Nocturnal Lives

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

Tag: writing (Page 2 of 6)

Countdown – 6 Days

The edits are done. Input from beta readers and editor have been reviewed and incorporated.  Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) has been converted into ePUB and one last read-through has begun. Later today, I will upload the final version in preparation of release on the 15th.

It is different reading the book on a tablet in e-book format than looking at it on the screen as a Word doc. My brain thinks more about it as a “book” instead of work. Yes, it does let me see little things that might have slipped past me — as well as the others — on the Word doc but it does something else. It lets me think about it as reader and not so much as a writer.

All I can say is, damn. Do I put my characters through a lot in this book.

I’ve had a blast writing the book. I already know what happens in the next book, at least the general outline of it. If it plays out the way I think it will, the next book will be just as much fun to write — and to read, I hope — as this one has been.

Now, I’m off to find another cup of coffee and finish checking the ePUB version. Once the few proofreading changes are applied, I’ll upload the final file to Amazon. Then I’ll take a day or two before getting back to Nocturnal Rebellion.

Don’t forget, the picture and the link above will take you to the pre-order page. Have you bought your copy yet? (Hey, don’t hat the writer for doing promo. I have kitty kibble to buy. BratCat has this thing about eating several times a day and he’s looking hungrily at my ankles right now.)

Tuesday morning thoughts

It’s going to be a short post this morning, mainly because I’m blogging at Mad Genius Club today. Go check the post out. I talk about Books-a-Million and their indie publishing print platform as well as some of the changes over on the KDP side of things.

The other day, I posted a brief snippet of what I thought might turn out to be the opening to Nocturnal Rebellion, the next book in the Nocturnal Lives series. I’ll be honest. I had hoped by writing the scene, the muse would be satisfied and let me finish the final tweaking on Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). But noooo, the book has taken hold and the muse is demanding my attention. So, it looks like the next couple of weeks will see me splitting my time between the two. Fortunately, all that is needed on Dagger is minor tweaking and the final check of the print file before taking the book life. For now, however, the e-book is available for pre-order and, hopefully, the print book will be ready to go by the time the e-book goes live.

If Rebellion continues as it started, it is going to be a roller coaster ride. When I started figuring out the plot for the book several months ago, it did not look anything like what is happening now. Of course, as I’ve said before, my muse is an evil bitch and she is loving not only throwing me for a loop with the book but also in not letting me know what is happening more than a few pages ahead at a time. So far, it’s working — or so my alpha readers have said. Well, they also told me I had to keep writing it, so I guess something is working right.

Now I’m off to find another cup of coffee — idiot dog and BratCat decided 0430 was a wonderful time to get me up. It didn’t matter that I disagreed. Sigh.

Later!

Monday morning, oh how I loathe thee

This is the morning so many employers dread. Super Bowl Monday. The day when employees drag in, suffering from too little sleep, too much over-indulgence and either too much bragging because their team won or too much angsting because their team lost. Those who supported the Falcons — or at least wanted to see the Pats lose — might admit it was a great game, especially the last few minutes. But, there is still the fact the Falcons lost after holding a 21+ point lead at one point, something no other team has done in history. So, Falcon supporters have ruffled feathers, adding to the Monday morning blues.

As for me, I started the day off much too early — thank you, BratCat — and have already been to PT. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am firmly convinced physical therapists are frustrated sadists in their private lives and they take it out on their clients. All I can say right now is OUCH!

Which is also sort of what I’m feeling right now about my muse. Myrtle has never been an easy muse to live with. But, right now, she is taking great glee in causing me problems. Normally, when I finish a project, I need a week or so to recharge the batteries and get the new novel’s “voice” in my head. Except this time, Myrtle has different plans. I’m not officially finished with Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). Sure, it’s up for pre-order. Yay!. But there are still a few tweaks that need to be made and I need to finish the print set-up because I’m not happy with how it looked when I did it earlier. But is Myrtle letting me do it? Nooooo.

