31 December 2011 0 comments

Imagine A World Without Labels

[For Oleg.]
Once upon a time there a was a bird.
But the bird was born into a skin that didn't feel right.
Wasn't shaped right.
Didn't look anything like it should, in fact.

Bird spent decades listening to others denigrate the shape and look of the skin that didn't feel right. It was too fat, it was too thin, it was too pale, it didn't have enough shape. Was too many hard planes and solid muscle to fit in over there, missing too many pieces to fit in over here.

21 December 2011 0 comments

Welcome, Winter.

Today is winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The first day of winter.
It marks the beginning of the worst time of year for me: the sun is hiding, it's cold, and ... yeah, I think that's sufficient.

I've often wished I could have a huge castle, with a great hall and a massive hearth large enough to burn a yule log this time of year. Celebrate the longest night the way it was always intended to be. I'm not much on holidays, but this one isn't about a specific religion or set of beliefs -- solstice is just the rhythms of nature, of the planet, the inevitability of the seasons. A reminder that all things have their time, this too shall pass, and without the bleak death of winter, we'd have little appreciation for the budding new life of spring.

Balance. Change rarely happens swiftly, but instead in small increments over time.

And if I want to escape the snow, I really should start planning to relocate. To Bora Bora, or something.
10 December 2011 0 comments

Snarky & Snarkier

It's Saturday! And I'm editing! So, definitely time for a snark break!
And this week, I've decided to tease you with a sliver of Blacker Than Black, since my brain isn't able to really come up with much else. And, you know, only two weeks to go...

This is what you get when you push two equally snarky individuals into sharing space.

No black and white sides here. I study the vampire. Just Black . . . and blacker. “I get the impression you’re not pleased with this development.”
Garthelle takes a step back. And then another, as if abruptly aware of my proximity. “What leads you to that conclusion?”
I wonder how long I can goad him into retreating. “You seem disturbed.”
“Disturbed by the sudden inability to sense your very existence?” He turns away. “Indeed. I would not put it past my opposition to facilitate such.”
“And you’re unbalanced by the prospect of my death. At hands other than yours, I presume.”
He glances at me, a quick furtive look over his shoulder, prey fleeing unflappable pursuit. “No.”
“Because that, as I recall, was the alternative you initially offered me.” I don’t succeed in keeping the rough edge of resentment out of my voice. “My death. By your own hand.”
And that marks the extent of his retreat. Garthelle turns back and faces me, arms folded loosely across his chest. “Your point being?”
To preorder your very own copy of this lovely snarkfest, click the cover art of Black to the right.
Check out the rest of the Saturday Snark participants by following the links below!

07 December 2011 1 comments

And the Rainbow Award for Best Gay Futuristic/Sci-Fi Goes To...

*clears throat*
Drum roll, please.

In a three-way tie for first place,
Dark Edge of Honor.

My thanks to Aleks Voinov the Best Co-Author Ever (and CONGRATS too, Darth Vader -- you rock), Deb Nemeth the Editor of Awesome,
and all the very professional staff at Carina Press.
Cue the Snoopy Dancing, Streamers, Confetti Parade and Sundry Noisemakers.

03 December 2011 2 comments

That Sounds About Right

Sitting here with the morning winter sun streaming through my living room window, crusted with half-thawed frost.
Trying to get my brain in gear so I can dive back into some writing and editing. Sipping hot coffee, doing the usual internet trolling routine: *stretch, sip*, email, *yawn, fire up the trance mix*, tumblr, *perk*, fresh soldierporn images, *scratch, sip*, goodreads...

Today's Goodreads "quote of the day" caught my attention.

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.” 
― Edgar Degas

Oh, that. Yes. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that both DEoH and BTB were created this way. Behold the writer, finally surrendering, throwing up their hands, and admitting, "I have no fucking clue what the hell is going on." It's like opening a release value on a sluice gate.

Shit starts moving, after that. Fast.
Sometimes so fast you can't keep up.

It's another way of saying, get the hell out of your own way.
Because as an artist, you're often your own worst critic, second-guessing your efforts and overthinking every last word or brush stroke. Take a breath, roll your shoulders, and just let it flow.

So for today, that's what I aim to do. Relax my grip on the reins and let the horse set its own pace. We're due for the simplicity of a nice long run, with the wind in our hair and the thunder of hooves on the turf, and nothing else.
24 November 2011 0 comments

There is Beauty in the Darkness

They're my friends, I call 'em Larry, Mo, and Curly.
Death has never been a subject that overly concerned me, not even when I was young. It's always hovered on the periphery, the inevitable, the natural course of existence, the unavoidable conclusion to the story.

Those that fear death, fear life, the warrior philosophy goes. So say the soldiers, who won't set foot in a hospital unless they're dead, or unable to fight their way off the gurney under their own power. They don't fear it -- but they sure as hell don't waste much energy talking about it either.

But the stories in my mind, the untold sagas, the muses who haven't yet had the opportunity to be born, to stretch their limbs, to wander through the minds of a hundred readers, and live... present something else entirely for me.

12 November 2011 0 comments

Countdown Begins Today

Today's the 12th -- only one month until the release of Blacker Than Black.
To celebrate the countdown, I've started a Q&A group on GoodReads (hopefully I've done it correctly) where you can come and ask questions about Black, the book, or anything else you'd like to discuss with me.

Including the subject matter and content of my recent post, Ones and Zeros: Breaking Past Binary.

Yes, it's pertinent to Blacker Than Black, as I mention in the post. I don't want to 'spoil' the reading experience for anyone, but if you're confused as to why and how the two connect, or what exactly it means, please feel free to stop by and ask a question. Here's the link to the GR group. It's a public group, you don't have to be a member to read the discussions -- though you will need to be in order to post a comment.
11 November 2011 1 comments

Timing is Everything

I'm sitting here at my writing desk, trying to get some edit/rewrites done. The words don't seem to be coming. Not for that, at any rate. I'm finding plenty of inspiration and words, just not for actual writing projects, it seems.
And I look up to see this.

Caused by the afternoon fall sun coming through the living room window, and hitting the wall just so.
A strange reminder that timing is everything. And no amount of flailing will make things come out right, not the way they're intended, until their time has come.
And when that time does come, you need to be prepared to seize the moment, freeze it and hold it, and make the most of it.
Don't rail that the words won't come. Wait, and prepare for the moment when they flow forth like a geyser. It'll happen, it's just a matter of patience and preparation.
Nothing good has ever come of forcing it.
It's why I'm editing/rewriting, as a matter of fact.
09 November 2011 2 comments

Ones and Zeros: Breaking Past Binary

I recently stumbled across a blogpost on the official OIIUSA website that made me hackle, hard.
For those that don’t know, OII is Organization Intersexual International, the international awareness and rights organization for intersexuality. I began following the blog some months ago as a result of Black’s imminent release, doing research for content—news and otherwise—to feed onto a subject-related page.
The content of the blogpost in question was to be commended, actually: 8 November was Intersexuality Awareness Day, and the post was the biographical information of one of the first known and documented intersexuals.
What set me off was that the blog also stated the following:
08 November 2011 0 comments

Meet the Muses: Origin: Black

This month marks the fifth birthday of my muse, Black, from "Blacker Than Black."

It was in the early fall of 2006 when I found a submissions-call for an anthology with a "Red Light District" theme. A fellow writer had challenged me to write something new and different, completely removed from anything I'd done before. Up until that time the bulk of my writing revolved around an epic fantasy which, these days, I fondly call the Trunk Novel.

Okay, I remember thinking. Something completely different. The wheels churned in my head, as I visualized the divergences and extrapolated.
06 November 2011 0 comments

Six Sentences: A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Mike's handler is looking at a black and white print of  Sergei and the Doctrine general at a meeting. He can tell there's something going on.
Smoke billowed from his nose as Mike exhaled in one long stream. It hung in the stillness of the room, layered above the floor like incense in a temple, glinting in the sunlight.

“Not sure what.” He shrugged his shoulders, the simple observation a completely honest assessment.

The man’s bark of laughter reminded him of a hacksaw against steel, and Mike took another long drag.

“Find out, then...there might be a way to exploit it.”
Get your copy of "Dark Edge of Honor" and read the rest, over here.
05 November 2011 2 comments

Saturday Snark: Military Equivalent of "Wardrobe Malfunction"

This one's from a WIP that I'm working on, and this is a piece of the scene I'm currently editing today. I stumbled across this bit of #soldierporn snarkiness and just had to share!
Their fingers tangled as Hamm palmed Marc's cock through his trousers while Marc tried desperately to focus on undoing the buttons.
How many thousands of years of military refinement and nobody had devised anything better than buttons?

