Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One down... and other ramblings.

So I finished book 3 of the Trilogy of Tinna the weekend before last. Believe it or not I finished writing it while driving through the stunning Columbia River Gorge to Eastern Oregon for a visit with a family member who lives in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by colossal wind-turbines. They remind me of the alien ships in War of the Worlds. My little netpad made the trip with me, and while my husband drove, I balanced my computer on my knees and tippety-tapped away while I sipped tea from my thermos, and finished the book.

Mind you, it's not completely done. I think of it like house that's been framed, roofed, sided, but still needs the wiring, plumbing, drywall and details finished up.  It's a good feeling, I dare say.  Tinna's Might is still hanging on the edge of being finished completely and being published to iU and Smashwords.  I'm hoping my editor can sit down and get the last few chapters cracked out very soon. I'm  hoping my next post will be the one saying: It's Here!. ::crosses fingers::

I did the Christmas giving tree again this year. The local one was put up and taken down so quickly, I actually missed it, so I went to the one that my work sponsors. The tag I picked belonged to a young girl who was 8 and she wanted Monster High dolls. Now let me tell you, I had NO idea what those were until I set foot in Toys-R-Us (a mind-boggling experience on its own).  I imagine many of you have set foot in this store, I haven't. I don't have children, and I usually shop for kids if at all at Barnes & Noble where I can get those cool projecty kits and that sort of thing.

Anyway, I walked in, and it seemed like I had to make my way through every aisle because they were set up like a huge labyrinth forcing me to walk past every toy known to man to reach the cash registers. I could not help stopping to ogle some of the cuter toys. For instance, there was this whole section dedicated to these eye-wateringly, sickeningly sweet and adorable flocked forest critters (I'm not kidding, they're so effing cute I misted up and almost bought a family of chipmunks and a little baby bedroom and accessory kit. But when I spotted the cottage and the furniture and accessories and I found myself tempted, and I had to slap myself back to reality). I also did a slow drive-by in the Lego section where they had a display of the Millennium Falcon kit, it was only <---sarcasm about $140... and they even had a little Lego wookie.

Admit it, skanky .. perhaps. Cute? Undeniably.
At length, after passing through the barbie aisle, which was so saturated in pink, I nearly vomited, I came across the Monster-High merch.  The first thing I will admit is that they are cute. The dolls are really kind of adorable in a weird way. But the second thing I have to admit is that they are dressed like small, monstery whores. They have these little Lady-Gaga stripper-platform heels, and teeny skirts that barely cover the no-no square.  But admittedly, the idea is freakin' adorable. There's a frankensteiny one (the cutest one in my opinion), and a vampire one, and a werewolf one, and they have little mini coffin-shaped trunks for their skanky outfits, and little accessories and teeny pets; WAY more accessories in the package that Barbies came with when I was a kid.  I was half-tempted to  get one for myself.  Instead, I bought the Frankensteiny one and the one with fins who looked like a mad scientist, and I bought a little packet of outfitty things. I'm hoping Miss Selena is happy with them.  Now I want one. Not sure why. Shopping for kids is so much fun.

Aaaanyway, let's hope the next post is good news about Tinna's Might. :D

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am writing, writing, writing.

I am quickly discovering that with ebooks, the more titles, the better. At least that’s what I’m being told by a variety of authors who publish ebooks, and this has been somewhat proven to me by the rather brisk sale of the Blackroot novel I put on Smashwords sometime back. At 99¢, it is the best-selling ebook I have, outselling both Tinna’s Promise and even the free short-story collection, The Belletrist. It’s sort of shocking because Blackroot is such a departure from what I usually write, it’s gory and graphic, and a little weird. But the readers seem to like it. iBooks users especially, and lots of Sony Reader users. The desire to offer more titles has given me a creative kick in the pants, but on the flip side, it has also presented me with way too much distraction.

I am currently about 60% on Tinna’s Reign, editing for Tinna’s Might has slowed to a crawl, but it is still moving. I’d say we’ve moved up to about 84% completed, and I have two other books I’ve been pecking at, one called the Wizard King and another The Blue Journal. The Blue Journal is sort of out of my comfort zone, being written in journal form in first-person, which is challenging to someone who almost always writes as a narrator. The Wizard King is a strange hybrid of a Regency romance novel and a fantasy. I started it about four years ago, but it fell into my ‘false start’ pile, and then I was browsing my old starts and rediscovered it, and found some fresh ideas popping into my head as I started reading it.

So this means I’m working on four books concurrently. Probably not a good plan—most people will tell you to pick a project and stick to it until you’re finished, but it’s a bit hard to do when you are having a hard time finding inspiration on one, and have come to a complete halt while another has found a little pocket of inspiration to feed it. I guess, as I always do, I will go where my instincts point me, and let the organic, creative process work itself out.

The point of it all is to offer a broad range of titles for readers. I have the bones for a few good, meaty novels, and I’m working on finishing up the Tinna Trilogy. I may revisit Oromoii later on, but for now, I’m going to concentrate on these other titles and keep out of my false start folder for a few months—just in case something else catches my creative eye.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Tinna's Might; about 80% edited

Yes, this is a slow process. I am sorry to keep those of you who are looking forward to book 2 waiting... but we're getting closer, I promise. The illustrations are also being developed. Very exciting. :D Just a quick note. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Will To Live

The only way one of my kind can truly die, is to want more than anything to live. This is a cruel joke played on the immortals; a punishment imposed by pitiless gods. I’ve died so many times and have risen so many times that even the idea of wanting this life anymore seems beyond my capacity. In order to finally rest, I am supposed to find something inside me that will desire life more than anything—to replicate the same sense of purpose and joy that I had before it was all erased by my first death and first resurrection so many years ago. It is impossible not to become filled with anger and bitterness, to always have but a brief taste of that final peace only to be wrenched back to the drudgery of rain, of mud, of stinking mortals, of more of the same. After seven hundred years, there is no more room for anticipation and idealism; both things you need in profusion to appreciate the days you have on this earth. Even mortals find it hard to want to live sometimes.

It is thought to be impossible; to finally find rest and oblivion from the pain that is existence. But there are always those rumours that give one hope; the story of this immortal or that immortal who discovered a well of happiness inside them, a joy of life, the appreciation for the gift of existence that allowed them their final escape from it. But it’s never anyone you know, never anyone who can tell you what the secret is. But here I am... entering my seven-hundredth year with little to look forward to but seven hundred more years of the same.

There are no rules or purpose for us otherwise, except to walk the changing world in rancor. We were once called the caretakers, a few of us once ruled as gods, but in the end, we all just grew tired of it all, and chose to sleep for an age; or to wander and live like hermits. Sometimes we play a role—portray a life that is not real; we go through the motions so we can try to derive whatever it is we are supposed to; what it is that mortals derive from their blessedly short lives.

We die only when killed. And that is short-lived. We are always given that false hope, as we slip into that dreamless, empty state, that we will be given the gift of the cessation of everything. To end our existence. But instead, we awake again in an agonizing pain, and we suck in air into our tired lungs and we hear our bones knitting and our wounds drawing themselves together, and there is nothing but hopelessness as we lie in the pools of our own blood and weep for an end.

We are hopelessness embodied. How any one of us can find it in our hearts to love this endless cycle, and to wish for another day of it is beyond me. I was convinced for the better part of my long life that I would never be allowed to die.

But I found the joy and the raison d’etre. I found my will to live, and it was not some great romance with a mortal that finally brought me mortality at last. It was much worse than that.

It started with a simple act. An act of frustration. A rash lashing out for all the injustices in my life. Sour and bitter, he stepped into my life at the worst possible moment; the poor hapless fellow—my first victim. Drunken and filled with vitriol, I stumbled out of a circa 70s Oldsmobile the size of the Titanic that I’d stolen. I’d just driven it recklessly into the gravel parking lot, and skidded to a stop only inches from the wall of the dive, angled over two parking spots. I threw open the land-yacht’s door and staggered out, blind to the colours of the signs in neon, seeing only a bleak daguerreotype of reality.