As you saw yesterday, she has ambushed me with the next Nocturnal Lives opening scene. Except now it is scenes. And, let me tell you, the book is already throwing me for a loop. Not only because I hadn’t planned on it being the next book I wrote but because of how it starts off. Worse, as I think I said yesterday, I don’t know where this is going. Myrtle is hiding more than the next few pages from me. Sigh, someone come take my muse on vacation for a week or so. Hell, I’d be happy if you’d just take her out for drinks and let her spend the night with you.

Why do I feel like Rodney Dangerfield right now when he would joke, “Take my wife — please”?

I guess I don’t need to sleep.

One more thing before I head off to do some work — after finding coffee. If you haven’t read Dave Freer’s Mad Genius Club post today, do so. He hits it out of the part with this post.

I’m baaaack!

It seems as if every time I make the commitment to blog daily, things start off fine. Then real life takes my pledge as a challenge to see just how much it can throw at me before I cry “Surrender!”. Usually, when that happens, I can dig out after a couple of weeks. It seems like this time real life decided to not only knock me down but try to knock me out, at least for the first quarter, if not longer. I won’t go into all the details, just know that we’ve had more than our fair share of death of extended family members, illness, death of appliances. Well, you get my drift.

What happened as a result is my writing, editing and everything else associated with publishing got pushed to the back burner for awhile. In some ways, that’s been a good thing because it has let me come back with fresh eyes to projects that are now not only late, but very late. It has also given me time to think about how I approach my career and make some decisions about how to move forward. I’ll probably be blogging about those decisions later.

However, for those of you who have been patiently — and some of you not so patiently and I really do appreciate knowing you are looking forward to my work — waiting, here are a couple of cover reveals.

Dagger of Elanna will be released Tuesday, Feb. 21st. Assuming real life doesn’t decide to see what sort of twists and turns it can throw me today, I will hopefully be able to get it up for pre-order today or tomorrow. However, with all that has happened for the last two months, I’m not making any promises on the pre-order.

Here is the second cover reveal. We will be tweaking the cover very slightly before the book goes on sale, but I have to say I really like what Sarah has done with it. And, for those of you who have been waiting for the next Honor and Duty novel, the plan is to have it ready for a May /June release. There will be more about that after I put Dagger to bed. Oh, and the title for the next book is Victory from Ashes.

That leaves Nocturnal Rebellion, part of the Nocturnal Lives series, which I am planning for a Late Summer/ Early Fall 2017 release. The so-far untitled second book in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series will come out around Halloween. It, like Victory from Ashes,  is already in the works. Somewhere in there will be the next installment to Skeletons in the Closet. The nice thing is, the novellas and books set in the Eerie Side of the Tracks world are quick writes, relatively speaking, because they don’t require as much research and fact-checking as some of my other books. Now, this is a tentative schedule because I am not, absolutely NOT, going to tempt real life to try to beat me over the head any more than it already has.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1), click on the link or the image to check it out.

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails. Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission. Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.

 

Holiday update

They say that all battle plans go out the window the moment you engage the enemy. Well, that pretty much holds true for writers announcing schedules, especially around the holidays. I had hoped to have Dagger of Elanna out by now. But the holidays and a nagging injury that has turned into more than just nagging has thrown a huge wrench into the works. (In other words, when one has only one working shoulder and arm, and it is not your dominant arm and hand, things come to a screeching halt.)

So, here is the updated schedule, not only for Dagger but for other projects and some promotions.

Free Promotions — December 25th – 27th:

  • Hunted
  • Nocturnal Origins
  • Wedding Bell Blues

Publication Schedule:

  • Dagger of Elanna — mid-January 2017
  • Skeletons in the Closet, Pt. 2 — mid-February 2017
  • Victory from Ashes — May 2017
  • Nocturnal Revolt (working title) — July 2017

Now, my muse being what she is, all of this is subject to some tweaking. I also have not listed several short stories that will be coming out during this time period.

In the meantime, if you are looking for e-books to give (or just to enjoy yourselves), I will be back tomorrow with a list of recommendations.

