Letter from Ko

The Spell Builders was meant to be a short story, just the facts, tell don’t show. But I was having trouble finding my narrator’s voice. Finally I thought to ask her to write me a letter, telling me about herself. The following 612 words changed the whole project. The Spell Builders turned out to be a full length novel that was all about the story as Ko went through it, rather than as a dry history. It’s one of my favorite Daganu books, and I look forward to publishing it next year. I also learned that my narrator is a brat, but I’ve always had a soft spot for brats.

(From Ko)

Dear Kat,

I am an old woman. You really can have no idea how old I am on so many levels.

I didn’t start out that way, of course, nor aspire to it. I distinctly remember being young. I’m really not that much bigger now than I was before I met humans. Time has shrunk me. Do you think I shall continue shrinking until I disappear? In any case, the world seems to me to be both much bigger and much smaller than I recall it as a child. Learning to read maps has been challenging. I don’t think I’ve been any further than what you have already seen, not much, anyway.

I know you wonder if Tat and I were lovers. Did you ever wonder if we bonded? Is the world ready for lesbian cross-species eternal love? Well, I’m sure the internet is, but is 1993? Perhaps we’ll leave these speculations to the fans… You know that the young people will ship us.

I mean, will they care about our families? Tat was married, or as married as her people got. Which was more married than much of modern culture, fairies and humans alike. Tat and her husband were absolutely expected to be a pair for life, although love was considered little more than a bonus with her people, to the extent that it was considered at all. I don’t mean that they couldn’t or didn’t love, of course I don’t mean that. It’s just that there were a lot of practical considerations that had to come first. The well-being of the community as a whole. I think fairies have kept their grip on this better than humans. Although Joe would call it “instinct.”

Oh yes, I remember being young. I was still young when I made the magic with Tat, and lost her forever. (Yeah, yeah, let people jump to their own conclusions.)

You can’t imagine what happened after. Well of course you should be able to, you’re the author. There was nobody left alive, but still plenty of corpses around. In the breakdown of truce requirements (meaning there was no enemy now to unite the fairies) those that ate flesh and weren’t too picky about it eventually did get to work. But there was more than they could have eaten anyway.

I’ve wondered at the power of the spell, that it could even sort the corpses. Well, most of them. It is my belief that the separation of the worlds was not 100% smooth, but that some things and some creatures didn’t end up on the proper side.

I doubt there’s much to say about making the murals. Oh, I’ll talk about my feelings, but the art of it, is, when you get down to it, not all that interesting. I mean, neither one of us is or wants to be Auel. (I can make that reference, she’d been making bestsellers for more than a decade)

I think ending it with me sitting down to wait would be good. Although if you ever freaking feel like figuring out the relative times between Bistami Stulba and real time, we could throw in a few subjective days. You get all kinds of artistic license because of the extra extra slow time in my caves.

You know, if you did want to write about me and Tat being… very close… it would make for a longer book…. Yeah, I know, I’m not sure I want to go there either. Kinda changes the whole tone of the thing.

You know, I may have been as helpful as I could be a few paragraphs back, so let’s call this done.

Love, Ko

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Listening to Characters

I swear, I never sound crazier than when I’m talking about characters. So let me say that I don’t really believe my characters have an independent existence. It’s a metaphor.

So let the crazy begin.

My plots are all character driven. The things in my stories wouldn’t happen the same way with different people playing the parts. So I try to get to know my characters. When I started writing, I used to draw up a whole resume for each character, however minor, but I came to feel that that level of novel preparation wasn’t really necessary. I had learned, you see, how to get to know my characters.

One tactic I’ve used is to get a different character to gossip about the one that’s giving me trouble. This sometimes causes the stubborn character to defend itself, if he or she dislikes what the other tells me.

See, I told you it sounded crazy.

Another tactic I’ve tried is to promise rewards to a character whose assistance I need. In writing The Sunshine Line I found Kristy wasn’t talking enough. I told her that if she took her proper place in the dialog, I’d let her test for black-belt. I also told her that if she did not cooperate, I wouldn’t give her any credit for figuring out the central mystery of the plot. Carrot and stick. It worked.

Switching to a new narrator for The Spell Builders I was at sea for a bit. Ko is a brownie born in the stone age; she doesn’t have much in common with a human dude born in the 1960s. So I asked her to write me a letter. I learned more in those 612 words than I had managed in weeks of feeling stymied.

So call it crazy or call it letting my imagination run free, it works for me.

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Life as a NaNo Rebel

I chose to do NaNoWriMo a bit differently this time around. I felt a little funny being a NaNo Rebel, after a few years of pumping out a full first draft in a month.

You see, NaNoWriMo started something a couple years back for writers who couldn’t quite wait a whole year to do it again. They created Camp NaNoWriMo, where you pick a month in the summer to do your writing. It differs from the November challenge in that you can set your word-count goal yourself, rather than the usual 50K word goal.

So last July I set myself a goal of 15K words to write a short story. I made my word count goal easily, but ran into a problem: It wasn’t a short story.

My narrator wasn’t content with a short “Tell, Don’t Show” approach to her story. She felt strongly that it was her life we were talking about and it deserved better. Who was I to argue?

Then I discovered something kind of weird. I missed the 50K goal of a normal NaNo. I didn’t feel the pressure to finish.

And so I didn’t.

Oh, I kept writing for a while, a few weeks into August. Then I sort of petered out. I went into Fall with an unfinished work behind me and no idea for a novel for November. After a few weeks of guilt – for not finishing my July project, for not being at all prepared to move on – I decided I had to be a Rebel in 2013.

