book

Because We Are Awesome

Recently I’ve been reading some great, eye-opening pieces about women and our astounding contributions to society. Sometimes women and the great things they do have been acknowledged, sometimes not, but always, we have been here.

Here is a really great piece by Kameron Hurley about how women have always been a living, breathing part of history, whether you knew about it or not.

Here’s an article about astounding women who did not care what others thought about them, and achieved a lot because of it. Yes, it’s got a lot of blue language, but that’s really not the point. The point is, how many of them have you heard of before?

And in case you think these were just exceptions to the rule, take a gander at this brief list of women warriors from ancient history. I saw a much better list a while ago, but can’t remember where. Got to find that one again. It was really comprehensive and included all women of note, warriors or not. And it went on and on and on.

I’ve been interested in this topic for a while, as I grew up in a matriarchal family, so when I started my current WIP, The Nightward (Hand of Gaia), I knew exactly how the society was going to evolve. This little article I found only after I’d come up with the female warrior magicians that play a big part in The Nightward–the Amazores.

I had even come up with the name Amazores before reading this because I wanted to bring to mind the ancient tale of the Amazons. Talk about serendipity. It helped inspire and solidify the idea I’d already been playing around with.

Here is a little glimpse of the Amazores in action from my manuscript:

Darkness gathered at the base of the wall, pooling there and setting off bright red flashes.     

“Ready yourselves, Amazores!” Annan called. 

The archers moved to the front of the walls and drew their arrows.  Wraithlight glowed fire against the Dark that pressed down from above now, making the sky glow red above them.  The hissing had become a steady dissonance that was almost painful to the ears.  Minutes stretched into years as all light turned crimson.       

Light flared into a flash.  Amazores raised their hands to their eyes.  There was a muffled boom and air rushed past them.  Silence followed, like that found in the Dead Woods in the Queendom of Jaleel.  The Amazores blinked and scrubbed at their eyes.     

The hissing began again.  Soft and satisfied.     

“Archers! Fire!” Annan cried.     

Shafts of flame whistled downward. 

The Dark rose up, wave climbing upon wave to meet them.         

Tyra Damn

I know, Tyra, I know.

So what’s my point? My point is, if you’re a woman, if you’re a girl, if you’re sitting out there telling yourself that you can only be this, or that a women can only be that…you’re lying to yourself.

We can be anything we want to be. We have always been anything we want to be.

We are awesome.

We will continue to be awesome.

And we should let absolutely nothing convince us otherwise.

 

Luc – An Excerpt From The Sequel To LEX TALIONIS

Yeah, you read that right. I’m in a good mood because the writing is flowing these days, so you get another little peek.

Luc is a small but important character in IACTA ALEA EST (The Die is Cast). Here’s the introduction to him. Extra points if you can guess who he’s waiting for.

The man who had sold his name and his life stood against the wall of the spaceport terminal and watched streams of people and aliens move past in front of him.  No-one looked in his direction.  Not because he could not be seen, but because he did not wish to be seen. 

Even in the bright light of the busy terminal, even with the main doors on his right placing him near the path of all the comings and goings, the simple dark wrap he wore seemed to pull all regard into the black hole of its existence.  He stood within the concealing layers of his hood and cloak, motionless but for the never-ceasing movement of his eyes.  They were amber as a cat’s, startling in the harsh, unapologetic angles of his coffee-brown face. 

His hands folded across his chest, his fingers thrust into the soft warmth of his sleeves, he watched the row of disposable comm patch booths along the terminal wall opposite him.  Above the white half-dome booths and chairs, the transperiwall rose to a ceiling that showed a darkness deep enough to touch.  Tiny lights sparkled and winked within it like stars.

Below this, the spaceport bustled and resonated with hundreds of voices from hundreds of organs.  Grey, flat-headed Algarans lumbered through the crowd, swinging powerful arms.  A group of Kaag mercenaries, cocking their ears at each other in an animated fashion, brushed through the door, snapping at passersby stupid enough to touch them.  Environmental protection suits–most tinted to keep stares out–rolled or floated past, an array of exotic shapes and colors.  

Seconds after a clutch of Wensts females passed him, so well hidden by their clothing they looked like moving bundles of sparkling cloth, he spotted her.

She strode through the main doors, hands buried in the pockets of a grey jumpsuit, and headed for the comm booths. She looked neither left nor right, but he knew she had seen him.

Dark hair hung loose to her shoulders, obscuring her profile.  She forded the constant movement of those around her with practiced ease as she moved across the main terminal floor, never giving the roving security duos of blue clad Troopers so much as a wary glance. 