Snip, clip and pic

Apologies for the silence this past week but I’ve been up to my eyes in remodeling chores around the house. There has been patching of walls — especially the one place in the hallway that BratCat decided was his place to try to dig through the drywall. The only thing was, this spot was about 3 1/2 feet off the ground. So, he would jump, claw and rip. At least he has left the patch alone. — painting, cleaning and final touch up. There has been furniture shopping and carpet cleaning. The result is a new office for me (still in the final fix-up phase but at least workable) and a remodeled bedroom for my son when he comes home as well as other guests. Oh, and a very sore and tired body.

The downside of all this has been little writing, relatively speaking, has been happening. I can still make my NaNo goals but it means picking up the pace some. Unfortunately, today is going to be a lost cause between workmen coming to the house, a lunch date and then a meeting tonight. So, while I have a few minutes today, I’m going to try to blog and get some writing done.

But, to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to, here is a picture of part of the study. The bookcase runs from the floor to almost the ceiling, with books and a few other things on top, basically making floor-to-ceiling. I spent the better part of two days going through the books in it, clearing out those that could be donated, setting aside those to be checked before determining what to do with and moving some of my books from various nooks and crannies around the house.

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The chair in the bottom left hand corner will be going away eventually, when my old lady cat lets me take it out. That’s why there’s a towel in it. She likes to sleep there — after doing a lot of kneading. The ancient TV, kept for older gaming systems and the built-in DVD player, is sitting atop a circa 1940 RCA Victor radio. The radio was rescued from a closet in my grandmother’s house more years ago than I want to admit. A guy I dated for awhile restored the radio to working order and it is something I treasure. Here is a shot of it. Sorry for the glare. I have window film on order to cut that out.

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Here is a quick snippet from the rough draft of Dagger of Elanna. No, I’m not posting this in order. Nor am I going to give context. Why? Because I’m evil. VBEG

***

Cait stood before the fireplace and stared into the flames of the fire someone had built up before she arrived. If asked, she would have been hard pressed to name another time when she had felt so cold. She never should have taught all her classes without the proper outerwear, especially when rain and sleet mixed with the snow. But after doing so with the yeomen the day before and then taking the journeymen on a run that morning, she had little choice. She refused to be the instructor the students believed had favorites. Besides, she had taught them an important lesson. At least she hoped she had. The sooner they understood conditions would rarely be optimal when they were forced to take up their blade to defend themselves or someone else, the more prepared they would be for trouble should it find her.

For the most part, her students had quickly accepted the lesson. A few, like Isabella, had actually taken to the lesson. Then there was Ciaran. She sighed and hugged the quilt she had thrown across her shoulders close. The day’s classes had left her with a great deal to consider, where Ciaran was concerned. After the day’s lesson, and especially after the way he had taken that cheap shot at Yasmin, Cait wondered if he would ever accept the fact his father’s position in the Imperium had nothing to do with his role in the Order.

Had she and Jerrod added to the problem where Ciaran was concerned by having her teach that particular journeymen’s class? Yes, she was newly Confirmed into the Order but she was something very different from those who had been Confirmed with her. That was something she still had a hard time accepting. Why had the Lord and Lady chosen her the way They had? She looked at her markings and shook her head. She could not deny she had been blessed by the gods but that blessing set her apart, no matter what her friends and mentors said.

Perhaps it would be best to ask Jerrod to assign Kala or one of the other knights to teach that particular journeymen’s class. Let Ciaran finally see his father’s position meant nothing to them and it most certainly did not accord Ciaran a senior member of the Order as his instructor.

A knock interrupted her thoughts. Before she could call out, the door opened and Berral stepped inside. Cait grinned ruefully as the Adept moved quickly to place a tray on the low table in front of the fireplace. The enticing aromas of hot soup, fresh bread and roasted vegetables filled the room. Cait took a step toward the table and then stopped as Berral shook her head.

“You are going to catch your death if you keep teaching without wearing your winter gear, child.” The Adept reached out and lightly touched Cait’s forehead. “And you are still chilled. Go bathe. Your food will stay warm while you do.”

Not giving her a chance to protest, Berral escorted her through the sleeping room to the bathing room. Like a mother with a recalcitrant child, the Adept simply motioned for Cait to begin undressing. As she did, Berral drew her bath, carefully adjusting the knobs and water from the hot springs under the Citadel soon filled the room with steam. When she slid into the hot water, Cait signed in relief.

