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Saturday, November 26th, 2016
Talking about the Rogue Mage world

So as you might have heard (because I’ve been shouting about it), I have a short story, Ashes and Dust, in the soon-to-be-released Trials: A Rogue Mage anthology. Faith Hunter wrote three novels about Thorn St. Croix. She’s a neomage in a post-apocalyptic earth where seraphs have killed most of the earth’s population. There are those who believe the seraphs are messengers of God, sent to punish people for sins. Others believe they are aliens  (though those people hide because just saying so is sinful). There are a variety of magics and evil in the shape of the Dark–demons and fallen seraphs. Humans and the human world are the battle ground between the Light and the Dark.

Thorn is a neomage–which means she is forbidden to exist, except in what amounts to internment camps for neomages. She lives under the radar as a jeweler, but all too soon, bad things start to happen and she has to take serious risks.

I love this world. It’s so rich and strange and amazing. So I was excited to get a change to play in the world. I was also a little bit panicked. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never even considered anything like fanfiction–playing in someone else’s world means knowing everything about it, and writing in such a way that you’re faithful and don’t break it. I really loved the books, though, and I absolutely wanted to try. It helped that there’s an RPG game based on the world, and I could use the books for that as a reference. And of course, Faith herself.

The conditions of the story were that it could be set in any time pre, during, or post-Rogue Mage stories. I set mine slightly later, and across the country on the west coast. I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted to do, and thought that it would be easier (and less likely to break the world), if I created my own place in the west where I didn’t have to worry all that much about previously described areas or people.

Writing the story was terrific fun. It flowed out of me fast and was too long. I did my best to cut a lot, but it still ended up on the longish side. Luckily there was room. I think the coolest part of the Rogue Mage world is figuring out how to fit in the world and still bring your own creative ideas to the table. You have to color within certain lines, but there’s still a lot of room for crazy colors and textures and shapes.

Mistral is my main character and what I like about him is that he doesn’t fit well anywhere. I’ve felt like that a lot in my life, and then I found my tribe. He’s looking for that, too, only he doesn’t quite know it. He wants to define himself and choose his own path. The thing is, others don’t exactly want to let him. His story is about standing up for himself and choosing the kind of person he wants to be.

Mistral is an unusual being, which accounts for why if anybody discovered what he is, he’d be dead meat. He’s born of a Dark rma1_trials-ebook-cover-correctedMage mother and a captured seraph father. He’s kylen, with unique neomage powers. There’s no other like him in the world and that’s a tough thing. He knows he’d be hated by everyone if they knew, and so he has to hide. But others also want to use him as a tool for their ambitions. He despises both the Light and the Dark. For much of the year, he travels as a ti

nker and trader. For the rest of the year, he suffers at the hands of an evil master.

When I got to the end of the story, I loved it for approximately 5 seconds. Then I was sure it was a big pile of stinky poop. I was sure it moved slowly, that it wasn’t any good, that it was a dumb plot, and that the whole thing needed to be scrapped. (All of which is pretty typical of finishing things for me). Faith, though, seemed to think it was pretty good. I had some kinks to work out where I’d crossed lines I couldn’t cross–world facts, for instance–and I had to revise my prose, but mostly the story in the anthology is as it was when I finished.

I was also really happy with the ending. A lot of the time writers tell stories by feel. What I mean by that is we are searching for that ending that clicks and says more than just the simple plot. That it delves into character and makes the story robust and interesting in ways that weren’t clear until the end. It’s like going through maze and looking back to see that

all those little twists and turns were really a glorious pattern.

Now I need to go back to work on finishing my fourth Diamond City Magic book, which remains untitled. It’s so close to done, but I’m looking for that ending that clicks, and I have a feeling that a little farther away than I hope it is. I feel the story coming together toward that finish, though, and I’m super pleased about it.

I also am working on the second Mission: Magic book, and I just turned in a Horngate Witches story for an upcoming anthology. It jumps about four years after the end of the last book. And then I got blindsided by a dream last night that is parlaying itself into a book idea that I think is pretty awesome, but needs to be fleshed out a whole lot more.

