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?

Delay

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I don’t have a real blog post today, I’m afraid.  I spent this weekend mostly pounding out the end of Brian’s next story, which still needs a title (I’m bad at titles, what can I say?)  I can at this point say pretty confidently that it’s almost ready to start the slide through editing and so on, and I have it tentatively slated for release in April.

So while I was consumed with writing about half-demons and mafia bosses, I managed to forget about blog posts and, you know, basically everything else.  Well, Jellybeans.  I did take a couple of jellybean breaks.

At any rate, I should have a cover reveal soon for A Spirit’s Kindred and the information on that should be up soon.  Basically, it was a very working weekend that kept me from getting any work done.  I hope you’ll forgive me!  I’ll do better for Thursday.

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Demon-American

So my father is my alpha reader, meaning he’s gotten to see everything I’ve written basically as soon as I type the last period.  The popular advice is not to let your friends or family critique your writing, but my family is full of teachers and they’re basically sitting there itching to whip out their red pens and correct some foolishness.  My dad is pretty thorough in his critiques, and usually helpful, even when I disagree with him, and while he couches things in a fun sort of way (one critique was entirely composed of a conversation between his muse and mine.  They got a bit scrappy at one point…) he is never afraid to pull his punches or add his two cents.

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Recently, his two cents include a discussion of food.  We all know that Michael, being a demon, had to adjust a bit to food here in the Human Realm, but my father took it a step further and supposed that Michael like many immigrants before him, would have brought the flavors of home with him.  If we can have Italian-American food, and Sweedish-American food, and Tex-Mex and so on, why not Demon-American food?

So here.  I present to you some photos of Demon-American cuisine, as best we’ve discovered it thus far.  It’s actually been pretty delicious.  Seems a bit heavy on the meat, but I’m personally not complaining…

I can’t quite describe the spices used, but they’ve been used heavily.  There’s been dried fruit and medieval pastry and various kinds and cuts of meat involved.  If you had to guess what sort of food a migrating demon would want to bring with, what do you think it would be?  I’m pretty sure that they didn’t eat just meat…

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.”

In a Strange Land

In my marketing zeal this past week, I went to look over the reviews of all my books (have you read them?  Did you leave a review?  Would you please?)  and I noticed that Wendy identified Michael as an expat.

nobarcodeI suppose he is, in a manner of speaking, though I didn’t set out to write him like that.  He does have many of the same problems, however.  My husband is currently living in Tokyo and we have a large number of friends, acquaintances, and family that are people living in countries that are not their native land.

I asked him to do a quick and very informal of some of his friends to see what the hardest things were for them when they moved to Tokyo.  They were a mix of the very practical— finding a place to live.  Getting a phone, internet, and banking set up— and the social— missing a favorite food, or even a simply familiar one.  Missing familiar places and feeling lonely for friends and family.  Homesickness.  But on the whole, I got the sense that they were all willing to adapt and whether the few difficulties and aches that come with being an expat.

Michael has a slightly different problem, of course.  He’s probably closer to a refugee than an expatriate.  It was not his first choice, or even his only choice really, to leave his home and come to live in a different dimension altogether.  He was driven out by his brother’s ambitions and the culture of violence and ambition that the demon realm is built upon.

Still, many of his troubles are similar.  When he first arrives he must overcome the language barrier (and figure out a good disguise.  Not a lot of humans with brick-red skin.)  He must find a place to live and overcome his own anger.  Fortunately for Michael,14949202534_bacd339174_b his curiosity is what made him so odd back home, and it stands him in good stead here amongst humans as well.  He quickly decides to learn all he can about the new culture he must live in, and he dives right in.  He does enjoy his sushi, but he probably remembers the foods he ate growing up with a touch of nostalgia.  (This is how my dad and I ended up making ‘demonic meat muffins’ the other day…)

I hope that when I finally join my husband in Tokyo I can be much like Michael: adaptable, curious, interested in understanding the people around me and the culture they view as ‘just life.’  What about you?  Are you an expat?  What was the hardest thing for you?

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Saved?

Welp!  I told you to watch this space.  A Demon Saved is up for pre-order (or purchase, depending on when you read this…) thanks to the vagaries of book releases, and the level of my skills before the coffee has seeped into my brain, the paperback will be available slightly before the e-book.  Either way, my friends, you too can own a spanking new book in mere days!