“So, why did you feel it necessary to do without your winter gear today, child? You promised you would not do so again unless absolutely necessary.” Concern filled the Adept’s voice.

Cait slid further into the tub until only her face was above the water. “I hadn’t planned on it, Berral. Unfortunately, it became necessary.” She lay there, letting the heat from the water seep into her, warming her, and explained. “Ciaran continues to be a problem. His attitude is bad enough but today, after Kala called an end to an exercise – one in which Yasmin proved his greater size is not all he needs to win a fight – he struck Yasmin. He knew the exercise had ended and Yasmin had moved away, dropping her guard. He took advantage of her trust in us to try to harm her.” Anger laced her voice as memories of how Avrim had done even worse to her pushed against her.

“Is she all right?”

“She is and Ciaran is lucky their classmates did not get hold of him. It won’t surprise me to learn they have figured out a way to teach him how foolish he was.” She doubted they would harm him, but they would get the message across. Whether he heeded it was something entirely different. “Berral, he has been here long enough to understand his father’s status in the Imperium does not entitle him to special privileges or treatment. Yet he continues to try to use that status to his benefit.”

The older woman nodded, her expression serious. “Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with him?”

“I thought to speak with Jerrod about assigning someone else to teach the class. The others understand that, though I am the Knight-Cleric, I am also one of the newest Confirmed members of the Order. All Ciaran sees is that the third highest ranking of the Order is teaching the class. He sees it as reinforcement of his status.”

For a moment, Berral said nothing. Then she shook her head and smiled ruefully. “None of us thought about that possibility when we determined your teaching schedule. But it does explain why you taught your classes outside and without wearing your winter gear.”

“In a way it does.” She sat up and reached for the washcloth hanging over the edge of the tub. “I had the yeomen’s class work without winter gear yesterday. After Ciaran’s missteps today, I felt it necessary to make a point with his class. Once I had, I thought it best not to appear to have a favorite class by having them all work outside and that meant I had to make the same points with them I had with the morning’s journeymen’s class.”

“I wish I could say I did not understand and certainly did not approve, but I do both. However, you must promise not to do this again, not for a while at least. We cannot afford to have you make yourself ill.”

“I have no intention of doing so, Berral. I promise.”

“I’ll leave you to finish bathing. Your dinner will be ready when you are done.” The Adept walked gracefully to the door and then turned and smiled. “I will send word to both Jarrod and Alicia that we need to meet over breakfast come morning. They may have an idea or two the best way to deal with Ciaran.” With that, she left the bathing room, closing the door behind her.

Cait smiled slightly and once more lowered herself into the warm water. For the first time in hours, she did not feel so cold she would have sworn her bones might shatter if someone bumped into her.

***

Dagger of Elanna is the second book in the Sword of the Gods series. It will be available for pre-order in the next week to ten days. Release date will be shortly after that. The first book of the series, Sword of Arelion is currently available as e-book and in print.

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.

Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.

Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.

A Few More NaNo Thoughts

Well, NaNoWriMo is now three days old. It has been interesting to read the comments of writers around the interwebs as they struggle to decide whether or not to do NaNo this year. I recognize many of the comments because I’ve made them. NaNo isn’t for everyone, at least not in its “official” form. However, I do believe it can help every writer even if for different reasons.

The original purpose for NaNo was, iirc, to prove you could write a novel in a month. Note, that’s “write”. It isn’t to have a publishable novel. It isn’t even to have an edited novel. It is to put out a rough draft. That is something a lot of folks don’t seem to get. Hell, it is one of the things that kept me from doing NaNo for a long time.

Then there is the word count requirement. This is my biggest issue with NaNo. Most writers simply can’t do 50,000 words in a month. At least not consistently. Why? Because they have full-time jobs that don’t include writing a novel. They have families. In other words, they have real lives to take into consideration and, frankly, writing comes after that.

You can probably guess by all that how I look at NaNo. It is a tool to keep me on track. It isn’t all that different from what I do during the rest of the year. Normally, I don’t try to hit the 50k mark during NaNo. The reasons vary but usually because I’m mid-book when NaNo hits. The spirit of NaNo is that you work on only one title to get the 50k words.

