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Writing Process Blog Tour 2014

If y’all follow more writers besides me, you’ve probably seen posts going around about the Writing Process Blog Tour, in which various writers discuss what they’re working on and how they do it. They tag the writer who talked them into it, and find other writers to participate! What’s in it for you? Getting to follow links and discover new writers.

In my case, I got tagged by Catherine Lundoff, who’s userinfocatherineldf, and the same on Dreamwidth! She’s got her own Writing Process post here on LJ and here on Dreamwidth.

Let’s get down to it, shall we?

What Am I Working On?

Priority one: Victory of the Hawk, book 3 of the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy. This will conclude my immediate obligations with Carina Press and free me up for more of my indie work.

Namely, finishing the edits for Bone Walker as well as the shorter pieces I promised my long-waiting Kickstarter backers!

After that? What’s most likely to pop off the queue will be Queen of Souls, my other currently finished manuscript, at least in rough draft form.

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?

My fantasy, currently represented by the Rebels of Adalonia books, is significantly less grim and gritty than a lot of the better-known and better-selling epic fantasy works these days. Which is not to say I don’t have violence or dark themes, or that I hold back from killing off characters as appropriate. Valor of the Healer and Vengeance of the Hunter–especially Vengeance, as y’all will see when it ships on the 28th–both have their share of violence and darkness. But I don’t do gratuitous darkness.

Stylistically, I hearken more back to the stuff I read when I was younger. So if you liked Esther Friesner’s early fantasy novels, or Tanya Huff’s, or Doranna Durgin’s, you might like mine.

In my urban fantasy, likewise, I’m a lot lighter-hearted than a lot of the grim grim grimmity grim OHNOEZ WE MUST SAVE THE WORLD novels out there. And if your tastes in urban fantasy slant more towards paranormal romance, you should also be aware that while I do have romantic subplots, I don’t base them on how enthusiastic the characters’ hormones get about each other. I do slow builds on romances, and if I have any on-camera sex at all, it will serve a very specific character development need. It won’t be there just out of obligation to have my characters shag. Also, I’m very likely to cut a discreet fade to black rather than spelling out the details for you.

See, ’cause here’s the thing–unlike a lot of readers, I don’t tend to put myself into the position of the heroine in whatever book I might be reading. Rather, I envision her as this awesome person whose adventure I’m following. If you’re an awesome person I know in real life, this doesn’t mean I want to actually watch you shag, you know? Same thing if you’re an awesome fictional person I’m reading about.

I feel the same way about the characters I’m writing. To be perfectly honest, the vast majority of sex scenes bore me to tears, and they’d bore me to write, too. And writing something that bores me is the last thing I want to do to a reader. I’d much rather write the things that excite me, and by extension, hopefully, excite you too.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I often hear it said that a writer should write the things she wants to read. This applies to me, pretty much.

I write casts of characters that tend to slant heavily to having women in positions of power, because that’s what I want to see in the things I read. I write women who hold magical power, women who hold political power, and sometimes both at once. And I write casts that will have multiple female characters in play, which may in fact seem female-heavy to some readers–but I see a lot of LACK of representation of female characters elsewhere, and dammit, I want to do something about that.

Likewise, I’ll often have queer characters present in my cast. Because again, representation matters.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

Basically, after finishing a few novels, I’ve come to realize that my writing process is pretty much “let the characters roleplay the story out in my head and transcribe what happens”.

I’ll have a rough idea of where I need to go, mind you. I’ll often take some rough outline notes, or notes on characters’ starting motivations. I definitely find sketching out a timeline of events to be useful.

But a good bit of this note taking actually happens throughout the writing of a book for me. I’ll write a few chapters, take more notes, write a few more chapters, lather, rinse, repeat. So far this seems to more or less work.

The tricky part? Doing this under deadline. I’m hoping to get faster as I get more books under my belt!