He entered my field of vision like a wraith, drunk too, and ready for a fight. He blurted out some incomprehensive blather and made the mistake of putting his hands on me. The moment was electric; like I’d touched a power line. It was like all the colours of the world flooded back. His blue flannel shirt, the flush of his cheeks and nose, the scarlet of his blood as my fingers followed my blind rage and bore into his eye-sockets. I stood there, looking down at the drunkard’s quivering corpse when all was said and done, my blood rushing, my inebriation completely obliterated by the adrenaline that burned through my veins. I was alive. This tiny, enviable mortal was not.

The elation filled me. It surprised me how it never occurred to me to do what I had done in all my years. I’d killed before, in wars, in accidents, but never for a reason as ridiculous as to direct my rage at something, to exert power over it, to destroy it. This became my vice, and with every killing, I desired more. My desire for death was no longer even remotely on my mind, I greedily looked forward to every new day where I could hunt and kill what I now saw as vermin; living, mortal vermin.

I did not know this was enough; that this zeal for life, fueled by evil itself would count. I did not know it would mean the same as someone finding love to make them wish to live on. My love was senseless murder; it gave me a will to go on.

Now I lie here in a pool of my own blood. I wasn’t granted the graceful period of aging and infirmity as the rumoured others were. My bones are not knitting, my wounds not healing. I weep for the life that is draining from me, this long and sometimes meaningful life that needed to find pure evil before it could be permitted to end. Around me, the mortals in their navy uniforms and silver adornments advance upon me from the shelter of their car doors, gripping the blue-steel implements of my demise. Their voices seem distant. I can’t stop myself from becoming fixated on how the blue and red lights that flash play illusions on my pale skin. I can’t help but notice how my heart beat sometimes misses, and how my breath bubbles in my throat. I am riddled with holes.

The only way one of my kind can truly die, is to want more than anything to live. I have never wanted to live more than today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

AAAAAARGH! Chapter Overhaul!

I think a paint-roller with red paint ought to be more appropriate.
Bless him... my editor just clobbered me with the Harsh Stick today.  Okay, it's excellent feedback and he's so infuriatingly right, that I want to throw myself off a bridge... not because of my errors, I can live with my errors, but because of the work it's going to take to make the fix.  Criminy!

We are heading slowly towards the final chapters of Tinna's Might, and editing has been moderately painless on the most part, some turbulence here and there, where only minor adjustments are required.  But this new adjustment is HUGE. It might turn Chapter 10 into Chapter 10 and 11.  And I'm somehow going to wrench more out of my creatively tapped brain to fix two rather huge mistakes that just take the wind out of the sails of the whole plot, and would likely make a reader lose momentum and give up on the book.

It's funny we don't see this as we toil through our stories. But it's important to look through the eyes of a reader and not an author.  Would you feel compelled to move forward if you already knew too much.  I was too generous with plot exposition and it killed all the momentum I'd worked so hard to build in prior chapters.

Editors are your first true reader. They are like the test-subjects, the guinea pigs... and if they see an issue, you need to listen, no matter how much work it is to fix.  ::groan::

I sure am whining a lot lately.  When I get through this hurdle, and closer to finalizing this book, I guarantee you I will be a much happier author.  Promise (at least until Tinna's Reign is finished up and is sent in for editing).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Them's fightin' werds!

"Take that, old bean!"
Fight scenes... I hate them. I hate reading them, I hate writing them. Blow-by-blow descriptions of battles small or army-sized, do not float my boat. Some readers love it. Not me. If I’m reading a book, and there’s a page or two of fight descriptions, I’ll just skip those paragraphs and take up where the story left off. My boredom with fight scenes naturally affects how I write them, and I’ve just gotten a little note from my editor telling me in none so many words; “Miranda, you don’t know what the hell you’re writing about. Your fight scenes suck.” And he is 100% correct. I suck at fight scenes!

If I could get away with it, whenever my books demanded a fight-scene (and they invariably do, because I am irrevocably drawn to writing about ‘power-chicks’ who kick ass, so I’m kind of digging my own hole here), I would simply write: “She came at her opponent like a spider-monkey and kicked his jerky ass into oblivion” for a fight scene, I probably would. But I can’t, so in this special case, I have to summon the assistance of someone who can. Luckily my editor has some experience in this realm, so he has helped me get through this first one. It makes me wonder about Tinna’s Promise and how much help those fight scenes require...!

The lesson here is that if you are knowingly weak about a certain subject; don’t try to fake it because it comes off that you’re faking it. It’s why writers who don’t have direct experience about something do research and make sure they get their facts right because invariably, someone is going to come along and say; ‘dude, that’s so wrong!’ And if you haven’t experienced something, you should refrain from trying to write about it, because again, your reader who does know about this stuff will be turned off. Credibility is an important thing when it comes to writing books, no matter what the genre. Aside from comic-book ‘credibility’ stumpers, like spider-bites and falling into vats of radiation (you ever wonder how it was possible that all the vampires and demons in the Buffy and Angel series were martial-arts experts as soon as they clawed their way out of the earth/hell-chasm?), most books try to create the incredible in a way that allows their readers to suspend their disbelief. And when you have small, feisty little dark-haired women kicking the ass and taking names of anyone that dares confront them, saving the world, and raising general hell, you sure as hell better be writing it all in a way that doesn’t sound completely contrived.

I spend so much energy and time espousing the benefits of editing not because I believe manuscripts (regardless of their being independent or commercially published) should be clean and professional, but also because an editor does so much more than fix apostrophe use and fix your homonym mix-ups; they are also your consistency checkers, they question your character points of view, they call you out on your bullshit and they help you shape your story into something *they* would want to read. And *they* are the readers you are striving to sell this story to. They are your test-reader, your first audience, so for God’s sake, if your editor is telling you something sucks, do not just sit there and whine about it or assume you know your potential readers better... listen to them and fix it. And don’t think so highly of yourself that you think you have all the bases covered and you know enough about something to just fake it.

Trust me. It just won’t fly

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Desirable End (and an update)

I know, I’ve been on radio silence lately, pretty much everywhere, including twitter, where I’m having a hard enough time keeping up with everything as it is. I’m such a whiner! I’m still here however, plugging away. Working on 2 stories no less (focus ADD girl!) while juggling all the realities of daily life. How exhausting.

We are at Chapter Seven! Only six(ish) more to go! Editing of Tinna’s Might is rolling along. It’s really a wonderful exercise to see your work through the eyes of another. I highly recommend it to all authors. In the interim, I threw together another one of my badly-written short stories for your perusal.

True silence could be deafening. It was something Adrian had never truly experienced before everything fell apart, although he had thought he had. But true silence meant removing the cars from the distant highway, and the planes from the sky, the background hum of electricity, the quiet whir of motors in the appliances, lights and infrastructure that he used to take for granted. The collective din of these things often made things like the wind and birdsong barely detectable on a day to day basis; mere background noise.

Now, the dead silence made these simple natural things seem raucous. He stood on the curb, looking out at the cracked pavement, where tall grasses had taken root in the fissures, and gone to seed, the feathery stalks swaying quietly in the breeze. He could clearly remember what silence was then, when everything worked. Now it was heavily, stonily still. He could hear the papery feathers of the crow on the cable above him rustle as it preened. He could hear the buzzing of the blue-bottles that circled a pile of horse manure in the middle of the street. Somewhere, a thrush made a song, and a loose sign creaked in the low breeze. He heard the horses coming long before they even touched pavement, their hoof clatter echoing off the faces of the empty buildings. With a smile, he stepped out just as the six horses came clip-clopping up the street.