02 November 2011 1 comments

WIP Wednesday: A Boy & His Gun

This one's working title is "Fifth Sound, Sixth Sense" and is the story of a forward scout on what was thought to be an uninhabited planet.
Silly humans.

But he knew his rifle well, how to eke the most out of what Mat had to give. Mutilate All Tangos.
“Time to play, sexy.” He stroked the trigger guard with his forefinger.
When the tango shifted back into sight, the shape of a forehead, cheekbone, and temple were unmistakable and definitely not one of his fellow scouts.
He squeezed the trigger, watched the tawny shape disappear in a pink mist.
“Oh yeah, Mat. Just like that. I knew you liked it dirty.”
30 October 2011 4 comments

Six Sentence Sunday: "Blacker Than Black"

For this week's six, a sneak-peek at Black, on the boulevard in the opening scene. A vampire just eased up to the curb in a snazzy little coupe, its glassy curves refracting the blue-lit glow from the buildings.
I soak up the sensation, willing the stranger not to move, or speak; I want to stay in this moment for a while.  To freeze this pristine instant of unrealized potential.  Before the vampire flaps his lips and makes an ass out of himself.  It happens every time, without fail, and every time I manage to conceal the sigh of disappointment and refrain from putting voice to whatever sarcastic comment pops in my head.
Silence, magical energy.  May it last, please, for just a little longer?
Like what you read and want the rest? Pre-order your copy of "Blacker Than Black" over here at Riptide.

Check out the rest of this week's Six-Sentence offerings, over here.
28 October 2011 1 comments

Foodporn With Jan: Oh, Yummy.

I'll admit I have no clue what I'm doing when I put the digital camera on "manual" -- one thing's for sure, the picture isn't too dark (auto setting in existing light) and doesn't have flash-flare, either.

Isn't that a yummy looking cup of coffee, with hand-whipped cream (spiked with Godiva chocolate liqueur) and cocoa and cinnamon sprinkled on top?

Mmm, yum, yes it is. *takes another sip*

Okay, back to editing. I swear for every page of corrections I do, I'm adding two pages of new content. Oh well. Means more story to read, yeah? The longer the better. No deep conversation is ever just two inches. Not the really good ones, anyways.

Oh, was that my out-loud voice? Oops. Godiva and I are really good friends, I'll blame him.
24 October 2011 1 comments

Jack and John O'Lantern

I will be the first to admit that I don't celebrate holidays with the same gusto or ... flair ... that many employ. I also hate carving pumpkins. Knives and I, we don't get on too well. Never mind the guts, and the gross rot thing that always happens. I love roasted pumpkin seeds more than the next person, but the mess just isn't really worth it...

Jack & John O'Lantern. They're just friends.
So this year I substituted with a couple plastic decorative pumpkins, which were indiscriminately attacked with a Sharpie marker.
Say hello to Jack and his slightly psychotic fiend--I mean friend--John.
Alas, they don't light up. Yet. I imagine with a drill and a nightlight, I can make some magic happen. Hey guys, you okay with me shoving lights up your butts?
...I'm getting flat stares.

19 October 2011 0 comments

WIP Wednesday: Dancing Circles

Randomly, from the chapter/scene I'm currently slaving my way through.
When it became obvious that he wouldn't relent so easily, Jaedyn lapsed back into his sporadic stream of banter. ::Back home....:: The texture of his posse twitched, fluttered, momentarily jagged edges and bristling barbs before smoothing out again. ::The foreman and his second told me something of the Idoloni.::
Jaedyn uttered 'second' but it wasn't just the word. Instead, Renji had a flash of this complex and beautiful thing, a thickly rooted solidarity, love running so deep and strong it would never change course. Obviously the arête had thoroughly addled Renji's brain; it took conscious effort to focus past the simple sensory pleasure of the consensus and on what the man was discussing, as Jaedyn explained what he'd been told. 
16 October 2011 7 comments

Six Sentence Sunday: Dark Edge of Honor

My very first 6-Sentence Sunday! Going to start off easy, with an excerpt from "Dark Edge of Honor" where Mike gets his first good look at Sergei. (He's such a perv.)
The deep baritone carried across the short distance, smooth and thick, so heavily accented that it took a few seconds of lag for Mike's brain to translate.
It was a pathetic excuse for a balcony--forget a lounge chair, the soldier barely had room to pace its measure, let alone turn around. The man studied the structure, bounced his weight back and forth in his widespread stance, arms folded.
Mother of gods, the man was built like a battle cruiser and easily topped six foot. The spread of his shoulders dwarfed the doorway at his back. There was no missing the strain of musculature beneath the dark fabric and blood-red pinstriped trousers as he shifted his weight, then twisted to glance back over his shoulder into the dark confines of the room behind him.
Read a full excerpt or get a copy of it from Carina Press, here.
Check out the slew of other writers that participate in 6-Sentence Sunday, over here!
14 October 2011 0 comments

One More Day

I've been rather quiet the past week, but there's a good reason, I swear there is! ...It's because I can't find much to say when all my energies are focused on writing. And that's where my mind has been, since Friday of last week. Writing. And...more writing.

My week-long vacation is coming to a close. I've enjoyed the generous downtime. So has my writing. And while I haven't churned out monumental word counts or anything, I expect the WIP will be sitting pretty at 50k when I head back to the doldrums of The Day Job tomorrow.

Sadly, I've no idea if that is supposed to be the halfway point, or what it is precisely. I'm refraining from sharing too many excerpts just now, since it's still in the formative "I don't even have a complete draft yet" stage. So, instead, I give you my muse.

This is Jaedyn Myfala. And... he has a neck fetish. Apparently.
It's a good thing he's so nice to look at, because he's going to be hanging around a while.

Which is fine. I am gleefully willing to throw him in the meat-grinder at every opportunity. His resilience is beautiful. Though he does glare at me a bit when I start lobbing curve balls at him.

And now I'm back off to the Writing Machine, to crank out the next scene. Have a good weekend, and stay tuned for my 6-Sentence Sunday post!
01 October 2011 2 comments

Saturday Snark: Another WIP Scene

"They will take away my freedom and lock me in the bowels of Ommat. Away from the sun and wind, the sky and turf. You would require this of me."

"Your insignis requires it." The venator, the same one that shook his had not a minute past, spoke up. His voice was flat, unyielding.

"Quiet." The matrem spoke the work softly but it was a whip all the same, and the venator flinched. "I did not give you leave to speak."

-from Dancing Circles, a work-in-progress.

Look What I Found!

Isn't that just the most gorgeous cover art ever? In the history of books?
Mind you, it isn't done yet. (Yeah that made me goggle a bit as well.)
Soon, though, very soon.

Also, Riptide's Launch Party is officially starting-- you can get the details over on Amara's Place. Here are the highlights:

(1) They're open for pre-orders. Yes, you can bounce on over there and purchase an ebook format of Blacker Than Black. Is that not awesome??

(2) They've publicized four open submission calls. Themed ones, but get this: they have short, novella and full-length classifications for each one, so whatever you might have, I'm sure it would fit. Go forth and polish those puppies.
28 September 2011 0 comments

Where Can I Purchase a Luck Dragon?

I am trapped. Somewhere between the Bog of Eternal Stench and the Dark Black Forest.

It was a painful ordeal of an exercise, but the Trunk Novel now has something that resembles an outline, and a full plot arc. The major one, anyways. Still all the minor ones to consider and flesh out, but the guide rails are in place. And like a sluice gate being cranked open, the scenes are forming in my mind, battering to get out. I want to write. Finally. It's been rough, slow going, hammering out something like roughly 5k total this month.

25 September 2011 1 comments

Making Ugly Beautiful

I still haven't repainted my living room -- the walls are still some strange hue of fuchsia/pink/purple/raspberry or whatever the hell it is. I'm learning to appreciate it. Or maybe I've just stopped seeing it, or something.
I'm not really one of those people that hangs stuff on the walls everywhere. But I'm finding ways to make the walls pretty, without painting them. And I am far from a quality photographer, either. I just point and click.

24 September 2011 5 comments

Saturday Snark!

Today's snark is an excerpt from my current WIP:

“Has Guardian sent someone to witness?” Jaedyn stared at the Emendati, not recognizing either of them as a miles or insigni who’d frequented the ranch in past. Carrying messages, more often than not.
Though what messages the Emendatio had for an emeritus remained far beyond Jaedyn’s grasp.

