Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy, and other fantasy, but mostly I work with urban and future fantasy.

Strong Women in Fiction Giveaway

I’m participating in a Strong Women in Fiction giveaway! You can win an audiobook code for any one of my books! I’ll be giving away 2 codes for the US Audible store and 1 for the UK Audible store. (If you can sign into Audible from your country just sign up for the appropriate country.)

I try to make all my female characters strong. They are strong in different ways. Eva is sort of physically strong, but she is very strong in intellect in her particular field, she is strong because she is a survivor. Faye is a survivor, she is physically strong, she is a leader and has the strength of her community. Daisy is strong, she’s got a long way to go to grow into her strength but she has the strength of convictions and passions. Diane’s strength comes from her kindness and love. Heather is strong in her passionate defense of nature. Jenna has the strength of a survior and her sense of self is strong. Ethel is magically strong and strong in that she has seen everything during her lifetime. Liv is physically strong and she’s strong for her daughter. Allie’s strength lies in dealing with the disasters she makes for herself (maybe someday she’ll learn how to not do that, but don’t hold your breath). Strength is different for different characters. I’ve only really got 2 physically really strong characters (and only 1 of them is incredibly strong).

Strength comes with complexities. Allie charges forward with a great strength of conviction into lots of impulsive decisions. She’s always sure they are the right choice. And she’s strong enough to struggle her way out of it when it turns out that they aren’t really. She’s not that smart, she’s fine and does ok at work, but wow does she make bad choices for good reasons. Coming to realize that would be strength…we shall see if she’s strong enough for that.

Diane is passionate about helping others. She loves to help animals. She cares so deeply for those around her. She would sacrifice anything to help and care for those who can’t help themselves. And that strength is incredible. Even if she’s clumsy and not quite sure how to piece things together and doesn’t always see what’s obvious. She’s going to be the one to bring you soup when you are sick and walk your dog. And that’s absolutely strength too.

So…what can you win?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And make sure you check out and enter the giveaways around other strong women in fiction!!


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Writing Prompt: Unusual Were-Animals

I love werewolves and the other very common variations. But I also think there is a lot of other under explored were-animals.

My Smokejumpers series explores a few of these, peregrine falcons (my favorite), jaguars (pretty common), mountain lions (also on the not unusual list), stags and much more. What is the most unusual shifter you’ve read? Written? What would you like to read?

I’ve been listening to the Varmints podcast and I’ve been thinking about which of these would make good shape shifters.

Varmints!

Jenna’s Books

Jenna is the protagonist in a trilogy, or I thought it was a trilogy. Or it might still be a trilogy.

Jenna’s Series

It is an urban fantasy with a heavy layer of tech, rather than an eschewing of tech (which is something I want to see more of an if anyone has any great suggestions that are UF that aren’t anti-tech, bring it on!)

Book 1

The first book was written about three years ago now. It has some problems. There are a few substantial issues with it. 

  • The love interest feels a little tacked on and not crucial
  • Not enough backstory (her backstory is pretty important and I didn’t even bring it up until 3/4 of the way through, beta reader was stunned by it)
  • The secondary villain wasn’t well developed
  • The world felt fuzzy (some of this was intentional, but intentional doesn’t mean good)
  • It’s not really a full book

There are some smaller things that I think I’ve gotten better at writing in the last few years. 

Book 2

I wrote book 2 last NaNoWriMo. I wrote it with an understanding of some of these problems and believing that I’d resolve these things.

I made an assumption that these changes have happened in the first book. That love interest was cut, that the backstory was at least sprinkled throughout, that the secondary villain was …shifted, and that there was a little more structure to the world. 

Now

I was going to edit it last Camp NaNo. I was going to edit it over NaNoWriMo.

I knew part of the reason I’ve been fighting so hard to do this project is because something isn’t quite right with it. 

I finally have had a few conversations about it. I’ve done a lot of thinking. I thought I had a strategy, but even working that through I wasn’t getting anywhere. 

Partly I don’t want to just trash it because I really like the second book, I feel pretty good about that one. And it 100% does not work without the first. 

Going forward

I think my solution going forward might be to make this into the first act of the second book. The second book picks up right after the end of the first. Tying them together makes a lot of sense, and yeah, the first one isn’t a full book. The second one is fine, but it needs a little more, and putting this at the start as the first act I think would make it a lot stronger.

