Saturday, July 31, 2010

Milestones Blogfest

This blogfest is brought to you by the wonderful Donna Hole. The link takes you to the blogfest page and to the participants list.

The following excerpt is not a specially created piece for the fest, but an excerpt from my manuscript. It highlights my second protagonist and the way in which she discovers how to defeat an enemy who seemed more powerful than her. She, Eris, has been captured by the Egeal Arrows and their leader, Fist.

Please do not butter up the comments. If there is something you do not like, please say so. Thanks and enjoy!


* * *

"That’s a Cool Trick"

The Arrows gathered around Fist and joined hands. Their feathery auras, mere wisps on their skin, merged with the sparking violet of Fist’s.

Eris lifted off the ground again, the chair spinning and knocking into the walls and off the ceiling. A pain curled in her stomach and streams of her aura faintly glistened on her skin. “You need your dogs to help you,” she cried out at Fist. “You’re pathetic!” Her next words were stolen from her lips as she hammered down with the force of five auras working her. Her channel surged within, siphoning energy off the Arrows’ magic. Fist’s intense concentration made it more difficult to grab hold of his aura, but she established the connection. She locked on him as she twirled around the chamber.

The chair stopped next to a torch on the wall, the fire licking at her cheek. Eris screamed at the burn, but sucked in Fist’s aura, draining every bit she could steal.

“Pathetic?” Fist howled, less of a man and more of a beast. The darkness in his voice carried a pitch of insanity. “You’ve broken the rule one too many times.”

The chair threw itself across the room, but stopped mid-flight creaking and shaking. Eris closed her eyes and concentrated on the glimmer of her yellow aura charging beneath her eyelids.

“What?” Fist clenched his hands and threw his aura at her.

The purple sparks connected with Eris, but arched over her in harmless chains as she absorbed it.

“Right,” she said. “You didn’t give me the chance, but consider that my warning.” The chair beneath her splintered and exploded to pieces. The ropes binding her hands sizzled to threads and she touched down gracefully with Fist’s borrowed magic.

The Arrows launched themselves at Eris and she responded with a prompt jolt of purple at them. The shock did not break their advance as she thought it would and she dodged under their assault. Fist swung at her, a sweep of purple trailing in the path of his arm as he missed.

Fist planted his stance and poured his aura out. The ground wrinkled with violet lightning like a sheet of water. The Arrows waded ankle deep in the aura-sheet, but did not seem affected.

The purple snaked up Eris, stinging her as it moved higher. She shook it off and backed away.

“My power is absolute,” Fist said through gritted teeth.

He charged, the Arrows at his back and their auras blazing in furious swells. Eris thrust her palm at Fist’s chest and spun off his assault with a sweep kick to the Arrow directly behind him. Her yellow transferred to him and spun around his body. It squeezed on him, eventually reaching the jewel on his choker. A burst of purple issued out of it and the stone shattered. The Arrow fell back into the wave of Fist’s aura-sheet, his body sputtering in the furious power.

Eris whipped around and planted a fist of yellow across the next Arrow’s face. The helpless servant flew off his feet and suffered the same fate as the last. The two remaining Arrows threw wild jabs, their jewels offering infused swings. Their movements came at her lightning quick, faster than their predecessors in the alley.

Fist growled from behind and clutched Eris as she backed into his arms.

She summoned an attack, but Fist devoured it.

He threw her, the force of his toss aided with his special brand of magic. Fist raised his hands, the aura-sheet following his movement. The purple engulfed his body and surged out as he punched forward.

A barrel of violet whorled into Eris as she hit the wall. It pinned her in place as it twisted and dug at the leather protection of her bodice. She forced a scream, but it seized up. She dropped to the ground, her body smoking.

She stole a glance of the room in its blurry state. The power he had was something she had never faced before, nor ever expected to see. Two systems working together. Eris pulled herself to her knees and hugged her waist.

“I gave you fair warning,” Fist said, seeming winded.

