Jan 30, 2017

Oath Breaker is Out Today

Today, I get to share my murder baby with you.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N21TPSL

Join me as I anthropomorphize a spaceship who was never a baby and technically can’t murder anyone… because she’s not a person. More accurately, she’s not a human. There’s a whole lot of person packed into that gigantic warship.

Let’s talk briefly about the book!
What’s it called?     Oath Breaker.
What’s it about?    A warship with a sentient AI uses deadly force to keep her captain alive and convince her new crew to start a war that ended a decade earlier.
How long is it?    Print copy clocks in at 406 pages.
Where can I buy it?    Get your copy in ebook or in print.

Now, I’m going to spend the rest of the day celebrating the release. Grab your copy, crack her open and enjoy my murder baby!


Jan 27, 2017

Friday Reads 2017 #1


My goals for the first 2 weeks of January included 4 books (I didn't make that) and my goal for the month was 8.

And I’ve managed to get close (if you count the fact that I’m in the middle of book 6 and should be done with it tomorrow).

Let’s talk about what I’ve read, shall we?




Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie - It has taken me far too long to read this book, and I hope to blow through the rest of the Marple books, when my schedule allows.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Vo. 1&2- The graphic novel version of this book is lovely. I'm really excited to finish the rest of it.

NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories - One of my reading plans this year is to read at least 5 memoirs/biographies and I figured, why not start off with one that would have me wincing and questioning another person’s life choices? Note: I married a punk rock kid, and while I like the music, I never would have survived the scene

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil Degrasse Tyson - Slow going, because I've got my highlighter out and I'm sneaking it in here and there between fiction, this book is a lovely look at our universe. I may be in the middle of it still, but it is a lovely piece of non-fiction.


I'm in the middle of:

Heir to Empire by Timothy Zahn - I do not even know how long I’ve owned this trilogy without having read them. Pretty sure the actual answer would fall into the “embarrassing” realm. But it’s classic Star Wars EU, and it was recommended by a friend whose taste is impeccable.

Jan 25, 2017

Author Spotlight: Jamie Wyman


Throughout the year, I’m going to talk about some authors I really like. These are people I’ve met in various situations that are just great people, who also happen to be authors. People whose names you should know for two reasons: a) they’re awesome b) they write kickass books!

So let’s talk about Jamie Wyman.




A local phoenix author, Jamie first caught my eye when I discovered the Cat Sharp series. Her novels revolve around a tech savant whose soul is up for grabs in a vegas poker game played by the various gods of mischief.

And on top of all that, she’s the best kind of person: a total nerd.

If you read her bio on her site, it’ll tell you she can read and write in circular gallifreyan, spin fire and wield drumsticks like weapons.

What it won't tell you is that she hates quinoa and tapioca, and has some interesting (uncomplimentary) thoughts on artificial cherry flavoring. It can’t tell you that she is a fierce proponent of feminism and lady love. That she’s amazing at color therapy and can draw zendalas for days.

And as with most people, the fastest way to her heart is through her stomach so make sure to ply her with chai and (if you can find one) a gluten-free chimichanga.

She’s incredibly kind and a delight in person.


If you're a writer in need of an honest editor, she's great for that too. Check out her information on that and consider getting your book looked at by this pro.


Go read her books, become her patron, or just stalk follow her on twitter.

 

Jan 23, 2017

Planning the Year


I work best with a plan.
That’s true of writing a book, both in plotting and time management.

A book is a huge task. It’s hours out of your life. It’s 100,000-words beaten out of your fingers by little plastic keys. It’s 300 page bloodied with ink, crumpled and thrown at the wall in frustration. It is a piece of you carved out, thrown on a slab and stabbed a few times, just for good measure.

Or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes.

But a page is not an insurmountable task. A scene. 1000-words. Two hours.
Those are things that are easy to wrap your head around. Little goals. They make the world go round.