This is my solution today. We’ll see where the future actually goes, but I think right now at least this is the direction I want to take going forward.

That all said, right now? I’m editing another Smoke Jumper short and so I’m focused on that. It’s a good shift away from beating myself up about Jenna’s books. I’m just hoping this is the right decision this time.

2017 Goals

So last week I made a post about what I did in 2016. Now it is time for some planning goals for 2017.

Writing

My goals are 2-3 novellas, 5-10 flash pieces, 1 novel.

I’d prefer to say that I know which novel it will be. I’ve been thinking a lot about Jenna’s novel and what to do with it. I may be posting about that coming up. Still thinking.

More Smoke Jumpers pieces are absolutely in the works. One novella will be coming out this spring. I’m very excited about that. I’m hopeful for more Smoke Jumpers, and maybe something unknown as of yet. Who knows what the year will hold for words.

Podcasting

I’m going to keep at it! I love the podcast. I love the opportunity to share wonderful stories from amazing authors. Fully expect to see 52 episodes of the podcast in 2017. (And I’d love to help you share your story with the world. Looking for submissions!)

I want to keep doing what I can to share the podcast and get the word out. More marketing, more guest spots, more everything!

Narrating

My goal is to do 2 novels in 2017. Not sure if my own (unlikely) or someone else’s. I want to finish the Monsters anthology. (This is several (3-4?) more novelette length pieces I believe.) Maybe do a few more novellas (2-3). And pieces of my own of course.

Other

I’m not sure what else I should be doing. I hope this is enough. Read more. Critique more. (Part of the secret of narrating is that it is incredibly intense time with whatever I’m doing, I learn a lot.)

I want to create a better structure around a few writing things.

I also hope that 2017 brings about some kind of writing related surprise that I don’t have fully formed in my head yet. 2016 brought a few of those. (Podcast and narrating and publishing were all new and ranged on the planned/expected spectrum.) I think that something currently unexpected might happen. I kind of hope so. I hope it’s good.

(Not writing related? It could be a rough year in a lot of ways.)

I’m going to fail at NaNoWriMo

I’ve never failed at it quite like this, but wow am I going to fail.

Frankly? I’m not even trying anymore. Which super isn’t like me. 

I know what the problem is. I’m recording a novel. This…might be something I do very little of going forward. A big part of it is just how I operate, how my brain works. The project isn’t due for months, literally months. But I cannot handle having it hanging over my head so I’m pushing everything else aside it work on it. 

It gives a weirdly false impression of how I work when I do this. And I’ve done a bunch of novellas, but primarily novellas and projects that are 2 weeks of work or less.  I can get them done and have the feeling of accomplishment. (Which I super love.) But they aren’t hanging over me until I finish them (well they are, but they are much easier to be done with).

I’m working with an author I think is great and I trust to do all the right stuff or I wouldn’t be working on another novel (that wasn’t mine!) at all. But even still? I’m going to be more wary. 

So…a note to future me

This feeling of panic happens, you have to set aside all other work and record as long as you can and then edit during the week and you leave no time or brain space for other creative endeavors. It is ok to do it, but know that until you finish the project, nothing else significant will happen. Accept that.

For current me?

It’s ok to focus on getting this done. But then no excuses, buckling down to try to get this edit finished. I’ve got a good plan. I’ve got a good start. A good strategy. Good characters added. Good characters removed. (Appropriate maybe…they aren’t all …good…) But I don’t have words that aren’t “good” right now. So finish. Get the editing done. Get the last recorded. Get the changes recorded. 

Then sit down in December and January and hammer out Jenna’s story. Take the chisel and really work that draft into something worth sharing. 

And write a short or two in the meanwhile. 

No more excuses.

Art is important. 

So yes, I’m going to fail at NaNoWriMo, and it’s not great, but it’s ok. I’m learning something important. Hopefully I’ll actually take the lesson to heart this time. If not, future me, knock that shit off!

My Approach to NaNoWriMo

I’m going to talk a bit about my approach to Nanowrimo this year…

It may be TMI? Maybe? I’m trying to share. I was talking with someone recently about how much I love Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast. She’s so open and honest. (Or appears she is at least.) I like the ones where she just tells you how she’s feeling and what’s happening even more than the interviews. Like oh, she can do it, not every day is awesome, I can have a bad day and still come back and do ok. I can freak out and panic inside and that doesn’t make me a bad writer or bad whatever. I can keep going.