“We are venatori.” The man spoke up before Augustus could answer, which earned him a piercing glance. “I am Naethyn Ratan, my insignis is Horus. We were dispatched to escort you back to Favillu.”

“So then the answer is no.” Jaedyn nodded. “You could’ve saved some breath and just said so.”

23 September 2011 0 comments

Black Has A Blurb!

The blurb for Blacker Than Black is now up on GoodReads and Riptide's website. It looks like the final version of the cover art will be ready by the end of the month as well. Just in time for October launch pre-ordering! I can't dance to save my ass, but I'm definitely bouncing in my chair...

And this is probably the shortest blogpost ever, barring that one-liner for Marie Sexton's Saturday Snark (and I'm totally doing that again tomorrow, it was So Much Fun!!) but I need to go run to the post office and mail off some cover art flats to some winners. And then I need to get some writing done. It can keep raining or whatever that is it's doing out there, I really didn't want to mow the lawn today anyways. *mwahahaha*

Oh, you want the blurb? Of course you want the blurb. How silly of me. Don't mind me, I'm still bouncing in my chair.
22 September 2011 0 comments

This Space For Rent.

Finally managed to get caught up on the transcribing. Mostly because I've reached a scene that's still tenuous and forming in the back of my mind, so I've not completed writing it yet.

It's a strange balance I'm striving to create -- in a high-tension, fast-paced scene, trying to keep that energetic charge, while at the same time convey enough description and information that the reader can "see" what's happening.

The scene in question is an ambush. Launched by the 'antagonists' against the traveling group of 'protagonists' but this is also the first time the antagonists are taking the stage physically, so this is the reader's introduction to them. Up until this point their influence has been vicarious, offstage, and insinuated or suspected. So much potential to twist and/or play with the reader perception here.
The antagonists aren't nearly as clear-cut as the POV characters perceive them. And the idea here is to show that to the reader, though the characters probably won't just yet. So yeah, I haven't finished this scene yet...
19 September 2011 0 comments

Just Let Your Love Flow

I've still four pages of transcribing to complete to get caught up. Some days it's a more daunting task than it should be.
I procrastinated with constructing an Eclectic Playlist the other day.(It's hard work, trolling through five decades of BillBoard chart-toppers.) And discovered a very old song that, oddly, I recalled from my childhood and didn't realize was an actual song.

When I was a wee mite of a thing, back in the day of Troglodytes and Tyrannosaurs, I had this clunky wind-up music box thing. It was designed to withstand the abusive adoration and overuse that a child like me would give it. It had cartoon pictures of bumblebees, and doves, and apple trees...
17 September 2011 4 comments

Saturday Snark

From "Dark Edge of Honor" --

Mike wondered if someone got paid to piss in their cornflakes each morning.

Check out Marie Sexton's "Saturday Snark" entry for more smiles!
14 September 2011 0 comments

I've Got Time For a Quickie

The overhaul of the trunk currently sits at 27.5k. Progressing, slowly. But steadily.
It might never really gain the writing momentum that has me churning out 3k a day and more. But it will be told.

I've a few other stories laying around as well, ones I want to work on during NanoWrimo this year.
It's likely that will interrupt this, at least a little.
I'd rather plug away steadily and have no need to do heavy developmental edits. But some days I definitely feel like The Writer Tortoise.

10 September 2011 1 comments

What I'm Writing: WIP Tease

Mind-ridden. The felines were watching, serving as the eyes of the serpen.
Aerdin turned his head and looked up at Renji, a slow, incremental shift. "You see them?"
He nodded.
"Waste, medicus. Why aren't you umbras."
Because it would be impossible to resist the urge, to hide what he was.
Renji just shrugged.
"Half my new trainees wouldn't be able to see their hand in front of their face at night like this."
"And the other half?"
09 September 2011 1 comments

Dry Umbrellas: A New Turn of Phrase

There was a good bit of exhaustion-fueled hilarity at the day-job, yesterday. Some very interesting conversations. The regular overnight associate, with whom I worked most of a 17-hour shift, is a fount of such quality material.

Last night's story was about her elementary-aged son. He has a backpack that he takes to school each day with a full compliment of "survivalist" supplies. A bottle of water, a utility knife, gloves, umbrella, cell phone with emergency phone numbers, that sort of thing. Earlier this week, her boy returned home from school absolutely drenched. Wearing a thin jacket not designed to keep one dry, the boy was saturated with water. And pulled his umbrella out from inside his jacket as he stepped inside.

The umbrella was closed, and safely dry, tucked against his torso. I imagine the boy had a passing thought at how useless an umbrella was in the rain, for keeping one dry.
08 September 2011 0 comments

Plotting to Take Over the World

Err, my little corner of it, at any rate.
I shall be Nano-ing this year.
Yep, you heard me right.

05 September 2011 0 comments

Depressingly Optimistic

About two thousand words of transcription accomplished today-- five pages of longhand transferred to Scrivener, on the writing machine.

This was managed between bouts of working on interview files (and praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they're done at last) and random power outages and even a nap. It's been a very busy and productive day. And tomorrow is free for fresh words, which I fully intend to make very good use of. Though I expect there to be some interruption for another attempt at Taming of the Mulberry.

28 August 2011 0 comments

As the Rush Comes: Focus, and WIP Snippet

I've been struggling recently over which project to work on. Had little in the way of writing energy, thanks to the distraction -- in part -- of DEoH releasing.

With that behind me, and off to as good a start as I was able to give it, my brain finally seems content to move on. Which direction, though, is another matter entirely. I have this tome of a project, so large as to be daunting. And then there's the sequel to DEoH that needs some plotting. And the sequel to Black, which has admittedly stalled a good bit for the time being. I have been leery of sinking myself into the heavy rewrites of the trunked novel, in fear of getting lost and never surfacing again.

And then, there's nothing quite like churning out 20k on a full-length novel project without any notion as to whether it works. At all.

Enter The Beta, swooping in like Superman to save the day.

26 August 2011 0 comments

Trunks & Running Lights, If Only Horses Had Them

I've accumulated three days' worth of longhand writing that needs transcribed.

Want, desperately, to get it done before my days off Sunday and Monday, because I always feel so unproductive when I do nothing but type things I've already written. The upsides -- I'm writing again, on my lunch breaks, and the transcription process allows me to edit/polish as I go. Instead of wondering what sort of shite I typed the day previous when I sit down to the computer to work.

The downsides -- I rarely get anything 'new' written, and sometimes berate myself for being unproductive as a result.

There were a few people who read the original version of the Trunked Novel and loved it. Were annoyed, even, that I failed to finish the second volume of it in that incarnation. The problem was I stopped feeling the main character. I matured and evolved to a place where I could no longer relate, could no longer functionally channel her. One way or another, the entire story would need rewritten in order for me to finish it. So here I go again, reincarnating it. This is surely Life Number Five, but I get the feeling this time it won't be "country bumpkin is speshul and saves the world!" in nature.

24 August 2011 1 comments

Mug Porn & Swag(ger)

Apparently I have such a coffee kink that I have transformed into a mug collector.
This is not something that happened consciously. But I got so excited about this new acquisition, that it caught me by surprise.
So I started doing a mental tally of all the mugs I have. The octagonal diner cups; Taz; wolf; funny shapes and melded, marbled colors; the Cascade Mountains and now, Sergei's Luscious Neck.
The latter two are posing here on the writing desk:
Art, and Art. I can has Twins. Obviously they're fraternal, duh.
 I gave up trying to get a portrait of Sergei that didn't have a glare. The mug is metal, so it's impossible I guess. A picture of Sergei, on a metal meg. Oh, the irony. *mwahahaha* But! Now He Can Come to Work With Me. Which is so awesome, I can't even describe.
I am now officially a coffee mug whore.
I expect I shall acquire one for each cover art, come to think of it. Because I'm loving this one so hard.

I need to be transcribing. Two hours to play with yet, before the day job. I should be more productive than this. But I just had to share my lovelies.

Also? Swag is coming. Some will be shipped off to Riptide for their use in launch promotion activities, but I've got plenty. And I'm going to be doing a series of Niki & Uly-centered scenes on a few, deleted stuff that didn't make it into the final draft because they're such stage-thieves. Teasers for the sequel!

Not sure how the give-away for those will work, or when it'll be, but should be soon...
22 August 2011 0 comments

Another Giveaway!

Another "Dark Edge of Honor" giveaway!