 

I’m lucky enough to have approximately 6 hours of my weekdays to devote to authorial work. But without an actual plan, those 6 hours might as well be 30 minutes. I’d love to say I’m an inherently focused individual, but that would be a lie. I’ll chase imaginary butterflies all day long if given the opportunity. So I plan. Because when I don’t, I wind up with missed deadlines and a whole pile of things that I didn’t really need to have done.

But plans, I’ve found, need to be flexible. A militant daily list of things is not they way I can best get myself to work.

It’s one of the reasons I make a list of things I need to do throughout the week and then decide what I’m going to be able to get done each day as it happens. That allows me to work on what my brain will let me, while still knocking the important things off my list.

I also only put the big things on my calendar well in advance. Things change on a small scale, but more often than not, those major things stay rooted like a body in cement shoes (how do you feed your fish?). I break down those big things one by one and then I worry about the little stuff on a monthly basis.

 

Jan 20, 2017

7 Reasons I Would Never Be Cryogenically Frozen


I Hate The Cold. This one might be a little on the nose, but it’s true. On top of that, I am abnormally sensitive to the cold. As I write this, I’m sitting in an office where the building’s system is set to “Fan” and my fingernails have a lovely purple ombre.

Freezer Burn: The Science Isn’t Here Yet. Here’s the thing. I’m skeptical of anything touted as being remotely close to the cryonics of SciFi film and books. I don’t think we’ll get to a place I’d be comfortable with in my lifetime.
 
I Don’t Trust the Mechanics. Like the reason above, this is about the technology. Even if we know the “How”, that doesn’t mean we can execute it. On top of that… how will we know when it’s worked? How will we know if it has a minimum and maximum freezer date?
 
I Don’t Trust the Technicians. Say the science works. Say the technology is created. Humans are just big scarecrows of fallibility. Even with safety regulations and training, there are going to be mistakes made. Silvia will accidentally key in the wrong observation setting and pop you out of your foil a decade too early. Marcos will spill his coffee on your control panel and you’ll be peeled out of your tank twenty years later a bloated sack of flesh that was once revivable but now…. Not so much.
 
It’s like playing the Lottery. Remove, technology and human error from the equation and you still have to deal with political and religious agendas. Who’s to say some politician won’t rally the troops about the legality of cryonics? Who’s to say a religious zealot won’t lead a campaign against the unnatural disregard for the laws of god? It’s not like you’ll have a say. It’s not like you’ll be able to defend yourself if fanatics come to destroy the facility in which you’re housed….
 
I Honestly Don’t Think We’re Meant To Live In Any Time Period Outside Our Own. This is, of course just my opinion and if you disagree, I’m not going to argue with you (hop in that time machine and have yourself some fun). But I do think that the universe works in a way that puts us all where we are for a purpose. I don’t claim to understand--or even like--that purpose, but I don’t think a cold trip through time is something that makes sense with that in mind.
 
I’m Not Ready For the Singularity. There is a point in the future where everything will surpass what we can possibly imagine now. And I’m not ready for that. I imagine my reaction to waking up centuries from now (and really, if you’re going to skip ahead, you should shoot far so  you don’t have to deal with people you know being old or dying etc) as being something akin to what I’d guess Mary Shelley would experience if she wound up here and was introduced to Apple products. (also, let’s just point out that she’d likely be freaked out by that whole head transplant that happened a little while back.)
 

Preorder Oath Breaker now

War is on the Horizon...

Danielle Cholla saves a legendary warship from eternity in a junk yard, never expecting to run afoul of the craft’s murderous artificial intelligence. When the ship wakes the captain locked in cryonic stasis on its lowest deck, and begins killing her crew, Danielle must decide which lives she values more—the crew she’s come to know and love, or the masses enslaved after the galactic civil war ended fifteen years before.