I’m nervous. I’m stressed. I’m panicked.

A problem

So my first problem is that I’ve been slacking on creative/fiction writing lately. I’ve been writing blog posts, I’ve been editing things, I’ve been critiquing, supporting, I’ve worked on some monstrous writing focused projects at work that have taken a lot of my creative and writing brain and by the time I get home I’m pretty burned out.

So I’ve been slacking on the fiction. I finished up a project nearish the start of October and haven’t bitten off a full new project since then. I’ve made notes on a couple of new projects that I want to work on post NaNo (yay more Smoke Jumpers stuff) but I didn’t start because I wanted to keep my focus on the NaNo project.

Strategy

Um…Just do it?

I can’t wake up any earlier because I’ve been getting up super early to go into work and get extra stuff done. But I’m hoping that lightens up a bit by the middle of this week, then I’ll just keep getting up early and spend that extra first hour working on the novel.

I already have (good) plans for the 1st, but I’m going to carve out at least one hour a night the rest of the week. It might not be enough, it might not be enough to even make it. But I think it should be a good start.

One hour means one hour. Not 15 minutes while doing this or that. It means 4 solid, focused blocks of 15 minutes of writing, which should be entirely doable. I’ll do 4 sprints a night.

Podcast?

I’m set and scheduled for all of November, so I just need to keep up the promotion and other things I do, but hopefully I can let the hunting new work/opportunities slack a little. (I do have some amazing authors with some wonderful stories coming up through the month!)

Project?

I’m doing Jenna’s first book. It is a full rewrite. I normally go into NaNo with a pretty solid idea and usually some planning, that often goes out the window. This time I have basically a really bad outline and an end. Which is what I consider this book to be. The book isn’t bad, it just doesn’t work well…maybe a little bad. Not good…I’m rewriting because I think it has a lot of potential, I just think I left a lot of that potential behind the first pass. I have the second book in the trilogy written and so I know where I want to point my character, and I want to follow a lot of the same path as the first book, but basically not at all…if that makes sense. So I feel both more prepared and less than I ever have.

When/If I Fail

It’s ok.

It’s ok.

It really is ok.

I still have my day job. I still have my home. I still have the wonderful podcast. I still can keep writing it AFTER December 1st.

I know for some people it helps to have hard deadlines and impending doom to finish projects. But I’m already freaking out about failing something I haven’t started yet and have a good track record of finishing despite obstacles and stresses larger than what I anticipate this year.

I know that accepting the consequences of failure make me more likely to succeed.

Why NaNoWriMo?

I’ve been thinking more about NaNo lately and if it is still right for me? I like having a month dedicated/set aside for/focused on novels. Partly because while I usually do a lot of writing I am more often writing shorter pieces, flash, short and novella length stuff for different projects. I like those a lot. But I also like the novels. Having some space carved out for writing those novels is really helpful.

Having the NaNoWriMo community can be helpful. (It is part of why I wanted to try out Scribophile, so see if that could work, I’m still testing that.) A good place to go for support or questions. A good place to go and help someone and feel better because I’ve helped and supported someone else and so yes I can do this. (Yes, knowing I can/am helpful to others makes me feel better about my own chances of success, brain weird.)

So I think that for this year at least NaNoWriMo is still for me because it gives me a chance/a reason to stop and focus on just one novel project.

Next year though I think I’ll shift and maybe give myself a cheat of the weekend before to help prep even if some prep means some writing. I’m too much of a stickler for the rules for my own good sometimes.

If you stuck through all of that, what does NaNo do for you? Problems? Writing? Anything? Can I help you somehow to feel better about my chances of success? Did I mention my brain is weird?

Good luck!

Death and Weddings

I’ve been plotting out a Smoke Jumper novella. I’ve been wanting to write a mystery for a while and the idea came to me for a murder set at a destination wedding. So I’ve been researching death and weddings. It’s been…weird.

First the wedding!

I’ve been making a Pinterest board. Just like other Pinterest board makers. Except my thought when I look at something is, “Would this make a good clue?” “Would this make a good red herring?” “How will this factor into the death?” “I wonder which bridesmaid’s dress color will look good with blood?” “What picturesque location would be best to find a dead body?”