In case you missed your chance last week and want another stab, the benevolent Vivien Dean is holding a giveaway on her blog. Click the link above and leave a comment to enter. Giveaway ends 9 a.m. on Monday, 29 August. Open worldwide.

*warnings* This book is a dark and gritty military science fiction novel, in addition to being a gay romance. It includes scenes of torture, dubious consent, and violence involving the main characters. You must be the age of consent in your country to receive the prize.

20 August 2011 0 comments

False Advertising

Not much to say today.
Release week for DEoH has been a very unique and new experience for me.
So I'll leave you with...
Iron Mike, a photo essay.

17 August 2011 1 comments
I'd just like to say that it was thrill enough to see my and Aleks' book on the top of the "Most Popular" list weeks before its release. That alone was, to be honest, more than I'd dreamed of.

But two days after, to have it sitting on the top yet again...
I am humbled by the volume of attention this implies. From Aleks' fans, and others.
Thank you. Seeing DEoH on that list will not get old, let me tell you.

Curious to see how long it will stay there, myself.
Anyone willing to place some wagers? What are the odds? I'm not ordinarily the betting sort, to be honest. But I do love numbers. And I've no sales stats to play with, so I'm totally twiddling my thumbs right now.


Right. Like I don't have other stories to write, yeah? *laughs* Okay, I'll stop wishing for statistical data that I don't have access to, and sales figures that I can't have, and go back to what I get paid for.
Giving Good Book.

Oh, and all those interview questions for the Riptide Blog Cruise. *cringes*
Any help you guys would like to offer would be great. What are the things you like seeing an author discuss in an interview? Do you care what their favorite color is? Would you rather hear about how they come up with their ideas, than who the influencing authors in their lives were?

Toss some things at me. I'd love to draft answers to the questions the readers would find interesting.

16 August 2011 0 comments

In Living Color

DEoH is released for purchase, in both e-book and audio formats.
I was so happy, I forgot to make a blog post yesterday. I spent the morning sleeping in, actually and by the time I rolled out of bed, I think my co-writer was starting to think the world really was flat and I'd fallen off the edge and would never be heard from again.
I made up for it by popping in on his fan-group chatroom and gabbing with the fans for a bit.

And I still have no understanding of what algorithm this "Most Popular" list on Carina's website uses, but DEoH is sitting in second place. Page views? Purchases? I'm actually dying to know how they calculate that list ranking *lol* Kind of a "yeah my book's on there, but what's it mean?" sort of reaction.

I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions and reviews of readers trickle in as they finish reading. Will be interesting to see.

And I'm going to make an attempt at writing, later today, after I get this week's #soldierporn links update drafted and live. It's *late* this week, obviously.
10 August 2011 0 comments

My Mini-Vacation

I'm taking all of next week off from my regular day-job so that I can celebrate DEoH's release-- Snoopy-Dancing and Grinning Like an Institutionalized Loon. Without scaring the customers.
It's not really a vacation, because I'm still working, after a fashion. If it were a real vacation, I wouldn't be staying at home, that's for sure.

If I could take a real week's vacation, I'd be here:
Best View Ever, Bora Bora Hammock.
However, I'm not. I'm in my little writer corner all week long, availing myself to fans and readers and bloggers and such, doing all the marketing and promo stuff that a good little author does.

[Yes, Good Little Author. Pat me on the head and give me a cookie now!]

But I think I'll keep this picture handy. As my desktop background or something, perhaps.

Because, woohoo, that's gorgeous ain't it? They have restaurants with extreme al fresco dining, where the tables and chairs are in the water.

One day, Rhi. One day... Although a week's vacation might become permanent residency or something. Why is it that when you see a view like that each day, you take it for granted, not realizing the true beauty of what surrounds you?

Alright, it's definitely to early for philosophical ramblings. I should get some writing done today.
*waves* Have a nice Hump Day, and I'll see you next week for the Skwee-Fest That Is DEoH.
[Mike just rolled his eyes and shook his head at me.]
Watch it buddy. Or I might boot your ass on the next flight back to Bora Bora, if you're just going to be useless.
Yes, I do retire all my muses there, in fact. Some of them go on vacation there when I ignore them for too long. It's like trying to pry a marble out of cement, getting them to come back to work after that...

So I should really go write. Keep them busy so they don't all abandon me for ... hammocks, and crystalline waters, and balmy temperatures, and skin cancer.
07 August 2011 0 comments

I Sense a Disturbance in the Force

It's official: Black has found a home at Riptide Publishing.
A newly formed, not-yet-launched small press, Riptide has gathered together a bevy of reputable names for its stable in its first-round selection. There's no such thing as open subs at this joint. It's by invitation or referral only.
And Black is sitting pretty over there, grinning like a loon and feeling a tad bit out of place to say the least.

Sort of like the college quarterback that gets picked up as a first-round draft pick by the team they've grown up rooting for.
Then again, seeing as how I am one of the first-round selections... perhaps that isn't an entirely accurate analogy.
But it's kinda how the "n00b" over here feels. Just a wee bit.

I mean, check out that list of authors! It's like a who's who in M/M.
Makes me feel a little... well. A few different songs come to mind.

03 August 2011 1 comments

Meet the Muses: Origin: Mike

Mike is my character from the soon-to-be-released 'Dark Edge of Honor.'

I’ve been acquainted with a number of different veterans and soldiers through the years, but there was one specifically—a person I don’t know, and never met—that sparked the beginnings of this story and was the avatar of the spirit behind him.
Late in 2009, I stumbled rather deliberately upon the website of photojournalist Michael Yon and delved into the dispatches from his 2005 embed with deployed troops in Iraq. One of them stopped me in my tracks. Entitled “Gates of Fire,” (click here for the link to Yon's full dispatch) it recounted an incident involving the Deuce Four’s Lt. Colonel Kurilla and Command Sergeant Major Prosser which Yon witnessed, camera in hand.
28 July 2011 0 comments

A Peon's Thoughts on Digital Publishing & Industry Evolution

I've watched yet another large-circulation newspaper make sweeping changes to their book review section.
From the Publisher's Weekly article [emphasis added]:
Sullivan, the VP of Communications for the LA Times, confirmed that this was a cost-saving move but would not provide details on the number of freelancers who were eliminated last week. “Staff writers from outside the book department will take over for those who left. We have not changed our commitment to book coverage or the amount of space the Times will devote to it.” 
I find it fascinating that no reference is made to the quality of the content the LA Times will offer, going forward. Parceling out review assignments outside the book department doesn't bode well. They aren't the first news organization to revamp their book-related content. Back in 2009, the Washington Post did something similar, condensing and consolidating what had once been a fully separate section.

Is it just a sign of the economy, businesses trying to cut costs and taking increasingly desperate measures?
Perhaps. This writer, though, thinks of it more as a sign of the times. The industry itself, whose shifting landscape is having an influence on the value-added by such venues in traditional sources. To put it simply, readers are turning elsewhere for the book reviews reading recommendations. And for reviews of niche releases, which are gaining momentum in the digital channel. Books that a traditional mainstream media outlet wouldn't bother touching. Some of the greater perception out there seems to revolve around a shift in focus, that consumers buying books are looking at reviews and ratings on Amazon, or other sellers, as an earmark for whether a book or author is worth reading.

I'm not certain how accurate this is, overall. I think the seller ratings have some influence, but I don't think that's where the greater part of the information channel is occurring. My money is on non-retail and social media sources. Word of mouth, after all, is the best form of publicity. And the word of a trusted friend or acquaintance has greater weight than an unknown.  Freelance book review bloggers are an increasing source of influence for consumers who are avid readers and heavily favor a specific genre, especially when it's a niche. Blog tours, coordinated by publishers to highlight releases over a series of blogger sites, are becoming an increasingly utilized strategy for marketing and publicity, reader visibility and awareness. Sites like GoodReads are taking a lions' share of the role also. They don't sell anything. They're simply a repository, an online library of publications which permits publicity and awareness and marketing through socialization. The ultimate word-of-mouth channel.

These marketing channels are a godsend for the 'little guys' -- creating equal footing with the big boys. Indie authors, small press sources -- years ago, these labels would have been considered derogatory and suggested poor quality product and writing. An author that couldn't hack it. Granted there's some weight in a 'big name' when it has that household name recognition in its favor.

The winds have shifted direction, though. I submit as evidence the bankruptcy and liquidation of Borders. The bookstore that offered coffee and ambiance and cozy little reading niches. Failure on a grand scale. They couldn't even whore themselves to another company in the industry to save themselves. Crash and burn. But why?