The other book, Personal Demons, won’t be available for another few weeks, but I consider these two to be joined at the hip almost.  They share events, and have some overlap, though they focus on entirely new characters.

So!  To get you all excited, here’s one final excerpt from A Demon Saved for you to enjoy.  Poor Michael gets into a terrible mess in this book.

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The cave was dry, at least, and had been carved out into a series of rooms and passages at some point.  It smelled of dirt and rock and sawdust and something Michael couldn’t quite identify.  Something sweet.  He followed the main passage further into the hillside, descending into the earth.  He noted the kitchen, the smell of cave giving way to the smell of cooking and spices.  He found a storage room full of musty crates that might be left over from the mining operation, and a room full of equipment and clothing, but no weapons.  There must be an armory somewhere nearby.

He stumbled as he was leaving the dressing room, and put his hand out to the wall to catch himself.  Caution, he reminded himself, he needed to be careful here, not clumsily tripping over a loose rock or whatever it had been.  He would rather confront Milquert himself and leave the human forces to the police, and he couldn’t avoid the lackeys if he alerted them to his intrusion through carelessness.

Further in, now.  He found a small library, more like a cell for study, and a room with beds and trunks.  Clearly the barracks for the guards he’d attended to already and a few others.  Michael blinked and frowned.  His vision was significantly better than a human’s, especially in the dark, but the deeper into this fortress he got, the harder he had to work to see clearly.  A fog was rising up to obscure things.  He took a deep breath, trying to ignore the foul, sweet smell that felt almost thick in his throat.  It was getting stronger the deeper into the underground lair he got.  Perhaps there was a garbage dump near the back of the tunnels?

Michael rubbed his eyes hoping to clear them a bit, and stretched out with his other senses again.  It wasn’t just his eyes, his mind felt foggy.  That faintly sweet undertone that had followed him through his whole journey underground now clogged his nose and choked the breath in his lungs.  His throat felt like it was closing off his air.  His head snapped up, the realization hitting him like a club.  He’d long ago read about the incense that could take out armies, but had never thought it was more than a story.  Something based on some sort of dust or gas weapon that could be fired into attacking forces, but clearly he’d misjudged the truth of those ancient reports.  He had to get outside, to clear air.

He stumbled back the way he had come, being exaggeratedly careful and feeling like a drunk.  He had to keep his hand on the wall now, for balance, and still he had to concentrate on staying on his feet.  He shook his head trying to clear the heavy blanket of drugging smoke from his consciousness, but only succeeded in making himself dizzy.  Another stumble had him landing on his knees, his hand sliding across the stone of the wall and skidding onto the floor.

He knelt there, struggling for breath before trying to stand again, but his legs wouldn’t move the way he needed them to, wouldn’t support his weight.  He realized that in his struggle he had ended up sprawled in the dirt of the tunnel floor, immobile and helpless.  For the second time in as many weeks, Michael felt fear spike through his chest, then a moment later he felt nothing.

Personal Demons, available on Amazon

Introductions

 

I’ve mentioned Brian a few times now.  He makes a rather splashy entrance, I have to say, even if it does seem like Riverton could stand a bit less excitement. I hope you enjoy this wee snippet from Personal Demons, which will be available for preorder in October, along with A Demon Saved.  

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“Trucks, Owen!”  Laura reminded him and he obediently flopped back to the ground to pick up his toys.  There was some shouting down the path now.  Something was apparently going on past the trees at the soccer field, but she couldn’t see.  Something in the tone of the shouts made her nervous— they didn’t sound anything like what she was used to hearing in a park. It sounded more like there was a fight going on.  She started to turn back to her son who was grabbing the last truck and getting to his feet to dash towards her when she saw the man come pelting around the trees that hid the large grassy picnic area.  He was swinging his arm wildly at everyone in front of him, something glinting in his hand.   An older, Asian man was chasing him with a look of determined fury on his face.  Everything slowed.

Laura dropped her bag and bolted towards where Owen was starting to cross the path, but even as she left her seat she knew she wasn’t fast enough.  The soft dirt and round pebbles of the path slicked the ground under her sneaker, refusing to give her the traction she needed to move faster.  The madman with the knife was carried forward by momentum and not even her panic could overcome that.  His boots drummed up the path and he swiped his knife in a wide, silver arc and with his other hand he shoved her hard and she went spinning away in a swirling cloud of dust, barely missing the end of the bench.  Just before she hit the ground, she saw him slash out at a wide-eyed Owen.  Even as she rolled with the impact she was scrabbling to her feet and turning to reach the bloody, lifeless body of her son.