Here’s a little snippet from the story:

    They’d not gone much farther up the rutted road — perhaps a mile — when Ebet emerged from the shadow of a tree. He moved into the center of the road to face Mistral, his movements flickering fast. The daywalker was inhumanly beautiful, with black hair that hung to his waist and a lithe, muscular body. They were all of a kind — black hair, slender, piercing eyes, and Michelangelo faces. And evil.
    “You are late for your lessoning,” Ebet said, his voice sweet as a clarinet. “The master grows anxious.”
    “The roads washed out south of the delta. I was trapped on the wrong side.” The floods and delay were not news. Nor did they make the delay forgivable.
    Ebet dipped his chin, a slow, vicious smile curving his mouth. “I am to remind you to hurry.” He lifted his hand and held it out. Dangling from his fingers was a collar.
    Mistral blanched despite himself.

If you’d like to order Trials, here’s a quick link to Amazon. You can preorder now, and it releases on November 28. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

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Saturday, November 19th, 2016
Cool Exciting News!

I want to announce my inclusion in a new anthology that will be out very very soon. bloodring

Faith Hunter writes some fabulous books. One trilogy is the Rogue Mage series–which are really really good and if you haven’t read them yet, you should (e-version of the first book is $2.99 right now). She asked me if I’d like to write a story set in that world for an anthology. I spent a little time squealing and dancing and then said yet. Cuz, duh!!!!

The title of my story is Ashes and Dust, and I’ll tell you more about it later, but for now, here’s more info and the cover:

rma1_trials-ebook-cover-correctedThe Rogue Mage world began long ago, when the epic battle between the High Host and the Darkness was won and lost. Now, nine writers—including Faith Hunter herself—take fans of Thorn St. Croix into the past, before the opening pages of BLOODRING. These stories, set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world, are adventures with new characters and old, facing dangers unimaginable. And they must save the world all over again.

If you ever wondered what happened between seraphs, kylen, second-unforeseen, mages, seraph-touched, spawn, dragons and their creatures, and humans before the series, now is your chance to delve deeper and wider. The ebook TRIALS presents twenty-one vignettes and short stories. TRIALS will be followed soon by TRIBULATIONS, and then by the trade paperback omnibus TRIUMPHANT. Enjoy!

TRIALS Authors: Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, Lou J Berger, Ken Schrader, Spike Y Jones, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Christina Stiles, Tamsin Silver, Melissa McArthur.

TRIBULATIONS Authors are Lucienne Diver, Jean Rabe, Spike Y Jones, Christina Stiles, Faith Hunter.

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Thursday, November 17th, 2016
The Cutting Room Floor

I’m working on a Horngate story for an anthology. It is a Giselle/Shoftiel story–no Max. I cut this today and figured you might like to see it:

Salt Lake City still looked like itself, though now the sulfurous stench of the lake was replaced by fumes of tar. Shoftiel rolled down his window, sucking in deep breaths as his deprived senses rejoiced.

The closer they came to the city, the more he realized that in fact, it had changed. One of the biggest changes came in the shape of jewel-colored drakes circling above, some carrying riders. Vines climbed up every building and dripped in curtains. Other plants clung to whatever surface they could find. Trees grew sideways with leaves from every color of the rainbow.

Many of the building had turned into giant trees or tall pillars of salt. Others look like melted candles, some of which had molded together. While he watched, a squat brick lump of a building got up on seven thick yellow elephant-like legs and walked off toward the shimmering rainbow mountains, settling down on top of a broad, flat-topped place covered in brilliant scarlet fur. Or perhaps it was some kind of fairy grass.

On the right, the tar bog spread out like a great, black quagmire. Heat waves rose from it, distorting the air. Hummocks and islands scattered thickly over its gleaming surface and boats poled through the tarways between.
They continued south, passing the former airport. This was now a field of bushes. They were heavy with long, fuzzy pink fruits. Or vegetables.

“What are those?” he asked, no expecting an answer.

“They call ‘em pinktails. Pretty good. Tart. Green on the inside like kiwis but with big red seeds running down the middle. The fuzz is used to make cloth. It’s a lot like cotton.”

Giselle continued to play tour guide. Shoftiel’s curiosity was insatiable and he peppered her with questions.

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Sirens Anthology Release Day

This is a really cool anthology that I wanted to share with you. I asked Cynthia, one of the contributors and one of the people who came up with the idea of the anthology, to come and talk to you about Sirens, her story, and the anthology in general. So without further ado, please welcome Cynthia:

My name is Cynthia Porter.  I’m here today to tell you that writing a blog post about Queens & Courtesans: A Sirens Benefit Anthology, is only slightly easier than writing my short story, Affairs of State, that is included in its pages.

Sirens is a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature.  The conference describes itselfqueens as “part scholarly conference, part enthusiastic convention, part networking weekend, and part personal retreat.”  Attendees include readers, authors, librarians, booksellers, educators, scholars, and publishing professionals.  Queens & Courtesans is a labor of love created to benefit the conference where we all met.