Because the sales, and the traffic, are going elsewhere. While the change is gradual, the effect is felt. And in a tight economy, competition has the wolves eating each other. Only the strong, and the quick-witted, will survive.

Electronic sales figures aren't that large, in comparison to print sales. The slumps can be attributed to economy and other factors as well.

Really? From the Association of American Publishers-- E-book sales show +164.4 percent gain for 2010:
E-books grew a dramatic +164.8 percent in December 2010 vs the previous year ($49.5 Million vs $18.7M). In the AAP’s ninth year of tracking this category, E-books once again increased significantly on an annual basis, up +164.4 percent for 2010 vs 2009 ($441.3M vs $166.9M). E-book sales represented 8.32 percent of the trade book market in 2010 vs 3.20 percent the previous year. A chart tracking nine years of E-book sales is included below:

These are US-only sales figures, though. Also, one could arguably interpret these statistics to conclude whatever they wish. That is, after all, the wonder of visual presentation and interpretation. Including that, with those levels of reported sales, trade print is safe from the influence of e-books. It appears to be so--I would only disagree on the grounds of fluctuating print-sales figures which make an intriguing contrast to e-book figures that only show steady growth by substantive percentages, year after year. Print sales figures were lower last year than they've been in six years. A fluke, I'm sure. Will e-books ever replace print completely? Immortal sky fairies help us, I hope not. I do enjoy picking a book up and flipping pages, now and then. But perhaps that's only because I'm too poor (read: stingy) to fork out the funds for an e-reader. Then again, I will always love being able to hold my very own book in my hand. But maybe that attachment to the tangible just makes me "old-school."

Brick and mortar retailers of books were late to jump on the e-book format bandwagon. They're also late/no-shows to the idea of assisting publishers with marketing/publicity from a digital/internet presence perspective. I'd venture a guess that, with other sources offering to fill this hole free of charge, there's no use in them even trying. And I expect Amazon will remain strong simply because it's developed a role similar to that of Wal-Mart in the retail industry. Online, instead of 'brick-and-mortar.' Even though their distribution network seems to be having substantive issues as of late.

Publishers are increasing their own burden of responsibility in reaching out to the readership for publicity and marketing online. This reduces overhead costs--one of the great wonders of electronic formatting, the severe reduction in production costs--and while the reader might not realize the full weight of that savings, the increase in realized profit per sale means that the publisher can afford to invest in engaging those responsibilities.

As this trend continues and strengthens, gaining momentum alongside the expanding e-book market, the middle-man retailers will continue to be hit, and hard. With each aspect of the channel that goes digital, the damage inflicted to the conventional industry model increases. The surviving brick and mortar stores are going to need to mix it up--and reinvent themselves, or at least update their wardrobe--if they want to remain viable. Whether this means the smaller, independent stores band together in a union format to serve as distribution and publicity outreach channels remains to be seen. I imagine that, in the near future, blog tours will begin translating into public signings--coordinated and advertised via social media forums alone.

I'm just a peon, though, a small shred of Styrofoam flotsam bobbing along on the industry current. It'll go where it pleases, regardless of what I think. Or do.
27 July 2011 0 comments

Food Porn with Jan: Dinner Delight

Decided not to try tackling any writing this weekend. Not today, anyways. Whole lot of nothing going on over here, today. Sometimes, I think, it's okay to let yourself have a goal of zero productivity. That way, when you get nothing done, you don't beat yourself up for it. There was no way I was getting anything writing-related done today.

Om Nom Nom
And now that I've been a good girl and eaten some actual food... I'm curling up on the chaise out on the porch with a good read and some Bordeaux Chocolate Cherry ice cream over a soft chocolate fudge cookie and slathered in chocolate syrup, and a smoke and finish off my lazy day.

I'm entitled to one a month, I think. Sadly, if today is any indication, tomorrow might need written off as well. If that's the case, I have every intention of making up for it later this week. Hamm & Marc's story arc is fleshing out steadily and while it'll need some tweaking, I'm happy with what it looks like thus far.

Good news coming soon. Biting my tongue for now, Generals' orders. Stay tuned though...
21 July 2011 0 comments

Calling a Do-Over On That One.

Apparently I got so excited that I fouled the link up in my previous attempt. So here it is, functional.
Carina Press updated their website with the August releases, so you can now pre-order Dark Edge of Honor. Or read the excerpt. :)
20 July 2011 1 comments

Food Porn with Jan: Morning Munchies

Extra-moist cream cheese banana bread, Mahogany dark roast spiced w/ cinnamon & cloves. And this morning's transcribing task!
Today's agenda will revolve around a number of activities: edits and writing for the Gunporn submission sequel, and outlining some promo requests and content ideas for the release of DEoH.

Less than a month now! Starting to get a bit excited again. Eager to drum up some awareness, and also to see what sort of reception and reaction it gets from readers.

And because I enjoy taking pictures to share here, I might decide to make Food Porn w/ Jan a regular feature.

I'm off to *omnomnom* that banana bread. Aren't you jealous? I'd share, but the internets don't work so well like that. Not yet. Pity, though. It's delicious!

Have a lovely hump-day for your week, I intend to be productive!
16 July 2011 1 comments

Food Porn with Jan: Midday Meal

Raspberry cheese danish, soft oatmeal cookie, & a mug of dark roast with a heavy splash of Godiva White Chocolate liquor. And a bit of magic for inspiration. And yes, that's a sink mark plaque sample I'm using for a coaster.
Have been doing some pondering this morning, as I repaired my lawnmower (so difficult, a bit of oil and elbow grease resolved the throttle issue) and gave serious thought to my increasingly dual careers.
Neither of which can be considered "professional" by any measure or stretch of the imagination, mind.

As time passes, however, I am hoping that the career of writer will slide to the forefront. As things stand, I find it rather difficult to consider it more than a very fun hobby, at which I like to consider myself talented. Hell, I'm my own worst critic, I'm entitled to cut myself some slack and be my own best fan now and again. It's healthy. (Obviously, my breakfast wasn't. But it was good.)

Trying to maintain balance, though, is increasingly challenging.
And I'm procrastinating now, and should get back to staring at the screen and fleshing out something of the untitled sequel for "5th Sound, 6th Sense" because otherwise the whole day will be gone and I'll have accomplished nothing in terms of wordcount...
14 July 2011 0 comments

Music Soothes the Savage Muse

It took all of yesterday and part of today to get the transcribing completed. Much longer than I wanted, but I have a functionally complete plot arc for this futuristic slavefic I've been poking at.
That I actually managed that much? Is mind-boggling to me, to be perfectly honest. I've no idea where it came from. It just kind of dropped into my lap one piece at a time over the past week. And suddenly I'm staring at my Scrivener porn going....

"Wow. I have a completed story arc here. ...How did that happen?!"

I even checked behind the monitor and under the desk for the real writer who came along and did the hard bits of my work for me when I wasn't looking.

Sadly, this is another of those stories that will obviously prove difficult to market. I'm writing it anyways, I don't care how many people think I'm crazy and threaten to petition to have me institutionalized LOL.

I still need to actually write the scenes. But I have a plot outline (that looks nothing like an outline, thanks to Scrivener, as I'm allergic to outlines) and I'm 5k into it, and I can see where it's going. I can't see all of it, not just yet, but I imagine this will lend itself to jumping around and writing more organically instead of chronologically.

Thank you to Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, Beat Service, Chicane, Gaia, Governor, Motorcycle, and the hundreds of other artists whose music, via Pandora's trance station, has inspired me.

I couldn't possibly write without the tunage. I thought DEoH had strong trance roots. Maybe it's the science fiction angle that does it. I don't know.

Time to start fleshing out some of this plot.
Because I am going to have someone cracking the whip and brandishing a cattle prod at me on a tight editing schedule before too much longer. The details of that are being withheld for now, on grounds of OPSEC.
Stay tuned for updates.
12 July 2011 0 comments

I'll Never Be What You Want Me To Be

This must be the theme song for my muses. They never end up being what I expect them to be, and sometimes I wonder if people will like them for what they are. To say they are a strange, off-the-beaten-path group is an understatement. I know I'm not the only writer out there who has these types of muses. Who feels the need, occasionally, to tone back a little in order to not offend the entire readership base.

I get that readers want to read what they like. Totally. And publishers only want to print what's going to sell. As I see it, though, the problem becomes then -- who pushes the envelope? Who writes that book that encourages the reader to see things from a different perspective, to think outside the box, to understand something beyond their comfort zone? Readers don't often read to be challenged, though. They do it for escapism, or to pretend they're in the story.