Eris rocked and then stared at her hands. A shade of purple glowed on her skin, yellow mixing in it. The Arrows’ laughter fueled her and she stood on weak knees. Their mocking ceased and silence fell over them. She pushed her hands together, fists touching, and the colors jumped over her arms. The turbulent power of her enemy filled Eris, joined with her Seenti. She drew her hands apart and a thin rod built of the combined auras filled the space between. Slow at first, she pulled the rest of the way and revealed a glimmering saber.

Fist showed repulsion in his aged lines. “No, how?” The Arrows slid behind him. “You are able to bend your aura.”

Eris grinned, her lips thin. “I did warn you.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's Talk About SEX Baby! (Awkward Writing 1)

My next blog series, titled Awkward Writing, is in honor of getting so many new followers from Tessa's Blog Hop: The Life Fantastic and her most recent blogfest. This series will focus on areas of writing that some writers shy away from. Perhaps that is too strong a word, but it's the areas that writers beat themselves up over, deciding to no end if their novel can carry such a theme or scene.

Before we begin, a few announcements:

Any comments made on this series will be thrown into a contest. I will be doing at least 3 posts of the series, possibly more. If you comment on multiple posts within the series, you get multiple entries.

Tessa's Blog Fest: The Life Fantastic is still ongoing and is the perfect way to score more followers, subbers and writerly underlings (I mean friends).

At the end of this week, Donna Hole is hosting her Milestones blogfest. This is been another invaluable tool for me on the cohort-gathering front.

What am I currently doing? Answer: Blogging (of course), enjoying my third cup of coffee and playing Leapfrog Math Missions with my three-year-old cousin.

* * *

So let's talk about sex. We've all made it through sex education in school, the most grueling and unforgiving class any of us was forced to take. Now that we're adults, or most us, what really prevents us from writing in those tender scenes into our manuscripts? What is the hold-up? More often than not, the scene you want to write are not to showcase your future erotica-novel that you're currently querying (WHAT @.@), but it is to show how two characters interact in that next thin line of scene writing: Love. It isn't smut or a porno. It isn't even lust (or maybe it is for those sex-crazed vampires), but it's a display of how your two choice characters have grown on each other.

If you've chosen to add a sex scene, ask yourself if you are first making the right decision. Are your characters who will be involved on the right "level" with each other? Or are you purely doing it to get it done. Let's nudge away the latter.

Never write a sex scene into your manuscript just to have it there. Why put yourself through the trouble explaining a blow-by-blow intimate encounter when you may not really need it at all? I am currently facing that issue and at the level I have been drawing my characters, I'm not sure if my protagonist and his love-interest are there yet. Are your characters there yet? I have added a sensual scene and that might be enough, but only time will really tell.

Don't shoot to impress in the scene. We don't need to see how you are in bed through your character. That may sound awkward, but we want to prevent this at all costs. At no point do you want paragraphs of thick, raw sexual description. No-one really wants to read that and be drawn away from the story and what brought the characters to this point. We want to see an encounter that we can enjoy, love and feel pleasure over. We want to cheer for our hero/heroine when they find that love they've been looking for.

So, there's a lot to consider when you want to write a sex scene. Make it beautiful, short and with descriptors that can creatively describe the most stressful part of writing intimate characters together. Never divulge into dark, sexual crap writing for the sake of just showing you can do it. Your writing will suffer, but more importantly, the fortitude of your plot arc may be thrown off.

Question to the Cohorts: Do you currently have a sex scene written or are considering one? Have you made all the preparations, creatively and mentally, to write intimacy into your manuscript?

I'm very curious for your responses.

Bye for now!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shake That Money-Maker

So truthfully, I couldn't help myself but use such a post title, but there is some viability to it, I promise. I even give you my Scout's Honor. GRINS

So, let's learn how to shake that money-maker. Shake what your momma' gave you. That applies less here than the latter, but we'll run with it. The point of this article is to persuade more writers to bypass those nasty blocks (which I believe are more writer caused than natural) and pump out a word count which you can be proud of at the end of a day. I've recently been introduced to a website known as This is an interesting little tool that helps track your writing for the day. But c'mon! We're all better than 750 words a day. Where's that 2k word mark that you've always said you can breach. Are you one of those writers who has freed up his/her day for writing? Then you end up paying hard on that decision when that evil block pops up.

