answered.

“Yeah.  I can stay as long as you need me.”