Well, I do too... but my escapism stories would have most other readers pissing their pants, I imagine.

I'm not out to change how anyone thinks. Readers aren't required to agree with a word I say, right? It isn't like I have some superhero ability to reach out and flip a switch and change what someone believes.

But readers like their bubbles and their comfort zones. It's why Black was turned away. Not sufficiently marketable, pure and simple. If Hamm gets turned away for similar reasons, it isn't the end of the world. There's a publisher out there for both of them, if Black's current prospect ends up unwilling.

I'm never going to be the writer of contemporary or mainstream or romance. Unless those genres shift their definitions a great deal. I'm fine with that. I write what inspires me, and if it's too strange for most people, well, I know it isn't too strange for everyone. There are closet freaks out there. I'm not crazy.

...Okay, fine. I am crazy. As a loon. But in a good way. Or, it makes for good stories at least. And so long as it does, I'm not even considering treatment. *lol*

So the military science fiction with the gay alien-borderline-bestiality is subbed to the Gun Porn Anthology. My next project is either a short sequel for that one, a speculative/futuristic suitporn cum-fetish slavefic, or an m/m pirate story.

Or perhaps all three at once, if I can manage to get my notes from the past few days transcribed.
I imagine I'm probably a publisher's worst nightmare in terms of authors. I mean, how the hell do you market something that has no clear genre delineation? A story that defies logical labels? It seems those are the only kind I even know how to write anymore.

The only exception might be the Trunk Novel. It evolved from a military speculative fantasy... to acquire a gay romance aspect as well. I think it's better for it, personally, but that's mostly just because I'm incapable of writing within acceptable norms of relational parameters in fiction. Like with my second-year physics class in high school. Fuck the formulas. I know what's happening, and why, and can write you an essay about it, but don't ask me for calculations. (Also, don't ask about my final grade in that course.)
25 June 2011 0 comments

Blurred: Journey versus Destination

Everyone knows the saying. The philosophy plays out in many forms—so many permutations, that one could almost call it cliché.
Is it, though? After all, the quality of the journey is why one picks up a book. That’s entertainment, though. Not reality.

 In reality, most would say that they don’t care how the Republicans came to the decision to support a formal recognition and legalization of same sex marriage in New York on Friday night. Or why they chose to support it. However the individual politicians rationalized it, the ethical path they each travelled, all that matters is that they did.

As one friend put it, “I don’t care if they supported it because they think married homosexuals will eat fewer babies than single ones. It passed.”

Right. I agree. Politics, thankfully, isn’t a subject matter I write about. It lacks that riveting edge of fascination that the audience would look for, demand even. When the destination you ultimately reach impacts the lives of so many, the journey one takes to arrive at the optimal ethical decision suddenly doesn’t matter anymore. Not to anyone save the individual making the journey. For all others, all that matters is that you reach that destination.
I’m so glad I’m not a politician. Talk about a thankless job.

The discussion got me to thinking, though, about antagonists and protagonists, and the rational logic of a given character’s motivations as presented to the reader. A different approach, so to speak—if one comes to the ‘right’ decision via the wrong rational or motives or ethics, does that make them antagonist or protagonist? And by the same coin, if a character comes to the ‘wrong’ decision but does so with the best of intentions, which should they be classified as? Oh wait. Those damned labels. I tend to toss them out the window more often than not. Wave goodbye to them, quickly now!

Storytellers have been muddying the waters of ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys for a while. It isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. Doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons is, in fact, the very definition of an anti-hero. And just as we as citizens are permitted to judge (harshly, even) the driving ethos of those we elect to public office, a book’s audience will judge (very harshly) the ethos of any given character. For the sake of discussion, a highly obvious selection: Hannibal Lector of Silence of the Lambs comes to mind. A highly intelligent man, an intellectual on a par of few others, his character was designed to strike fear and loathing in the hearts of both Clarice and the audience. And yet, while simultaneously repulsed and frightened, the audience finds themselves fascinated by Hannibal’s intellect. By the paths his logic takes. So seemingly sane and rational, each step along the way, and yet when one arrives at Hannibal’s destination, one discovers a truly horrifying environment. He helps Clarice in her investigation, but does so for all the wrong reasons. Desperation, then, leads even those of strong ethos to relax their standards, to make exceptions, to journey into the blurred land.

I have been struggling with how to show that descent into Hell, by baby steps of good intentions, from the standpoint of one observing the character in an ethical environment so decisively not a shade of gray. Not even slightly. It is a tricky thing to do, and like most complex pieces of art it will require a few studies and sketches before the final form is decided on, and is set in oil on canvas.
19 June 2011 1 comments

Insert Witty, Engaging Title Here

There are days when, no matter how much I desperately want to sit down and write…I don’t get the chance.
Or, if I do, it is at a point when my brain is so dead that I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to string together “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”

Thus, sometimes I must settle for a few hastily scrawled sentences in my notebook while I’m at work if I want any modicum of productivity.
Many of the sentences aren’t even complete thoughts.
Some are plot points. Milestones, developmental highlights. Some are character thoughts and perspectives—biases that color an individual’s responses or reactions. Little random pieces of insight that, while useless in and of themselves, help shape the nature of the characters in my head more clearly. So that I in turn can portray them to the reader without info-dumping about the color of one’s eyes, the shape of their nose… really, how much does that matter. A reader decides for themselves what the character looks like. And more often than not, what they see has little relation to what the writer saw, or describes them to be.
15 June 2011 1 comments

And... we have website!

I'm still trying to figure out how to get my blog to cooperate in terms of linking back to the website, but here it is in all it official glory: The Home of Rhianon Etzweiler, Author.

It's pretty. And shiny. I have a new toy to play with. *laughs* Poke around and explore, your comments are welcome as are contributions for the "Want More?" page. Send me your goodies! Contributor credit will be included for all posted links or material.
12 June 2011 1 comments

Been Talking To Myself Forever

Though writing might be an insular task at its heart… inspiration is not.

It comes from the strangest places, the most random associations and interactions sometimes.

Finally, the words have begun to flow. I was up until 2 a.m. with the last hurrah of the sangria wine punch at my elbow (if you don't count the collection of wine-saturated fruit in the bottom of the container) transcribing things scribbled furiously during my hour break at the day job.

Its becoming apparent that I lack the ability to 'balance' things in my life. I'm so thoroughly focused, throwing everything I am in things in an "all or nothing" sort of way, that everything else will suffer.

It is what made FOAT/DEoH what it is. It is what made Black what it is, too.

I don't know if I'd change that, even if I could. Do I want to write half-heartedly? No. Don't want to love my kids or siblings or anyone else half-heartedly, either.

The other things don't cease to exist… they just shift out of focus so to speak, like how objects along the periphery of one's vision don't cease to be… they're just blurry.

Know yourself. Know your adversary. And know victory.

Sun Tzu strikes again.

08 June 2011 1 comments

Wading Through Research

After a fashion, I'm using "research" as an excuse for why I've only written 500 words over the past two days. I complain that my day job gets in the way, and then I let other things do exactly that as well, on my days off.

Ah well, I've begun focusing on the reworking of the Trunked Novel in earnest, and thus some amount of research is becoming necessary. Because one cannot employ blatant aspects of ancient Egyptian mythos in a Latin-influenced society. That just... no. I cannot justify it. Even if the Romans did conquer Egypt. I'm thinking I want to keep it a little more separated than that in terms of period influence. Maybe.

Pantheons in the Mediterranean region became rather intertwined over time. Roman with Greek, and they with Egyptian, one influencing the other, shifting and evolving into something different. I'm trying to stay (largely) with the Triad concept (still debating the merits of the Archaic over the Capitoline Triad, as I rather enjoy the unusual imbalance of female deity representation), as purely Latium in nature as I can in terms of influence.

And as I know nothing of either the pre-Roman Empire time period, nor of Latin as culture or language, the research is interesting. Yes, this is all a fantasy story and as it isn't pure but just an influence, I can take some liberties. Right. Libertas is all well and good. I refuse to maul anything though, if I can help it. Means I'll likely need a few Latin-geek betas at some point in the future.

Curious to know, though, how the general idea of a Latin-influenced fantasy world strikes the readership out there. Or rather... maybe it isn't really that at all. Maybe it is instead a glimpse into the world that, somehow, inexplicably, influenced the culture of Latium. And through it, the rest of known civilization...

I'm such a deviant.
06 June 2011 1 comments

And ... We Have Cover Art!