This is the first time I have ever written a story to a writing prompt.  When we created the idea of the anthology, the request was for stories with a Queen and a Courtesan.  None of my current projects had characters like these.  I had to almost start from scratch.  The almost part was because the world I chose to set the story in was one I’d created years ago.  I shifted south of where my other stories have taken place and found myself in a royal court.

I knew I wanted my queen to be a mature woman, not a teen/young woman who has no idea of the trials ahead of her.  I wanted my characters to know who they were, to be confident in their abilities and their lives.

I think I wrote three drafts before my queen character finally got her name.  This is very unusual for me.  My stories are character driven.  Typically I know nothing about a story until I have a name.  That name brings the character’s personality, their back story, their hopes and dreams, and the plot!  With a normal story I’m stuck without a name.  Except for this queen.  She was more than happy to share her story, she just didn’t see the need to share her name with me.  It drove me crazy.  I would talk to her while staring at the story on my computer screen.  “Name, name, name– you need a name!”  She’s one of the rare ones who knew who she was without a name.  I had to work to find a name that fit her temperament.  Not my most difficult character ever, but absolutely one of the most quietly stubborn.  She was the Queen.  What more did anyone need to know?  Her name, as it turns out, is Arcalys.  True to form, it took about four drafts of this post to realize she’d done it to me again!

Lenzienne, or Lenzi, my courtesan, knew exactly what her name was from the very beginning.  She walked into a room, completely furious, and snarled her opening lines.  Her name flowed onto the page and the story followed.

The really difficult characters in Affairs of State were the secondary characters.  Three of them hung on to significant roles in the story.  A couple more exist as, well, names and nothing more.  The others all got cut from various drafts of the story.  Why?  Because they thought they were populating a novel.  I prefer the longer forms of storytelling because invariable my characters bring big ideas, themes, plots trailing behind them—none of which fit into a short story.  Borders, Barriers, Refugees, Magic, all this exploded into larger and larger arcs.  I shoved most of them aside, telling them “later”.  My editor, Jessica, jumped on several more.  She helped me focus what was more of a prologue for a novel down into a short story.

While my queen and my courtesan are happy with their “little” story, I’ve acknowledged that their novel needs exploration.  Once Queens & Courtesans is well and truly launched into the world, I’ll be letting all those characters, all that world-building, all those themes and plots to swirl out from the door where they’ve been lurking.

To get your copy of Queens and Courtesans in print or ebook, click here for Amazon, or  here for BN.

 

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Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Wind blows, fire burns

Finished revisions on a short story set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world. I’m pretty happy with it. At least until I find out if Faith likes it. Been doing more writing on Diamond City Magic 4. You know, it really needs a title. I should think of one of those. It progresses, but it will be much much much longer than the previous books. I’m also working on plotting a Horngate story for an upcoming anthology. It will star Giselle and Shoftiel.

Here’s an anthology I wish I’d written story for. I couldn’t come up with a good idea to submit. I’d still like to write a story though. I really like the idea.

I’m trying to come up with a good knitting project. I think I want to do socks, though I’d like to do another shawl. I also want to get some purple into my hair. I got my Orycon schedule today. It looks fun. I’ll also be doing the big Powell’s author signing that weekend.

Bought my husband a Keurig coffee maker, but he wanted one that could be programmed to brew into his travel cup. We don’t think we can with this one. It also may not take fill-your-own pods, even though one came with it. We’re still trying to figure it out.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
I bet you’re wondering

Did you think I fell off the face of the earth? Almost. I received proofs for all the Path books and have to read and proof in a little over a week. I’m done with Fate and Honor, and partly into Blood. Then the kids had their last couple weeks of school and we’ve been having some family issues that I won’t talk about here, but suffice it to say, the focus has been on those.

Then the Orlando massacre happened and I was lost at sea for a bit. What I know is this: hate is wrong. We need to care about each other. We need to be generous, charitable, and tolerant. We need to accept that no everyone will agree with us, but that doesn’t mean those who do deserve violence and death. We are a country built around tolerance and the urge to escape persecution. Let us live by our values. Let us talk to one another, accept each other, help each other, protect each other.

I’ll be at Westercon 69 in Portland over fourth of July weekend. Here’s my schedule. I’d love to have a chance to meet with you.

Other than that, things are going along well. And because you may have not noticed, up there on the Books Tab, you’ll see a Free Reads menu item. Go there for some short stories you might enjoy.

