Saturday, March 31, 2018

Popping By For An Interview ...

The lovely Beth Turnage has posted an interview of me - check it out here!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings - On Tour!

Welcome to the Scylla and Charybdis release tour – virtual, that is!  Since Grimbold Books is a British press and I’m over here chilling in the States, it seemed fitting to make “stops” on both sides of the pond … but I lack the finances to jetset back and forth, so I’ll be stopping by various blogs and hosting their awesome authors in return.

Some of these dates may change – I’m still finishing up posts and communicating with my hosts.

Here’s my schedule:

4/1 (Sunday) - Song Styles here – snippets of the Scylla and Charybdis “soundtrack”
4/1 (Sunday) – visit from Daniel Ausema from Twigs And Brambles to talk about his new release, Silk Betrayal
4/2 (Monday) - visiting Paul James Caiden at The Mind’s Eye  
4/4 (Weds) - Wednesday Wanderings here – how it all started
4/6 (Friday) – visiting Marco Dijkstra at Barely a Blogger to talk about worldbuilding
4/8 (Sunday) – Song Styles here
4/11 (Weds) – Wednesday Wanderings – what’s in a name?
4/13 (Friday) – special “visit” to Sarah Ashwood’s mailing list with an interview; sign up over at  her Facebook page  
4/15 (Sunday) – It’s RELEASE DAY!
4/17 (Tues) – visiting Joanne Hall at her blog to talk about chef creativity and cross-utilization … not as dry as it sounds, I promise!
4/18 (Weds) – Wednesday Wanderings here – the books within the book
4/19 (Thurs) – visiting Daniel Ausema at Twigs And Brambles  to talk about music in Scylla and Charybdis
4/20 (Fri) – visiting Jennifer Lee Rossman at The Eternally Untitled 
4/22 (Sun) – Song Styles here
4/24 (Tues) – visiting Kate Coe at Writing and Coe for an interview
4/25 (Weds) – Wednesday Wanderings here – the ta(le/il) of the kearl
4/27 (Fri) – stories from Marco Dijkstra … check them out!
4/29 (Sun) – Song Styles here
5/2 (Weds) – Wednesday Wanderings here – discussing “hiraeth”
5/6 (Sun) – Song Styles here
6/1 (Fri) – guest post from Jennifer Lee Rossman from The Eternally Untitled

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Song Styles

I would just like to point out that my worldbuilding file for my next novel project is still saved as ArbitraryWorldNameHere.docx.

As to my current novel project(s), Surgeburnt is in the writing phases; Undertaking Chances (my quirky little zombie novel(la)) still needs its first edit; and Unnatural Causes is on the final editing pass.  At this point, I know the latter manuscript inside and out.

While Vil is the narrator and main character, her co-investigator Iluenn is the one with the biggest growth arc.  And this is one of the songs I put on her personal soundtrack that (I hope) encompasses it:

Whatever You Want - Vienna Teng

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings

With my planned blog tour and Scylla and Charybdis' release coming down the pike, I am left once more faced with how bewildering and difficult I find marketing.  I know this is probably more authors than not:  most of us are introverts by nature, and our wordsmithing skills don't seem to extend to the perfect cover copy.  Witness all the bellyaching about effective query letters and synopses ...

I have ambitions of opening my own catering company down the road, and in general, I hope to be able to cover the business functions by myself.  I'm confident with computer systems, organization, financial recording, and I can (gasp) use Quickbooks; I would probably want an accountant for tax filing itself, but bookkeeping is probably the number one area where fraud occurs, so keeping my own hands on it for as long as possible is a good strategy.

The one role I know I need to hire out, though, is the role of marketing and publicity.  I used to work with a company that also employed a lady who was fantastic at selling in conversation with customers.  It would just flow out of her mouth, and I marveled at it.  If I tried to say those things, I would trip over my tongue, they'd sound hokey and forced if I did manage to get it out, or more likely, I'd chicken out and say nothing at all.  It's more than learning strategies:  a certain mode of communication needs to be second nature for face-to-face marketing and networking to be effective.

I've hid my light under a bushel all my life.  Even if the light really only needed a thimble to hide it.  I have a full-blown case of Impostor Syndrome:  I always feel as if people see me as more accomplished / skilled than I really am, and I'm afraid that they'll find out about the dope under the surface.  I've been known to respond to compliments at work like I'm pretty astonished, and I usually am.

I've learned how to fake social aptitude.  As a child, I had to learn how to put on a social mask and engage with others, even those who were withdrawn themselves.  (That's another story.)  As an adult and a performer, I've had to learn the instruction, monologue and banter that comes with playing on stage.  Though really, that hasn't helped with the impostor syndrome, because what's the safest thing for a performer to poke fun of?  Themselves ... and believe me, I've got a million of them.  Even in my culinary career, I've learned to turn on the patter:  I've spent hours managing a carving station, where brief, casual conversation with customers is a must.

But when it comes to marketing, there's a palpable difference (for me) between being able to put on the mask and being able to sell myself.  As I said above, that requires an internalized, second nature component that I don't have, and I'm honestly not sure can even be learned.  Sure, it can be improved / honed, but I think you have to a certain innate switch flipped to make it work.