I write in Microsoft Word–specifically, Mac Office 2008. And for the longest time I was using old-school Courier New formatting, but I’ve started switching over to Times New Roman, trying to get used to following Carina Press’ style guides. I’m likely to keep the Times New Roman for working on my other stuff, too, since I just like the look of that better. What’s really tough, though? Breaking myself of the habit of indenting my paragraphs with tabs!

About the only other tool of note for me is Excel, which I use for word count spreadsheets. The vast majority of my notes are taken in nothing more complicated than TextEdit. Some day eventually I may explore something fancy like Scrivener, but honestly, simplicity seems to work for me here.

And that’s my process! If any of my fellow writers out there would like to be tagged, sing out and I’ll update this post!

ETA #1: First tag request is in! Folks, I commend to your attention Alex Conall, who lives here on Dreamwidth, here for zir official site, and right over here on Facebook. Genderqueer poet and artist and writer! (Speaking of how representation matters.)

ETA #2: Second tag request! This one goes to my pal M.M. Justus, who’s written time-travel SF with romantic elements, some historical, and even straight-up contemporary. Stick around because I’ll be featuring her on Boosting the Signal too!


Author questions: In which I am asked about music

When I put out a call on Facebook for possible post topics for my last Here Be Magic post, I got a couple other excellent questions that I thought would be excellent post fodder on their own. One of those was on what I’m sure y’all will agree is a topic near and dear to my heart, to wit:

“How does your music influence your writing and vice versa?”

Mad props to Kaye for this question, for lo, it is a good question.

How music influences my writing is pretty blatantly obvious to anybody who’s read Faerie Blood. I mean, I’ve got a male lead character who’s a bouzouki player from Newfoundland, f’r cryin’ out loud–though to my amusement, I have in fact actually surprised a person or two when I told them that Christopher is not in fact played in the Faerie Blood Movie in My Brain by Alan Doyle.

And of course there’s Elessir, my Unseelie Elvis impersonator, calling upon the other great musical fandom of my life. Pre-dating Great Big Sea by years and years and years, even. I’m basically throwing all the music I love into the Warder universe, and that meant that it was absolutely imperative that Elvis show up somehow. (For the record–Quebec trad will also be eventually showing up. Christopher’s young cousin Caitlin is getting a boyfriend. And that boy’s going to be from Quebec!)

But in a larger sense, Faerie Blood‘s just one example of how music winds up being critical to just about all of my characters. Over in Valor of the Healer, Kestar Vaarsen (who is played in the Movie in My Brain by Alan Doyle) is a mandolin player. And back in the day, when I was active on my various MUSHes, a whole hell of a lot of the characters I played were musically inclined to one degree or another. Faanshi’s original AetherMUSH incarnation could play the lyre, and she wrote a lament in honor of her lost first love. Rillwhisper, my primary alt on Two Moons MUSH, played the flute. So did F’hlan, my bronze rider on PernMUSH. Shenneret Veery, my primary alt on Star Wars MUSH, was my bard babe with a blaster and could play any instrument she got her hands on, and she headed up the band called the Womprats for several months of my roleplay of her.

Long story short, in pretty much anything I write, there’s going to be at least one character who makes music. Probably more. It may not even be immediately pertinent to the plot–I keep thinking of one of the things I love about the Aubrey-Maturin saga, wherein one of the defining characteristics of those books is how Jack and Stephen periodically just take time out and play the hell out of the violin and cello. Because they love music that much. I want the same for my characters in my books, because I don’t get enough of that in my personal, actual life.

There are reasons that the covers of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker feature the characters with their instruments as well as hints of magic–because the instruments are as vital to them as the magic is. (And when I finally get Kiri Moth to do Christopher on top of Signal Hill in St. John’s with his bouzouki, oh, that’s going to be good.)

How my writing influences my music is the tougher flip side of this question. I have been known to occasionally write music–that aforementioned song of AetherMUSH!Faanshi’s? I wrote actual, singable lyrics for that, and I’m going to eventually turn it into a reel that could in theory be playable at a session.