Well, that’s a rule I’m going to break this year. Why? Because, as usual, I’m mid-book. I will finish Dagger and then get started on Victory from Ashes. In between will be a short story or novella as well. So, I’ll probably get the 50k words but they won’t all be on one novel. If the gods of NaNo don’t like it, screw ’em. I’m writing and that’s what it is all about.

What I don’t want to do is discourage writers who aren’t taking part in NaNo — and, yes, I do see some of those who are doing it criticizing those who are. Of course, conversely, there are those writers who aren’t taking part who come across as oh-so-superior in their condemnation of the process. To each his own but what everyone needs to remember is that each person’s process is different. If NaNo helps, even if you adapt it to suit your writing needs, then run with it. Take what you learn from the process and apply it once NaNo is over.

Even if you aren’t doing NaNo officially, why not make a monthly goal and track it? For those of you who are having trouble getting a new project started, don’t sweat it. Challenge yourselves to simply write for five minutes every day (or whatever you think best fits your schedule). No word count. No requirement that you write on a work in progress. The only thing you have to do is write. One of the things that helps me most when I’m in that position — something that happens too often for my peace of mind — is to free write. Just sit down at my desk and write whatever comes into my head for ten minutes. I do it longhand, pen and paper. It really does seem to open the creative channels after a few days.

Okay, so for accountability — and I promise, I’m not going to blog about NaNo every day this month — I wrote 3527 words yesterday. It was actually more because I spent the morning working on inputting character descriptions, setting notes, etc. In other words, building a story bible. Today, I’m running behind because I have yet to start the “work day”. But that will happen soon.

For those of you doing NaNo, good luck. For those who aren’t, set your own goals and do your best to meet them. You have stories to write, stories I want to read.

Publication notes and a snippet

As I noted in earlier posts, I got waylaid by my muse last month and wound up having to write an unscheduled book. It happens sometimes. I don’t like it when it does but I have learned not to fight the muse when she gets into that mood. Anyway, Witchfire Burning is finished, has been edited and proofed and is ready for publication. It will go live on Amazon Friday, assuming everything goes right, and the print version will be available in a couple of weeks.

Because of the Halloween season, and because Witchfire Burning is coming out this week, I’ll be releasing the novella Skeletons in the Closet on the 25th of this month. Skeletons shares a setting and some characters with Witchfire Burning. Skeletons is the first of what will probably be three novellas centering on Lexie Smithson and her rather unusual family, even by Mossy Creek standards.

Dagger of Elanna will be released on November 22nd, fingers crossed. The book is finished but needs some more work on the editing front before I send it off to beta readers and then my editor. I also need to talk with my cover designer to see if we are on the same page regarding the cover image and typography or if we need to do some reworking of it.

After that will come Victory from Ashes. I’d like to have it out before the end of the year but I’m not making any promises. At the same time, I need to be working on the next Nocturnal Lives book. I’ve been putting it off because it will probably be the last book in the series. No, I’m not leaving Mac and company behind but that particular story arc is coming to an end. There will be some short stories and novellas here and there until I figure out how to handle the next “chapter” in their lives.

Series and series ends have been in my mind of late. I think we have all read series that kept going long after the author should have ended them. The characters either quit growing or they turn into something that bears little resemblance to the character we first knew and loved. The author writes in a way that you wonder if they no longer like the series. I am seeing this happen now with several series I have enjoyed reading. One I have quit buying altogether. One is no longer on my buy it as soon as it comes out — of course, part of that is my refusal to pay $13.99 or more for an e-book. The third has just dropped from my buy the hardcover to wait for the e-book to go on sale. So I want to be able to wind up this current story arc in a satisfactory way for the readers and the characters and then start a new arc that will keep my attention as well as my readers.

So, that’s my schedule for the next six months or so. Well, almost my schedule. There will also be at least one more short story in the Honor and Ashes universe, probably coming out shortly before Victory from Ashes. Over the next few weeks, I’ll figure out my schedule for next year and post it. Of course, I’m afraid of doing that because Myrtle the evil muse seems to take that as a challenge to see how many times she can pull me out-of-schedule and force me to write something I hadn’t planned on.

