Thursday, August 29, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
My grandmother kept this clipping all these years. I think I was 19, and I know I wanted to be the next great Southern writer. I wanted to be Faulkner or Welty or O'Conner. I wanted to write books people wanted to read and would remember. Books that were dark yet humble, ya know?
I wrote two books like that and they depressed the crap out of me, the writer. They aren't under the bed. They're under the house! After that, for a lot of years, I stuck to romance. My brand of romance tends to be dark, populated by alpha males, have a Southern accent or two, and some mystery. It fits in the pnr market pretty well, I think. And I am happy being there.
But seeing my grandmother kept this clipping was kind of a kick in the ass. Because I wrote this other book. It is a romance and it is paranormal and it does have a mystery but it is very, very Southern. And I have spent years doing nothing with it because I just have no idea how to market it. And do romance readers even like funny? I don't know. But I finally sent it out and it will be published next year. I will do the official announcement soon. Still figuring out pen names lol.
So, I'm left with this burning question lol! Do you follow your fave authors when they totally change their voice and name? Or do you stick with what is familiar?
Monday, August 26, 2013
The five lucky winners from last Thursday's giveaway (via Random.org) are:
CONGRATULATIONS!! Please contact Jeffe at JeffeKennedy dot com with your preferred E-format and email addy/!
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Negotiation: A Story of the Twelve Kingdoms
A wounded warrior trapped by the sorceress who knows him better than he does himself…
General Uorsin escapes the last devastating battle, only to find himself alone on a mountain, feverish and no closer to finding the paradise that drives him on. Salena, greatest shapeshifter and magic-worker of her people, springs the trap she’s set to protect her land—and to prevent the ravager Uorsin from ever reaching it.
Together, they spend a night setting the terms that will determine not only the rest of their lives, but the fates of the peoples of the Twelve Kingdoms—and the thirteenth.
This is a bit of a prequel to the trilogy coming out starting next June, with The Mark of the Tala. It's not necessary to read the prequel as the trilogy stands alone, but it's a nice little taste of things to come!
I've started reading Westlake Soul by Rio Youers. It's a bit of a departure for me in my recent reading, because it's by a male author about a male protagonist. I don't think I was deliberately reading female authors and female POV, but I'd definitely gotten into a nearly exclusive pattern. The other interesting thing about this book is the protagonist is completely disabled. He was paralyzed in a surfing accident and is unable to move or communicate - except through the power of his mind.
I'm not very far in, but it's a fascinating premise. It also dovetails with conversations I've been having online, most notably with my friend, Sassy Outwater. For those who don't know Sassy, she's blind and has a guide dog companion named Kodak. You might have seen them at the RT Convention in spring of 2013, for example.
Sassy is on a quest for recommendations particularly of disabled heroines in romance novels. She's planning to do a full rant and review, so if you have suggestions, she's looking for any and all. Her site is being developed here. I'll be interested to see what kind of list she gets. After all, the romance tropes usually call for the feisty, nubile and always perfectly lovely heroine. That's been changing up in recent years, which is all to the good in my mind.
Speculative fiction, it seems, better lends itself to the disabled protagonist or otherwise "handicapped" hero. I'm using that word in the traditional sense - that some sort of weight is added to make the hero's journey that much more difficult. One famous example is Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant, who suffers from - of all the horrible diseases - leprosy. Superhero stories are notable for the crippling burdens - usually emotional - that the hero carries. Think Batman with his haunted, traumatic past.
However, because I read primarily female-driven stories, it seems I rarely encounter the truly disabled heroine. Even if she's emotionally troubled, she's still physically attractive. And her psychic scars don't get in the way of relationships, like Batman's do - or they are temporary obstacles that increase sexual tension, but are easily overcome in the end.
I'm looking at my spec fic bookshelf, racking my brain for exceptions - much as I've been looking at my romance shelves (and yes, the twain do meet and mix it up) for ideas for Sassy's project. It could be my filter bias for the Happily Ever After, but I'm not coming up with much.
So, I'm throwing this out to you all. Examples of heroines in speculative fiction (I'm deliberately using that umbrella term to cover all genres of paranormal, urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, sword & sorcery, etc.) that are "handicapped" in some way. Bonus points for disfiguring disabilities.
