Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: Writing (Page 1 of 9)

Friday thoughts and reading recommendations

Just a quick post today. I’m doing my best to stay away from politics — my blood pressure thanks me as does the mush of what calls itself my brain. Why is it that the first few days after finishing a book are lost when it comes to accomplishing much more than getting out of bed and vegging for the rest of the day?

Monday, I start the final review of Nocturnal Challenge and then it is off to the beta readers. Yay! Of course, Myrtle the Muse is already hitting me with more stories, including more detail about what the next Nocturnal Lives book will be. I’m going to try to make a few notes today so I don’t lose the thread. That’s important since this next book will tie up the final threads of the current story arc. Myrtle, being the evil muse that she is, has also given me the threads for the next arc for the series.

I’ve spent the last two days doing things that needed to be done — cleaning my office. It’s amazing how much stuff I accumulate while writing a book. Everything from slips of paper with notes on them to research materials to who knows what. I’ve also been reading. That’s always my reward for finishing one novel. Before moving on to the next, I get to hit my very large TBR stack. I’ll post some reviews over the next few days.

In the meantime, Next up are a short story (possibly a novella) in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe as well as the next Honor and Duty novel. It looks like I will be working on them at the same time — we’ll see how that works. But both are being very loud right now.

In the meantime, here are a few good books to try if you haven’t already. Oh, there may be one or two of mine in the list as well.  😉

Dipped, Stripped & Dead

by Elise Hyatt

A Dyce Dare Mystery

When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.

Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.

Life is just about to get crazy… er… crazier. But at least at the end of the tunnel there might be a relationship with a very nice Police Officer.

Tom

by Dave Freer

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this.

He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

The Chaplain’s War

by Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

Nocturnal Origins

by Amanda S. Green

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Vengeance from Ashes

by Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

It’s done

I have to leave shortly for an appointment, so this will be a quick post. I finished the final draft of Nocturnal Rebellion last night. I really like this book. It’s been a challenge to write because there are a number of story arc threads that had to be pulled together and tied off. It was a challenge in other ways as well, most notably because it is the end of the current story arc. I’ll admit to having some mixed feelings because of that.

Last night, talking to a friend about finishing the book, I commented that I was torn. I’ve spent four books building to this one. Mac’s journey has not been an easy one. Coming off this last book, part of me wondered if, by wrapping up the story arc, I had wrapped up Mac’s story. Then I realized that is up to me and to you, the readers. There are any number of other stories out there for Mac, including a new overall story arc I can explore. The only questions are if I want to write them — a resounding YES! Mac, as a character, is one of my favorites — and if you want to read them. I’m hoping you love her and her cohorts as much as I do.

Anyway, I’m putting the book aside for a few days. Then I’ll do a final read-through before sending it off to my beta readers. Assuming they don’t find any glaring errors and I get my cover art done, the book will come out next month according to schedule.

Oh, I give fair warning, there’s talk of sparkly vampires in this book. VBEG

Now I’m off to my appointment. I’ll be back later!

Release Day!

It’s here. It’s finally here. Battle Wounds is live on Amazon.

Battle Wounds is the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned. It will probably come out around the time the next book in the series does because, well, that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse has decided and I learned long ago that it is easier to give in to her than to try to fight.

Anyway, I’m excited to finally release Battle Wounds into the world. Here’s the blurb:

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has faced the realities of war. Death is her constant companion, an unwelcome one. After losing four of her company in an ambush that never should have happened, she is asked to accept a special mission. Command suspects a traitor has infiltrated their ranks and they want Ash and others to act as bait in an attempt to draw them out.

Worse, at least as far as Ash is concerned, FleetCom is focusing on only one possible explanation for the ambush. That narrow view could lead to even more deaths before those responsible for betraying Fuercon are identified. All Ashlyn can do is keep her eyes and ears open and pray the Marines onboard the Dresden are as dedicated to keeping Fuercon safe as are the Devil Dogs.

And God help the traitor should Ashlyn discover their identity. No one betrays home and Corps and gets away with it.

 

Monday Morning

There isn’t enough coffee. Nope, not enough. What is that bright object up in the sky? More importantly, why can’t I ignore the world like my cats and go back to bed?

The answer is simple, really. I need to finish the last read-through of Battle Wounds and then get it converted so it will be available for sale tomorrow. Yep, it’s done and I have heard back from the beta readers. All that’s left now, since I’ve done the final edit, is to make sure it’s ready to go. So that is the focus of this morning.