What she saw instead was indeed somewhat bloody, but it was neither lifeless nor was it Owen.  A man lay there a few feet off the path with his body wrapped protectively around the four year old, one arm cushioning the small head and the other firmly wrapped around his legs.  A line of bright red stretched from the man’s shoulder to nearly his elbow and the sleeve of his t-shirt was sliced clean into two flags that fluttered and collected the dust that drifted across the scene.  Laura dropped to her knees beside the pair, helping the stranger to sit up while he was still carefully holding the stunned child.  When he was sitting up Laura realized that he had landed on a toy bulldozer.

“Oh gods.  Are you okay?”  Laura didn’t even bother to try stopping the tears that streamed down her face.  At the sound of her voice, Owen snapped out of his shock and launched himself at his mother, kicking the stranger right in the stomach.

“Owen, baby.”  Her arms wrapped around him and they both cried together for a moment.  She sat there, rocking him and trying to breathe.

“Are you both okay?”  The man’s voice was rough with pain, but she could tell that he was at least trying to sound friendly.  Laura nodded.

“I can’t even thank you enough.  I don’t know how you moved so fast, but I will be forever grateful. Where did you even come from?”  Laura gave Owen one last squeeze and shifted to carry him her hip one-armed before scrambling over to grab her bag.  She dug through it till she found the first aid kit and hurried back.  He started speaking to Owen when she knelt again by the heroic stranger’s arm.

“You’re sure you’re okay, kiddo?”  Owen scrambled to hide behind Laura, peeking from around her shoulder.  The man just grinned.  “That’s all right.  After all that, I don’t blame you for being shy.”

“I’m Laura Butler and this is Owen,” she introduced herself while she dabbed an antiseptic wipe over his arm.

“Brian Sedge.  Nice to meet you,” he said.  He reached around behind him with his good arm and held the truck out to Owen. “I think this is yours?  It’s pretty cool, but not the softest pillow I’ve ever come across.”

“That’s not a pillow.  It’s a truck,”  Owen said without moving any further from behind the safety of his mother.

“Oh, wow.  Well that explains it then!”  Brian smiled and started to use the toy bulldozer to move some pebbles around in the dirt, making truck noises.  It only took a few moments before Owen shot over to the truck and started supervising the new building site himself.  Laura watched, trying not to start sobbing again.

She glanced around.  People all down the path were reacting to the chase.  The older man who had been doing the chasing was walking back up the path, looking thunderous at having lost his quarry, and talking on the phone.  It sounded like he was calling for an ambulance.  Laura realized that he didn’t even seem winded, which surprised her for a moment.  The way he moved, though, told her that he was a Temple trained warrior of some sort, which explained a great deal.  Sirens started wailing in the distance.  Not trusting herself to be especially stable on her feet, she just kept cleaning Brian’s arm and watching Owen.

“Thank you.”  She swallowed, and wiped her sleeve over her face.  A trio of EMTs jogged around the same curve of the path that the attacker had, and spread out to start checking with the groups of stunned onlookers.  One of the them came over and took her place, peering at Brian’s arm.  It was a long gash, but the knife had apparently been scalpel-sharp and the wound had eerily tidy edges, according to the paramedic looking at it.  Soon it was cleaned up and bandaged neatly, no need for much treatment so long as he kept it clean.  Brian also sported a large bandage over the left side of his face where he’d been scraped up when he hit the ground hard, and a warning to be gentle with what was going to be a gloriously colorful truck-shaped bruise on his side.  Brian just grinned and said he’d take a bruise over broken ribs any day.  The EMT chuckled and told him to hang out till the police had his name and contact information, and moved on down the wake of the lunatic with the knife.

“Hmm.  Contact information.”  Brian frowned slightly.

“What’s wrong?”  Laura asked.

“Well, nothing really.  I have a cell phone number, I suppose.  Just no address to give them at the moment.”  He shrugged.