I’ve also got a post up today on Magical Words if you’re interested.

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Things have been happening

First, Trace of Magic is on sale for one more day. Only $1.99 for the ebook. If you haven’t read it, now’s your chance to get in cheap.

Second, Whisper of Shadows, the third in the Diamond City Magic series, is available for preorder. There will be a print version, but I don’t think that preorder is available. Below is the back of the book blurb:

War is coming . . .

When the FBI uses an anti-magic law to arrest and torture Riley’s boyfriend, they have no idea what hell they are about to unleash. If Riley can’t rescue Clay before he breaks, the result will be a disaster of epic proportions.

With time running out, Riley and her family must rely on two people more likely to stab them in the back than actually help. And, even if Riley manages the rescue, she’s still got to deal with two kidnappings and the return of her dad from the dead–the same dad who’d been willing to see her dead to protect his secrets.

What’s a girl to do? Kick ass, take names, and protect those she cares about at all costs.

I finished a short story today for an anthology set in Faith Hunters Rogue World. If you haven’t read those books, they are wonderful. You should.

I manage to nearly break myself today, but only came away bruise and battered. Who knew gardening was a contact sport?

I was part of an SF Signal Mind Meld where a bunch of authors were asked about good, recent “popcorn” books or TV. Here are the answers. Just in case your TBR pile/mountain was too small.

I put a bunch of colors in my hair and still have one more to go. Pictures later. But I’ve got blue, orchid, and pink in, and violet to follow.

In other news, the corgi boys are still spoiled rotten.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
Writing in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world

This is oh so cool and now I can make the announcement:

 

Have you read Faith Hunter‘s Rogue Mage series? If not, you should. It is an amazing trilogy. Except . . . There’s news. The trilogy is getting some extras and I get to be part of it!!!

Anthology Set in the World of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage Series
Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 1, 2016

Bella Rosa Books is pleased to announce two e-book anthologies and a trade paperback omnibus set in the world of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage series. Editor is Spike Y Jones. Writers contracted to write short stories for the anthologies are: Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lucienne Diver, Tamsin L. Silver, Ken Schrader, Lou J Berger, Christina Stiles, Spike Y Jones, Melissa McArthur, Jean Rabe, Misty Massey, and Faith Hunter.

The two ebooks are titled Trials and Tribulations, and the trade paperback omnibus is titled Triumphant. They will be published by a new line of original and reprinted spec fiction and fantasy, through Bella Rosa Books, called Lore Seekers Press.

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Saturday, October 17th, 2015
Book Review: Four Weddings and a White Christmas

I received this book from NetGalley.

I’ve been in the mood for some light romance and some Christmas reading. I don’t know why. It’s not even Halloween. Maybe it’s because of the recent shooting here in Oregon, and I just needed some happy, sappiness. Four Weddings and a White Christmas by Jenny Oliver was a pretty fun read and generally I liked it. The key thing is that it was really light and not a lot of deeper emotional stuff.

So the story, as you might have guessed, revolves around four weddings and a snowy Christmas. Set mostly in England with weddings christmasforays to New York City and France, the story revolves around Hannah, a newly-graduated dress designer, who is reconnecting with old friends. One of them saw her graduation project and asked Hannah to design her wedding dress. Hannah, a single mother of a five year old girl, both living with her parents, is looking to have a life and develop her career. She’s eager to reconnect with old friends and that is one of the key elements of this book.

At the first wedding–rather right before–Hannah and Harry meet. He’s a top chef in a New York restaurant. He’s not looking for romance any more than Hannah is. He grew up in a strained household and is struggling to figure out how adult Harry connects with his parents and sister.

Harry and Hannah meet infrequently, mostly at the events of the title (very much like Four Weddings and A Funeral). Harry discovers he’s attracted to Hannah and to her daughter as well. He’s not as anti family as he thought. However he can’t bring himself to want a real relationship and Hannah is working to hard to find roots and a stable life for herself and for her daughter.

Even so, they grow closer, and then Harry’s world falls apart when his estranged father dies. Hannah gets offered a hug opportunity and struggles with finding her feet. In the end, of course, as in all romances, the two find their way to be together.

What was fun about this book was that it focused more on the people growing and changing and as a result, and part of the process, they discover each other. This is a ‘sweet’ romance, with no sexual situations. I’d definitely recommend this one.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Opinions?

I made it to the retreat and got settled in. Met some fun people and a couple hours ago, i buckled down to work. I wrote the beginning of something. I’d like your opinion on it. Would you want to read more? I ask because it’s a little bit different from what I’ve written before and I’m feeling my way. It’s super rough, but thumbs up or down?

