I have something a bit special for all of you today.
A new friend of mine, S.A. Huchton, is revealing her cover today! Her newest novel, Maven, is being released later this year but we’ve got the cover to show you below. I’m sure she’ll have more fireworks and excitement around the actual release date, but for today, I get the unmitigated pleasure of showcasing her awesome cover.
For those of you who want the vitals, her new book is a Science Fiction Romance (New Adult), the first novel in the Endure Series and the planned release date is June 3rd.
How far would you go for love?
Since losing her parents at fourteen, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now twenty-one, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.
Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.
Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?
I’ve even got a novel excerpt for your enjoyment!
“Did you have a chance to look at those files I sent yet?” Daniel changed the subject.
“Files?” She thought back. “Oh, those files. No, not yet. I can take a look now though, since we’re waiting for everyone else to get here.” Lydia set her cup on the desk and walked around to the chair. Settling in, she called up her messages and opened the attached files Daniel had sent. He stood behind her, watching.
“Hmm,” she murmured as she read the first one. “It looks like experiment results, but I’m not sure what the initial subject is.” She opened another. More results. “I don’t get… Wait. This list of bacteria?” She pointed at a column on the screen. He put a hand down on the desk and leaned in close to her to read the words. She was surprised that her voice didn’t tremble when she spoke. “These are all marine specimens. Specifically, ones that have been found around deep ocean volcanoes. They’re rare and we don’t know much about them yet, but we do know they’re dangerous. These are some of the most resilient bacteria on the planet. They have to be, given the environment they live in.”
Daniel frowned. “What kind of experimentation would have been going on here with these things?”
“That’s what has me concerned.” She bit her lip. “These documents don’t give any information aside from which samples were being used and basic test results, like genetic composition and temperature reactivity, but they’re reference documents for another research project. Given the dates they originate, I would have heard about any work with these specific bacteria, and I know of none. I wouldn’t normally pick up research from another study without specifically being tasked, but something here isn’t sitting right with me.” It was hard to concentrate. At this proximity, she could smell the scent of his body; soft and clean, with the faintest hint of his aftershave.
“So, what will you do?” Daniel asked.
Lydia considered that for a moment, struggling to retain her composure. “Did you say you thought there were other related files somewhere?” She turned her head slightly, but couldn’t face him directly. Not with him this close.
He shrugged. “It’s possible. There was a ton of old data dumped into a trash file I dug up while cleaning out the system. Backups of backups, it looks like. I didn’t know what I was looking for specifically, so I tossed anything from 3-SSR into the same group. It wasn’t much, but there was a bunch of other stuff I couldn’t identify.” He straightened, much to her relief. The near contact was clouding her brain.
“If I gave you a list of keywords to search for, would that help? Based on these documents, I can narrow down what might be contained in related files.”
“Yes,” he said. “Definitely. If I know what I should be looking for, I have some tools for doing entire sweeps of all connected computers, including the Endure’s core programs. How long would it take you to make up that list?”
She looked at the list of files he had already sent. “There’s forty-eight documents here. Not all of them may pertain to this project, but it will take me at least a day to do a quick once through. Are you sure you have time to take this on?” Lydia faced him.
“Absolutely,” he said, his hazel eyes locking on to hers. Her breath caught unexpectedly in her throat. Something in the way he looked at her made her think that she could ask him for anything at that moment and he would say yes.
The sound of the lab door and voices shattered the moment. Lydia spun around and closed the list of files, along with the messaging program.
“Looks like people are arriving. I’ll go fire up the lab computers so we can all see the new software.” She rushed out of the office, hoping no one else could hear her pounding heart.
Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla’s voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor’s Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart, and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven is her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four.
After completing her degree in Graphic Arts at Monterey Peninsula College, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.
and finally, you can find her on Twitter
I’m still getting used to working on writing a lot which unfortunately means that I have to go through a lot of injuries as I get them used to working again. Wednesday, I managed to hurt my wrists. They’re pretty much better now, it was only a pulled muscle, but it was yet another start and stop.
Now, I’m sure that you’re wondering what I would bring this up. After all, its not as though my getting injured is anything overly surprising on its own. I am a klutz like all the best fluff heads are. No, what I want to talk about today is that little bit of start and stop that I had to go through again.
It’s such a little thing, having to start and stop and yet it can set you back so much when you’re writing. And I’ve been doing it for nearly a month.
Beginnings have always been difficult for me. I don’t generally have the problem with starting my story too early and in my experience, I have never had to cut off anything more than a few hundred words. However, if I don’t know how or where I’m starting my story, then I will start and stop, looking for that perfect little slice of story to serve first. Normally I’m able to find what I’m looking for without too much difficulty. Maybe a half chapter of something completely wrong and then I’ll find it.