I have a post in mind for later today, but it may wind up being tomorrow’s, about freedom of speech. However, since that is such an important topic, I don’t want to just toss it out without giving myself time to really pull it together and make sure it says what I want it.

In the meantime, I’m going to make sure everything possible is done to have Battle Wounds out tomorrow morning. Now to find another mug of coffee and then get down to work.

Later!

A Tease of Battle Wounds

Here’s a short tease from Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor & Duty Series. It is the rough draft, so there very well may be errors and, by the time publication comes around, there may be changes made. In the meantime, enjoy!

Battle Wounds

“Ready. . . Aim . . . Fire!”

Three times the order was given. Three times the sound of gunfire filled the air as uniformed Marines shouldered bolt-action rifles no longer carried by any member of the military. Even now, centuries after the last such rifle had been carried into battle, tradition required the rifles, lovingly recreated from plans long since declared obsolete, be brought out to honor the fallen. Much like the ceremony surrounding such funerals, the rifles harkened back to a different place and time.

This wasn’t the first military funeral Captain Ashlyn Shaw had attended and she knew it would not be the last. They were at war with an enemy determined to destroy Fuercon and its allies. That meant deaths were inevitable, possibly even her own. But that would not stop her from honoring the fallen.

Unlike those other funerals, each time a volley sounded, Shaw could almost feel the bullets ripping through her. Tears burned her eyes as the honor guard carefully folded the Fuerconese flag draping the casket. Then, with a precision part of her could only envy, Sgt. M. J. Adamson presented the flag to Major Paul Pawlak, their commanding officer. Expression grim, he accepted the flag and executed a precise about face before he took a step toward the four people sitting in front of those gathered to pay their respects one last time.

In the week the Wolf’s Bane had been back in-system, three other members of First Division Second Battalion Delta Company of the Fuerconese Marine Corps had been laid to rest. Each Marine had lost his or her life, not fighting dirtside as planned, not even fighting to secure the Wolf’s Bane from boarders or in boarding an enemy vessel. They had died because the ship’s commander had led Task Force Talon into a trap. Then he failed to order their withdrawal before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Shaw remained ramrod straight as Pawlak knelt in front of Corporal Camilla Lahti’s parents and younger brothers. He spoke softly for a few moments. She didn’t need to hear what he said to know he was assuring them Lahti had been a valued member of the Devil Dogs and had died a hero. He wouldn’t tell them the truth about how she died, not here and maybe not ever. Knowing the circumstances of Lahti’s death would not help them cope with the knowledge their much loved Milla would never again return home.

“Mr. and Mrs. Lahti, the Devil Dogs are your family now. If you need anything, all you need do is ask,” he said, raising his voice enough for the rest of them to hear.

As one, the members of First Division Second Battalion Fuerconese Marine Corps responded, their voices ringing out on the wind. “Ooh-rah!”

Pawlak handed Lahti’s mother the now-folded flag. The moment he stood, Shaw called all Devil Dogs present, which meant every member not currently confined to the hospital, to attention. As one, their right hands slowly raised to salute their fallen comrade. Then, one by one, every other Marine unit represented followed suit. The Corps would honor its dead and then take care of the living.

Ooh-Rah!


Battle Wounds is the third short story in the Honor & Duty Series.

Taking Flight

Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.

Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.

Battle Bound

Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.

Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.

The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.

Vengeance from Ashes

(Book 1, Honor and Duty)

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Working Weekend

Sorry for the lateness of today’s post. Between staying up late last night writing and getting up this morning and doing some more redesigning of the site, actually writing a blog slipped my mind. So, what to blog about?

I guess we’ll start with this site. You’ll be seeing more changes over the next few days. I’m going to combine the blog site (this) with several other sites I have so there is only one actual site to log into and keep up to date. Back when the pen names weren’t open, it was necessary. But now, not so much. So URLs will need to be redirected, some more redesign of this site will be done and, hopefully, by Monday or Tuesday, everything will be in place.

You’ll notice I’ve added cover images of most of my titles in the sidebar to the right. there are a couple of short stories that haven’t been added as well as one series. Eventually, the series will go up but only after I get new covers for them. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, the books are broken up by author and series. Yes, I know there needs to be some tweaking on alignment but, like Faceplant, WordPress often works to make what should be simple functions more than a tad difficult.

On the writing front, I commented the other day that I was having problems with Battle Wounds. The opening just didn’t feel right. I worked on it, massaged it, tweaked it and finally tossed the opening. I tried a couple of different things that I thought might work and nope, nada. Until last night. It suddenly fell into place and it works.