 

I got the fish-eye stare from the concierge when I walked past him into the lobby. I passed through the security net, feeling it ripple across my skin like seeking fingers. My lips tightened smugly. I could go out and come back again and totally change my aural signature. It might remember this version of me forever—and it probably would—but it wouldn’t do it a damned bit of good.

Effrayant was a mashup of the Bellagio and the Bates Motel, with a little dash of old school English castle for flair. The outside was brick and tile with a few thousand windows and a mansard roof that went up six or eight stories on top. The rooms up there were probably long-term residences. The central tower was a good forty stories high, with the four wings sprouting like spokes from its shoulders. The tops of the wings boasted pools, clubs, restaurants, and helipads.

I wasn’t there for the entertainment; I was on a job.

Inside was dark wood, modern furniture, soft lights, and museum quality art. Muted opera music wandered through the cavernous lobby.  The staff all wore Italian wool uniforms in gray, burgundy, and navy, while customers dressed in designer glitz and blue-collar chic.

I couldn’t blame the bellman for looking at me sideways. Wearing Levi’s, a longsleeved cotton shirt from the Goodwill, and a pair of knee-high leather boots that had seen better days, I definitely didn’t look glitzy or chic.

Add in the fact that my luggage was nothing more than a ratty backpack, I was a little surprised that the security guards inside didn’t stop me.  With force. Given how obscenely expensive it was to stay at the exclusive and highly discriminating Effrayant, I figured these guys should have been all over me. Sure, the ghosts make people want to turn and head the other way and let me be someone else’s problem. Security guards ought to be better trained. They shouldn’t let the heebie-jeebies get the better of them. I get that it’s not every day that you get the ghost push-off from someone made of flesh and blood, but Effrayant like to brag their security was the best of the best.

I walked in and all six of thick-necked best of the best got busy picking lint off their coats, making me the check-in clerk’s problem.

Poor thing. I could tell she wanted to be anywhere else. That’s Tabitha’s fault. She can put the fear of Jesus into just about anyone without hardly trying.

Tonight she was trying.

She didn’t want to come into Effrayant. She thought it was too dangerous. She was right, but that didn’t change the job.  I wanted to tell her to suck it up and settle down, but she was only a thirteen year old girl and dead or not, her hormones were raging. She wasn’t going to listen to me, of all people. Plus she still had a lot of PTSD issues from how she got killed. Or so I assumed. I had no idea how it had actually gone down. I only knew she was pissed as hell and she had nightmares that occasionally leaked into my dreams. If any of what happened in those nightmares had actually happened to her, she had a right to her attitude.  Hell, she had a right to have gone right over the edge into insanity-land. I didn’t think she had, but it’s not like she talked to me. Another issue she had going on was that she didn’t trust anybody and when she got scared, she killed first and asked questions later.

Tabitha’s a poltergeist—she’s a pretty effective killer when she wants to be—which is why I was glad the security guards hadn’t bothered me. I might not have been able to hold her back without force, and I didn’t like doing that. It reminded her and all the others that I could snuff them out without much effort.

That’s me—Mallory Jade, former Exterminator. In the bad old days, if you wanted something or someone killed, for a fee, I’d kill it—from ghost to banshee to terrorist to disgruntled employees. I don’t even know how many final deaths I’m responsible for; I don’t want to know. I quit that life; left it behind like dust in the rearview. I don’t kill anymore. I’m a fixer now. If you’ve got a problem, I’ll help you fix it, so long as I don’t take anybody’s life or half-life or dead-life. The money’s better and I get to sleep at night.

Unfortunately, these days I sleep with ghosts. They like to attach to magicians, but that’s usually guaranteed suicide. Most of us with enough power to attract ghosts also have enough power to send them off to the final death.  It’s a moths to the bug zapper situation. I’m the rare exception, since I’ve sworn off killing. I don’t even like binding them off so they can’t come near me. It’s not like they take up space or weigh anything, and they do have their uses.

Like helping me to fake my aural signature and making unfriendly types look the other way. Unfortunately, it looked like they were going to make the check-in clerk pee her pants.  I sighed and pushed down on Tabitha slightly. The girl-ghost recoiled and struck back at me. I held her tight against me. I didn’t need her flinging furniture and blowing up computers. It wasn’t any more painful than a bear hug, but I could tell she her fury was shifting to panic, and that would not end well.

 

 

 

 



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