With my latest book, I’ve been looking for nearly 12k. Yep, 12,000 words (approximately) and I’m still not 100% sure that I’m on the right track for my story. However, I did have to remind myself of something while I was looking over my latest “chapter one”. That being a bit of advice I heard years ago, I think from the awesome podcast “Writing Excuses”.
“You can edit crap… You can turn that crap into gold with enough time. What you can’t edit is a blank page.”
I fully admit that this is just the gist of the advice and not specifically what they said and even then, I’m pretty sure that they were misquoting it from somebody else too… Anne Lamott, I believe, from her book on writing advice called Bird by Bird (a book that I’ll be picking up about 5 minutes from now). Regardless at that, its still true. You can edit all of your crappy writing into gold that you can then sell and make everyone believe that you totally know what you’re doing. But you can’t edit a blank page. It’s just not possible. Even editing something and having to rewrite it from scratch is better than not having anything to look at in the first place.
Which is why I’ve finally started writing again and this time I won’t be stopping. I have only the vaguest idea on what my book is going to be about or where its going… but what I do know, is that I can’t edit what I haven’t written. And even if I don’t get it the first time (I probably won’t) I’ll know that if nothing else, I will have found another way to NOT start my book. And that just may be all that matters.
This will be a very quick update this week, since I’ve been surprisingly busy this Sunday.
Yesterday, I took the plunge and submitted my short story, Fated to another magazine. Please be kind to me for a few days… My ego may be bruised again soon enough. Also, I can now say that submitting stories to publishers does get easier. After editing and then panicking over my submission all day, my finger only hovered over the “submit” button for a minute or so while my heart fluttered in near panic.
To my eminent relief this particular short story magazine is currently up to date and their average response time is one to three days, so at least, I won’t be worrying for long.
*Unfortunately, I was not accepted… That does sort of suck but I still believe that this story is good enough to make it eventually. I just need to find the right market or decide to put it out myself on Amazon… I am not giving up though I think this story will be going onto the back burner and I will spend time editing a different short story into submission for a while.*
Otherwise, I am getting into heavy writing now that I’m mostly better. I’m going to have to start drinking more water for the next few days though and my writing should improve once its properly hydrated. It’s taken a while to convince my mind that I don’t need to have a perfect first draft but that it does need to be a written first draft. You see, no matter how often you tell yourself that you don’t need to write well because you can edit that crap into gold later, it really likes to forget that information.
I’ve never been much of a singer. In fact, the truth is that I have a horrible singing voice, no real talent for holding a rhythm or a beat and I have a very eclectic taste in music to begin with. I’ve taken a singing class or two and honestly, while I have a great range, I can say that some of the advice I’ve received is “Can you sing quieter?”
Not that I’ve listened to all those honest attempts at help. I still sing, loudly and with vigor, even if I have no skill to speak of. My friends laugh whenever they come over. Usually because more than once they’ve come by and heard my voice belting out a song from the street outside my house. Surprisingly this doesn’t embarrass me at all. The way I see it, one of the benefits of owning my house is that I can do whatever I want in it to make me happy.
It’s a very similar thing that I do in my novel. It’s my world and that means that I can do whatever I want. I’ve constrained by a few things. Mostly, my own views of the world. But anything can happen and that is part of what makes me so happy to write. If I need a character to fly, they can. If I need them to be an expert chef, they can.
Now, a large part of this does need to be corrected in my second and third drafts. However, the complete freedom of my first draft is terrifying and exhilarating all at once. And in that, I have to admit… It’s my music that really helps me. You see music isn’t just a symbol of freedom and fun for me. It’s also one of the ways that I have trained myself to focus. It doesn’t always work but when it does, I can tune out everything except the page in front of me and the music that’s playing.
The music gives me the ability to do anything I want, but simply by choosing a sound track I can impose a structure to that freedom and even more, I can do it without limiting myself in the slightest. It’s a trick that I’ve learned and while it may not always work (particularly if there is a tv in the same room) it is one of the ways that I have been able to force myself to get my work done when I need to.
Sometimes, the hardest part of being a writer is dealing with my own inadequacies. I constantly forget that while there are things that I’m not as good with that there are also things that I rock at! Today, I’m going to go over those things, the things that I think I shine at.
Motivation - If I don’t know why my characters are doing something, I will search and pick at that character until I figure out why. Usually my writing blocks come from me not understanding a characters motivation correctly. The silly thing is that normally knowing exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing doesn’t usually change their actions. Instead, they’ll do the exact same thing, but since I know why they’re doing it, it holds more weight and comes through as more weighty and real.