And, because today just happens to be my birthday, I will give away digital copies of Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery to five commenters - international entries welcome! Even if you can't think of any heroines who meet these criteria (frankly I'm not expecting much, which is too bad), wish me a happy birthday and you're in. I'll choose a random five at midnight ET on Sunday, August 25 and we'll announce the winners in Monday's weekly Here Be News post.
Bring it on!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Writing isn’t a race. The best stories aren’t those fastest told.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Jane Kindred is the author of epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Shawna Reppert's book The Stolen Luck took a silver in the Global Ebook awards in the category of Fantasy/Other World. Congratulations, Shawna!
Links of interest:
There's new promo art for The Hobbit - Desolation of Smaug movie coming December 13.
Lot's of talk about small presses.
For fun, check out 7 Scifi Literary and Journalistic Hoaxes that Readers Believed. I particularly like the one about the man-eating tree of Madagascar.
The Actress Who Plays Sansa Stark On ‘Game Of Thrones’ Adopted Her Direwolf
Since we don't have any new books for you, what have you been reading lately? I just finished The Deepest Night by Shana Abe. It's YA, but I love her writing and DRAGONS! Very good. I highly recommend it.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
So there's an article making the rounds recently called, "I Hate Strong Female Characters." There are several good points, including how many princesses now know "kung fu" and prove their strength by beating up the bad guys and/or their love interest. It also points out via three movie posters--Smurfs 2, Inception, and Avengers--how the groupings seem to be a ratio of five guys for every girl--and that girl better not be weak in any way, shape or form, but has to be a total badass and keep up with the boys.
I suppose that's why I write gay fiction. It's not because I find men sexy. I don't, usually (though I'll make an exception for dancers and performance artists.) But as a lot of other authors have said, gay fiction is a means to explore gender and sexuality without having to worry about the usual gender inequalities.
I suppose I don't know exactly what I'm looking for in a female protagonist. If I did, I'd be writing her. I just know that, like the article's author, I'm tired of "leading" ladies and sidekicks that have to be kickass and surrounded by guys, carrying guns and black belts just to be equal to their male counterparts. Talented, yes. Brains, wit, personality, yes (although overplaying high intelligence isn't necessary.)
How about you? What trends and stereotypes in your leading ladies and female sidekicks are you tired of?
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Wait, haven’t I done that already?
Facepalm. Yep. Actually, almost one year ago I blogged at Here Be Magic about what I was going to blog about today — my personal experiences with psychics. Instead of rehashing it, I’ll just redirect you back to that post if you’re interested, and I’ll try to be a little more creative today.
My newest book is On the Scent, which is about a hot private detective protecting a nurse and her snarky cat and goofy dog after they inherit millions, and all kinds of hijinks that happen as a result. The idea for this story came to me after I read an article about an Italian heiress who left her entire fortune of £10 million to a stray black cat she fed regularly, and her nurse was left in charge of the cat. I’m a huge animal lover, but even I thought, “That’s craaazy!” But as my writer's mind has a tendency to do, it started pinging off ideas for a story in different directions. What if this happened to a nurse in America? She might need protection. Oooh, hunky bodyguard! What if he was more than a bodyguard? What if he had psychic abilities and could communicate with the animals? What if the heiress wasn’t who she’d claimed to be? Ooooh.
Plus, I really wanted to have a cat and dog’s thoughts in my story. How do I do that? Duh. One of my characters had to be psychic! That also allowed me to bring in a paranormal element to my series, which gets larger with each book (I promise). Honestly, I didn't even attempt to get into much more world building than "my hero is psychic" until I hit the second book, and that was mainly because I conned the wonderfully talented Jody Wallace into helping me do so. Hugs Jody. And I also have to give props to Jane Kindred who beta read On the Scent for me. High fives Jane. Can I just say how awesome all of the authors at Here Be Magic are? Cause they are. Awesome.
Now that I've dragged you through the scatter-brained writing processes of my mind, please don't leave yet. That's right. I saw your cursor moving toward that X in the corner.
This should be the part where I explain that every writer is different, but I was trained and have worked for many years as a journalist. That means that even when I’m writing fiction, I start with research into the topic I’m writing about and try to find the truth of the matter, no matter how ridiculous the premise might seem. Sometimes I’ll interview people—in this case, I asked questions of a psychic in my area who had a good reputation—and try to get a feel for the characters and circumstances I’m writing about. I can start with the most kooky idea ever, but I always try to ground it in reality by using what I've learned.