Revenge is a bitter taste in Osiris Bowlin’s mouth, but he would rather dine on vengeance than starve in submission. While he’s spent the decade and a half in stasis, the government body known as the Pääom sank their claws deeper into the citizen’s he’d sworn to protect. It’s a duty to which he’s still bound, one that leaves him asking what one man can do against an enemy whose influence strangles every part of the known systems.
 
 
 
 
 

 

Jan 18, 2017

Oath Breaker Insights

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N21TPSL

So, in 2011, I had an idea. It probably resulted from a fever dream about the TV series Andromeda (a show I only partly remember anymore). That idea was for a sentient ship AI who, unlike Rommie, was not helpful in the slightest. An AI that was just as selfish and easily influenced as a human… one that could love, hate, and experience every emotion in between. One that didn’t know how to handle those emotions in the only way given to her--logically--and thus did things in a way that didn’t always take those emotions into account.

From there, I cut things down and made her a little less crazy. If I hadn’t the crew wouldn’t have survived past chapter 3. But I gave the ship someone to love. Something to fear. And a goal that was neither logical or practical… but was entirely influenced by that love and fear.

With the ship’s fears, a universe came into being that supported her worries. It is a universe much darker than I’d ever explored before. And I populated it with very bad people. With broken people. With people whose situation was so bleak, the only reason they continued on was the innate human desire to persevere.

I gave the one person the ship loved a reason to fear her, a reason to love her back, a reason to want to protect her AI regardless of the fact that she’d come to deserve my affectionate nickname of “murder baby.”

But this still wasn’t enough. I gave the ship a complication. A time gap. I gave her a reason to betray the one person in the galaxy and a reason to betray a whole galaxy.

And then, I gave the ship a rescuer. Sort of. I placed a woman from her captain’s past smack dab in the middle of the ship’s path. Gave the ship a reason to hate her and her crew. Gave this ship a reason to need her.

And finally, I gave the ship a metaphorical loaded gun, and let her take pot shots at whoever she liked.

Five years, countless drafts, at least three edits that completely rewrote the book… and here we are.

Oath Breaker comes out on the 30th, but you can preorder my murder baby now.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N21TPSL


 

Jan 13, 2017

Unanswerable Questions

In rewatching the J-series of QI on Hulu, I was once again amused by the dream question thought up by Victoria Coren Mitchell.
Why was the March Hare so important to the Aztecs?
And then of course she referenced Lewis Carrol’s question: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
She called them both unanswerable questions, but they’re not really. Questions like that have a hundred answers. At least, they do if you’re a writer.
Take either of these questions and you can come up with a heap of answers in almost every genre (I admit I’m struggling to find a way to use it in contemporary or historical romance, but I’m sure there’s at least one way).
And that is truly one of the many ways being in this profession is utterly glorious. Others struggle to understand the world around them. We can ignore anything we choose and make up our own answers, rules, and problems.
Why is a writer like a trigonometry test?

Jan 11, 2017

Writing Resolve

  I’ve mentioned before, here and elsewhere, that I don’t make resolutions. I make goals and I set them all throughout the year and shift as necessary, etc.
But some goals simply HAVE to be set in January. There’s no getting around it. With the exception of school things, January is place where our year starts and so, if you want to track something over a year, it just makes sense to do it now.

One of my main goals each year is a writing goal for word count.
In 2013 it was a million words--something I’m quite chuffed about completing as you’ll know from the fact I absolutely NEVER talk about it.
In 2014 it was to average 1,000-words per day (which I did) because after writing those million words, I had a ton of editing to do.
In 2015…. Well, health issues took me on a fun downhill slide that didn’t end until I got on the right medication in October. (I got 1/3rd of my total in those last 2 months). It wasn’t a wasted year, but man does it look sad next to 2014 and 2016.
And last year, my goal was just to do better. I measured each month by my ability to surpass 2013 and then 2014. There were only 3 months during which I did not surpass the counts from the previous two years.