And now for the snippet. This is the opening chapter from Witchfire Burning. A version of the first part appeared on this blog about a month and a half ago. Those of you who read Mad Genius Club will recognize most, if not all, of the snippet. However, since I hadn’t posted it all here, I thought I would today. As with everything here, all rights reside with me. Copyright 2016 by Amanda S. Green

Chapter One

It’s never easy going home, especially when you left under less than ideal circumstances. But that’s the situation I found myself in. It might never have happened if it weren’t for my daughter, the light of my life. Four months ago, Ali turned five. A month after that I finally admitted she presented challenges I didn’t know how to deal with. Fortunately, at least in some ways, my mother did know how to handle my special little girl. Like it or not, that meant returning home to Mossy Creek, Texas, smack dab in the middle of the buckle of the Bible belt.

And that made life very interesting for the citizens of Mossy Creek where normal was not something you encountered every day.

So I called my mother, scheduled a leave of absence from work and made our plane reservations. There were a few stops and starts and the trip had been delayed twice. But now our bags were packed and Ali and I were about to walk out the front door. That’s when my pocket started vibrating. Well, to be honest, it was the cellphone in my pocket that started vibrating but you know what I mean. For a moment, I considered ignoring the call. I knew from the ringtone it wasn’t my mother or any of the rest of the family. As far as work and most of my friends knew, Ali and I had already left town. Even so, years of conditioning had my hand digging into my jeans pocket before I realized it.

“Momma, we have to go!” Ali tugged at my free hand, pulling me toward the door.

“Hang on, sweetheart.” I glanced at the display, recognizing the area code if not the number. “Go make sure you didn’t leave anything you want to take with you. This won’t take long. I promise.” I waited until she raced toward her bedroom before answering the call. “Hello?”

“Moira Quinn O’Donnell?” a woman asked.

“Yes.” A hint of concern fluttered in my stomach. She might have been calling to sell me siding or solar panels or the like but I doubted it. Something about her voice not only sounded serious but official. Besides, she had used my full name, something very few knew.

What can I say? When you grow up with the name Moira and your mother insists on the proper Irish pronunciation and you live in Texas, let’s just say it is easier to go by your middle name, especially if that name is easily pronounced.

“Ms. O’Donnell, my name’s Carli Sanderson. I work with Julianne Grissom.”

My brows knitted into a frown. “What can I do for you, Ms. Sanderson?”

“Ms. O’Donnell, I don’t want to worry you, but have you spoken with your mother recently.”

That flutter of concern spiked and I swallowed hard. Whenever someone started a statement with “I don’t want to worry you,” it usually meant there was something to be worried about. If that wasn’t enough, Julianna Grissom and I were friends going back to childhood. If trouble wasn’t brewing, the call would have been from Annie Caldwell. Julianna Grissom was her very professional, all attorney persona. I closed my eyes and counted to ten. Then I looked toward the hallway, making sure Ali was still safely in her room. Whatever was going on, I most definitely did not want to worry her.

“I spoke with her two days ago. Why?”

“Ma’am, Ms. Grissom asked me to check with you. We don’t know any of the particulars, only that the Sheriff’s Department attempted to do a welfare check on your mother after she failed to meet friends yesterday. While there’s no evidence of foul play or, to be perfectly honest, of anything being wrong, they haven’t been able to make entry into the house to be sure.”

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I had a pretty good idea why the deputies hadn’t been able to enter the house. Unless I was badly mistaken, they hadn’t even been able to enter the yard. That was just one of the reasons why I’d moved to Montana more than ten years ago. In Mossy Creek, when someone said you lived on the wrong side of the tracks, they weren’t talking about your financial status or social standing. Far from it, in fact. Life in Mossy Creek had been different from the day the town was founded. Mundane mixed with supernatural and, well, my mother might not be Serena Duchamp but she had been known to cast more than a spell or two.

