Let’s Talk About Fantasy

My writing career started with Sedition, a fantasy novel about a pair of brothers trying to Sedition-WEBrescue their mother. The book went through several revisions – and so many titles it hurts my head to think about  – but in January of 2011 its story line was set in stone.

(Mostly because the publishing house would have smacked me if I tried altering anything after the Galley Proofs were done.) 

When I first started writing it, I was doing it for fun. I enjoyed stories and wanted to tell one, so I started writing snippets on 3×5 cards that I carried with me wherever I went.

Fans of the novel might be surprised to learn that Trenna Croften was not the original hero. In fact, the book began with Brigetta Isleen Chridhe – the woman magically abducted from home and dropped in the middle of a political war between a King and his sons.

I learned about Kiavana – the kingdom where the first book takes place – through Brigetta because she was just as new to the stage as I was. At the time I knew very little about writing, so I stumbled through the countryside right along with Brigetta, encountering senile knights who continually “squired” whoever happened to be the most helpful, and a prince who hid his motivations under a veneer of disinterest and materialism.

As I began to uncover the secrets of the world I was creating, Trenna Croften emerged. In fact, her first appearance was the scene where she interrupted an assassination attempt on the eldest prince. When she asked if assassins were paid well, she made me laugh, and essentially stole the book from there.

Saboteur-WEBOr… well… a whole series, as it turns out.

Saboteur, the sequel to Sedition, was released in January of 2012 and in February we will see Usurper make its way onto virtual shelves.

While Brigetta may have been reduced to a minor character in the original novel, I’m happy to report that she has a much larger role in Usurper. I had thought that writing her would be easy since I knew so much about her origins, but as it turns out I was wrong.

For the timeline of the novels, it has been over 20 years since we last saw Brigetta and she has undergone quite a few changes. She’s a Blood Mage, for one, and for another… she married an assassin. (Because apparently I can’t get away from assassins in these novels.) Her voice is different because she has changed as a character, so I had to re-learn who she was in order to portray her correctly.

Now, I recognize that it has been many years since Saboteur was released and I do UC front cover-sample-2apologize for that. Usurper was a joy to write, it truly was. But between school and being a full-time single-parent and working full-time and… ahem… my other novels (Is it weird I feel like I cheated by writing all that science fiction in the interim?)… I just didn’t have enough time to do it all.

I should take this moment to mention that there is at least one other book – Warpath – that I am constructing. It isn’t on the list for this year, but will be next year. The good news is that much of Warpath is already done because part of my problem with Usurper was that I was trying to pack two books into one.

 

 

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Owning Your Craft – Sedition Version

I began reading Sedition to my son recently. He’s seven now and the whole Fantasy world of Dyngannon seems to appeal to him.

Sedition-WEBThat or he just really likes the sword on the cover. I’m pretty sure much of the story is over his head but, he picked it and all. (Don’t worry, we read picture books before we settle in for a chapter of this one.)

In any case, it’s been nearly six years since that book was first published and Trenna Silvanus remains one of my most popular characters. I get loads of commentary from people wanting to know when the next segment of her story is coming out (soon, I promise) and … yes, this does make my little writer’s ego fluff up in pleasure.

That being said …

If Sedition weren’t already published I would be doing a major overhaul on it.

The dialogue is hard to get through in places. There are dozens and dozens of peripheral characters whose involvement in the story itself could be richer – sometimes shorter, but richer in content at least. The exposition is clunky. The narrator’s voice bounces (particularly in regards to Brenson and Nelek, which I’m going to blame on the fact that I wasn’t handling the male POV right).

The one bright, shining light in the book so far (and we’re only in Chapter Seven) is that Trenna really is likable. She’s spunky, tough, and has a sense of humor that exerts itself in some of the oddest places.

Why am I telling you all this?

This book is out for sale. What sane writer points out the flaws of their own work in a public forum? Who’s gonna go out and buy this thing now?

Honestly?

Because any sane, professional writer also owns their craft.

I own the fact that the book I wrote nearly ten years ago (NOTE: it did not get published as soon as it was finished, it took a long time to find a home) is not as strong as the books I’m writing now.

I own that my personal style has changed with every book I’ve written.