The horse in the front, a solid, massive bay wearing a red, weathered halter, stopped and snorted. The large, dark eyes studied Adrian for a moment. There was grass sticking out of its mouth, and its tail switched impatiently at the buzzing creatures that followed them. The horse reached its large head down towards the buckets in Adrian’s hands. Like clockwork, they always knew when it was graining time. The sun was soon to go down, after all. Adrian moved purposefully with his two large five-gallon buckets across the street, and the pack of six horses followed. He led them to the large edifice where they were kept at night, an emptied-out motorcycle dealership. It was one of the few buildings with the space for them that also had metal grates over the windows and door. The glass was long-gone, but the metal kept the horses secure.

Inside, the motorcycles, the clothing racks, the posters, the desk, all the accoutrements of a thriving business had been removed. The vaulted warehouse-like space was now divided up into stalls with hammered together wood pallets and other bits of lumber, even a stray sign panel or two and the ribs of a futon. The floor was peppered with straw; a wheelbarrow hunkered in the aisle between the two columns of stalls. As the young man and the horses filed in, they horses knew where they belonged, and they dispersed into the stalls that belonged to them. He followed them in, and portioned out the food and closed each rickety door of each stall, leaning over the half-wall of one stall to watch the horse eat out of its feed-bowl, which was a simple tire thrown into a corner, the food he’d poured into the center of the ring. He then walked to the back to peel off some hay from the huge roll against the wall, and threw some of that in each stall as well. He liked the fresh scent of the clean straw and the hay. He liked the sound of the horses as their teeth bore down on the mouthfuls of food, their contented snorts, the switch of their tail, and the stamp of their hoofs. He never imagined he’d enjoy this kind of sound, and find it soothing. He never even knew he’d like horses. He’d never even seen one up close except once during a parade. Now he took care of them and he took great pride in it. He reached over and patted the big bay, who paid little heed to him and continued to munch out of its tire bowl.

He used a manual water pump in what was once the bathroom to fill buckets and make sure all the horses had fresh water for the night. His arms had grown quite muscled from hauling these weighty buckets, so much so, it didn’t seem like much work at all to him anymore.

When he was done, Adrian picked his buckets and exited, pulling down the rattling metal grate door over the broad, glassless opening. He released the two loops of chain from the steel barred windows on each side, and threaded them through the door. He clicked two solid, slightly rusted locks closed over the thick links of chain on each side. He then loped down the empty street two blocks, and came ‘round to a small common about six blocks square. With a hearty whistle, he invoked a whinny in return. Another, larger group of horses came thundering into view. Twenty four horses total, plus one small foal born only three weeks before, still clinging tightly to its dam’s side first ran towards him, and then veered a bit away.

The horses joined him as he opened up a wrought-iron gate stolen from somewhere else; affixed to the cement archway into the lobby of a to a low-slung seventies-style office building. The sign above the door was still clear and new-looking, advertising a law-office. The wooden doors were long removed now, leaving the old lobby open, the carpeting still present, although the gold acanthus leaves that curled on a burgundy background were only distinguishable on the edges of the wall, the remainder had been trampled into a brownish oblivion. The glass of one of the broad front windows was still intact behind the metal grates bolted to the outside. The reception desk was still there, the monitor of a useless computer still peering up from behind the bar-height portion of the desk. On each side of it, where there were once two wide doors, two corridors led back to a loop of individual offices. The high windows on the outside offices were all intact, the doors had been sawed in half just above the middle hinge.

The horses filed in one after the other down each side of the corridor, turning neatly into their own offices and then turning around to wait for Adrian to close them in, which he promptly did, making the circuit from the left corridor to the right as he did every night. He then walked through a door in the back to where what was once the best office with French doors that opened out into a small courtyard shared by a few of the other buildings on this block. In this commodious space was the main storage of grain and hay. He began to process of portioning it all out, throwing the food into the offices, pumping more water and pouring more into the buckets hung on hooks in each stall. He did pause long enough to pet the curious foal, delighting in the tiny muzzle wrinkling in his hand and the curious toothless bites on his fingers. The stalls were clean; he’d spent the whole morning cleaning all of them. They smelled fresh and the sounds of the horses settling in for the evening comforted him. He sat down in the worn leather wingback he’d saved from behind the reception desk, and listened to the horses for a while before putting his buckets away for the night and locking everything up.

There was simplicity in it all that he could not help but appreciate. He walked quietly down streets that had once terrified him, that had owned him. He remembered with a reflective sigh, the sense of belonging he’d found with the members of his gang brotherhood, how he spent his youth in anxiousness, fearing reprisal, ejection, punishment or death for a simple mistake, a betrayal, an expressed desire to escape the cycle. He remembered the pain of the tattoos that still covered his skin, he recognized the graffiti on the walls that he painted to mark their territories. He remembered it all.

“Hey Adrian, they all snugged up for the night?” a bass voice asked him from ahead. He broke his gaze from the cracked and heaved sidewalk to see Ed standing against the doorway of a townhouse. Ed was an sixty-ish year old man from out of town who got stranded in the city when everything fell apart. He was worn and leathery looking in the face, his eyes barely but glints from inside the folds of his eyes. He wore jeans that were stiff with soil and dirt, and his Van Halen t-shirt was blue-grey and had once been black. He wore a faded blue Red Sox cap.

“Yeah, the baby is a beauty, isn’t it?” Adrian asked. Ed nodded.

“Manny told me to let you know, we’re taking them out tomorrow up the pike to see if we can trade.”

“All of ‘em?”

“Nah, just the nine riders and a few of the trade horses. Manny wants to get one of those big ones that does pulling and stuff.”

“Draft. A draft horse,” he told him.

“Yeah, those. Says we could mix breed them, make some high-value trade horses.”

“I wouldn’t mind seeing a real draft,” Adrian admitted. “I’ll get the riders ready for you guys in the morning.”

“You sure about not riding, fella? You sure seem to love the horses, you’d think you’d want to ride ‘em. I'd be happy to teach you...”

“I’m good enough just taking care of them for now, Ed.”

“Fair enough, kid. Fair enough. But anytime you want to learn...”

“Maybe. Right now, I just like looking at ‘em.” Ed took this in with a nod and then turned and disappeared inside. Adrian continued up a few blocks to a house he shared with one of the riders. Nobody was home. He climbed up the front steps and sat down, reaching into his pocket to pull out some deer jerky. His jaw rippled as he chewed.

He remembered it all again, once more before the sun went down. He imagined the street in front of him full of people, cars, the reek of exhaust. Instead, two swans still paddled about in the pond in the common across the street, crows cawed, Max, one of the plentitude of dogs they took care of here, trotted by, giving Adrian a wag of acknowledgement in passing. No police, no unnecessary violence, no money issues, no debts. Just silence, real silence, and horses. Adrian took in a deep breath, listening to the little tree that was slowly busting up the sidewalk. It hissed in the breeze. He smiled wanly to himself before going in. Next door, Marisa was cooking something fragrant. He could hear her little girl squealing in giggles over something.

Everything is so much better, he thought, since the world ended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Her mother’s fingers, slender and pale slid gently down Veronica’s pink cheek, tracing down to her chin, where they pinched gently before her hand fell away. Veronica reached up and clasped it just as it fell softly against her pencil skirt. She received a reciprocal squeeze from her mother and in a swish of silk lining, her legs began to move. Veronica trailed along, four steps to her mother’s one; the clacking of expensive heels echoing in the cavernous space, each one punctuated with a flurry of taps from Veronica’s little black mary–janes. The hum quiet conversation seemed to fade as they moved down the wide aisle of this cathedral-like construct towards a stand of willowy, pale-faced figures lingering impassively on and around the dais. A heavy medieval chair hunched on clawed feet underneath a stained glass gothic window. The great arched glass window depicted what appeared to be the murder of an angel; the dark-winged demon-victor standing with one foot propped on his prone victim, a claw-like hand gripping a polearm. Veronica’s eyes widened at the sight of it, taking little heed of the huge chair silhouetted against the window’s light or the baleful creature sitting in it.