Um. TADA!!! (Can't really think of much useful to say.)


Oh, the Agony.

Back from my three-day mini-vacation. Which was (of course!) interrupted by an email with the cover art for Dark Edge of Honor. Not the final, just a proof… I'll share it as soon as I can, promise. My first order of the day, since the gears weren't turning enough to actually engage the muses at all, was to take a look at the promo content needed for the release.

Writing a promo blog entry for the up and coming release will be about as pleasant as drafting a ten-part executive report outlining five recommendations for business model improvement. I guess this is where my lauded education will make or break me… About damn time I put the worthless thing to good use, I guess.

I have decided that writing an author bio is as painful as writing a synopsis. Only, I've fewer words to do it with, no idea what will pique the audience's interest… and how many readers will pay it the slightest bit of mind, anyways? It's not like my life story is a riveting plot. I can't even go so far as to call it a stimulating screw. Or a locking washer.

Seriously. Who reads author bios. Who remembers what's in them, five minutes later? There's little about me that's all that interesting, for starters. I could make shit up… does anyone truly fact-checks these things? Maybe I should have a humor columnist ghost-write my bio for me.

"Make them laugh, in a 'Red Green Show' meets 'Princess Bride' clusterfuck kinda way."

Because really. When it comes to this whole authorship thing, I have about as much of an idea of what I'm doing as Red Green does. 'Gimme duckkie tape, aikken fix it, eh.'

Everyone knows duct tape fixes everything.

…You should see my keyboard.

29 May 2011 0 comments

Behold, the Writer at Work

Scrivener & 'ZeroDraft' side by side.

Yes, more Scrivener porn.
Yes, it does happen to be the Trunk Novel.
There are pieces of it, character sketches and interactions, that are in my mind worth salvaging. At least insofar as they can serve as inspiration and/or catalyst for content I'm working on. Aerdin and his 'shadow blades' were a fascinating little piece I randomly muse-gasmed into existence. No real sheaths… they hide in the shadows of his aural energy, after a fashion. Completely out of sight, and feel, but within easy reach… though only for him.

A little detail I don't want to lose in the rewrite. There are others. Like Aerdin's little 'battle of wills' face-off against Renji. Faulkon versus Idolon. Should be interesting in the rewrite… I'm looking forward to that particular scene. Just need to plot the outline far enough to determine where it's going to fit in.

It feels like the dual POV in this story is going to revolve around providing a contrast into the motivations of the changes in each man's life. Not just for the sake of romantic interest. Jaedyn is driven by a need for vengeance—someone should pay for his father's death. For the attack decades earlier that resulted in his retirement. In his grief, he holds the Emendatio directly responsible for their lack of vigilance even though in both instances the serpens are to blame. Renji, rather unexpectedly, appears driven by duty to his aedis. How long he will let that sense of duty dictate the direction of his life's course, I'm uncertain… Though I suspect that as long as it doesn't conflict directly with his personal interests, he'd accept it.

Time to start plotting out that point of contention, then…
24 May 2011 0 comments

Reverting to the Old Way

The Green Book. Obviously.
I've not made any real big secret of the fact that my accumulation of wordcount has suffered a good bit in recent weeks/months. In general I've not been overly concerned about it. Not every book I write will come pouring out the way my co-write with Aleks did. 'Black' did, in its own way, but it was over the course of a few consecutive NanoWrimo events. And then it took some time to finish, and edit.

I've been trying to draft a scene of a funeral rite for my fantasy novel. Jaedyn is 'burying' (I use the term very loosely) his father. The scene has been a potato chip stuck in my craw for weeks now. I sat out on the porch yesterday evening, and out of sheer desperation grabbed a notebook and pen. And wonder of wonders, words flowed.

It was a relief, actually. Oh, words. On a page. On multiple pages, in fact. They're so beautiful. And the slide of a good pen on paper is … okay I'll say it. Sensual, in its own special way. Probably in a way that only a person with an addiction for writing could viably appreciate or comprehend, but I do love that Zebra with its metal shaft.

And yes, my handwriting is naturally that "sickeningly neat". I can write sloppily, but I have to either focus on it, or be so exhausted that I shouldn't be awake anyways. Look, you can almost read it!

Yes, that is the Latin word emeritus there in the text. My fantasy work is chock full of Latin terms and phrases… Not a particularly nouveau concept, granted, but one I'm finding great enjoyment and meaning in, as opposed to arbitrary creation of random "world-centric" terms. There's deeper meaning to it than that, of course, but whether that will actually come out in the course of the story remains to be seen.

So toward the goal of furthering the word flow (even though it will obviously require transcribing, which doubles the effort involved) I'm off to sit on the porch with my notebook, a cup of coffee, and my Zebra. And listen to some Frank Sinatra. He's singing "Witchcraft" at the moment…
18 May 2011 0 comments

The Big Five-Oh

As in my fiftieth blog post, not a reflection of law enforcement confrontations or that annual celebration of older—further from birth, closer to death, whatever.

I wanted this blog post to be a milestone of sorts, so I'd been giving it some thought. And I'm sitting here in the chaise lounge on my front porch, watching the dark clouds roll through, sporadic cloudbursts of rain interspersed with the spring-happy chirping of a hundred birds. And the rotor sound of the occasional Blackhawk. Contemplating the parallels and the bigger picture. The past few days have been a strange culmination of my writing lethargy as of late.

Father of All Things was the reason this blog was born. The first steps into creating public visibility of myself, and while there's plenty of room for expansion, improvement and optimization here…this will do, for now. At heart, I'm a simple person. Despite my predilection for convoluted ramblings. This is my first foray into the nitty-gritty of publishing. And while I'm feeling my way around on this journey, getting a sense for the interactions, relationships, and players…much of the rest I can see clearly.

Whether those that deal or interact with me from a professional standpoint realize this or not is vague at best. It's not as if I've gone out of my way to detail just what my education is, or how much I have of it. Application through experience of the hands-on variety is given greater weight and respect, and therein—for the time being—lies my greatest weakness. My education, insight, and understanding are moot.

I have no preexisting author brand, cultivated with blood sweat and tears. Does it bother me when I lend someone my lapis amulet and they slap red paint on it to match their attire better? Why certainly it does. I'd say it makes no sense to borrow something other than what you're really after. Better to showcase the assets than to cover them up and try to hawk them off as something less than what they are. Stage jewelry is, after all, rather easily acquired.

As it stands, the novel's release date marks its birth. Or close to it. That has meaning for me. As much as the novel itself, very much a labor of love. It has grown and matured over the course of the past nine months. Gestation and rebirth, perhaps?

Business models, managerial proficiency, marketing strategies, subcontractor relations, and excessive legalese. So often the artistry gets trampled beneath the feet of professionalism and the march to acquire more, more, more of the almighty dollar.

I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love. Or respect. Or honesty. Or integrity.

I'm a people-watcher, not prone to engaging in socialization. I'd rather sit and observe. And attempt to deduce an answer for the question, "how do you define your ethics and priorities?" The influence of one too many psychology electives, perhaps, but Sun Tzu is the one whose philosophy was functionally Know yourself and know your enemy…and know victory.


Deviating from the 'norm'

There's a reason why there are a variety of publishers out there. They choose a cross-section of the consumers toward which to gear their reputation and marketing. Once established, a rare few are willing to bend the parameters within which they deem a book's concepts and sub-genres 'acceptable' to their business model.

Ultimately, that's why a writer has to choose carefully a publishing house that fits the book they've written. Let it never be said that one limits the content or parameters of what is written strictly to what sells. If it can be written, with quality and depth, it can be sold. Full stop.

I spent many years frustrated by the limited content of quality stories on the market. The ones that venture into the darker shadows, that shed the skin of socio-cultural norms, and liberate the reader one eloquent word at a time. I recall thinking at one point, in frustration --

"Must I write every book I want to read?"

Thankfully, I don't. And in the past decade, the emerging market of electronic publishing has made it a less daunting task for publishing houses to delve into sub-genres that are less mainstream, and more niche. Not less of a risk. but less daunting.

The nice thing about it is being able to watch the niche markets gain weight and momentum. Granted, I doubt they'll ever spill into mainstream. But they have a strong and burgeoning slice of the customer base, and I can tell you now -- that's not going to go away.

Not with DADT being revoked. Not with the US Navy floundering over the permissibility of same-sex marriages on their bases. Welcome to the new world, mainstream writers. I expect you'll need to open that envelope of yours and step outside your box, toss away the formulas and inject some life into your stories if you want to stay competitive.