Of course, that sort of major revision means there will be some tweaking to the story arc. I don’t think it will delay me too much but it does mean the story isn’t coming out this weekend like I planned. The goal now is to have it go live on Amazon on Tuesday the 9th. Although I may delay it to the 16th.

This Tuesday will probably be a reading day. Why? Because the next book in one of the few series I still religiously follow comes out. It’s been too long since we’ve had a new Jane Yellowrock novel and I’m looking forward to this one. Faith Hunter doesn’t write sparkling vampires — thankfully. Her fantastical characters fit into the New Orleans setting and I have yet to be disappointed in her books. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, click on the image to the left. BTW, this is one of the very few non-Baen books I will buy as an e-book and pay release date prices. Of course, the fact that price is $7.99 as opposed to the $12.99 or high I all too often see is part of the reason why.

Now I’m heading back to work. I have a short story to finish and I really, really like how it is coming along.

When a story goes off the tracks

When you ask a writer what their process is, some will tell you they outline others will tell you they just sit down and start writing. Some will look at you and then shrug before saying it changes with every project. For me, it’s a little of all that. One thing is usually true, however. When I finally sit down to write, I have an idea where the story is going and how to get there. Oh, I might struggle with the opening paragraph or first few pages, but I know what the story’s about.

Sure, there are times the story might take a left turn before finally getting to the end. Sometimes, characters decide they don’t want to die even if I think the plot needs it. But very rarely do I get into a story and realize that it has gone completely off the rails and there is no nope of saving it. Usually, what happens is that I realize the short story I planned is really part of a novel and, if I begin the story, I will find myself having to write the novel.

The going off the rails is what happened with Battle Wounds. Or, more precisely, it never got on the rails. Yes, I had the story drafted but it just didn’t ring right with me. If it was a standalone short story that wasn’t populated with characters who already have a backstory and all, it would work. But, as part of the Honor and Duty universe, not so much.

Well, to be honest, it would work as a prequel novel.

And, no, I’m not going down that road. Having short stories that take place before the series opens is more than enough. (Yes, yes, I know I just jinxed myself. Without warning, Myrtle the Evil Muse will hit me over the head with the book and not let me go. Sigh.)

Does this mean the short story is off the schedule? Absolutely not. In fact, it should be ready for publication next week some time (assuming my beta readers and editor are available the first of the week). The reason is that about three minutes after I realized why I’d been so bothered with the original draft, I also realized what the story should be. It came to me pretty much full-blown. Now I just need to sit down and write it. That’s my goal over the next couple of days.

Knock on wood.

That means I’ll be announcing its release soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the other titles in the series, be sure to check them out. Links to the short stories are included below. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, I’d really appreciate it if you would leave reviews over on Amazon. They really do help. Thanks!

Taking Flight

Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.

Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.

Battle Bound

Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.

Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.

The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.

 

Series ends

No, not mine. This post actually came about because I read a book last night that represented the end of a series. Usually, if I’ve stuck with a series all the way, I feel regret to see it end. In this case, not so much. The reasons why are things I hope I can keep in mind as I work on my own series and bring them to an end.

I’m going to start by noting that this series is one of several from a best selling and traditionally published author. I started reading this particular series from her by accident. How, you ask, did that happen? Easy. I wasn’t careful when checking her Amazon author page and wound up buying one of the books in the series when I was actually looking for a book in another series.

That’s problem number one. The series titles (two different series) were close enough to cause confusion, at least to a sleep addled, pre-coffee brain. But, that’s okay. I enjoyed the book. Not as much as others she’d written but not every book can be hit out of the park.

Anyway.

What I came to wonder as I read the books in this particular series is simple. The series was set in the same town as another series. The characters from that series made appearances in the new series. Some of the characters in the second series were related to characters in the first.

Okay, that’s fine. I’ve seen it happen before and it has been done well in some cases and not so much in others. This series, unfortunately, would have done better (in my opinion) by completely removing it from the first series. There were simply too many similarities between characters and plot points. Add in the same basic setting and, by the end of the series, it felt as if the author was just phoning it in.

I get falling in love with your characters or setting but you can’t do it at the expense of putting out new and interesting material.

There were two other issues I had with not only this series but the other one. When you write a book, or books, where your lead female character is initially a strong, independent woman, don’t turn her into someone who no longer is capable to looking after herself just because a man has now come into her life. Sure, having a partner, male or female, will change a person’s life and how they think about things. After all, you are no longer the only person you have to think about when planning a course of action. But going from independent to dependent without cause is one of the surest ways to drive readers away.