How do you get past this?

My answer has always been to plan ahead for the worst (the worst being events that you know might interfere with a planned writing day). You truly need to invest in this time that will expand your manuscript and make it grow. You need to dive headfirst into that sea of words, formatting and disgusting red and green grammar lines. Put yourself and your work first. If you have promised to make a writing day, do not break off that track. Motivation is the key here. Use music if it helps carry you along. For me, I keep everything silent. I shut off all volume on my notebook so those pesky gChat, AIM and Facebook sounds don't tempt me. I then expand my word document to full screen (a nice iWorks feature) so I do not become tempted by the "1 new tweet" message hanging on my Twitter feed. Do whatever you can!

The possibility of writing for a few good hours to reach your 2k is not unheard of. You simply need to set priorities straight and be sure that you are equally invested in the writing as the seeing the payoff at the end. For every beginning, there is an end and the cycle continues.

Question: Have you planned a writing day and seen it fall apart? What are your experiences?

Bye for now!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giveaway Contest Closed! Plus Announcements

Thanks for all who participated in my first giveaway contest. All answers are very interesting. Please stick around for future contests!

We had seven comments made, and by the use of, the winner has been chosen.

The winner is...

Comment #5, by Bonnie

Congratulations to her! Again thanks for all who participated and helped make this work.

Now onto some announcements, which can simply be found in my new Page and on the sidebar. These are a few blogfests that I am spreading the word about. Blogfests are great ways to meet fantastic writers. Each blogfest has a specific theme and bloggers post a snippet to match the theme. Then bloggers visit the pages of participants and comment on the snippet. It's an awesome way to get followers.

Bye for now!


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Challenge of Swallowing Your Pride (GIVEAWAY CONTEST)

This is the last post in my "Challenge" series, and post-Blogfest of Death, so I'm looking for some new followers and subbers to stop on by and enter into this giveaway contest. It's as easy as leaving a comment, but I NEED A MINIMUM OF THREE COMMENTS to make this work, so spread the word! Any who comment on this post will be entered for the drawing, which will be determined by You also have a choice of which prize you would like to receive. Please leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you for your physical address.

Prize bucket choices are:

The Lost Years of Merlin, by T.A. Barron (2007 re-print edition)
Creating Short Fiction, by Damon Knight
On Writing, by Stephen King
Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass
Revision and Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell

So, we all know at some point when our manuscripts are complete. Other writers may have more difficulty determining this and continue to revisit their writing to polish and tighten. This is all well and proper in the discipline, but at some point, you must also swallow your pride of trying to make the manuscript better. Continuously polishing creates un-needed tension. A writer does not need this. But, wait, we've all heard that a first manuscript must impress. How else are you supposed to breakout if your manuscript is littered with grammar issues, those dirty adverbs and the infamous overuse of semicolons and ellipses?

More than one agent has blogged in the past that having the perfect manuscript in this format isn't always necessary. Yes, they will begin to lose it if the writing is blatantly ignoring basic rules, but a stray misspelled word and misplaced modifier won't kill you. They care about the quality of writing and the story you can tell. In the end, that is all that matters when it comes to making a sale to a publisher.

Beta readers and critique groups are wonderful, but not even they can catch everything. You will ask yourself, "I hope they caught everything," when it is not their place to do it, and ultimately, it is not even yours. This may go against everything you were told in school or how-to-write slush books (which by the way are fantastic), but do not drown in the mess of always polishing. I will admit I have done this, but I am finding my way through those dark waters.

The question whose answer being judged for the contest is this: How do you best swallow your pride in your writing? How do you know you are done and what method do you use to say, "I will not go back. It is the best it can be."

Remember, there is no best answer. All comments are subject to the random generator.

Thanks and enjoy!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogfest of Death

This blogfest post is brought to you by @ Tessa’s Blurb.

Below is a death scene from my first manuscript. Enjoy! (989 words)

* * *

Mefist’s blood-red eyes locked onto Xixios, and although they bore no pupils, the assassin cringed.

“They hold me back?” Mefist asked. “You’ve got it wrong.” He leaned close. “I think they’re keeping me right where I belong,” he said firmly.