When she reached the booths, she took up a position next to the last one on his left.  As soon as the user–a human male–exited, she entered, closed the door and activated the tint.

He gave her ten minutes, made sure they had not been noticed, then leaned away from the wall and headed toward a booth in the middle of the row. 

Hope you liked it. Drop some lines from your latest work in the comments, if you like, and join in the fun.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Happy New Year! Time to Start Writing Now.

Yep. We had a great time eating the food and drinking the drink. Marathon watching TV shows on Netflix and going to the cinema to cheer for the final chapter of The Hobbit. So we are all refreshed now and should be ready for what comes next.

A year of great storytelling.

We will be writing until we are done, my friends. So get a good chair, crack your knuckles and be sure to check back here three times a week to see how you and I have done. Feel free to leave your word count, page count or sentence count when you visit. I’ll be happy to know I’m not the only one down in the salt mines. I’m giving you today off because it’s New Year’s Day and we know what you did last night. But no mercy tomorrow.

And weekends count for extra. Or you can just leave them for your family and fun, as I plan too. I have to recharge often, and weekends do that for me. I have too much to do in those two days, so I’d rather use my spare time to get ready for the rest of the week.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, lots of writing and plenty of online friends (me included!) to share your trials and tribulations, successes and achievements with.

Welcome to 2015!!

And just for fun, here’s how a writer’s mind works most of the times…

Still Here and Still Working

I know I’ve been gone forever. I have a great excuse. At the end of October, I came down with Chik V. This was just before a very important week of meetings at my job during the month of November. I managed to get my work done, but I was lucky enough to be one of those people who suffer from the chronic stage of the disease, which means even now I still have lingering pain, numbness and other symptoms. I’m not alone, of course. Lots of Trinis have the same problem. The virus has spread like wildfire here. And let me tell you, this virus is the sickest I’ve been since I was a child.

November and December then became consumed with catching up on the work I had to drop for two weeks, trying to write every day, cleaning the house and generally getting ready for Christmas. Christmas turned out great and I’m finally enjoying my vacation. But the plan for the new year is to get back to working out and writing every day again. The fatigue has let up enough for me to return to my regular schedule, I think.

I want to thank all of you who came by, followed me, or just commented. Sorry I haven’t been around, and I will be by all of your blogs before the end of the year to remedy my absence.

I’m currently cleaning up the first part of the sequel to LEX TALIONIS, which I’m calling IACTA ALEA EST (The Die is Cast) for now, so I can get some more forward movement on it. I’m pushing on with THE NIGHTWARD (also known as the ‘Hand of Gaia’) because it’s in my head right now. But if you read LEX TALIONIS you’re probably wondering what the sequel looks like. It’s rough right now, and there’s stuff that needs to be edited, but have a sneak peek at the opening below:

The C.S.S. Invincible

The technician screamed, the smoking stump of his hand smearing his lab coat as he held it to his chest. Through watering eyes, he looked up at the two soldiers standing over him, their faces hidden behind the wavering diamond reflection of distortion masks. The ship’s flashing emergency lights limned their black armour, turning the figure-hugging contours scarlet, then black, then scarlet again.

He could smell his own flesh cooking, and vomit scratched at the back of his throat even as pain tore his nerves to shreds. If he turned around, he knew he would see what was left of his hand lying on the floor of the corridor behind him. But there was no point in turning around. His hand was gone for good. And he was a dead man.

The one on his left lowered the massive lasrifle to his waist, still keeping it at the ready. The soldier on the right held his weapon with the business end pointed at the floor. The soldier was silent for a moment longer, apparently studying the tech, though it was hard to tell through the distortion masks.

“Are you ready to speak to me now?” he intoned, his voice flat and expressionless through the mask.

“I told you, I don’t…”

The rifle came up again, sighting on him. He screamed and felt warm piss trickle down his leg.

“You waste our time,” the soldier continued. “If you will not help us, there are others. Doubtless they will want to live more than you.”

The tech heard the soft whine and click of the lasrifle and could not stop his tears. Above him, the computer informed them that Decks Five through Ten had been breached by intruders and that the Fire Squad should report to a blaze in progress in the Dining Hall. It was a detached report on a dying ship and he knew that if he did not do as they said, he would only suffer more pain.

He was a tech, a lowly tech, not crew and certainly not one of the fearsome security personnel who–inexplicable as it seemed–were dying in droves at the hands of these relentless attackers. Soldiers, really. Soldiers who were better than the best that Conway Enterprises had to offer. Better than men genetically bred to protect and kill. It was unthinkable.