Quick reference:
2013: 1,000,497-words
2014: 438,943-words
2015: 357,764-words
2016: 787,126-words

For 2017, my goals are a little different. They are word counts based on the completion of specific books. So, Technically, my goal for the year is just under 700,000-words. Divided throughout the whole year, it’s just over 1900-words per day. Considering my average last year of 23 words a month, I’ll be able to hit this goal with just under 2,700-words per writing day. Totally doble (I hope).


What about you? Do you set writing goals on a yearly basis? Monthly?

 

Jan 9, 2017

Finding Inspiration


One of the questions I hear most often (whether it’s being asked of me or a friend) is:

“Where do you get your ideas?”

It’s something that comes up all the time. Everyone wants to know we got to sparkly vampires, a wizard school, that one ring, or a family’s drama screwing up the galaxy one lightsaber swing at a time.

So what’s the answer? Where do these things come from?

I read once that Run Lola Run was the inspiration for Majora’s Mask.
Star Wars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa.
The Hunger Games played heavily off of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

Ideas are not grasped out of the ether. Everything comes from something else. The stories you love come from bits and pieces of ones you’ve never heard of macerating in that author’s brain.

For me, ideas come from anything and everything. They’re little thoughts that filter in through dreams (thanks cheese) or they’re that three word lyric from a song I heard once. They’re a person’s name, a photograph of a broken doll on a side wall, of a landscape so beautiful it doesn’t seem real.
Influence is real. It’s all around you. Dissect it, sew two ideas together, attach a third, dye it green and then mill it down to a fine powder. Mix it with clay and form something wholly knew.


So, where do you get your ideas? Where do you find inspiration?

 

Jan 6, 2017

What I’m Excited For in January


IRL

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, so we’re doing all the things celebratory (and have been all week). It’s always fun as Christmas runs into New Years runs into Birthday.
I have a tattoo appointment in two weeks which is always fun! I decided to turn the magpie and fox tattoo that covers about 1/3rd of my lower left leg into a full wrap, so I’ll be taking my leg up north and handing it off to Stephanie Flannery at Black Castle Art Co for a few sessions of stabbing me with a needle.
Oath Breaker
My latest novel begins my Death of Empire trilogy and was a ton of fun to write and made my betas and editors hate me a little. Hopefully It’ll make you laugh, cry, scream, and generally want to throw things at me too.
Windwitch by  Susan Dennard
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a "witchery," a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
- The second book in the witchlands looks just as awesome as the first -
Carve the Mark by  Veronica Roth
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.
Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.
- Though I never really got into the Divergent series, this one looks like a real winner! -


To Tame a Wild Lady by Ashlyn Macnamara
Lady Caroline Wilde is expected to ride sidesaddle, but she’s not about to embrace convention. She’s also expected to keep a chaste distance from men like Adrian Crosby, the new estate agent, yet she cannot cease her ogling—which is especially irksome considering their ongoing feud. Adrian insists that the fields must be planted; Caro needs those same fields to train her horses. But whenever she tries to put him in his place, Caro looks into his steely gaze and her words simply . . . disappear.
A bastard son who grew up on the Wyvern estate, Adrian was lucky enough to receive an education at the behest of the late marchioness. Now that he has set out on his own, Adrian knows better than to fall for Lady Caroline, the Duke of Sherrington’s daughter. Caroline is at once a thorn in his side and an exquisite temptation, especially when she’s playing the feisty daredevil. Adrian would give anything for a chance to tame her—and with Caro in the saddle, he just might get his wish.
- The first book in this series was lovely, and I was a little mad at myself for buying it far in advance of this one’s release. But It’s here this month (though not until the very end) so I’ll continue to wait patiently. -


Underworld: Blood Wars
This series is one of those that I approach with trepidation. There are parts that are SO BAD and parts that are just awesome. I guess we’ll see how this one goes.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Is it really though? Because I can totally see this being followed by “Resident Evil: The Epilogue.” Regardless, I loved the old games and I adore Alice. So bring it on.