Then there was the house. I swear it is more alive than a lot of folks I could name. If it did not want to let someone in, nothing, not even a battering ram, would get the doors open. The only thing keeping me from panicking was the belief the house would not keep help out if my mother needed it. Me, it never hesitated to try to lock me out. But Mom belonged there and it would protect her.

At least I hoped it would.

“What can I do?”

“Ms. Grissom said you were coming to town today. Is that still your plan?” Sanderson asked.

“It is.” I glanced at my watch. Ali and I were going to have to hurry if we wanted to make our flight. “Assuming no problems with our connecting flight, my daughter and I should be in town by five.”

“With your permission, I will let the sheriff know. Ms. Grissom would like you to stop by the office when you get here. Hopefully, we will know more by then.”

“All right.” I thought for a moment. “Have you checked with either my sister or my brother to see if they’ve heard from our mother?”

“They are my next calls, ma’am.”

“All right. Tell Ms. Grissom I will give her a head’s up when I reach Dallas.” I didn’t wait for her to respond. Instead, I ended the call and stuffed the cellphone back into my pocket. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach but there was nothing I could do about it, at least not until I reached Mossy Creek. But it did necessitate a slight change in what I packed and in my plans not to check a suitcase.

“Ali, you about ready?” I called from my bedroom as I knelt just inside my closet. There, bolted to the floor, was a safe. Inside were my service weapon, several other handguns along with my badge, ID and a few other items. Blowing out a breath, I retrieved an HK .45, pancake holster, ammo and my badge and ID. “Ali?” I repeated as I secured everything in a small, hard-sided case which I locked and then dropped inside my bag that now would have to be checked.

“Momma, can I take Ruffles?” She stood in the doorway, a battered teddy bear almost as big as her in her arms.

“No, baby. Not this time. Why don’t you take Freckles instead?” I asked, referring to a smaller but equally beloved teddy bear.

“Okay.” She grinned and raced back to her room.

Five minutes later, we pulled out of the driveway and I did my best to put Sanderson’s call out of my mind. This was Ali’s first plane ride and I knew she was excited. The last thing I wanted was to worry her. After all, as far as she knew, this was a fun trip to see her grandma. She did not need to know that grandma had apparently gone missing and we might not be able to get into the house because it didn’t like me.

Heaven help me, how was I going to explain the house, not to mention everything else, to a five-year-old?

Read More

Of Dragons and Sales

Dragon_Award-221x300I’m sure by now that most of you have seen the results of the Dragon Awards. I want to start by congratulating the winners. Here’s the list:

Best Science Fiction Novel

Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm by John C. Wright

Best Fantasy Novel

Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior) by Larry Correia

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel

The Shepherd’s Crown (Tiffany Aching) by Terry Pratchett

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Hell’s Foundations Quiver (Safehold) by David Weber

Best Alternate History Novel

League of Dragons (Temeraire) by Naomi Novak

Best Apocalyptic Novel

Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole

Best Horror Novel

Souldancer (Soul Cycle Book 2) by Brian Niemeier

Best Comic Book

Ms. Marvel

Best Graphic Novel

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

Game of Thrones – HBO

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

The Martian

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC/Console Game

Fallout 4 – Xbox One by Bethesda Softworks

Best Science Fiction of Fantasy Mobile Game

Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks

Best Science Fiction of Fantasy Board Game

Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures/Collectible Card/Role Playing Game

Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th edition) by Chaosium Inc.

These titles were voted on by fans of the genre. There was no requirement to buy an attending or supporting membership to a con. That meant those fans who can’t afford to go to cons or who would rather spend their money buying books than buying the “right” to vote actually got to vote for works they thought were the best in their category. More than that, the awards were decided based on the number of votes cast. The title receiving the most votes, no Australian rules here, won.

Wow, imagine that. An award where fans were actually believed to be smart enough, well-read enough to vote on what they thought should win. (Yes, the sarcasm is high in this statement.)

Someone on social media made a comment after the awards were announced that I think speaks volumes about the difference between the Dragon Awards and other genre awards. This person was amazed because not only had they recognized almost everyone that made it to the ballot but that, after the winners were announced, they actually remembered the titles. She went on to say the last time she had read a winner of another award was, well, many years ago.