As unthinkable as what he was about to do. Because the only thing he wanted as much as a way off the ship right now was no more pain.

“Shoot him in the–”

“Wait!” He felt every breath that left him as if for the first time.

“I…know where it is. I know where the room is. I can take you there. Please…let me take you there.”

The solider did not move for a moment, then he raised his rifle.

“Lead the way. But be warned–-if you attempt to mislead us, you will die. Slowly and in great pain. Get up.”

That’s all for now. I’ll post more from both books as I go along.

Have a great season and see you again soon!

Click Bait, Or Why Slate Should Be Embarrassed About That YA Article

Because really, let’s face it.

That article was click bait.

Pure, unadulterated, shameless, manipulative click bait. (Which, by the way, is why I’m not linking to it).

Sure, Ruth Graham just decided to write a stunningly dismissive post about adults needing to be ashamed of reading YA–which has a very obvious framework around ‘The Fault In Our Stars’–the same week the movie for said novel launches to great fanfare. That’s all just a coincidence.

Right.

What Ruth Graham wanted is what the internet gave her. Lots and lots of attention and clicks. Endless comments and a whole lot of debate. Outraged Twitter and all the best vitriol the internet has to offer. She must be over the moon. Before this, no one knew who the hell she was. Now, she’s the writer that went all postal on YA.

As far as I’m concerned, she’s just a writer looking to up her site’s ad revenue and get her name in peoples’ mouths. I say this because her entire argument falls completely flat if you consider one of the most important tenets of writing. To be a good writer in a genre, you have to read widely in that genre–and outside it as well, ideally. If adults should not be reading YA, who does Graham expect will write YA? Teenagers? Kids?

Who will make the movies and write the screenplays for these works of claptrap we should be averting our eyes from?

Because the YA movies and books that are popular now are a significant part of this generation’s entertainment and the global economy. And they can’t exist without adults writing them, filming them and valuing them enough to spend their hard-earned money on them.

Most of all, if no adults write the YA books and childrens’ books because they are supposed to be ashamed to be reading and writing such drivel, who will seduce future generations with the joys of storytelling? Or do you, Ms. Graham, not care that no YA adult readers means no future readers for the crap people like you write for shock value?

You should be thanking your lucky stars there are still people who can connect with their past so acutely they can move the generation after them with the amazing stories and storytelling ability you so clearly lack.

*Drops the mic*

And in other news…

I have a Boosting the Signal feature post up on Angela Highland (Angela Korra’ti) blog. She also has a great post on the nonsense Slate allowed to be published on its site. You should go read both. They will move you more than a thousand sparkly vampires who die young of cancer.

Say what reaction gifs

Just saying.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Write What You Know

imagine

Write what you know

It’s what every writer has been told in every class they’ve ever taken. For a long time, I took it literally and despaired. Because I loved all things genre. I loved science fiction–“hard” or “soft”, whatever that means–fantasy, horror, mystery… You name it, I loved it. But how could I write it when I was only allowed to write what I knew?

I didn’t know enough about science to do science fiction, I thought. I certainly didn’t know enough about crime-solving to do mysteries. But, oh how I wanted to. I kept thinking of stories, kept writing stories, that had fantastic elements. Stories my teachers frowned upon in school, but my friends loved. Stories that came to me down a dream-pipe, completely without my assistance. When something beautiful shows up, just like that, dressed and ready to go, how do you ignore it?

Then I learned the truth. That the ‘what you know’ meant what you knew as a human being too. So stories weren’t all about the academic or procedural research. They were about translating the human experience. Your human experience. Because yours was the only one you were an expert on.

I should not have taken so long to figure this out–after all, if that rule was literal, how could Ray Bradbury write the Martian Chronicles, or Carl Sagan write Contact–but it was a daunting thing, all the same. Now I not only had the responsibility of credibility that research catered to–I had to bare myself in public in certain ways. I had to write what I knew, and in doing so, tell the whole world a little about myself. I don’t remember who said it, but they were right when they said a writer is someone who appears in public with their pants down.

It’s not an easy thing to put down your thoughts, hopes, dreams, nightmares so others can share them. There’s always that risk that you’ll be rejected. Or laughed at. Or worse, that no-one will care. But for everyone who has the courage to write what they know, they take a chance that somewhere, someone will find a kindred moment.  A shared experience. Somewhere out there, a bond will form between writer and reader, between two people who have never met. And it will be a deep and lasting friendship.