“What’s that, mummy?” Veronica whispered. Her mother’s waxen face peered down at the child’s round, rosy cheeks and her other hand curled closed, save for the index finger, which she lifted and pressed to her lips, her black eyes smiling down on her daughter. Veronica only ever knew her mother as she was, stony and beautiful with hard skin and cold hands.

“Hush little one,” she said. Veronica’s eyes dropped down and her head swiveled forward, finally noticing the occupant of the chair. They walked to the base of the dais and stopped. Veronica’s mother dropped her hand. The little girl stared for a moment at the figure in the chair, her wide eyes fearlessly studying him. As white as a sheet, the reedy, thin man gazed fixedly back at her from the hollows of his eye sockets, the straight, serious line of his thin mouth and aquiline, grave nose lending him a sinister air. His hands, like two spidery, knuckled appendages gripped the thick arms of the chair. His hair was as white as snow long and flowing, curtained in swags on each side of his face, the ends tucked behind his shoulders., hidden partially by a heavy cowl-like hood that was attached to an old-fashioned greatcoat. He wore it over what looked like an ordinary suit of pinstriped suiting wool. His slacks had a neat press-line down the center front of each leg and shoes of expensive black shining leather bound his rather large feet. His knees were spread open, his feet angled outwards. His back was hunched. The cuffs and collar of his pristine-white shirt were only a few shades brighter than the pale skin and his soft snowy hair. He wore an old-fashioned cravat instead of a tie, a shock of sapphire blue against the stark pallet. His eyes were almost white. They made Veronica think of the pictures of wolves she’d seen in her zoo books.

“Come here child,” he commanded. Veronica’s eyes traveled across the dais, taking in the other figures that stood like a copse of saplings around him; lean, pillars they looked like, draped in the finest of clothes, just like her mother. In the strange light of the window and its coloured glass, they looked like statuary. They all had the same ghostly white skin, strange haunting gaze and indifference washed across their remarkably beautiful, stony faces. Veronica then looked back to the man in the chair, and she climbed the four steps up towards him. She glanced back at her mother, who merely prodded her forward with a jab of the chin. Her beautiful, elegant mother.

With a strange trusting smile, she stopped between his knees and then climbed up onto his lap, settling her little behind on one of his thighs and smiling at him as if he were the anti-Santa. She gazed up at him, her wide green eyes, her strawberry-tinted curls and vibrant, plump and fresh skin a stark contrast to the man on the throne. Her little black pea-coat was partially open to reveal a dark plaid dress and her ivory tights. She swung her feet in delight. One of the long-fingered hands lifted from the armrest and lighted gently on the child’s head, a soft smile formed with a slow grace on the man’s lips.

“She is perfect,” he said. Veronica’s mother smiled too. His approval seemed to melt the entourage. The statuary began to move, sliding inwards towards her, hands rising to touch this little girl. She sat there with a bemused smile as they patted her and touched her little arms and back, stroked her cheek, caressed her soft curly hair and gazed with wonder at her tiny fingers. They seemed to delight in her vibrancy, celebrating it with their strange subdued joy. When Veronica had enough of being poked and prodded, she grew pouty and started swatting their hands away, causing a ripple of amused and enchanted laughter from her tormentors who found her obstinacy charming. She furrowed her brow and her lower chin pinched; her eyes threatening tears. She squirmed down from the man’s lap and tottered back to her mother, who leaned down and scooped her up, propping her on her hip. Veronica laced her arms around her mother’s cold neck, and nuzzled in, her warm tears falling onto her mother’s marble skin. Her burdensome sigh received even more titters of amusement from her coven of admirers.

“She will remain with the coven,” the ageless white-haired man told Veronica’s mother. “She is worthy.” Off in the distance behind them, a woman started weeping. Veronica’s mother turned to look back into the darkness they’d come from, her face falling into a frown. The statuary’s faces followed the sound in unison, their hard brows pressing down in collective annoyance.

“Elise, you were warned about coming to the temple during offerings...” the man in the chair boomed. A slip of a thing materialized from the shadows of the nave and padded barefoot to the base of the dais, her eyelids red with tears. She was like Veronica, a vibrant living thing, tall and lithe, graceful and beautiful with blue eyes and black hair like skeins of silk cascading down her shoulders. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, the skirts of her gold and cream summery dress flowing about her in a careless, waiflike way. She looked like she’d just come from a picnic, or a walk on the beach; something warm and lovely and temperate and welcoming; certainly not from anywhere with cold stone walls and the flags beneath her perfect toes.

“She should not be here, the child.  It is my responsibility to speak up, to try to stop these offerings," she wept.  "She can’t choose, she is too young to speak for herself. But I can speak for her, because I am her.”

“It is her lot. As it is yours. Nobody chooses," the master snapped.  Elise turned to the woman holding the child.

“Helena, you cannot consign her to the coven. You know what will happen if she is deemed worthy... you know her fate. Set her free, give her to the mortals... they don’t have to be imperfect to know the joy of mortality. She deserves better... We all deserve better,” the girl pleaded to Veronica’s mother.

“Elise, it will be well, this I promise you,” Veronica’s mother intoned. Her voice was sweet and velvety and coated in reassurance. “It seems so much more frightening than it really is. You have nothing to fear, for you or for Veronica. I promise.”

“I won’t give a child to this coven. I won’t consign a life I created to the ruin I am destined to become," she sobbed. "How I wish I had been imperfect... How I wish you'd have cast me off to the mortals like so many of our sisters and brothers."

“We are not a ruin, Elise. We are not so awful, you will see when you are changed. It will come clear when you are changed...”

“Can you offer her warmth and affection like you could before when you were mortal?” Elise spat. “You might as well be made of stone. She will never know those things, all she will know is cold and stone and harshness if she is accepted and bade to return with you.” Veronica huddled closer to her mother and made a little noise of fright at Elise’s outburst. Her mother’s cold, hard hand slid up and caressed her hair, pacifying her with her soothing voice, and rocking her on her hip.

“You are no mother to that child... You are a corpse...”

Enough!” the man on the throne rocketed to his feet and strode forward. “It is how it has been for centuries. It is how we choose our children and how we propagate. It is how we sustain the purity and superiority of our race. You have your place, you will keep it. It is your turn. It will be her turn someday. There is no choice. You are born to our line. It is who you are.  Now I have had enough of your intrusions and protestations. You can either be changed now, or you can be changed later after you’ve given the coven a child, make your choice!” Elise fell into renewed tears, covering her mouth with her hands. After a lengthy pause awaiting her choice, the leader sighed in resignation and shook his head regretfully.

“We had chosen such a fine mate for you, the perfect father for the perfect child, Elise. He is one of the finest prospects from the Nettle Hill coven; a beautiful young man who embraces his future with open arms. Why would you force our hand so when you have such beauty and grace to look forward to? How can you decline such joy at the opportunity to do something so sacred for our coven? To serve your people so honorably? How could you force our hand?” He looked betrayed as he spoke, his palm out before him as if offering her something; or supplicating her in a saintly manner.

“Because it’s wrong!” she screamed. Veronica began to cry in earnest. The statuary bristled. Until the child was calmed, everyone remained silent. Elise then spoke again:

“Just because we’ve done it for centuries doesn’t make it right,” she sobbed. Elise’s impassioned plight made her insensitive to her surroundings. The statuary had somehow appeared behind her, closing in on her in a shrinking arc. She did not notice.

"Then you have made your choice," the master said sorrowfully.

“You will know your foolishness soon Elise and you will regret turning down the chance to make a child for the coven while you had the chance,” Veronica’s mother told her, her eyes wide in concern. “Don’t doom yourself to an eternity of regret. Think of Elsa!”

