Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Short Fiction Ahoy!

Posted on:

Heartsofmencover6x9I’ve spoken elsewhere about my plans to put out a series of stories in the same universe as “The Hearts of Men”, and I spent some time putting together covers from public domain imagery and artwork (as well as some of my own original digital drawings). The plan was to release them all at the same time, but being Ms. Impatient, it bothers me to have an ebook sitting completely done but unpublished. Two more stories are lined up, but are in the rewrite stage, and with work progressing on the final book of The Bone Flower Trilogy and my first historical romance coming out June 1st, I knew it would still be a couple months before I’d have the time to devote to getting them in final draft form. So I said to heck with it and released the ebook version of the series’ inspiration, “The Hearts of Men”. Here’s the blurby goodness:

When Mextli awakens again for the first time in centuries, the moon is missing from the sky and demons are terrorizing a small southwestern town. He doesn’t remember who he is, but the boy Timacoz is convinced he’s the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, returned to save them all from the sorceress who controls the demons and holds the moon hostage.

Mextli agrees to help, but it may be more than he can handle, especially when the voice in his head keeps telling him to kill Timacoz and eat his heart….

If you’ve already read HOM, there might not be any need to rush out to get this, but it does have new artwork, and it’s completely free to download. As much as I would have loved to purchase the rights to reuse the story’s original Realms of Fantasy illustration, I just don’t have that kind of budget for short fiction. I’m doing this on the barest expense, and it will give me a chance to test out Kindle Unlimited with the forthcoming stories; I might have been able to go exclusive with HOM, since the only copies still being sold out there are the paper ones, but I didn’t want to chance crossing the Zon, and besides, I wanted this one to be permafree, and the only way to do that is to go wide (and even then it’s difficult to get them to price-match). So you can get this first one not only at Amazon, but also at Kobo, B&N, Google Play, and Apple.

I can’t say for certain just yet when the second one (completely new!) will be out, but the cover is finished, and the first drafts of both stories had been written several years ago. I just have to go in and do some significant rewriting, to make everything fit neatly together. The plan is to get those two out before the final book in The Bone Flower Trilogy. So stay tuned!

Bone Flower Update

Posted on:

BFT_ebookcovI’ve finished republishing Bone Flower Throne to all digital markets. The paperback is available as well, but currently only at Amazon. Hopefully it will trickle out to BN in the next week or two. Many of the Panverse digital editions are still available for sale, and you should feel free to buy either one (I make a royalty regardless), but folks should know that the new edition includes some color interior art that are quite beautiful on the tablets. However, the larger file size does make it run slower on older devices, like the 2nd gen Kindles. I am looking into ways to decrease the file’s size and will update it if and when I do, but for now, those with older devices might want to grab up the Panverse edition while it’s still available (it’s not available on Kindle anymore). Visit the novel’s page for quick links to everywhere you can buy.

BFQ Cover Mock 50 percentAs for Bone Flower Queen, I intend to do the final read-through and copyedit on that next week and have the paper version available on Amazon by mid-month. Digital versions will be available on or after January 5th (BN is closed from Jan 1-4, so there might be a backlog on the 5th, though I intend to have the final version submitted before Christmas). In the meantime, you can pre-order the ebook versions at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and BN, and they will be automatically delivered to your device on release day. Thank you everyone who has already pre-ordered! Also, if you purchase a paperback edition through Amazon, you get a free digital copy when they become available!

In the meantime, it’s high time I get back to work on the final book in the trilogy. I have a little over 15k already written, and my hope is to have that one out much sooner than a year from now.

Writerly Meme Fun!

Posted on:

So, over at Facebook, my friend Theresa Crater tagged me to the seven lines meme, where you go to page seven of your WIP and post seven lines, so here they are, from The Bone Flower Queen:

In fact, one of those “late-night duties” was standing with the other men, looking annoyingly smug. For days, Flame Tongue, the King of our new ally Xico, had been aggressively seeking to join his house with my brother’s through a marriage to his youngest daughter Anacoana. A man’s mother customarily listened to such requests from the father or suitors, but with our mother long dead, that duty fell to me, as Little Reed’s closest female relative.

And the temerity of Flame Tongue’s request had struck me speechless. Anacoana was a fine young woman–bright and a highly-talented weaver–but she’d been one of my former husband’s concubines. Granted, Black Otter hadn’t exercised his “husbandly rights” with her–for she hadn’t yet bled a full year–but to even suggest that the King of Culhuacan should take his enemy’s former concubine as his legitimate wife was insulting. He’d come back last night promising to guarantee Anacoana’s virginity and it took every shred of restraint to not have the guards throw him from my palace.