With a cry, Mefist forced the blades away from his chest and pushed Xixios until his feet gave away at the rock. A final push catapulted the assassin through the air and Xixios crashed at the foot of the altar. Xixios moaned in agony, but Mefist drew his scrutiny away from the demon and glanced back at Melana.

Mefist reached out to help, but she revolted for a moment. “Do not fear what I am,” he said.

Melana hesitated and grabbed his hand.

Mefist heaved her to her feet. Standing close, her hands resting on his waist, she peered into his red eyes.

“You’re still there, Valence?” she asked.

Of course, Valence said, this time in his own voice.

Gerad grumbled in discomfort as he stood and inspected the others’ conditions.

Mefist looked up from Melana, his stare on Gerad’s lips as they formed a warning.

Xixios’ crude roar bellowed from behind. Mefist turned, but was shoved away.

Melana jumped forward and thrust her left palm out, aura burning and summoning her Oath into a barrier. The barrier flashed to life, but a scream of terror echoed around it.

Mefist’s eyes widened and he stared, unable to help. He grabbed his red hair and collapsed to his knees, confusion welling within him. The pain of his first transformation from Valence’s body surged. Melana’s painful cry burned his eyes, and as quickly as the transformation came, Mefist’s skin singed away, bleaching over with a natural skin tone. His hair fell out, replaced by white clumps and his eyes reverted to their slate shade.

Gerad jumped up and called Oroyu and Kyona to follow him, but they could not pass the emerald barrier Melana had summoned.

Valence returned to his body, facing Melana’s back and wishing the sword held warmly in her skin was a hallucination. Blood oozed and stained her lace shirt a dark green.

Xixios laughed through curled lips before he wrenched the sword from her. Melana staggered and ebbed forward onto the bridge, seeping blood. Her head smacked the ground, the butterfly clips breaking and leaving her hair in a tangled mess. The barrier dropped, but Gerad and the others did not move.

Kneeling before Melana’s killer, Valence did not stare at Xixios for mercy, but rocked slowly and watched the earth of the bridge color red. He was breathless and a tear rolled down his dirty cheek.

“It is sad,” Xixios said, his sword directed at Valence, “to lose someone you love and remain unable to bring them back. Had you accepted my offer, you could have protected her.”

Valence’s eyes were hidden beneath his hair. “An old man once told me that something both marvelous and dreadful exists in the choices of men.”

Xixios inclined his head. “And what’s that?”

“Choice ceases to produce consequence.”

“I know that!” Xixios drove his fist across Valence’s face.

Valence remained on his knees, dizzy and lost.

“I am a result of consequence, as are you,” Xixios said.

“That may be so, but I have something you lack.” Valence’s words fumbled off his lips as he spat a concoction of saliva and blood. “I hold something in me that you will never have the pleasure to experience.”

Xixios sneered. “Please elaborate.”

Valence smiled and peeked through his hair. “I control my power while you are a host to yours.”

“You have nothing left, Valence. You have no weapon, certainly no power left and your friends are too frightened to move. This is your end!”

Valence hid a smile and laughed, his voice scratchy. “That is where you’re wrong. I will always have—”

Xixios’ golden eyes widened, brighter than ever. Black liquid dribbled from his tear ducts and dripped down his clenched lips.

Valence stood a foot from Xixios, arms extending fully and his hands bearing the black, aura-enriched weapons of Mefist. His Demi’s weapons, fused onto his arms, flared with a last bit of crushing power and faded off. Blood collected in a diagonal line over Xixios’ chest and gushed out in streams. His hands opened and released his twin sabers. Xixios’ body slid away at the waist with a morbid slush and fell to the ground. His legs crumpled over his body and the assassin’s eyes lodged open, the black pupils expanding.

“Power,” Valence said, his breathing intense. His eyes filled with fire as he stared at the slain demon.

Valence fell to his knees and clambered over Melana’s body. He forced himself to release his emotions, the love and agony he felt for her as tears ran down his face. Oroyu, Gerad and Kyona stepped forward, their shadows looming over the couple.