But writing music is a different skill than writing prose, and I’m not very practiced at it. It’s hard for me. That said? I often find myself wanting there to be music to accompany my books. This is, after all, why Dara’s still working on the Bone Walker soundtrack. My history with filk is a contributing factor to this–I’ve heard so much awesome filk that’s about various and sundry books or graphic novels (especially Elfquest) that a big part of me would squeal in delight at the prospect of Warder universe filk.

And I keep totally wanting to filk Great Big Sea’s “Ferryland Sealer” to “Faerieland Sealer”, which is absolutely and unequivocably a Warder universe song.

That about covers it, I think! Any questions on this, drop a comment! Or any further questions you want to fling me, to be addressed here or in future Here Be Magic posts, let me know!

Advice on Self-Publishing

Advice on self-publishing

I’ve been having an uptick lately on people coming to me for advice on how to go about self-publishing your work. This is simultaneously flattering and kind of startling.

Flattering, because, gosh, people seem to think I know what I’m doing. Startling, because wait, what, you people think I know what I’m doing? *^_^*;; When did that happen?

But, be that as it may, okay, yeah, I am starting to get asked questions often enough that I’m going to do a series of posts on the overall topic of self-publication, just so I can have something I can point people at in case they need advice. As y’all know I can blather with the best of ’em, but it helps if I have to blather only once. So. Consider this an announcement of posts to come.

I’m thinking I’m going to break them down into these sub-topics:

  1. Write the book. No, seriously, write the book
  2. Get the book beta-read and edited
  3. How to build your own ebooks
  4. Where you should deploy your ebooks for sale
  5. What sites you can employ if you don’t have your own skills for building ebooks and/or who will deploy your ebooks for sale for you
  6. What to do if you want to self-pub in print
  7. Commissioning cover art
  8. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services–should you use them?
  9. You’ve deployed the book for sale–how do you help readers find it?
  10. Should you also try to traditionally publish as well as self-publish?

Do also please keep in mind that I’m real small-fry in the overall publishing picture; I’m lucky if I sell a couple dozen copies of anything in a month. (By which I still mean, a couple dozen copies of Faerie Blood; Valor of the Healer is still too new to have any real, definable effect on my monthly sales yet.) So if you try to enact any of my advice, please understand that I am not going to hand you the path to fortune, glory, and becoming a Big-Time Author(TM). What works for me may not work for you. Or it may work way better for you. Or you may find something else that works way better for you. Your mileage may vary!

But all that said: does anybody have any general self-pub topics you’d like me to add to this list? Or any specific questions in any of these areas you’d like me to address in a forthcoming post? Please let me know!


A small but awesome milestone

Tonight I found a message waiting for me on Facebook from someone who said she’d just finished reading Faerie Blood and really liked it–and that she was volunteering to jump in on beta reading Lament of the Dove for me. To which I had the following reactions:

One, holy crap, a complete stranger actually read my book and wrote in to say she liked it EEE!. This does not happen to me very often at all, people. Faerie Blood hasn’t sold more than a few hundred copies to the best of my knowledge, and believe me, I’m still totally double-taking at the thought that people I don’t actually know have actually read it!

But with that in mind, O Internets, I urge you: if you loved a book, take the time to write in and let the author know. It doesn’t have to be effusive or detailed. It can just be ‘I really enjoyed your book, thank you so much!’ Even hearing that much is music to an author’s ears. We’re putting our darlings out there in the hope that somebody will in fact read ’em, so any proof that they’re getting read? Gold.

And two, holy crap this complete stranger wants to read more of my work! Sure, it’s work that hasn’t actually been published yet, but in some ways that’s even more awesome. That’s taking an active interest.

So I’ve flung back a Facebook note to the person in question, and we will see where this goes. In the meantime, public mad props to Ghislaine for taking the time to write in!

All the rest of you? If you loved an author’s work, thank them. And if you’re an author, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that your readers are made entirely of awesome. Or that your beta readers kick up the awesome another order of magnitude entirely. Hug your beta readers today!