And yet the Dragons are being denigrated by a subset of fans. These Fans (note the capital “F”) hated it when the fans learned they could vote for the Hugos as long as they paid for the right. They hated it when these same fans then nominated works the Fans did not feel worthy. After all, message must take precedence over story and commercialism is icky. These same Fans called the newcomers names and did everything they could to make the fans feel unwelcome. We were told to go make our own awards.

Then DragonCon, one of the largest cons in the country, if not the world, did just that. Oh, the Fans claim Vox was behind it. Of course, as with so many things they claim, they offer no proof. Just as they offer no proof for their allegations that Puppies of all ilks stuffed the ballot. Wrong-think won the day at the Dragons, according to them, and the only explanation was Voxxxxx! and Cheating!

What the Dragons actually showed is that fans, when given the chance, will nominate and vote for what they enjoyed reading. Enjoyed being the operative term. Did I agree with everything that won? Nope but there were very few things on the ballot that I didn’t like when I read them. I’ll admit, I voted for Chuck Gannon instead of John C. Wright. Why? Because I liked Chuck’s book better but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like John’s. I did. But Chuck’s was more to my taste. I voted for Dave Freer, even over Sir Terry. But I don’t have any problem with Sir Terry winning. The difference between the books on the likability scale was so small as to be indistinguishable.

I applaud DragonCon and the Dragon Awards for a successful first year and I look forward to how the awards progress. As long as the powers that be remember that this is a fan award, I feel it can and will go far. Perhaps those behind other genre awards — Hugos, I’m looking at you — should decide what audience they are going after. If your rules say you are a fan award, then treat it as such. Otherwise, just admit you are literary award and you don’t want the unwashed masses taking part.

Here are two more Dragon Award posts for your enjoyment: Dave Freer over at Mad Genius Club and Nicki Kenyon at The Liberty Zone. Check them out.

Finally, don’t forget the Third Annual Indie Authors Labor Day Sale continues. Check it out here.

 

A quick note

Thanks to everyone for their support of Taking Flight (Honor and Duty) and Battle Bound (Honor and Duty). I promise to get Battle Wounds, the third short story in this particular story arc in the Honor and Duty universe out in the next month to six week. I am going to take a bit of time away from the short stories, however, in order to finish up Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods, Book 2) and star the final edits on Victory from Ashes (Honor and Duty, Book 4).

When I started Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1), I never expected it to morph into a series. At least not like it has. Nor did I expect to write any short stories in the universe. But Ashlyn Shaw and company have become some of my favorites and it will be difficult to say goodbye to them when the times comes. When that will be, I’m not sure. The current plan is to finish the Honor and Duty story arc with the next book. However, I have a feeling that is most definitely not the end of Ash’s story. Plus there are other characters in the universe who want their own stories told. So, I have a feeling I won’t be leaving Fuercon or the Devil Dogs any time soon and I’m happy with that.

As I’ve noted before, I have the very rough outline done for Dagger of Elanna. One of the things that has been holding me up has been finding the voice for one of the new characters who is being introduced in this book, one who will wind up playing a major role in the series before everything is said and done. I finally found that voice yesterday. That’s one of the main reasons I want to get back into Dagger. I don’t want to lose the voice.

After Dagger, I’ll finish up Victory and start the next Mac Santos book. Somewhere in there as well will be another book along the lines of Slay Bells Ring. Whether it will follow someone from that book or not, I’m not sure — and, yes, Pat. I know you want more from those characters. But I have a plot already playing around in the back of my mind.

So I guess I’d best get back to work. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen this post from The Passive Voice, go check it out. Pay particular attention to what PG has to say about the Shatzkin article. I think PG is right on the money. Statzkin purpetuates the mindset of many in traditional publishing and, in doing so, ignores so many of the challenges the industry faces. It is time for those in their ivory towers of publishing to pull their heads out of the sand. They need to listen and pay attention to what readers and writers are saying. Until they do, and until they change their business plans, traditional publishing will continue to struggle.

Now, for the blatant self-promo. If you haven’t checked outHonor and Duty (3 Book Series), why not give it a try?

 

 

 

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