Elise glared at her and turned to run away, only to run into the forest of the lean figures surrounding her. With a strange silence, their pale hands reached out and covered her shoulders and her head and they huddled in on her. She was subdued with little more than a whimper and her slim body crumpled to the ground underneath the weight of their voracious bites.


Veronica’s little legs swung as she sat on the top step of the dais. Underneath her bum, to keep her warm from the cold stone, the master had laid down his greatcoat and hood for her to sit on. The coven lingered around her, as if feeding from her innocence, their eyes although seemingly cold were loving and benevolent. The child felt it and she knew. She hummed a little made-up tune. Her mother was kneeling down, her form so elegant in her pencil skirt and her black heels and her crisp white shirt with the little bows on the sleeves. Her golden hair was tied back into a stylish French twist and her white ears were adorned in simple pearl drop earrings. She had her hand on the still form on the ground by the dais, her brow creased with concern.
“Elise...” she whispered. The form stirred and the girl sat up; her once vibrant skin now drained of its youthful flush, her softened lines somehow slightly hardened. She looked lost and innocent for a few shades of a moment, sitting up, her legs curled beside her. She looked around with the expression of a child, her beautiful eyes wide and searching as she scanned the darkness beyond the light of the window, and then turned to fix them on the coloured shards of glass with great fascination.

“So beautiful...” she whispered. Her eyes dropped down to Veronica, who still hummed her little tune and rocked on her throne of wool. The master’s hand was on the small of her little back, a fatherly smile wistfully brushing his lips. Elise froze and she got to her feet, padding to the creature who had only a few moments before, invoked such sadness in her. She stooped and put her hand on Veronica’s fabric-covered knee. 

“Hello precious treasure, precious, precious gift...” Helena straightened out her lithe form and fell into the same hanging demeanor of the others, still and narrow like a stylized shape, a young oak, watching.

“It is the only way for us to know true family, Elise. To raise our children and our grandchildren. To fill our covens with worthy souls and pure blood and not simply with strangers changed in an alleyway somewhere like so many of the newer covens do. It is why our coven is so much stronger.

“It would have been just one child you would have to bear, from your superior parentage and then you could have raised it as Helena will, until it is Veronica’s turn. It would have made your eternity so much more meaningful, as it is for me, for I can watch my great, great grandchildren grow and then become part of the fold,” Arthur explained, a few strings of his wintry-white hair slipped off of his shoulder and hung in front of his eyes. “I am saddened by your choice...”

“Do not burden her with blame, master. She should not be punished for what she ultimately could not control. We all remember how powerful mortal passion can be,” someone muttered.

Elise straightened and seemed to take account of her body, as if making its acquaintance for the first time. She twirled like a dancer making her skirts flare out into a rippling flower. Veronica’s peals of delighted laughter filled the buttresses of the great temple and then ricocheted back onto the nave. The statuary seemed to swell from the sound of it. Elise vaulted away and little girl the leapt to her feet and followed, her giggles and her exuberance filling the hollow space with life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

When editing reared its ugly head... Miranda turned her tail and fled

Tinna’s Might is turning out to be more of a bear to edit than I had arrogantly assumed. I thought the edit would fly by, but I am fortunate to have someone (Ien Nivens) editing the book who has invested himself in it as well and feels strongly about making bold suggestions for the work. The editor also happens to be a writer which adds an interesting element to the process. Recently, there had been a longer-than-usual gap of time between edited chapters. I dropped him a note asking him if everything was okay. He wrote back that he had the chapter finished and sent along a note asking me how open I was to suggestions of ‘significant change’. At first I was like... Uuuuuughhhhh... Seriously?

But then I read his explanation and could not deny that he was totally right. He was concerned about the timing of a significant turn in the plot, the build-up (or lack thereof on my part), and the way the story is divided up (chapter and break-wise) to maximize the impact of this plot-turn. Ien was completely 100% correct in this determination. It’s funny how when you’re writing and proofreading as you go along, in your head you think that something is impactful enough—that it makes a statement—when in truth, you haven’t featured it enough so that the reader will recognize it as a significant moment in the story. I simply didn’t see it. But Ien did. He was a bit reluctant to ask me to make this huge change, and sent me a note that was almost apologetic about it.

I promptly responded with a: “No, no, no! You are totally right. This is exactly the sort feedback I need!” note. His suggestion really proved to me that I picked the right person to edit this book. He was vastly relieved by my non-defensive response--and probably a bit surprised because we writers can be whiny sometimes. What Ien disclosed to me after was that he too is in the middle of his writing project and he realized he was asking me to do something he needed to do as well. So he took the extra time do it with his own work so he could feel okay about asking me to make a large change.

So to work I must go. His edits are wonderful and he’s doing a great job. But what I appreciate most is that he believes in what I’m writing enough to be honest with what he thinks needs to be changed. He’s cautious about it, probably worried he’s going to hurt my ego or something. But luckily, I’m okay with criticism. I even value it. A friend of mine calls criticism a form of ‘excellent failure’. She says it’s something to learn from, not something to hide from. She’s not wrong. Yeah, it hurts when someone picks apart what you’ve painstakingly written—but ultimately, these editors are looking at our work from the perspective as a reader—and helping us to make sure our story is told in the best fashion possible.

Ien is extremely respectful of my style, and so was my first editor, Dorrie O’Brien; although I have to say that I sort of wish Dorrie had been a bit harder on me—and suggested some big changes along the way. Someday, I might re-edit Tinna’s Promise. What I would change first off, would be the first chapter. I don’t think it was a great idea to start a book off with someone you didn’t really like very much (although given a chance, Taneth grows on you)—but your opening pages are crucial to draw the reader in, and an arrogant rant just isn’t attractive. You live, you learn. Tinna’s Promise remains something I’m very proud of and I stand by it, even with the questionable choice for a first chapter. But I do hope to fix it some day.

The moral of my story is... editing is a crucial process a book must go through. And honestly, it makes a better writer of you. Challenges and huge changes may arise, and it might make you want to cry into your soup, but in the end, you’ll have a better product for it and you’ll be thinking about that on your next project.

I cannot tout editing enough. I confess with Blackroot, I didn’t bother, but Blackroot is a source-story, not a full novel; I took elements of Blackroot and spread them out in the Tinna Trilogy, so I look at Blackroot like practice rather than the real thing, so I won’t invest on editing for it. It’s just a lark. The Tinna Trilogy is not. I take these three books very seriously. I realize how important it is to make sure that there is as much effort invested in lending them quality and worth as possible; not just for the readers, but for my own integrity as a writer.

So find yourself a good editor—and listen to them—even if the things they ask of you aren’t always what you want to hear.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Eela exploded from the underbrush in a shower of broken twigs and leaves, her normally smooth summer coat was studded in little burrs. Her muzzle was moist and her chest slick with sweat. She didn’t miss a step as she broke out into the steppes. She used the entire length of her lithe body to gain the most out of each stride. Her long, elegant legs, which were darkened by perspiration and blood falling from her shoulder moved in a graceful dance, carrying her into fluid bounds that made the ground fly by beneath her. She dared not look back and kept her glossy black eyes fast on the vast open space that flanked her. They could appear at any time, but at least here, she could see them. She made sure she had her eye on her destination; where the steppe grass faded into ruddy red sand.