——–

This other meme is one I’ve seen going around–no one has actually tagged me, but I thought it might be fun to do. Here’s how it works: list five facts about the main character of your current WIP. This one is tricky because to tell you the important things about her would be spoilery, and I don’t want to do that. So instead I’m going to use this to remind folks of things about her from the first book.

1. My protagonist, Quetzalpetlatl, was the only legitimate child of the king of Culhuacan, but seeing how she was female, her father married her to her cousin when she was quite young, to ensure a male heir to his throne.

2. While Quetzalpetlatl grew up to be the chosen high priestess of the god Quetzalcoatl, she’s never felt that she’s quite fit into the job as well as she should.

3. She’s inordinately interested in sex, despite her best efforts not to be, hence the reason she feels inadequate to be the god’s high priestess, who is supposed to be pious and celibate. In fact, her desire has a voice of its own and often takes over situations, particularly once she’s reunited with Black Otter, whom her father married her to when she was a child.

4. Despite being the god’s high priestess and often having to participate in the priesthood’s ritual sacrifices, Quetzalpetlatl is quite squeamish about blood thanks to having seen her father’s body after he was murdered and mutilated by her uncle.

5. Quetzalpetlatl’s dearest wish is to marry Topiltzin, her half-brother whom she loves deeply, but she sacrifices that future to save him from a rampaging, incarnate god trying to kill him.

——–

And so ends the memes. I’m supposed to tag some people to do these too, so I guess I will. They can do it if they want: Aliette de Bodard, J. Kathleen Cheney, Christopher Kastensmidt, Christopher Cevasco, and Douglas Cohen.

Summer Update

Posted on:

So I’ve been very quiet lately over here, mostly because there’s not all that much to report. I turned in The Bone Flower Queen to my editor last month and am waiting on his edit letter, and I also finally finished up Fugitives of Fate and took the plunge, submitting it to two different publishers. This time I’m not bothering with trying to get an agent; I did attempt to do so last year, but there wasn’t any interest whatsoever in my first round of queries. There are a few digital-first romance publishers that I think would be open to my unusual setting, but they don’t pay high advances–if any at all–so it seems a waste of time to try to convince an agent to take me on at this point. Regardless of how it turns out with these publishers, this book will eventually be published, even if I decide to go it alone by self publishing; the book is good, but will likely be held back by the fact that it’s not your usual historical romance setting. I have no intention of letting it languish unpublished.

On the writing front, I’m current between projects while I wait to hear back from my editor on my synopsis of the final book of The Bone Flower Trilogy. I’ve been keeping busy in the meantime with reading and critiquing friends’ novels; I had two to do this month, and I’ve started on the second and hope to have it done in a few days. I’m also giving thought to my next alternate history romance novel. I may end up outlining that one after I finishing critiquing. I’m looking forward to getting back to some actual writing soon.

In case you haven’t been here to the website in a while, I’ve made some updates that might interest fans. I’ve posted a copy of my Big Idea essay–in which I talk about the core idea behind The Bone Flower Trilogy–and I’ve added a 50-question quiz to test your knowledge of The Bone Flower Throne. Most exciting though, I’ve added a page for The Bone Flower Queen, which includes an excerpt for readers, and you can browse the book’s Pinterest page. I’m looking into making a reader’s guide for BFT, but haven’t made a whole lot of progress on it at this point.

Artists, if you’ve been inspired to make art from The Bone Flower Throne (or any of my works, really), I’d love to see it! You can contact me via the contact page here, or you can drop me a note over on Facebook (though be aware that I might not see your message for a while since Facebook likes to drop stuff into the Other inbox and I often don’t look at that for weeks on end).

Blog Hop – Writing: the What, Why and How

Posted on:

Historical fiction author–and former editor of my all-time favorite magazine Paradox: the Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction–Christopher M. Cevasco has invited me to participate in a blog hop, where I answer some questions so you can find out more about what I write, how I write, and why I write. You can read his fascinating answers over here at his blog.

As for my own answers, here we go!

What are you working on?

I’m currently working on two separate projects. My second novel The Bone Flower Queen–sequel to my historical fantasy The Bone Flower Throne–is due to my editor on June 1st of this year, so I’ll begin the final editing and rewriting stage on that shortly. The Bone Flower Trilogy is a retelling of the Pre-Columbian myths of the legendary priest-king Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, an Arthurian-type character who tried to outlaw human sacrifice in the Toltec Empire, but it’s told completely from the point of view of his sister, Quetzalpetlatl.