 

Jan 4, 2017

IWSG: New Year, New Possibilities


January is that time of year when people around the world set out resolutions and goals for the new year and, if you ask people like my mother, February is the time of year when people forget them, or decide to push them off until next year.
I’ve had a lot of goals in the past for what I want my year to look like. There was the year I set out to write a million words (spoiler, I did it!). And of course I always set a Good Reads Reading Goal. Last year’s goal was simply to be better than 2014 & 2015… to prove to myself that even though I’d been handed an epilepsy diagnosis in October of 2015, I was going to be able to get back the focus I’d lost (thank God for being properly medicated).
I’m not going to get into the specifics of what my goals for this year are, if you want those, you can meander over to my post about that. Today, I want to point out that making goals is an important step. Obviously you can accomplish goals without having ever stated them, but if you’re like me, it’s important to do it.
Goals are living things. You can set them now and realize they’re not right tomorrow (or next week/month etc.). But knowing where you’re going is helpful even in figuring that out.
The one goal I will share with you here is that I  hope to be more involved. I plan to get my butt in gear and actually post every first Wednesday, but I’m going to get better about visiting blogs in days between as well.
I hope to see you around.
Keep writing!
 
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This post has been a part of the monthly IWSG blog-hop. Bounce over there, check it out and sign up if you’re ready to share you neuroses with the world.

Jan 2, 2017

2016 Goal Results

 
Writing
Goal: Better than last year.
Reality: Over 400k more words
Blue to Purple, 2013-2016  monthly writing totals
 
If you’ve been following along with the monthly goal reports, you’ll have seen that I spent the year kicking 2014 & 15’s respective butts. There are only 3 months that I didn’t surpass them both, and of those three, I still got the silver medal.
2013-2016 year totals

 
By June, I’d surpassed 2015’s count, and in July, I beat 2014.
I even surpassed 2013’s counts for 5 individual months.
 
I did not, however, manage to get myself more focused. Hopefully I can get on that for 2017.
 
 
Publishing
Goal: 8.
Reality: 5.
 
This year was one of getting to understand myself in a better light. One of the self-discoveries I came to was that my pace on things is not a constant. Some edits are the easiest thing in the world. Some are like pulling out my own fingernails, still others find me staring at a page and wondering if English really is my first language.
Some drafts are easy to map out, easy to tap out those words and follow the twists and turns that pop up in the middle. Others… Characters stop in front of me, put their hands on their hips and just say “no.” leaving me to figure out how to fix the problems that keep them rooted in place (looking at you, Archie).
Two of the books I’d planned to put out this year are like that.
In other cases, something that isn’t entirely in my control come up and that’s okay. It’s one of the reasons I try to be loose with my schedule and try not to make any concrete promises until I know I can fulfill on them.
That said, I am an overachiever… and I’m pretty sure that personality trait isn’t going anywhere.
 
Reading
Goal: 100.
Reality: 71.

Part of the reason this went so poorly this year is that sometimes, when I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with a book, the easiest way to figure out how to do the thing, is by reading someone else’s work wherein I know the thing is done well… and dissect it so I can figure out how it would work within my story. This means reading things I’ve already read, and I don’t count those toward my yearly reading goal, but they still take time out of my reading schedule.
I’m okay with that making me miss this goal, honestly.
 
Editing
Goal: Get through some of the mess from 2013
Reality: I started.
 
The thing about picking up a 3+ year old book and working through an edit is that I’ve grown enough each sentence needs fixing. Each paragraph is rearranged and fiddled with… and each page can take upwards of 20 minutes. Which is both frustrating and fun at the same time. But it means I’m elbows deep in words for weeks at a time and I have to work my schedule around it… which was not as easy as I expected.
 
Blogging
Goal: so vague there’s no way to measure it.
Reality: I guess I win by default?