Eela ignored the cuts and slivers from her flight, not to mention the claw marks gouged into the flesh of her shoulder. She was beyond pain or fatigue now; she had handed herself over to the powerful instinctual being that had kept her and her kind alive through the ages, despite being the favoured prey for the Retnath. They were performing a culling. It was something she’d heard about before, when they thought the herds too numbered. Eela had purposefully pushed back her own mind, not only to give way to her instincts, but also to set aside the pain of seeing the members of her herd and family destroyed by the massive, hateful beasts. She blinked and the tears merely absorbed into her fur along with the salted sweat of her desperate escape. She felt the pain of her strained lungs as if from a far away; nagging and bitter, but distanced. She bit down and swallowed it. She ran not just for herself, but for the two within her; the children of her gainful match with Oureth, who had fought so valiantly but fell trying to lead the beasts away from her and their unborn ones. She owed it to him to survive; so the little ones could survive.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw one; the Retnath, black and inelegant in the prairie, as if they never really belonged there. They were ungainly but fast on their two legs; standing proud. They had square heads split into a gaping maw with three rows of triangular, serrated teeth; all resting on a thick, short neck. Their arms, complete with their four sickle-clawed hands were curled up against their chests; fur jet black with stripes the colour of rust ribbing their back and laddering their legs. A long, serpent tail balanced them, their powerful thighs and legs the fulcrum. They were as big as trees, and sickeningly intelligent, their strategies changing from year to year. She could hear them speaking in their chattering, guttural language; likely planning her trap. As it approached from her left, she darted back the way she came in a graceful motion, and bounded several strides in that direction before zig-zagging back, away from the Retnath and towards the Divrodell desert, where the Retnath drew their borders. The red desert sprawled into the horizon in a succession of seemingly endless dunes.

Her herd had been slowly migrating eastwards over the past several years. It had been Oureth’s plan. He was convinced it would be what would save them. Oureth was sure that entering the unknown land was no greater risk than remaining in the Ardredu, where the western range and the Retnath gave them no other means of escape. She knew the place known as Divrodell was stark and featureless, and held little in nourishment or concealment for her kind. The land beyond that was a mystery. Her kind had never tread here before, the Retnath patrolled the edge of the desert diligently. She was the last of her kind in these parts. Her entire herd had been culled; in punishment for skirting too close to the edge of Retnath territory. She had decided to keep going when they’d found her. It was the only chance she had for herself and the babies she carried. There could be more Retnath hunters there for all she knew, but she had to chance it. She had no other choice.

With every fibre of her being she poured herself into her escape, catching the parched grass with her cloven hooves, sucking in air and breathing it out pants as she crossed the divide to the Divrodell desert territories. It was hot and arid, and the sand made her graceful gait awkward and laboured. She made sure there was as much distance between her and her pursuers before she dared to look behind her.

Eela trotted to a stop and circled ‘round, her sides heaving, nostrils flared. She stood facing the lands she and her herd had known for generations. Four Retnath stood there, but did not pursue. They stood on the edge of the red earth looking at her, taking tentative steps forward but being tugged back by another. One roared out his fury at the sight of her, but none of them took the step into the sand. The graceful Eela was astonished. Her astonishment grew into a cold terror as she began to imagine what it could be that would keep the fearless Retnath at bay as if held back by an invisible barrier. She swiveled her fine head and faced the desert, and then looked back at the predators, who glared at her with hateful green eyes. With a decisive blink she turned back to the dunes and walked on, occasionally looking back to see the four black killers fade into tiny dots and eventually become unseen behind the dunes.

The hot air dried Reetha’s grayish-brown sweat soaked fur into whorl patterns and scabbed up most of her wound almost immediately. Some flies buzzed around it, but she was too tired to care. The pain was slowly returning as her adrenaline faded and she started to feel the effects of her flight. She kept her ears perked high on her bobbing head, swiveling them to catch every sound. All she heard was the hiss of sand as it blew in sheets over the sharp ridges of the dunes. Her treads were light and delicate, nearly without sound. Occasionally, the scrabble of a beetle or the slither of a sand-serpent caught her attention, otherwise she heard nothing but sand and wind. Eela walked on, following the line of the setting suns, just as Oureth had done for months before as they crossed the herdlands towards the Divrodell desert.

The long day fell, and Eela walked on, choosing to forego sleep until she could find some means of cover and protection. By dawn, her exhaustion was complete. She was walking as if it was simply an automatic response, her lids drooping low, her muzzle dry and covered in grains of sand, along with the edges of her eyes. When she thought she could go no more, she discovered a small oasis in the scoop between several dunes. She could not see beyond the high sandy hills, so she thought it was prudent to rest here. The oasis was a mere gash in the sand where a shallow pool of spring water bubbled up, towering Franao trees and some strange shrub plants. The fragrance of the trees made Eela’s mouth water. How the seeds managed to find this waterhole and grow into trees she did not know, but she was grateful for them, their nourishment and their shade. She disturbed a nesting Sziszu as she entered the copse and watched it careen into the sky. She drank deeply, sinking down onto her front knees before settling her hind-quarters down onto the soft leaves that covered the ground. There she found a fallen, dried limb of the Franao, which she ate lazily, before drifting off to sleep in the shade of the trees.

“It’s a westlander—a female without horns. So small, almost the size of a child.”

“I never thought that little tale was true. She’s such an interesting colour.”

“Indeed,” Eela’s eyes flickered and she was faced by two silhouettes backlit by the setting suns. She lifted her head and tried to focus on their faces. They were like her! At least she thought so. As her head cleared and the light of the suns was filtered by a branch of the tree, she realized she was looking at Idru like her. She stood gingerly, squinting against the glare, and moving around so she could see them clearer. They simply watched her, and waited.

They were almost like her; except the female had four spiraled horns sprouting the back of her head, much the same as Oureth’s had been, horns that were impressive for a male in her herd. But they were small next to those of the male in the stranger’s company, his were nearly as long as his body, and they curved upwards at the tips. They were counterbalanced by a smaller horn that branched from each large one, pointing frontwards over his heavy brow. He was huge. Almost twice as wide and long as Oureth, and the female was as big as Eela’s mate. Eela looked tiny next to them. They were Idru; however; no doubt; the shape of the body, the thick chest and graceful neck, the large eyes, the memory-language. They observed her, eyes wandering down to the four parallel slashes on her shoulder, on which tiny maggots now squirmed, consuming the dead flesh and cleaning the wound.

“You are out of your element,” the male said to her, his voice was deep and filled with certainty.

"I had no choice,” Eela whispered.

“You are injured as well. It looks like the work of a Retnath. A very large Retnath.”

“We don’t see your kind often, that’s for sure,” the female interjected. She sniffed the air, and then shook her head, tossing her wispy white mane. These animals were almost black, much like the Retnath, not the soft grayish brown of her own herd. They each had a mane and the male a beard falling from his lower lip.

“She carries little ones,” the female concluded. Her eyes grew tender. The male shook his own head, but it was an expression of disbelief. He emitted a sigh.

“You cannot stay here, come along. You’re small, alone and injured. You could become hunted.” They moved around her, and she hesitated, choosing to follow when the female paused with one hoof poised, and looked back. “Come along.”

They left the oasis, and moved under the setting suns along the serpentine valleys between the dunes, following what Eela realized, was a well-worn path. The two strangers spoke, one of them surprised that she’d made it to the oasis; she spoke of the dreegu possibly being somewhere else, or sleeping. Eela did not know what they meant, but she surmised there had been some predator that was so great that it frightened even the Retnath, and had somehow missed her during her long walk across the dunes.

Great mountains appeared on the horizon. The scent of greenery and water grew stronger. The sand began to taper as they approached the slopes, and became green prairies, laced with thin vermiculate rivers that wound out into the desert, converging into a lake. There, she saw the dark silhouettes of other Idru. Hundreds of them and they all looked up at the sight of the pair that arrived, trailing a diminutive version of themselves with them. The great herd gathered and they looked upon Eela with curiosity. All the females had horns. Even the little female babies showed nubs of horns-to-be.

In the distance, the distinctive roar of a Retnath echoed against the mountain slopes. Not a single Idru flinched; Eela however, did. She froze and her muscles tensed and twitched, her fear was palpable and the Idru looked at one another in bewilderment. They began to speak out of turn.