I’m also working on the final draft of Fugitives of Fate, an alternate history romance novel set in the Aztec empire. With the Spanish Conquest averted, the last Emperor of the Mexica–Cuauhtemoc–works with the infamous La Malinche to bring peace between the various native cities, and stand together again future foreign invasions. Had history unfolded as we know it, Cuauhtemoc and Malinche would have been enemies, but instead they end up fated lovers.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I write in a setting seldom done in fantasy, science fiction, or romance: Aztec history and mythology. There are some fantasy and science fiction works set in similar milieus–Aliette de Bodard and Chris Roberson come to mind–and some paranormal/time travel romances do visit ancient Mexico–namely the Maya civilization, but I’ve never found anything written–neither paranormal nor historical–written in the Aztec Empire, so I’m blazing my own trail with Fugitives of Fate. Fantasy has a tendency to linger in familiar pseudo-medieval European settings, but more and more readers are asking for more diverse settings and characters, asking for things they haven’t seen before, with strong female protagonists who aren’t defined by their physical strength or acting like men.

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve written a bit more in depth about this question already here, but on the most basic level, I have two passions in life: writing, and Aztec history and mythology, and I love combining the two. And because there isn’t that many books out there yet that present SF/F/Romance with Aztec culture, I’ve had to write the books I want to read. It’s also become a goal of mine to present a more nuanced and less stereotypical image of Aztec culture, particularly when it comes to human sacrifice. A lot of authors who use Aztec elements or characters tend to focus very heavily on human sacrifice–and often present it as an unequivocally evil practice, but I’m trying to not only present a different interpretation of human sacrifice, but also to focus on other, far more interesting cultural elements. It’s been difficult to not focus on human sacrifice in The Bone Flower Trilogy, given the myth it’s based upon, but it’s almost completely absent from Fugitives of Fate, and I plan to not mention it at all in any future alt history romances I write. There are so many other cultural accomplishments one could focus on when writing about the Aztecs (or the Maya): they were prolific architects, brilliant horticulturists, and accomplished astronomers. If I can show the reader a fuller, more nuanced world, I consider it mission accomplished.

How does your writing process work?

Oddly enough, both The Bone Flower Trilogy and Fugitives of Fate started as shorter fiction; BFT as a novelette and FoF as a novella, and I expanded them to novel length–or in the case of BFT to trilogy length. I work best with an outline, and even though I had the basic storyline worked out thanks to having written the shorter stories, I still needed to figure out the missing parts to fill it out more completely. I spend a couple days fleshing out the missing parts by doing research, to give me ideas; in the case of The Bone Flower Trilogy, it was rereading the various myths about Topiltzin and picking out new elements I wanted to incorporate, while in the case of Fugitives of Fate, I brushed up on the political history between Tenochtitlan and Tlaxcala, and Tlaxcala’s role in the Conquest, to figure out how the various leaders fit into my new historical scheme.

With my outline in hand, I then crank out a first draft. I like November for doing this, because I find NaNoWriMo to be a good motivator for me, but I can’t wait around all year for that (or Camp NaNoWriMo in the summer), and so will set a deadline for myself and endeavor to keep it. Since I like the daily word counter that NaNoWriMo uses, my loving husband made me an Excel spreadsheet that does the exact same thing. I can typically plow through to a finished draft in three month, sometimes less–I finished the first draft of Fugitives of Fate in twenty-eight days. I never show anyone my first drafts; I let the muse dump anything it likes in, just to see what will happen, so there’s tons of plot holes, over-explaining, character acting out of character, and sudden changes of focus halfway through the book. I work best with something to edit and rewrite, even if it’s completely broken and fractured.

After letting it sit for a few weeks, I do a second draft, focusing on fixing plot holes, streamlining characters and cutting word count. Once I’ve got something I’m comfortable with, I send it off to my critique group, to get their thoughts and suggestions; I have two critique groups, one for science fiction and fantasy manuscripts, and one that focuses on historical romance; it’s important to find critiquers who are familiar with the specific genres I write in so they can make informed comments on my use of conventions and how my manuscript fits in with market expectations.

Finally, with critiques in hand, I do another draft; sometimes it’s a major rewrite while other times it’s just some plot and character tweaking, and fixing weak prose. Then it’s off to my editor and I give it no more thought until he sends me his edit letter.

Thank you Christopher Cevasco for inviting me to participate in this blog hop, and in the spirit of keeping this going, I’ve invited horror writer Stant Litore to join in with his answers to these same questions. He will post his answers on his blog on April 21st. Here’s a bit about him:

STANT LITORE is the author of the acclaimed Zombie Bible series, as well as the novella The Dark Need (part of the Dead Man series). He has an intense love of ancient languages, a fierce admiration for his ancestors, and a fascination with religion and history. He has a PhD in English, and he doesn’t consider his writing a vocation so much as an act of survival. Litore lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters and is at work on his next book.