Voice - I have a very interesting skill in understanding male and female vocal patterns. Men and women not only speak differently, but they’ll think differently. While you can have a man that thinks very femininely or a woman that’s very male-like in her speech and thoughts, it is less common than you think. I have never had a problem figuring out whether a specific character is male or female, just based on the way they talk. In books its even easier since I can usually see their thought patterns as well. In my own writing, I tend to write even more to the stereotype. This doesn’t mean my female characters always speak in flowery poems, but it does mean that they’ll use larger words and describe things better than my quieter and briefer male characters. Women will discuss how something makes them feel or what they remember about something, while men will say what’s there and whether its different than than it was before.
Body Language – Part of this is that I’ve always had a real interest in things like sociology and psychology. I’ve always loved studying people and the slightest movements on a characters part tell me what they’re feeling and why. There are a lot of things we do based on how we’re feeling. Most of these are completely subconscious, hold overs from when humans were much less vocal then we are now. In fact, scientists and sociologists have said that anywhere from 70 – 95% of most communication is non-verbal. I remember that a friend once said that she was having trouble with a scene and that her characters were coming across as flat. I suggested looking into body language and tried to show a few examples of how our body language changes. She blinked at me, trying to figure out how I could change how she was reacting to me just based on movement and stance.
Tension – I never thought I was particularly good at tension, but then I started up a critique group and the one thing that popped up every week was that my scenes were full of tension. They were shocked at how a simple conversation between two of my characters where no one was in any physical danger could be tense and leave them turning the pages wanting to find out what happened next.
There are probably other things that I’m good at, but nothing that I can think of specifically. Still, it’s late here and that is a pretty good place to start off from, right?
What are you good at in writing? Where do your hobbies meet your writing and really help you shine?
There are times when being a writer can get to us. Not the actual writing or the physical labours. I’m not even talking about the annoying writers block that can cramp a writer for weeks at a time. No, today I’m talking about the annoying voice in the back of your head that tells us that we can’t do it. That we’ll never succeed.
From what I understand, all writers go through it. It’s caused by the simple human belief that we aren’t as good as we think we actually are. That other people will suddenly understand that we’re really faking it and they’ll hate us for it. Now, honestly, I don’t know why this gets to us. Why we feel that every other writer out there is better than we are; we do though. That is an incontrovertible truth.
Which only leaves me wondering why/how, when I know that it takes most writers nearly 10 years to go from “I wrote my first book” to “I sold my first book”, I am feeling horribly disappointed with myself for having not succeeded after only five. I’ve written 3 books, half written a forth and started a fifth. My writing has improved an insane amount, though I know I’m not past learning more. I’ve written quite a few short stories and edited one book to a point that I was willing to send it my beta readers.
Basically, I’ve done a lot and yet, this week, I’m still feeling that bit of depression.
Fortunately, I know that most of this is psychosomatic (meaning all in my head) and the rest is perfectly reasonable worry about the future. Also, lets face it, I’m not the most objective person about my own writing. So, I’m going to end this week by telling you all that I plan on writing through this and not ending on a bad note. I have allowed myself to keep writing, even when I’m less fond of what’s going on the page because I know a secret that I didn’t six years ago.
I’ve learned that my rough drafts don’t need to be awesome… in fact, they don’t even need to be correct. Getting them written is the important thing.
And if that’s all I’ve honestly learned in the past six years (though I know it isn’t), then I still think its enough.
I’m sorry about not posting for the last week. I really have needed my time off. Getting sick and having writers block, believe it or not, makes any blog post I write, seem slightly inane; like I was asking a slug for advice on running and smooth skin.
On the other hand, I am better now and have even gotten over (some) of my writers block. Apparently, I can’t just know the what of my plots. If I expect to write, then I have to know the why. Fortunately, my husband is a brilliant mastermind and he helped me work through some of my character motivations.
The main things I realized were that Xiam is still the MC in book 2. I was having a lot of trouble with her arc, but my hubby helped me to realize that in the first book she moved from victim to strength. She got herself out of her trouble, and even if she couldn’t do it alone, she was an important part of each of her own rescues. However, she may be strong, but she still hasn’t accepted that she isn’t human. She can change, but she doesn’t like it. It may be necessary at times, but she doesn’t feel at home in that second skin. On the other hand, Zack isn’t going to be an MC in this book. In fact, if anything, he’s moving from failed hero to true villain.
This means that the secondary character is actually Jarius. In the first novel, he faced a major setback at the end. Normally, this would mean that he needs to take time to heal and regroup so that he can come back stronger than ever. That’s not what happens though. Jarius is with the vampires and they live in a cut throat, dog-eat-dog world. Jarius, in their eyes, is showing weakness and he gets pounced on.
Now, I still have a hell of a lot of planning to do before I figure out exactly what the story is, but now that I have the vaguest idea where it’s going, it should get easier and easier to write it.