“From the size of her wounds, I think that there is probably a reason for her to fear that sound.”

“Well, I imagine with a regular source of food, they’d grow rather large.”

“Yes. They would.”

“Strange, how tiny she is.”

“I’m not tiny,” Eela argued, “…not in comparison to those in my herd.”

“No horns, small size… no match at all,” Eela was distracted by the sounds of the Retnath. It approached them, and nobody seemed to care. The Retnath roared again, and Eela finally spotted it. It was by the river, hovering at the edge of the great herd. It was only a juvenile, no bigger than Oureth. It roared at them again and tried to approach a curious fawn, whose mother reacted without hesitation; instead of running away, she charged it, and lowered her head, butting the animal in the torso with her head and horns. The Retnath went flying to the ground, and scrabbled to its feet, trotting off on its two legs in embarrassment. It went chasing after a rat-like rhashri instead, which was less of a formidable match.

“Stupid things,” someone muttered. The herd then lost interest in her, and returned to their grazing.

“If there’s a little one, there’s bound to be at least two parents nearby, why are you not alerting the herd?” Eela asked incredulously. The male who’d found her cocked his head and then laughed. He looked knowingly at the female who nodded.

“I suppose you need it explained to you. That is an adult Retnath. The ones you know, they are not natural. You are not natural.” Eela’s forehead wrinkled in puzzlement.

“You are food. The dreegu came south after the time of the black sky, and claimed the red sands as theirs. It was once a connected place, the prairies once grew all the way across, but the dreegu ate everything. They do not care for water, and so they stay there between the range and the western forests. They cut your smaller herdlands off from our great expanse and your people have been trapped there since. The Retnath knew that they had to be careful… that the herds would not be replenished by the herds from the expanse any longer because of the dreegu. So they farmed you instead. They control your numbers and your growth. You are food.”

“We are all food, in the end,” the female added, nosing towards the maggots that seethed in Eela’s wound.

“How do you know this if you are cut off?”

“The meklos have told us. We believed them to be wild tales, exaggerations… we thought the stories of towering Retnath to be ridiculous… however now we know this is the truth.”

“Meklos? What is that?”

“The large flyers that take the sky; they are our brothers. They are Idru of the sky. They fly to cooler lands during summer.” Eela’s eyes filled with tears. Her entire people, not just her herd, her entire people were being contained for food for Retnath who’d grown huge on the glut. Why had the birds not come down to tell them, to encourage them to cross the land of the dreegu? She made it across, perhaps it was a risk, but what was worse? The male seemed to see her turmoil and came to her, nosing her neck affectionately.

“Never fear. You are safe now. Our herd is large, our range wide. Your little ones will grow up with little danger as long as we are here to protect them.

“Can we not tell the Meklos to warn my people? To instruct them to cross the desert?”

“The Meklos cannot take ground there. They are no match for the Retnath there. Besides, you alone crossed in safety because you are small, and fleet. You did not disturb the sands too much or make much noise. Many Idru, no matter how small each one is, would certainly cause the Dreegu to rise up from the sands and they would be eaten, bones and all.” Eela was shocked. She thought of Oureth, who was unknowingly leading the herd to certain doom. At least she survived, and the babies too. At least some Idru were allowed to live and breed in the Adredu; even if it meant a possible culling, and the loss of herd members. She knew these wild Idru here were not invulnerable; but they were certainly more equally matched against their predators. With a final look back at the dunes behind her, she sighed and followed her greater cousins into the thick of the herd.

Monday, February 28, 2011


I've been writing for so long, I have three old hard-drives containing hundreds of documents I've started and some I've finished. Most of my old stuff, I can't get access to, unless I pay someone for data-recovery. All my backups are missing or outdated. But even in with the collections I have on my current computer systems and thumb-drives (thank heavens for the invention of the thumb-drive!), there are so many I can barely keep count. As a writer, I am rather undisciplined. I tend to start writing without even the slightest idea of where I'm going with the story; where many other authors won't even start writing until they've got a complete outline and character descriptions for every character in the book.

So I have folders... one called 'False Starts' where stories I've started of 20-30 pages or less are categorized into this folder. There are trends; story starts that are similar to other starts that begin to move in different directions. I read through them fairly often, hoping to pick one up and move it into the 'Potentials' folder. Potentials are books that are at least 50,000 words or more that I've somehow become annoyed with or stuck on. Some even have a jumble of notes typed after the last completed paragraph describing where I want those stories to go and outlining what needs to be written. Sometimes I follow those outlines, sometimes the story evolves into something else. It's just my process.

There are the completed books, they get their own folders. Most of the completed works I have are very old and quite bad; so I keep them, but they don't go anywhere.

There are also the things that are in the "Shorts or other Crap' folder; where my short stories and such are stored.

Every once in a while, I'll dip into my Potentials folder and start playing with one of the half-finished books. Or I'll read one I started and suddenly find my muse and just start writing it. 'Blackroot' is one of such books. However, the downside to this book is that many of the themes and ideas from Tinna's Promise actually were derived from this 'Potential'. Blackroot is older than Tinna's Promise by a few years and I drew a lot of stuff out of it. Abandoned child, the character physical likenesses (many of them tend to look like a gypsy girl I once knew when I was young). I can tell just by the grammatical errors how far back my books go. There's a definite improvement in my writing skills with each passing year and with each new interaction with an editor.

Blackroot is disturbingly dark. I sometimes wonder where the hell this stuff comes from, honestly, and sort of makes me wonder what is going on in my own head. It's a dark fantasy; a mystery fantasy and a pretty gritty one at that. It's a story of darkness and redemption where there should be no redemption. It's violent, it's graphic, and there are some pretty descriptive adult 'themes' going on in there.

It's bare-boned; lacks editing (which would really piss off some people I know who rail against publishing unedited material--including me and one of my reviewers so I won't submit it to her). But it was pretty much finished, so I posted Blackroot on Smashwords for 99¢ for the hell of it. So if you're looking for something weird and dreary and unsettling with some erotic moments; then have at it. Here are links to both of my ebooks on Smashwords:

Blackroot 99¢ on Smashwords
Tinna's Promise 99¢ on Smashwords

Friday, February 11, 2011

E-book formatting is for the birds.

What have I been up to lately? Not much except struggling with the perils of e-book formatting. O... M... G... Seriously; what a nightmare. I have put Tinna’s Promise up on B&N’s NookBooks and Smashwords, I downloaded it to my nook and there are STILL formatting errors. The worst are the line-breaks problem.

I spent an entire weekend recently reformatting a pasted .pdf of the final manuscript for Tinna’s Promise. I had to go from the back of the book to the front, reintegrating every line of every single paragraph of the novel because the PDF paste had obviously kept each individual line’s hard break when I moved it to word.

Otherwise the
book would read like
this and it would
be oh so annoying.

Of course, had I used an iota of the intelligence that my daddy gave me, I would have thought to save my final manuscript that I sent the publisher into a folder somewhere where I could bloody find it. Then I would have had the original .rtf with all its soft line-breaks in all their glory. But I did not find it anywhere, and so I had to use the final version of the book in .pdf format as the framework for the ebook to insure I had all the right chapters and such.

Naturally, when re-formatting over 120,000 words of text, you’re bound to overlook a line break here and there (sometimes they hide), and you are also bound to accidentally delete spaces between words while doing it so you get the occasional mergedword. It’s really irritating. I also noticed that one book section had been merged into the paragraph of the prior section, making a hideous jump in the story in the same freaking paragraph. To discover this was really defeating. After I’d already re-uploaded it twice.

What I’m going to do this weekend is to try to re-read the damned book page by page on my e-reader, and follow along on my laptop, making changes as I go. I am *then* going to go and get my dog-eared, personal copy of Tinna’s Promise (with the old cover and cracked spine) and make sure that each paragraph matches the hard-copy version for the ebook.