Why am I rambling this way?
I don't structure my writing strictly around the mainstream definitions of "what sells", but I have recently instigated a fresh story based on a specific submission call. And, like the social deviant that I am, the story immediately swung way out over left field and soared straight (haha) out of the park.

And as the story unfolds, I find I have my fingers crossed as I hope for a home run and not a foul ball. There are these blurry ethical lines at the edges of science fiction and fantasy. Does shifter sex constitute bestiality, if the shifter is fully sapient no matter the form? Do you apply the same rules of constraint to an alien species that is only marginally humanoid? Ethically speaking, the parameters as I have understood them have existed solely as a bounds of "one does not engage in sexual acts with a partner incapable of consent without duress." [For the purposes of this discussion, maturity is assumed.]

Granted a reader's sensitivity to the subject plays into the equation. But the Merriam-Webster definition uses "lower animal" -- can one safely draw the assumption that "lower" is a reference to intellect, awareness, and higher brain function, not physical stature?

Thus, the grey area that blurs the ethics, the reader's comfort zone, and causes many a publisher to shy away from a story. My endeavor, however, is to depict my aliens not as "lower", but as equals if not betters. That they choose to live in harmony with the ecology of their planet as opposed to destroying it with 'civilization' would echo strongly of Avatar. But I thought that movie echoed strongly of white man's invasion of North America, of stripping the land from the natives, down to the tribal diversity. The only deviation truly being the whisper of This is what would have happened, if the Indians had stood together sooner.

Of course, the short story I'm delving into has no such lofty aspirations.
And perhaps now that I've thought at least part of the way through this ethical quandary I created for myself, I can find my way back into actually getting the damned thing written.
25 April 2011 0 comments

Diving Back Into The Deep End.

Since, you know, diving into the shallow end is just downright fucking dumb.
My week's break from writing has come to a close. Of course, this doesn't mean the distractions are gone just yet. It just means I'm not willing to be unproductive any longer.

Life, & The Universe, often conspire against one, though. This is occurring today, in fact. I sit down to write, manage to crank out 750 words, and get slapped with ... drama.

While ordinarily I wouldn't mind, I was kinda on a roll. Had my head in the game, chugging right along and ... train wreck. Moral of the story? Hey Rhi....next time, turn your cell phone OFF. Highly recommended.

And now I'm off to try and get my head back into it. Jhez is giving me a hairy eyeball.
19 April 2011 0 comments

Life, or distractions like it.

Beautiful weather. Finally. Even the thunderstorms are beautiful, to me. Something about the unharnessed power, the raw energy, inherent in the shift of seasons, draws me. And if the combination of damp and cool air didn't chill me to the bone, I'd sit out on the porch and watch them rage and batter against the constructs of humanity as though attempting to purge a disease from the land.

Unfortunately for the writer in me, that energy doesn't translate directly to inspiration. That may be largely a result of increased distractions and complications being thrown my way in the past week. Or that could just be a convenient excuse for my inability to dredge up sufficient intrinsic motivation to sit down on my ass and type out the words. Although...I'm typing this. So for the time being, I'm using the (at least moderately legitimate) excuse that I'm filling my tank with energy and inspiration to be engaged at some later date (in the near future, one would hope/expect).

Have been brainstorming plot points for FOAT's sequel, as well as Blood Red. And Le Trunk. While the first is still in the most intangible stages of concept and planning, I've been mulling the finer points of repetitive mindwiping, and those qualities and aspects that define a weak psyche versus a strong one. Would knowing you were unable to recall things, that they had been taken from you and you were thus incapable of regretting anything you had/had not said or done, be easier than carrying the burden of such knowledge for yourself and another, knowing you would forever do so alone?

I've not decided yet which psyche would be the one to break first. Knowing that you have lost memories that you would consider important -- knowing that you agreed to have it done, repeatedly -- seems to me to be the worse of the two scenarios. Knowing you've left another to the burden of remembrance, and though they may shoulder it willingly it will one day soon prove to be too much.

How much is too much?

I've decided it depends on how deep your commitment and devotion to an individual is. Neither is specifically related to "love" in the baser, more acceptable, sense. I think that these aspects are the qualities that have greatly fallen by the wayside in our culture and society.
I think that's probably enough depth for one day. Or at least for the moment. So I'll leave you with a quote.

"One's religion is whatever one is most interested in." ~J.M. Barrie, The Twelve Pound Look (1910)

Obviously, my religion is writing. ...What's yours?
12 April 2011 0 comments

Rhi Tries to Write. Hilarity Ensues.

I guess I could blame it on the rain. Or one of a hundred other things. Like the fact that I seem to have lost my bottle of Fukitol pills. Or the fact that I nabbed a book to read--and managed to  pick a bittersweet romance that is just...pushing all the wrong buttons. Bad Rhi.

The past couple days have been highly unproductive in terms of writing. I try to remind myself that this sort of thing happens. That the muses, and the inspiration, are like the tides (at least with me they are). Sometimes the surge is so strong I can't make myself stop writing. And then there are the days when there's just nothing there. It's not really that I can't see where the story is going.
Sometimes I can and it still happens.

It helps, some, having two different WIPs to divert my energies to. I work on one, and when the words won't come anymore, I switch--if I can remember to, that is. Writing story projects in tandem isn't something I'm accustomed to doing. It takes some getting used to, to remind myself that, Hey I don't have to force myself to slog through this next scene. If it isn't ready to be written right this moment, then fine. Write that other one. That didn't want to be written, a week ago. But it sure seems to have changed its mind now.

Force myself to at least try to get the words out.
And in much the same way, force myself to get myself out of the house, on occasion. Because otherwise I do nothing but write and work, and I'm sure it's not healthy in the least.

Meant to wake up at 8 a.m. today and make this huge effort to write this morning before trundling off to the day job this afternoon. Instead, slapped the alarm off and slept until 9:30. Time to brew some strong espresso roast. And I might go roaming up into the mountains tomorrow afternoon, but you can bet I'll be churning out words tomorrow morning. Or maybe tonight when I get home from work.

The good thing is, I usually manage at least a thousand words when I sit down to write, even on a horridly slow day. So, one scene at a time, the stories are fleshing out and coming together. Slowly.

Coffee. Need to go brew that coffee. I might be trying hard to stop smoking, but it'll take an Apocalypse for me to give up the caffeinated ambrosia... *knocks on wood*
07 April 2011 1 comments

WIP Snippet & Writer Drama

It took every ounce of willpower I possess, but I managed to refrain from purchasing an MP3 player and car adapter recently. See, I have this lovely trance playlist, and I drive for hours up into the nearby Appalachians when I need inspiration and to re-energize my writer's mind. Mountains=no radio signal. Older car=no auxiliary port. Me=very sad.

[Insert melodramatic sigh here.]

I have spoiled myself with my digital playlist to the point where listening to a cd where I get a couple good songs in a soup of worthless noise is no longer acceptable. Amazing what technology does to us, isn't it. ...Now, if I could get Pandora in my car? I'd be a happy little lark.

Of course, I'm a Frugal Writer, and try to stick to the necessities in life. (Half my brain is screaming, "OMG! It's music, it's a flippin' Necessity, thankyouverymuch!")

Here's an excerpt from Black's sequel, Blood Red to taunt your taste buds and whet your appetite...

[Jhez has just finished a bit of a sparring match with Konaton, which ends in her having a choke hold on him. She knows he's not fighting anywhere near full force, but testing her. Feeling her out. So she decides to do the same. In her own way.]

"You think I don't. Twenty years and more a Nightwalker, and you think I don't know what I'm asking of you. I find that fascinating." I breathe each word against his neck, close but not touching. Not with my lips, at least. My aura thrums along the edges of his, tangling around his legs, hips, arms--which hang limp by his sides as if the appendages are utterly forgotten.
When I drag my fingertips over the hollow of his throat, up the meridian of his face, he stops breathing. Waiting, poised. I push my way up under his skullcap, rucking it up and off his head. His scalp is all but smooth and hairless, the faintest film of stubble catching at my touch.
I slide my hand back down his meridian, doing my best to ignore how much I enjoy the sweat-slick warmth of his skin against mine. That's not what this is about, at all. He inhales deeply, finally, when I reach his breastbone. His chakras are quiescent. There is no flair of heat to delineate one from the next. Not a single imbalance to indicate a weakness that would give me an 'in' to his aura.
He's battened down the hatches of his energy like a nuclear submarine getting ready to dive.
That impression shatters when I map the contours of his abdomen again, when my fingers snag against his belt.