Basically, it’ll be a sort of rustic farm wedding, with a dead body and a shape shifter. That’s how most weddings are right?

Death and corpses

I’ve seen this making rounds but The Human Body After Death is extremely helpful.

I’m having a poisons problem. Wolfsbane seems WAY to obvious considering that my shifter will be a wolf.

Here’s a list of 10 poisons used to kill people (beware audio – sorry!) The real problem for me is where and what I’d like to use. Poison ivy just won’t cut it. I’m not sure if this poison will be the actual weapon, or a red herring, but I know I need something that is plant based, ideally found in North America, super ideally found in the Rocky Mountains. Hm.

Mysteries

15 Tips from Elizabeth Craig

25 Things You Need to Know from Susan Spann

Really old post but had some good stuff about plotting clues which I’ve been having trouble with.

This (long!) post has some clue examples which is also helpful. Beware it isn’t even for writers, it is for creating one of those mystery dinner things I think. But I really liked the clues section.

 

 

Audiobooks and Audible

A brief update about audiobooks and Audible.

I narrated a book a few months ago and it is finally out on Audible. So you can listen to me read a very geeky urban fantasy with wolves and where I say the word bitch a bunch.

Howling Dead by M. H. Bonham

Howing Dead

Howling Dead by M. H. Bonham

Which earrings look best with fur? Kira Walker is a geek and UNIX systems administrator who has a bad hair day at least once a month. But when a wolf attacks Kira and her BFF in downtown Denver around the full moon, she’s devastated. Now, like it or not, Kira is unemployed, and the head of Denver’s werewolf pack is getting a little too friendly for her tastes. And, oddly, she keeps finding herself naked in front of road workers. Caught in this new world, Kira discovers there are sinister forces at work. Rogue werewolves have declared war against humans, and when Kira’s other BFF is kidnapped, it gets Kira snarling mad. Can she solve the riddle of the Enchanted Forest before the rogue werewolves kill again? Fashion-challenged Kira will learn that werewolves have a strong bite.

Want to know more about using Audible? I came across a great Guide to Audible from Sajan Parikh.

And if you want to try Audible for yourself you can sign up for any of the three giveaways to get a chance to win a free audiobook. (Which you could use to listen to me narrate Howling Dead.)

How to Listen to Podcasts

Don’t know how to listen to podcasts? I’m here to help!

Just make it easy!

iPhone
Android

What are podcasts?

Basically a radio program on the computer. Or like going to the library and picking a series, and then the rest of them are already checked out when are ready for the next one.

If you can think of it, if it is your hobby, something you like, there is a podcast about it. It is the internet, it exists.

Podcasts can be regular, weekly, monthly, daily, or irregular sort of whenever the podcaster puts them out. You can have video podcasts. Most podcasts are audio. They can also range from just a few minutes up to hours and hours.

So how do I listen?

Do you have a smart phone? If you do get an app. For iPhones or iPads I cannot recommend Overcast highly enough. Once you’ve downloaded it, tap the plus in the upper right corner, then find a podcast.

Go ahead and try with my podcast (you knew this was going to come up!) Just type 600 Second Saga into the search directory.

You can add a single episode, or subscribe so every time a new episode comes out it will download right to your phone.

I don’t have an iPhone!

Stitcher is a fine cross platform tool. (Meaning you can use it on your Android phone, or desktop, probably not Blackberry, Windows phone apparently not. Windows phone users might be on your own. I spent over an hour trying to help a friend with this, it was a challenge.)

If you are on Android and use one of the other tools this link (Android) should make it work for you. You can also find me in the Google Play app.

No smartphone

You can listen on the page of the podcast. On the side of the page you’ll see a player, click and listen. You can also subscribe on YouTube if you are a YouTube fan.

600 Second Saga each episode has a link to play right in the browser at the bottom of each post. You can also listen right from my Facebook page.

For other podcasts, most of them will have the ability to listen directly from their webpage as well.

And Overcast has a website too. (I swear this isn’t an ad for Overcast, it is just the best tool I’ve found.)

I did user test these steps with a couple smart but not tech savvy people in my life, but if this still confuses you please comment and I’ll be happy to update it or help you.

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