So to those of you who have had the courage to risk yourselves in the telling of your stories–take a bow. It doesn’t matter if you get paid to do this. You know what this really means, this writing what you know. You deserve to celebrate yourselves a little.

And to those who haven’t had the courage to try yet. Well..what are you waiting for? Write what you know.
We’d love to hear from you.

write

Unblocking

write

I have recently come to realise something. If you decide you will write every day, no matter what, and you give yourself no excuses and no quarter, even a champion procrastinator like me can get at least three lines out per day.

Now, you might say three lines are nothing. But you’d be wrong. At least according to some famous author I read years ago who did the math and figured out that if you wrote three lines a day for a year, you’d have a 50,000 word novel at the end. Or a 60,000 novel. Doesn’t matter. What matters is, as my friend Bone says, there will have been PROGRESS.

This is actually a big deal for me, progress. Because I’ve been stopping and starting with long breaks between my writing for a couple of years now. Until I made this demand of myself last month, I had not written a word since late last year. Now I have two new scenes and I’m still going.

Yep, it was all just lack of will to follow through. I guess some authors are right. Maybe there is no such thing as writer’s block. Just writers who want to be blocked.

Either way, celebrate with me. I got a new scene finished and I edited my sequel a bit.

What have you accomplished lately that you’re really happy over?

discuss

The Next Big Thing

I’m participating in a fun author blog hop called The Next Big Thing.

I was tagged for this exercise by the talented Susan Elizabeth Curnow, who has a wonderful science fiction novel out called Game of Adversaries.

I was lucky enough to read this book at the beta stage and I’m so happy I get to finally see it in print and check out the published ending!

She blogs at http://susanelizabethcurnow.weebly.com/games-of-adversaries.html. Her scifi novel presents unforgettable characters and inventive alien societies clashing over the future of an incredible world.

What is my next big thing?
A science fiction mystery novel coming out in the fall of 2013.

What is the working title of your book?
Lex Talionis (The Law of Revenge).

Where did you get the idea for the book?
Several things came together in my head one night while I was lying in bed. Bats in the roof were keeping me awake, and I’d just seen what my 9 year-old mind thought was one of the best movies ever. A made for TV romp called Ice Pirates. I started thinking about mercenaries flying around space, and how cool it would be if the leader was a tough-as-nails girl.

What genre does your book fall under?
Science Fiction Mystery. Is that even an established genre? No idea.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Lex: Well, that’s a tough one. She’s not classically pretty to my mind, but she’s arresting. I must have dark hair, even if I have to give up her green eyes. I recently discovered Rachel Nichols in Continuum and I like her because she reminds me of Lex, but she’s a bit older than I’d want.

Elena Satine isn’t bad either, but she’s also older. Chloe Grace Moritz and Hailee Stanfield can act the part, and they’re young enough, but are they too young?

And I’m taking this waaaayyy too seriously now.

Michael: Tom Sturridge

Colin: Matthew Morrison might be okay

Anton: Idris Elba in lieu of someone bigger. If I could have someone the size Michael Clarke Duncan and with Idris’ acting chops I’d be in heaven.

Andor: Steven Amell  or Sam Worthington

Ru-ad: Ben Kingsley or Bill Nighy

Oux: Andy Serkis ::grin::.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young woman searches for the her identity–and the men that murdered her–with the help of the alien that brought her back from the dead.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Dragonwell Publishing. http://publishing.dragonwell.org/

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It’s been in existence in one form or another since I was a teenager. However, I sat down and finished the first real draft over a period of about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not sure I have a genre to compare it to.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I came up with Lex, there weren’t a lot of kick-ass leading women in science fiction. I wanted to write about a real person, with problems, flaws and loves, and I wanted her to be strong and unique, but vulnerable too. I wanted a kick-ass woman I could relate to.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
At its heart, it’s about revenge and the consequences of choosing that course of action. But the universe Lex lives in has humans practically on the bottom rung of the ladder, and I also explore the future of eugenics and how it might influence warfare.

Next up, I’ve tagged awesome authors to participate and tell you about their Next Big Things:

Walter Williams http://renakuzar.livejournal.com/ has a historical fantasy novel coming out from Dragonwell this year called The Garden at the Roof of the World. I had the pleasure of seeing early drafts of this book, and I can tell you, he’s captured the past in beautiful passages that make our history as interesting and wondrous as an alien world.

Tara Maya http://taramayastales.blogspot.com/ has book 6 of her Unfinished Song series launching soon. If you’re looking for a fantasy with a unique magic system, these books are for you!