“Are you moving or something?”  She looked at him, deciding that he was far too composed and tidy— dirt-stained, bloody slashed up t-shirt and bandages aside— to be entirely homeless. He wore jeans and there was a motorcycle jacket on the ground a few feet away where he had dropped it in his lunge to protect Owen, and she saw a delicate Temple charm on a chain peeking out from the collar of his shirt, a strangely feminine contrast to the athletic hero vibe he was giving off.  Then again she was pretty biased about the hero part right now.

“Well, sort of.  I’ve been touring around the east coast on my bike and just got into Riverton early this morning.  Haven’t found a motel or anything yet.  Maybe the cops can suggest one?” he said.  “Sounds like I might be here a bit longer than I thought.”

“You can stay with us.  At least for tonight.  It’s the least I can do,” Laura said.  Gods, what was she thinking, inviting a total stranger into her home like this?  Especially after her history with men.  But some instinct told her that it would be fine, that she could trust him.  Brian had risked his own life for a stranger’s child, after all.  He looked at her, curiosity on his face.

“Are you sure?  I mean, you don’t know me,” he said.  His hesitance was clear in his expression.  He looked suddenly nervous of her.  The man had risked his life to save a stranger and he was shy of her?  “What about Owen’s father, he going to be okay with it?”  Laura scowled.  Kevin would never have risked his life to save anyone, not even his own son.  The contrast just reinforced her certainty.

“Owen doesn’t have a father.  And I am definitely sure,” she said.  “Right Owen?”  The boy grinned up at both of them.

“You can help me build my skyscraper!”  He said.  Well that settled that then.

Updates

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So everyone knows the State of the Author, I’ve decided that a few updates are in order.  I’m editing things right now.  Big shock, I know, I’ve been talking about it for weeks now, but I can honestly tell you that I’ve made huge amounts of progress!  In fact, one book is finished and almost ready to go!  Just that fiddly cover getting/formatting/prepping-for-print-and-upload nonsense that everyone insists upon so strongly is left now.

But I’m not just editing my own stuff, either, which is wacky to me.  I’ve been working on my critique skills in a few ways and I’m a bit proud of my progress.  My dad has some fun work on the simmer, and it seems only fair to offer my service as his beta reader since he does the same for me.  Common wisdom is not to use friends and family as your readers since they’ll try to spare your feelings even if your work is terrible.  These people have clearly never met my friends or family.

Although when one of my other friends sent me his first chapter, I did try to soften the blow a little by using my ‘nice’ words and not swearing as much.  Still told him where it sucked though.  I’m mean that way— but then it was nice to hear he’d gone back through his work and taking most of my advice.

It’s nice to feel like I’m making a difference in the world.

So, with my son back in school here in the US, hopefully hardcore learning some mad classroom behavior skills, and half my fall releases in a more or less finalized form, I’m feeling like we’re in pretty good shape here at Chez Riverton.  I’m able now to look ahead to next year’s slate— maybe another Riverton book to work on, but definitely some fun non-Riverton adventures in California to amuse you all, waiting on deck to be subjected to edits and revisions and all that fun stuff.  I’m not reading up on mythology just for funnies, you know.

So in the next couple of weeks sometime I’ll finally be able to post the cover for A Demon Saved, (hey, a title!) and hopefully shortly after that I can post the cover for Personal Demons (what?  Two titles?!) which will be up for pre-order soon.  I’ll also post some more excerpts, and finally introduce you to Brian.  He’s got a few troubles, but I’ve grown rather fond of him

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Here’s a forest.  Because I like them.  

Too fluffy

IMG_8025My dad is my exercise buddy, and if it’s not raining we’ll do our warmup outside of the gym.  We’re fortunate to have a walking/bike trail near our house that roughly follows a local creek for a pretty long way, surrounded by parks and, in one stretch, parkway.  It’s a really great place for walking and hearing the frogs and the owls, or spotting deer and fireflies of the occasional fox.  And getting bitten by mosquitoes, because apparently I’m delicious…

But my father is also one of my writing buddies.  He always has been.  He’s a scientist by training, but he has an artist’s soul, and is the one who hooked me on fantasy stories and beautifully sculpted paragraphs.  So on these warmup walks, we often end up chatting about art and music and our writing.  Last night he brought up the fact that I haven’t sent him any manuscripts recently.  He sounded worried about it, like I’d fallen off the writing wagon.  I had to point out to him that I was on vacation for the past three weeks, and had been editing before that so the lack of new novel was pretty unsurprising.