Well, I probably shouldn't admit this in a public setting, but I bought a book off Amazon while writing On the Scent called Psychic Development for Beginners. Its summary promised me "You possess a secret power that is just waiting to be harnessed—your natural psychic sense." Fabulous, I thought. Show me what to do. Let's see if this psychic stuff is for real. Bring it on. Well, I've tried some of the "44 fun and simple activities" offered in the book, and guess what? I'm still a poor struggling writer with a sad love life who has no clue how to win the lottery. Nope, I can't even communicate with my cat...or at least, I don't think I can. She's a cat so she could just be ignoring me, but still.
Friday, August 16, 2013
On Twitter, I'd seen several people threaten to shut down their access to avoid Breaking Bad spoilers. I was like, huh, it must be pretty intense if people are willing to avoid Twitter! So I started the first episode. And haven't looked back yet.
If you're not familiar with the show as I was just a few days ago, you might be surprised that the protagonist is a drug lord. He cooks meth. Yeah. Let that soak in. A whole TV show spanning several years' worth of episodes about a meth head? But he's not a meth head (that's his partner, snerk).
What I find so interesting is they SHOW how a normal, average nice man -- Walt was a Chemistry teacher -- could become a "bad" man. A criminal. What choices he makes. How one choice leads to another dangerous situation. How easy it could be to rationalize being "bad." And it all hinges on one key question. WHY? Why would he do this? Why should I care about someone making drugs?
The show doesn't flinch away from the consequences of drug use. The meth heads are desperate and crazed by their addiction, one woman willing to drop an ATM on her husband's head because he called her a skank while they were fighting over the last hit.
We buy Walt's motivation because it makes sense. We understand why Walt would make these choices. That makes all the difference.
You see, he was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer in the very first episode. They're already barely making ends meet. His wife doesn't work, he's a teacher and not some fancy chemist working for a pharmaceutical company. He's got a handicapped teenaged son and a baby on the way. Now his life is about to end and he's going to leave his family with nothing.
No savings. Huge medical bills. No nice life insurance policy. Nothing.
He doesn't know what he's going to do, until he sees his brother-in-law -- who just happens to be a DEA agent -- on TV with a huge stack of cash on the table from a drug bust. That gives him the idea. He's a chemist. He could certainly learn how to make meth.
Even more importantly, he makes mistakes. Huge mistakes that could get him killed. He doesn't think like a criminal at first, and that totally makes sense. We're slowly lured into the underworld just like he his, and more importantly, we're rooting for him. We're hoping he can beat cancer. We're hoping he doesn't lose his family if they find out the truth. We're as desperate as he is.
I'm not ready to "break bad" and turn into a drug lord, but I *am* pushing the envelope with some of my characters. I've always been interested in antiheroes. Assassins. (I've written two so far.) Then there's this other story cooking in the back of my brain. A dangerous story, about a killer. I just have to figure out the most important question. Why? Why is he the way he is? Can I make it serious and real enough that you'll care whether or not he lives or dies? No matter how many "wrong" things he's done?
Breaking Bad is definitely giving me ideas!
Do you watch the show? What do you find interesting about it?
Thursday, August 15, 2013
- It looks fun. Every cover I’ve seen for Steampunk is gorgeous. Every excerpt intriguing. I mean I know there is bad writing in every genre but so far what I’ve read about steampunk seems light, fun, adventurous, tongue-in-cheek fun
- The costumes! I mean come on! Corsets, flowing skirts, ankle boots. And the jewelry! A mixture of punk, Victorian and tech. It’s awesome. I want a good reason to go to a Steampunk convention and dress up. I mean walking into the grocery store in full steampunk costume might generate some attention, but that’s not really the kind of attention I like. ; 0 ) I might even be convinced to dress up at RT or some other fantasy convention...but then how to explain that I actually write epic fantasy... Yeah.
- The concept is brilliant. I love Victorians. Throw in steam, gadgets and an entirely different way of looking at history. I’m all in!
- The company. See above. Cindy, Seleste, PG... and more! There are so many talented writers in this genre.