Valence cradled Melana’s head. Gerad knelt beside him and stroked the hair from her eyes. The animosity that had grown between them settled, as though for the moment Valence had put his crimes behind him. The quickening realization that he had failed another friend lingered forward. Valence rocked Melana and whispered her name in her ear, hoping that she would hear it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Challenge of Self-Publishing

We have one more week until the end of the month, so 1 more post in the "Challenge" series, and I'll end with a giveaway. Hopefully this will draw more followers and comments.

So, yes, self-publishing has made its massive debut across the world a few years back and now it is an equal route for writers to have their novel in print. You have your free websites that provide self-publishing, such as LuLu and Wordclay, and then there is the god of all self-publishing providers who even in-house publishers trust, Lightning Source. I have good things about all three from a myriad of SP authors.

A recent writer/author who I had the pleasure of becoming friends with, David Douglas, used Lightning Source to its capacity and did his own typesetting, copyediting, proofing (via his wonderful mother who edited for free), and then finally to marketing. Dave and I met at the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (OWW for short), and there I read most of his manuscript before he even began sending it to Lightning Source. From here, Dave recruited me to do his cover art for his self-published novel and since this time, almost 1 year ago, Dave has secured an agent (in Germany, his home country) who is trying to re-release his book onto the market from having it already been self-published.

You might ask yourself how Dave was so fortunate to have an agent care about a self-published work to fight to bring it into mass paperback circulation. The key is amazing storytelling.

Dave's novel, Demon's Bane, is a powerful breakthrough novel of high fantasy. His magic system -- unique, and his characters -- unforgettable and can be compared to the memorable creations of David Eddings. Yes, big words for a big story.

So, self-publishing is out there. Of course it is, you know this. Some writers and future-author-hopefuls have a bias against the SP route, and I truthfully can say that I am one of them. There is a certain golden feeling about being published in the traditional way, but for the some million writers in the world just looking to be heard, know that the SP market is VERY strong and greater opportunities can arise from this route if you are dedicated enough to your craft, writing and yourself. Dave is the true life story.

One final thing before we sign off is another SP company that I failed to mention. I had the pleasure of being in contact with a SP rep, Carol Bowersock, who works for a company called Bookmasters, Inc. This is another company, grounded and not online, who does everything any other SP site does. However, with Bookmasters who also have the advanced opportunities of distribution, marketing, design, storage and web assistance. Sounds like a pitch, doesn't it?

That's all for now. Stick around for next week's post where I'll be setting up a giveway. I need at least five commenters/followers to help me along to get the giveaway off the ground. Help a new blogger out!

Bye for now!


Monday, July 12, 2010

The Challenge of Doing Nothing

This will be a shorter post in my "Challenge" series, but it goes a long way. The word of the street from agents and editors alike is: "When you feel you can polish and revise no more on that manuscript, you set it aside for a few months and come back to it. Even the most accomplished novelists will always say they wish they could change this part, but had to say 'I need to set this aside once and for all.'"

I have been on the revising end of my first manuscript, Bond of Darkness, for a hard 4 years now. Yes, I know this is a long time, and see my previous post about agent Kristen Nelson's rant on "The Curse of the Sophomore Novel" for more information on this. However, BoD has undergone huge overhauls (2 respectively) which have taken said time.

I do not have an issue with the "Curse," because I feel that after taking all of said time, I can write more fluidly and not make the same errors as I did to have the polish my first manuscript is currently undergoing.

My issue comes with setting it aside, doing nothing with it for months and then returning to it. Yes, I will come back with a fresh eye (yet again), but I don't want a fresh eye. I want to be one of those novelists that say "I wish I could change things here." I have confidence in not only myself, but in my my readers who have line edited and assisted me to death.

Do other writers feel they could do this to themselves? Could you wait around for months, continually writing during this time, and go back? Think of it from my situation and compare this to your own. Share with me.

Bye for now!


Monday, July 5, 2010

The Challenge of Titles

So, I'm certainly not the first to have blogged about proper titles, nor will I be the last. Agents, editors, authors and writing hopefuls alike all enjoy a good title. It hooks and draws a buyer's hand closer to your published work and away from your competitors'. So yes, the title makes all the difference. I recently underwent a title change for my WiP manuscript, now titled Bond of Darkness, from its previous [horrible and generic] title, The Awakening.