Which, naturally, led to a conversation about the most recent manuscript he has read, which is the one I’m currently revising.  He feels strongly that it is, perhaps, a bit too cheerful.  I can understand his point, since it’s a bit of a contrast from the news lately which is what we’ve both been reading, but I had to explain to him two things.  First, this book is a bit of a divergence from the rest of the Riverton novels.  It’s got a different main character who has different problems and different life goals (though not so terribly different, as it turns out!) It’s also maybe a bit more young-adultish?  Brian shows up and he’s in his mid-twenties (rather than over two hundred years old…) and his heart is soft, easy to leave an impression on.  It’s easy for him to fall into a new situation and form attachments.  There’s a bit more swearing, though.

Secondly: I like a happy ending.  Well, maybe not perfectly happy, with birds singing and flower petals swirling around, but an ending that is satisfying.  Michael sits at his breakfast table at the end of A Demon’s Duty, about to be taken to task by a woman that’s barely an eighth his age, in a situation that he could never have imagined in his wildest dreams.  He is totally at sea and unable to draw on his personal experience for the first time since he was a child, and yet he’s content.  He’s looking at the challenge and accepting it for what it is: the next stage in his life.  I don’t know if that’s a “happy ending” or not, but I found it pretty satisfying.

My father like a bit more grit in his reading material, so he finds my stories a bit…  fluffy for his tastes on occasion.  I had to explain to him the phrase ‘grimdark’ and that I’m freaking over it.  I find so much fantasy out there these days to be a relentless march of the hero having literally everything taken away from them, all their allies turning their backs, and basically the world being the worst place ever.

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I am alone and have nothing to live for other than the plot of this depressing book.  Photo credit Vinicius Amano

I don’t want to read that, thanks.  I put A Game of Thrones down without making it past the first quarter of the book because I found literally not one character that I would spend time with.  They were all horrible people being horrible to each other.  Sadly, I found it to be completely in line with most other fantasy I’ve found in the last ten or fifteen years.  I’m depressed enough as it is, I don’t need to absorb that sort of relentless negativity in my fiction.  (No, really.  That’s where the Anxiety Gnomes attack from.)

So I’ll stick with my ‘fluffy,’ more up-beat stories.  I’ll read the Hands of Lyr again and go write something where somebody hugs someone.  Preferably right before or after some sort of major climactic battle against darkness.  Maybe even against grimdarkness.

A quick note here, in case you missed it— A Demon’s Sanction is now available in paperback, in case you prefer tattooed slices of tree corpse to read from rather than a screen!

Playing with Expectations

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Ah, the peacefulness of the forest versus the oppression of the shadowy darkness.  And fog, for good measure.  Because what’s a growing sense of dread without a little fog for dramatic effect?

I am amazingly lucky.  Both of my parents are very intelligent, well spoken, widely read people who I can rely on to do anything from help me solve insurance problems or think of the next silly game to play with my son.  My father particularly had been helpful with my novels.  He’s an excellent Beta reader not only because he’ll read my stories and tell me that it’s good, but because he’ll also tell me what he didn’t like at all, then he’ll give me a long string of notes challenging my plot, my characters, and on at least one occasion my grasp of history.  (I was totally, completely wrong about something, and ended up spending a few days reading about this place.  It’s fascinating.)

I bring this up because we’ve been butting heads a bit over one of my upcoming books.  Specifically, one of the new characters in the book.  He feels that the character should be powerful and strong— a fighter of sorts— right out of the gate.  He feels that in making this character, er…  a bit wishy-washy at the beginning of the story, and then not making the character kind of a superhero, that I undermine the whole thing.

The thing of it is, though, there’s no reason for my character to be strong, confident, or powerful (in a combat sort of way, at least.)  It’s a pre-conception based on the mythology that I based some of my world building on.  Michael is a demon, so he must be evil, right?  Well… no.  He’s powerful, even for a demon, and that’s one reason he’s so sought after in the first book.  But he doesn’t adhere strictly to any of the norms of demonic society.  He never did, which is how he ended up in this situation in the first place, and that contradiction is part of what makes the character interesting to me.

So I disagree with my father’s arguments on this one.  Just because my character comes from a place known for great warriors, doesn’t mean that this individual is one.  Nor does it mean that they must be confident or wise or any other specific trait that mythology would assign them.

I mean, the most interesting elf in Rivendell was a brunette, right?