I own the mistakes that are in Sedition just as much as I own the things I did right.

What did I do right?

Trenna.

In fact, the main cast of characters were done right; Nelek, Brenson, Faolan, Marsali, Brock. They have individual voices, concerns, arguments, and motivations. And while I remember it was complicated to the max trying to get all those individuals out into the open without making a 300,000 word book, it worked out in the end.

So this is me owning my craft. Maybe I’ll start working on a 10 year anniversary edition of Sedition and clean up some of my mistakes.

Maaaaybe.

Probably not, though. Because after Usurper is done there’s at least one more book in this series. And the Tapped series has at least 4 main books with several novellas in the queue. And I have a Civil War/Western that has been simmering on the back burning for a while now. Annnnnd … my Dragon Noir.

You get it. There’s lots going on in my head. But hey, if there’s enough interest maybe I will.

Favorite Scenes — Deviation Edition

Someone asked me what my favorite part of Sedition was the other day and I sort of stood there, struggling for an answer. I finally said that Trenna was my favorite part of the book, but she shook her head and asked for a specific scene and then proceeded to tell me hers.

Which, let’s be honest, flattered me beyond all hope because Sedition has been out for several years now and she’s still gushing to me about it. (And berating me for not having Usurper in her hot little hands yet. I promise, it’ll be out next year.) It was a nice little ego-stroke and I’m trying hard not to let it get to my head.

At the risk of spoiling the beginning of the novel I’m going to go ahead and say what my favorite scene of Sedition is. Well, it’s not much of a spoiler because it is so early in the book and it doesn’t give much away. My favorite scene is when Trenna gets knighted and tells Nelek he’s going to regret it.

But I have loads of favorite scenes in all of my books. It’s why I keep writing, these scenes just keep cropping up. (I think that’s normal, actually. If I didn’t have a ton of favorite scenes then I wouldn’t be able to write the books.)

Since Deviation and Dead Magic will be coming out this month I’ve decided to post snippets of my favorite scenes from both. We’ll start with Deviation today. I’m not going to give any setup for the scene because that might spoil the book, and I’m not going to explain why I love this scene so much because honestly … I’m not sure myself.

Deviation:

Reesa swallowed hard and forced herself to look him in the face.

He had read the book.

His blunt jaw was held tight, his lips pressed so hard that the edges went white with strain, and there was the tell-tale tick at the corner of his left eye.  God help her, she knew him well enough to know that her life was in danger.  Flawed characters made the best characters, so she’d made Hedric a mess of reckless behavior.  He was an unstable, quixotic, volatile, walking bringer of death.  Mesa had been his saving grace, a counterbalance, and now she was gone.

For long minutes he just stood there, probably hoping she would fall over dead with the way he was looking at her.  Misery and torment contorted the long, jackal-like features she’d made him famous for.  She needed to do something, explain herself, apologize, anything to ease him before he struck her.

When he finally spoke, hoarse and low, she felt fear like a rod of lightening in her spine. “You did this,” he said.

Because she didn’t know what to say, Reesa lifted her chin and fought for a brave glare.

“How could you?” he asked.  When she still didn’t respond he closed the gap between them, slamming a fist into the wall behind her with enough force to make it dent. “How could you?” he shouted again.

“It was a book! Fiction!”

Hedric gripped her tank-top and lifted until she lost footing, levering her body against the wall and bringing his face inches from her own. “Does this feel like fiction to you?”

***

And … I’ll stop you right there, because I’m cheeky like that. When the book comes out you’ll get to see where in the story that scene is.

 

 

Goodreads Giveaway Starts in 1 Day!

 
That’s right! This is my year of Giveaways — mainly because I won’t have anything new coming out this year since I’m hard at work with school and my writing is going a little slower than normal — but this is great news for some lucky winners out there. 

The first Giveaway is for 2 copies of Sedition — my first book. 

If you don’t win, don’t worry! I have two other completely different books that will be scheduled for Giveaway’s throughout the year. And! Somewhere, at some point, I’ll give away a package deal with both Sedition and Saboteur included. I’m not sure where — likely at Coffee Time Romance — but that won’t be until we’ve gotten through Witch-Born and Saboteur at Goodreads.