Yikes! What in the world was I thinking? Of course The Awakening has been used one million times [Yes, I'm counting]. I was no different, but I chose it because it had everything to do with my character, both literal and metaphorical. That is not the case now. My protagonist has changed much since the first draft, and with the help of a few friends, I came to Bond of Darkness. But...

Only to read a recent article on "googling titles." So, I my fingers typed with fear into the search bar, and sure enough, Bond of Darkness is a recently published vampire novel by [redacted author]. YAK! Hate vamp lit [crappy vamp lit, that is]. Having only been published in 2008, the blog post suggested that you consider a title that was not used in the last 40 years. HA! Bull-crapola! My title is mine now. Considering a paranormal fantasy about vamps is nothing that can be compared to adult high fantasy, I think I should be in the clear.

The last piece of advice is something I learned from the ever-wonderful Diedre Knight, agent and founder of the Knight Agency. While on an ask agent session that she often sponsors, I asked my question about my change in title and asked Knight how she comes up with the perfect title. Knight said she uses color, sound, imagery, or anything that will spark the interest to have that novel get picked up. Usually, she takes titles across a series and makes them uniform, which is what I have done with my WiP manuscripts. In Knight's most recent release, her title consistency is something as simple as the color "Red," but it carries the most important meaning throughout her novels.

This is truly something to consider to have the best title.

So, to my writing community, how did you choose your titles and what additional advice do you have?

Bye for now!


Friday, July 2, 2010

The Challenge of Agents

We have all queried, or most of us have. We have all readied the dreaded synopsis and sample pages. You've made sure to check your grammar, and more importantly, the correct spelling of the agent's name. Right? Of course you have, otherwise you'll be receiving a form or nothing at all. You've made sure to insert only plain text so there is no formatting jumble and have labeled your snail mail correctly or e-query subject line to the agent's specifications. You have taken the time to research the agent and his/her likes and open client list and what they are currently seeking to represent. You have subbed to the agent's blogs, followed their RSS posts and done everything possible to make yourself more open to an agent's eyes, whether virtual or in person.

A few of you have attended conferences or workshops and spoke with agents. You have carried samples and slapped yourself clean across the face when you don't have pages to hand out. You are the lucky one of a thousand plus hopefuls looking for representation that managed to catch an agent's eye with your personality or TKO query.

Now what? Do you refresh your inbox every few minutes? Do you check your feeds and see if they have ranted about your received query? Do you double-check query assisting websites to triple-check if you really did everything correctly.

No. You let the agent do his/her work. You write and write hard. You do not dwell on the strong possibility of a rejection or the wonderful feeling of a partial/full request. You do not even think of the circumstances of the call for representation. You write and continue on in your journey. The craft is an unforgiving one and the business of agents, who are writers themselves, do have a life besides their career. Granted, they chose to be an agent to make a commitment to budding writers, but they are people and need the chance to work at their pace.

We all know the feeling when someone tries to rush you along in a job that needs time. You want this thing to simmer. Do not let it control you. You also want to make sure you can put out simultaneous submissions. Normally the case when submitting short stories is that editors like the time to have the submission to themselves, but you can usually lie your way out of it. I am not condoning that you should, either. But with agents, the challenge is to really challenge them. When you have polished writing and that TKO query, pump out your batches. Give agents the challenge of fighting over you. That is what they really enjoy. If they want you as a client, they will make it happen, be it through advances or calling you personally. Give them the opportunity to do their work, but if another agent shows even the smallest amount of concern even with a partial, you must contact any other agents (usually their filing assistants) and do them the courtesy of saying you have an offer of a partial. This may often challenge them to put your material ahead of another writer.

So the business is all about patience and challenging yourself and who you want to read your material. Make it easy for the agent by doing everything correctly and at the same time, make them work for you by pumping out those batches.

So, the question to my community is: Do you agree with this? Is this a philosophy to follow? How do you work your query route? I am eager to learn and I'm sure others are eager to share.

Bye for now!