Then there's that the common advice not to sell your book, but to let potential readers get to know me.  My goodness ... why would they want to?  I'm boring.  (I realize objectively that my life has been really weird in patches, like that stint in the Renaissance song and troupe and the project I did transcribing handwritten records from the mid-1800s, but it still just seems normal to me.)  I also have to admit that I want people to buy the book because they're interested in the book, not the writer.  Sure, there's a place where the two dovetail, but I'm not a helicopter parent.  I want my book-baby to stand on her own two feet.

So in conclusion ... marketing bewilders me, but I'll muddle through regardless.  Watch this space.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Song Styles

Every now and again, I stumble across a song that latches onto me and becomes an obsession.  I hit the repeat button, I go back to seek it out at random times, and long before my fascination fades, I've got it memorized nuance by nuance.  This is one of my most recent obsession songs, and fair warning, it's creepy:

Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) - Aurora

The atmosphere combined with the song and Aurora's piercing voice ... it's pretty much perfect.  The acoustic version is also haunting, but I love the beat and ethereal sound effects here.

Who is the "he" in this song?  And is the song even meant to be taken literally, or is some abstract part of the singer dying?  That's up to the listener.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Scylla and Charybdis Reviewed at Fantasy Faction

An early review for Scylla and Charybdis is now available at Fantasy Faction:  check it out!

I'm quite pleased with this review.  I'm surprised how much attention the reviewer devotes to the society of Anaea's home station, but I suppose in hindsight, it plays a much bigger role than I originally intended.  We authors often develop a picture of the book that isn't necessarily how a reader approaches it.

Although character is very important in Scylla and Charybdis, I've always thought of it as a Milieu novel.  It's centered around the exploration of the world, and for me and Anaea, that means the world outside her home ... but on the other hand, you can't approach a foreign land without the context of where you've come from.  So in some senses, the space station is the most important setting of all, even if it doesn't get the same number of words devoted (directly) to it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings

In all the preparations for the release of Scylla and Charybdis, another anniversary slipped on by.  Flow has just had its sixth book-release anniversary!  The beginning of the month, in fact.  In the past, I've joked that of the two birthdays on the first of March (the book's and mine), Flow is obviously more important.  Who cares about the author's birthday?

It's been six years since Flow came out from Double Dragon (and is still available!).  It's been even longer since I first wrote it.  Sure, I might change a few things if given the chance to write it again.  If nothing else, the rise of smartphones and mobile technology would have a lot of small, subtle effects on the narrative (and the lack thereof does date it to the setting year).

Flow was a novel written from character, specifically the two women - Kit and Chailyn - who drive the narrative.  Their abilities and general backstory shaped the world I built for the book.  Along with Hadrian, they were all roleplaying characters who I adored, but didn't get enough time to play.

For those unfamiliar, roleplaying is essentially collaborative writing.  Typically, each person controls a single character, while one - the gamemaster - manages the world and forces moving against them.  I played in various iterations, but Kit, Chailyn and Hadrian come from internet-based games where the basic world is laid out in coded / described rooms, allowing people to interact without a gamemaster involved.  (Room being a pretty broad term:  a "room" could be an entire city neighborhood, a garden or an iceberg.)  These games were called a MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) or MUX (Multi-User eXperience).

So it's a very immersive way of creating a character, if sometimes tedious or humdrum - believe me, just about everyone who has played on a MUSH or MUX has had multiple scenes of lounging around a coffee shop chatting with a total stranger about nothing.  A lot of what is played out has little relevance to ongoing story, but as with many other aspects of writing, the iceberg effect comes into play.  What the reader never sees or even "needs" for the story shows up indirectly under the surface.

I've written other stories in the Flow setting:  Xmas Wishes and A Dose of Aconite have been published, and a few others are still in my to-be-submitted pile.  And what about a sequel to Flow?  I have definitely kicked around ideas, but I have so many other enticing projects that it's unlikely to float to the top (flow to the top) any time soon.  Unlikely ... but not impossible.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Snippet

Instead of musical meanderings this Sunday, I thought I'd switch things up with a bit of proof-of-work from Surgeburnt.  This is one of the flashback sequences that form the novel's past-plot.  For context, the narrator is a Scorpio Star-child, which means in part that she has enhanced, poisonous nails ...

We spent a few moments more with the final details of the plan, then went our separate ways.  Tahir and I headed for the power station.
“Tell me whatever passage you’ve chosen for us isn’t crusted with cobwebs,” I said.
“What, are you afraid you’ll break a nail?”
I flexed my talons.  “Can you blame me?”
“I’d hate to see the amount of force you’d have to apply to break one of those nails.”  He managed a fleeting smile.  “We’ve got this, Maren.”
“Stop telling me things that are obvious.”
The power station was heavily monitored and protected by numerous electronic surveillance systems, but the soda factory on the next block was not.  We mingled with the workers on lunch break and entered the maintenance area. 
Tahir pried off the cover of a ventilation duct.  “After you, milady.”  He swept a mocking bow.
“So I hit any traps first,” I said.  “How kind of you.”
“I do try to be a gentleman.”

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Song Styles

In case you missed my shouting from the rooftops, Scylla and Charybdis, in Kindle form, is now available for preorder - check it out here!

I have an extensive playlist for the novel, which I'll be discussing in the weeks to come, but I wanted to start out with a song that is purely mood music, a moment of joy.

In The Arms of the Milky Way - Laura Powers

Of course, there are a few constellation / mythology references, which are very appropriate to the novel ... but mostly, I just love the attitude and the rush of discovery the song encompasses.