I will admit, the author didn’t do it as much in this second series as she did in the first. For one, the women in this second series were more flawed than in the first. However, that made it all the more glaring when she did it in the last couple of books with the most independent of her female characters. Especially in the last book. Suddenly, the one woman who had been the rock turned to anything but, at least for the first half of the book. The foreshadowing of the earlier books in the series led to one secret, but it was minor. There had been nothing to prepare the reader for the real “weakness” in the character. Considering the relationship between her and the other characters in the series, this threw me out of the book.

I guess this is all a way of reminding myself of what not to do when I start wrapping up my different series. The last book needs to be as satisfying — if not more so — than the first. Otherwise, the reader will hesitate to buy anything else from that author. I know that, after two series endings that were disappointments because of the way the characters were developed and the plots were rolled out, I will hesitate to buy anything else from this particular author. Sort of the old “fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” adage. I hope none of my readers ever feel that way.

*

If you have ever wondered what an author most wants, it’s reviews. So give an author a gift today. Write a review and post it to Amazon and, if you are so inclined, on your blog or Facebook. It really does help.

Back to Work

At least I think I am. I still need to decide on new themes for this site as well as my “official” site. But that’s the sort of thing I can do when I take a break from writing. I’ll be honest, I hate doing that sort of thing. To me, it’s like picking a fabric for a sofa or chair from a swatch or tile for a floor based on one single tile. I simply can’t visualize what it will look like until it’s installed. So, I tend to postpone it until I can’t stand it any longer.

Fortunately, writing isn’t like that. Writing is, to me, as important to my existence as is breathing. Oh, I can do for days without actually putting words to paper (or onto a hard drive). But that doesn’t mean my brain isn’t working on something even as I’m doing something else.

I’ve found some of my best brainstorming is done when I’m busy working with my hands — digging in the yard, building something, painting. Those almost mindless physical activities allow my creative side to run wild. So, that has been part of what I’ve been doing in the week since I released Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2).

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it. Part of it is because I have to keep busy or I will continually flip between the product page and the sales page to see how the book is doing. Most authors, if they’re being honest, feel that same tug. So we find ways to distract ourselves.

However, it’s helped as well because I needed to finalize in my head where Nocturnal Rebellion is going and if this would be the last book to feature Mackenzie Santos. Before anyone writes a nasty comment, no, it isn’t going to be the last book (assuming you guys like it and want more). But it will be the last book in the overall story arc that was hinted at from the beginning and really took root two books ago. And that is all I’m going to say about that. Otherwise, I’ll get into spoilers.

It has also allowed me to figure out how I’m going to move forward with the Eerie Side of the Tracks series and tie it in more closely with Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks). The solution, when it came to me, surprised me but in a good way. The one thing it means is there is a very definite publication order that has to be followed. Now to make the notes so I don’t forget anything.

Not to worry, I finished working out in my head what needs to be done with the very rough draft of Victory from Ashes and figured out the plot for Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor and Duty universe.

What this means is I’m going to be doing a hell of a lot of writing for the rest of the year. I like it that way. Of course, I know Myrtle the Evil Muse will ambush me somewhere along the way and disrupt my schedule. She always does. But that’s okay. Just don’t tell her that. I don’t want to give her ideas.  😉

Getting back in the swing of things — slowly

After finishing a project, it usually takes me a week or so to catch up on things like sleep, cleaning, etc. That’s been true this time as well. Of course, Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) isn’t quite finished as a project. I still have the print version to finish putting together. But that is something I can do while working on the next project, Nocturnal Rebellion. Better yet, I know that I’m about ready to start back writing Rebellion.

How do I know?

That’s simple. I spent the morning digging through my office, clearing off the desk, cleaning and putting away all the research, etc., that I’d used on Dagger. Now the desk is clean and everything is set for me to sit down and get back to Challenge.

Of course, as I noted in yesterday’s post,I’ve also been hit with the basic plot ideas for the next 3 or 4 titles for the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. Plus, the basic draft for Victory from Ashes is done. Everything looked great when I posted that and I felt sure Myrtle the Muse would let me work according to my schedule.

She still might. . . but. . . .

Last night, Sarah A. Hoyt messaged me. It seems she had been hit with an idea for a cover and it wasn’t something she had planned. She told her muse, it must be one of my books. So she put this together.

I’ll be honest. I love this cover. It absolutely fits for the next novel in the Eerie Side series. Of course, it also means that book is starting to get loud. The fact it can’t be written quite yet doesn’t mean a darn thing to Myrtle the Muse. At least Mac and Company are louder right now than Myrtle and all the rest of it.

Anyway, I’m off to relax after digging out the office. Back later.

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