As a quick update, I am currently at around 4k for my CampNano novel and I may need to take a day or so to do some plotting with what I now know. I will be working though! That’s what matters. Writers write. And even if I take a month or a month and a half off when I’m hurting, I’m still a writer. I’m not going to let go of that dream.
Otherwise known as “How in the heck do authors do this?”
It occurs to me that I may not have thought this through very well. I was about to start writing my novel today, the sequel to the one I just finished in January, and I suddenly realized that I didn’t have my inciting incident firmly in mind. So, I thought over my planning and my first line is “Xiam meets up with the wolves and begins plotting with them.” Not exactly a very good place to begin.
There isn’t any conflict there. So I asked myself the following question of why is she going to the the wolves? My answer depressed me quite a bit. It was, “because I said that was what I needed to do at the end of the last book.”
So now, apparently I don’t need to go into super tight planning, since I have the basics of the story figured out… I just need to find out what my inciting incident of this book is. And that means that her first meeting with the wolves just may be a fight to get people into the book (though I hate that) or that it might end up being a time skip of a few weeks/months and telling the readers straight up that time has passed and she’s already met the wolves and that talks with them are going downhill.
Hmm, the fight might do it. Since few of the creatures of Amaranth actually speak to each other often (though most try to keep up an uneasy truce) it wouldn’t be unreasonable to start with a battle. I think I’ll start with that and see where it takes me. At the very least, I know that in a rough draft, I’m allowed to play and do things wrong. That’s what editing and revision is for, right?
So, as my final question today, do you have any advice on where I should start? Or, if you’re doing camp nano, let me know what you’ll be writing and what your wordcount goal will be!
In particular, any day in which I can say (honestly) that I am now off for the weekend on Wednesday is just a good day. And today, I got to say that. It’s a holiday weekend and my I-Day at work would normally have been today. They had asked me a few weeks ago to change my I-Day to Thursday instead to cover a scheduling issue. At the time I hadn’t realized that it was a holiday weekend and so it was a really nice surprise this week.
Don’t get too excited thinking that I’ll just be sitting around my house eating chocolate and reading though. First off, I hate chocolate. Give me a salty snack any day (yes, take that as dirty as you want, I’ll be here when you’re done), preferably chips or popcorn. Secondly, my weekend is booked.
Thursday will be spent cleaning my house and getting it ready for the influx of people visiting this weekend. Friday, the first of my guests will stop by for gaming. The Way of the Wicked is a pathfinder I’m playing in and I can’t wait to play my character again. She’s an evil Witch, white haired and all. It’s going to be awesome!
Saturday, I’m going to be having some family visit. Not for Easter specifically, but they happened to be in town and we haven’t seen them in months. Finally, on Sunday, I will be running my Council of Thieves game. The party has just returned to the city after a quick side quest to find out that in their absence, s$^& hit the fan, figuratively speaking. Just wait until they get a load of what else is happening.
As fun as this weekend will be though, I must admit that I am disappointed that I won’t have a lot of time for writing. Or planning. Or editing.
Very disappointing, since Camp Nano is starting on April 1 (which is my anniversary, so don’t expect much writing then… also subnote: no, that isn’t a joke. Me and my husband got married on April Fools Day. It’s all part of the “Great Cosmic Joke that is my life” – end quote). Now, I have managed to figure out what my story is, and I have most of my plotting done. I’m hoping to get 25k written each month over the next four so that I can get this book written.
I’ll see how well it works at any rate.
I hope you all get to have a great reading weekend and that if you celebrate Easter that it is a day filled with family and joy for you all.
But I’m mostly healthy again. My wrist is a little bit weak and I have a semi permanent stuffed up nose, but for the most part, I am much better. I have managed to mostly finish a 2k character history and the critique I had to do for this week.
All in all, I’m impressed with myself. I have only 3 days of work next week (and let me tell you, I am excited and pleased about that!) which means I should be quite good and relaxed come the beginning of camp nano.
That’s all for me for today though… I may be felling better, but I still don’t really want to over do it. I will see all you with a more in depth blog post on Wednesday!
I am currently unpublished but I hope to soon change that. I write Fantasy, slipping into Dark Fantasy, often as not. My blog updates on Wednesdays and Sundays.
My current WIP is a Dark Fantasy about a woman who discovers she isn't human when she is kidnapped by monsters, called Falling Through the Threshold. It is fully written and I'm in the editing stage.
I also have two other novels, in various stages of readiness. The first I'm writing during Nanowrimo is a steampunk gaslight about a shapeshifting refugee who discovers that scientists are rebuilding the tech that destroyed her world again.The second is a traditional fantasy about a woman who can become a God, a man who can become Death and the Deity that wants them both dead (tentatively titled Dual Melodies). The last is a whimsical fantasy about a young woman who falls in love outside of her race (tentatively titled Seirei).