When I do that, I will upload that ONE FINAL TIME to both PubIt! and to Smashwords. Of course that means it will take THREE more days for the modified copy to become available to buyers on PubIt, and put it back into Submission-Pending mode for the Smashwords general distribution catalog, which is another week.

Oh, and the really irritating part? Smashwords doesn’t let you overwrite your old, error-riddled versions, no. They keep every single freakin’ version you resubmit. Right now... I have FOUR versions; all in varying states of errorsville. It’s really embarrassing. They should take those down. Argh.

What I *should* have done was view my formatting and let the little dots and ¶ markers would help me track down the problems. But I didn’t use this wad of grey matter in my cranium I guess, and I just derp-de-derped my way through it while watching my DVRed shows from that week. Now I’m paying the price!

So I encourage you to yes, buy Tinna’s Promise in ebook format, it’s wicked affordable, I've put it up for 99¢ for a limited time(normally $4.00; it’s $6.00 on iUniverse) HOWEVER, perhaps you should wait for another week before you download it so you are sure to get the least buggy version. The latest version does however have the whole of Chapter 1 of Tinna’s Might previewed in it. Just so you know. ;)

Anyway, on the brighter side, look what my hubby gave me for an early Valentine’s Day present?

Squee! I’m sorry, I’m revealing the depth of my geekery here, but I am and have always been, since the late eighties, a track-ball kinda girl. Both my dad and I are (and were in his case) geeks that way. I’ve always had them, for a long time, until my last Logitech died after years of abuse. Now, instead of a normal computer, I have this tiny little netbook that I use to write with (in addition to obsessive internet browsing and Stumbleupon benders). I hate track-pads so I just turned it off and got a wireless mouse that had this thick jump-drive sized USB connector on it, and it was always sticking out the side of my little 9” screen netpad and annoying me.

I am cheap though, at least when it comes to spending money on myself, so I didn’t want to drop almost $60 on a trackball. So instead, I just complained incessantly to the ether (but always when my husband was within hearing range) that I wanted a trackball again—a wireless one, so I can just put it down anywhere I want, on my thigh, on the sofa, wherever, and that I want the thumb kind, not the one with the ball in the middle, and I wanted a Logitech with the itty bitty USB thingie (it’s teeny-like; Pez-size when plugged in) so there’s no thumb-sized protrusion poking out of the side of my little computer.

I must have whined enough, because hubby heard. I came home the night before last, and was doing something on my little baby computer, and started mumbling about hating my stupid wireless mouse and its behemoth USB connector, and he got up, went into the guest-room and then came out with an Amazon.com-blue-gift-wrapped package, which he hucked at me and said: “Fine... I’ll get you ANOTHER Valentine’s present... just take this already...” Yeah... Happy girl now. Silly things make me happy, I’m such a gadget whore—that’s from my dad’s genes, he was such a tinkery, geeky gadget guy too.

So at least now I have something smooth and comfy to help me through this formatting nightmare. Yay! Oh, and BTW.. I’m at *least* 50% through Tinna’s Reign. It’s turning out VERY dark... and there’s a scene in there that’s so dark, so raw, I’m almost afraid to keep it. It’s also very soon in the book; so it might be really jarring to some of the more sensitive readers. I dunno. ::groan:: I will keep writing, and then when I am ready to revise and proofread before editing, I’ll make my choice.

I revamped the http://www.mirandamayer.com/ website, by the way. NO MORE ADS! Yes, I finally sucked it up and bought hosting (told you, I’m cheap). I will add a bit more content soon... but at least there’s no more godaddy bar at the top. :)

Here is a picture of a passed out puppy. Just because.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Please.... edit. I beg you...

Independent writers... hear me out. It is no reflection on your creativity or your talent if you require the services of an editor. A real editor. An experienced, professional editor. It really doesn’t mean you can’t write, it should be a matter of pride, it should be a moral obligation to have someone proofread and edit your manuscript before you go out and have that baby published. Period.

Your readers pay a significantly higher cost for your print-on-demand work. What they should be paying for is a carefully assembled, professional package, from the cover to the contents. You paid money to have your book made available for print-on-demand publishing and ebook... then pay the money to make sure it is a product that respects the customer that is buying it. And by respect I mean having it EDITED. :::ARGH!:::

I’ve been reading a lot of indie work lately because it’s really cheap for my nook... and the thing that stands out most with these self-published authors is that they are not disciplined enough to keep from publishing their work when it obviously isn’t ready. PubIt! and Kindle authors especially—they seem apt to slap anything up there and call it finished, and that is a total no-no.

I read a book the other day; a Twilight-wannabe book where the author left at least one grammatical error per-page. From blatant misuse of words, to horrid spelling to outright bad writing—it was a bloody trainwreck. Last night I bought a book I wish I could return. In the first three pages, I was assaulted with the most horrendous writing. For one, the tenses are all over the place:

“The women laughed as they walked back into the house. When inside, Lizzie sits down at the bay window and gazes out thoughtfully...” GAH!!! This writer also writes dialogue like it’s written for Robbie the Robot; “I am glad you share my beliefs. This is an omen. We should go to Egypt. In my dream it was raining. It doesn’t rain in Egypt.” Who speaks like that? The writing is as dry as the desert the author is writing about and I couldn’t get past page 16. In the span of the FIRST TWO paragraphs, I was told three times that the space was an ‘expanse’. STOP OVERWRITING! Edit yourselves! I haven’t gotten through 2% of the story and I’m already bored.

I know I’m guilty of the repeated word or phrase. For instance, count how many instances of the word ‘albeit’ appear in Tinna’s Promise... I’m so annoyed I didn’t notice it until after editing. Editors are not the cure-all, but they can take something that’s over-thought and simplify it... they can take ideas that are not consistent and make them flow... they can make conversations interesting, they can make reading the text an easy, simple task and keep the reader’s eye from being held up by stupid errors.

Yes, my short stories are full of errors, yes my posts are full of errors, but I'm not asking anyone to pay for what I'm posting up here. If you are taking money for your work... G.E.T. A.N. E.D.I.T.O.R or DO NOT PUBLISH! Please. Damn. I want my $2.99 back!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A NookBook at last.

It took me a while to figure out that Tinna's Promise was not available in any e-book format on Barnes & Noble. Then it took me another eon to figure out how to go about having it put on the NookBook list. I had to go through their PubIt! program... which took three long days for it to appear (not to mention a LOT of formatting I had to perform beforehand). I forgot where I put the final version of the manuscript after I sent it to the publisher... so I had to buy the publisher's ebook version, cut and paste it into an .rtf file, and start cleaning it up and reformatting it. I did the best I could considering how tedious it was re-constituting lines where there were breaks inserted, re-spacing chapters, etc, on to mention deleting page numbers and crap like that. There are still some annoying issues here and there that need fixing.

But it's there! Finally; and like the Kindle version, I've offered it up for a mere $4.00 (which isn't a lot). It's still $6.00 on the publisher's page... so it's a deal. There might be a formatting muss-up here and there, but please have patience... I've been refining it as I go along, and I will be adding in the first chapter of Tinna's Might on the end of it this weekend. Please help my book climb the ranks at the NookBook site (if you're nook owners). It's in ePub format... I think a few readers can open those.

Editing on Tinna's Might continues on through the arduous process... I'll keep everyone apprised. Editors are busy people.

Monday, January 17, 2011


:::facepalm:: Curse you job! It's like it is a black hole... sucking away my creativity, my enthusiasm, my motivation. It's so frustrating. Book three has come to an impromptu halt. Of course, waiting on the editing work for book 2 is also taking its toll.. it's like I need to get my second kid out of the house before I'm ready to continue working on the next one. I've been reading a lot lately... Trying to just give my brain a break.... Witing is hawd. Bwaaah. /whinefest. :^D