So instead of starting a new novel and having a goal of 50K words, my goal was simple. Finish The Spell Builders. I told myself I had to follow the rule of “at least 1667 words a day” until I finished. I didn’t exactly succeed on that, but I never do. Some days I can only get out 800 words, other days I can crank out 3K. But overall, I called it a success.

I didn’t get the winner’s goodies, or that purple bar below my name on the NaNo website, but I achieved the goal I set for myself. I wrapped up the story in mid-November with 65457 words.

I’ve always looked at NaNoWriMo as a tool. I use the strong motivation of my peers on the forums, as well at that progress bar as the month goes on, to just get that first draft written. I set myself up for failure in July, but November saved me. The Spell Builders is a very different Daganu novel, and I love it even if I don’t know that my readers will. I wouldn’t be an author now without NaNoWriMo, and I’m very grateful it exists.

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The Unchanging Heavens is here!

I am very pleased to announce that The Unchanging Heavens is now available at Smashwords and Amazon!

To celebrate, I am offering a 50% off coupon for purchases from Smashwords. I regret being unable to offer a coupon for Amazon, but you can purchase a kindle file from Smashwords. The coupon is valid through December 10th. Coupon code: XS32A (not case sensitive).

The third full length Daganu novel, The Unchanging Heavens takes Joe, Kristy and Becky deeper into the magic and mystery of Daganu than ever before, as they have to procure rare talismans to enter the feared land of Bistami Stulba and try to help Emily and Chen find happiness, rather than exile.

If you haven’t read any Daganu stories before, you can find all of them on sale at Smashwords through the month of November.

Happy Reading!

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Daganu News and Coupons!

Great news! The Unchanging Heavens is mere days from publication!

As The Unchanging Heavens is the third full-length Daganu novel, you might like to start from the beginning. To make that easier for you, I’ve created a sale!

For the month of November, The Sunshine Line and The Mirror’s Image are 50% off at Smashwords. The short story, The Animal Place, is, as always, Set Your Own Price. You can be totally caught up on the series for only four dollars!

And keep your eyes peeled: There will be a coupon for The Unchanging Heavens when it comes out!

The coupon codes are below. They are not case sensitive, but will only work at Smashwords, as Amazon doesn’t let me put things on sale. Fear not, you can still buy a kindle version at Smashwords! All titles are available from the Daganu Series Page.

The Sunshine Line: VY96C

The Mirror’s Image: UF43C

The Animal Place is always “You set the price”!

Happy Reading!

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The Care and Feeding of Plot Bunnies

If you’ve never heard of a Plot Bunny before, the idea is fairly simple. A Plot Bunny is a story idea. It’s cute and fluffy and you want to take it home right away and start loving it and spoiling it. You can’t get a Plot Bunny at the SPCA, they find you.

But beware! Make sure your Plot Bunny isn’t pregnant! If she is, you’ll soon have so many Plot Bunnies hopping around that you won’t have time to love or spoil any of them!

Continue reading

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It’s NaNo Time!

It’s November first, the day when all good writers (and quite a few bad ones) take up arms to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, now’s the time. Check out nanowrimo.org.

I, however, am being a NaNo Rebel this year. I have a draft I got about 3/5 through over the summer, and it is begging to be finished. So I will write 1667 words a day until the draft is finished.

At the same time, I’ve almost got The Unchanging Heavens ready to publish! Just a few more days (even with the writing for NaNo) and it can be in your hands (or at least in your e-reader!). Stay tuned to this channel for more information!

Happy Writing, folks!

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Life’s Little Adjustments

I know it’s been a long time since I made a blog post here. Life has really been throwing things at me this year. In particular, my pain levels have often been too high to concentrate, which really interferes with writing!

I’m starting to see some improvement, however, so it’s time to go back to work!

Probably most significant thing for me this fall is that I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. Or I’m going to be a NaNo Rebel, if you prefer. You see, I never finished that draft I was writing over the summer. So this November, I’m going to officially go back to that draft and write at least 1666 words a day, until the dern thing is done. This won’t take me all month, but the point is to write like it’s NaNo until it gets done! 

My other goal at this time is to get The Unchanging Heavens published. I’m in the final editing stages and I have my cover, so I’m optimistic that I might get it done by the end of the month. If not, I’ll devote an hour a day to getting it out the door until it’s done.

This means that once The Spell Builders‘ draft is finished, I can jump into editing The Long Dark. That way, maybe I’ll get it published according to my original schedule!

I’m feeling optimistic and motivated… and it feels good!

ps- Sorry about all the exclamation points, I’m just excited!

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Five Year Cancerversary

Cancer survivors know what a cancerversary is, but there are differences in opinion about what day it should mark. Should it be the day you found reason to worry (found a lump, had an abnormal test result)? The day you were diagnosed? The day you started treatment? The day you first had a clear scan?

I tie it in with my definition of a survivor: You become a survivor when you look cancer in the face and decide to live.

Five years ago today, I did just that. I got the phone call that confirmed that I had breast cancer, and I started to rally my strength – though there wasn’t a lot of it right then – and prepare to fight for my life. Continue reading

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Looking for my Groove

I love writing. I’m quite fond of editing. In the right mood I can even enjoy working on my web page. Even publication, as titchy and annoying as it can be, isn’t all that bad.

I hate marketing.

And yet? I must, if I want to sell books. Continue reading

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