Archive for April, 2014

Finally getting some work done

This year has been a tough one on me.  Not so much physically or emotionally but in that I have had real trouble getting any work done.  As a writer I am told over and over that I should be writing everyday.  Putting down a ton of words, that I should just write, not edit.  Just babble with my fingers and worry about the rest later.

But that is not how I work.  I run through the stories in my head.  Write down in notebooks whole scenes, then type them up, do a rough edit for typos, then a full edit for grammar and words, etc, etc, etc.  That is just how I work.

Now I have given up on standing firm on how I space things and decided to use that wonderful feature of find/replace to change all my double spaces to single spaces, remove apostrophes that I have in the wrong places, add commas in places that I keep missing, etc.

In fact I was doing just that on the ten novels I have in progress when my monitor went all Outer Limits and had to be replaced.  That was fun, but it also got me thinking about the novel that I really should have finished all ready.  I have brought Whether to Save Family or Face up to jut over 42K now.  And best yet I have finally gotten my heroes into the same room!  Darn that took me forever.

For those of you who don’t know what this story is about well here is a little synopsis.

There are living among us many creatures from outside humanity.  The creatures out of myth and legend, from all cultures really exist.  There are the evil that you would expect but also creatures on the side of light.

The Firm is an organization working on the side of light to protect the normal human beings from the creatures out of nightmares but also out of mankind’s need to tamper with the natural world.  Werewolves, demons, cyborgs or a mix of machine and monster, they all exist and the Firm works to protect those that do no harm and to take down those that do.

On the other side of the equation, because you can’t have light without dark, is Strife.  A organization of monsters, men, demons and creatures that blend all of the above.

Sound interesting?  Well that is just the basics to the tale.  This story is about one family, one very special family, that has a destiny.  In fact the heroine of this tale is named just that, Destiny.  A natural born healer with a family secret.

This is set in a world just a step from our own.  Another of my urban fantasy tales.  I haven’t named the actual place this is set in but that is for the reader to decide.  I have nasty villains, brooding heroes, demons, monsters and shape shifters.  Everything that you could want.  Here is an excerpt of what I have been working on over the weekend.

****

Back in the clearing, Heron continued to check his patient’s vitals. He was torn between two forms of duty, that of the soldier and that of the healer. He knew that he needed to get Bear to a medical facility and soon. While he had stabilized him he could not be sure that the creature that his companion had fought had not punctured the intestine. Conditions were far from sterile enough here for him to check.

After one last check of his condition, Donovan moved to what remained of the creature. Unlike the demons that the others were fighting, this creature was still mostly intact. The genetic mixing of troll and gorilla had made for a formidable opponent it was clear. Lifting one of the hands, he let out a hiss at the size of the stone tipped fingers. “Damn, you are one ugly monster.” Ever the curious scientist, he took samples to be studied later, if there was a later. So engrossed in this project was he that he was startled by a soft, lyrical voice at his side.

“Dearest, I think you have enough now. We should get our friend Boris onto the stretcher.”

Donovan spun about, but managed to check his automatic reaction to strike out. “Karen?” He let out a slow breath and then nodded. Of course his wife was here. She always showed up when he needed her help.

“Yes, dear.” She smiled and gestured to the stretcher she had brought with her. “Our patient is really too large for me to lift on my own.”

Donovan shook his head and helped her move the man onto the stretcher and then to maneuver it into the van she had brought. While Karen, at times, seemed a bit daft, she was an excellent medical assistant. She had completed her MA training before they had gotten married and assisted him at their clinic back home. Over the years they had quietly treated many injuries that the local hospital would have to report to the police. Donovan did not ask his patients where they got their wounds as long as they did not cause trouble in town. The odd injuries incurred by fighting monsters were not something to be explained to the mundane police.

Karen leaned over and placed a soft brushing kiss on his lips. “Be careful beloved. Things are heating up fast.” She looked over toward the distance. “Others need you now.” She wrapped her arms about him for a tight hug. He could feel her trembling and softly stroked her back.

“I will bring them back.”

She smiled and nodded. “I know.” Gently disengaging from him, she turned toward the van. “Came back in one piece.” She then drove off, back to the base they had set up in the Stonemanse. Donovan watched till she drove out of sight, before transforming back into his blue-feathered alternate form.

***

As he flew he could see where Walker had been. A number of twisted forms lay on the ground and while a part of the healer was appalled at the waste of life the rest of him knew those creatures deserved to die. He had seen just what these hybrid creatures were willing to do to any they caught. He had taken care of many of their victims They had done things that he did not care to think about. Some of them were crueler than even their leader. He felt strongly the need to cleanse this place. It was more than Marcus he admitted that caused his need for revenge. Though strongest was the need to pay back what had inflicted on his sister-in-law. The half healed wounds on Destiny still made him seeth.

Silently he circled the compound, looking for any sign of his companions. There was plenty of activity, but it seemed that it mostly centered on the great hall. Swooping down, he landed on the roof in the shadows of one of the turrets and slipped back into his human form. While he was no longer a field operative, he had kept up his skills. Practicing his flight and other tricks at night or between patients. He had thought he had done well hiding his abilities from his wife, but obviously she was more observant than he realized. Herons are large birds it was true, but they were stealthy hunters on silent, soft wings.

With a soft yet brief smile he crept past an unobservant guard, shaking his head as he did so. He slid inside after a brief inner debate and worked his way toward where he somehow knew he would be needed.

*********

Donovan or Heron is a shape shifter of a different kind.  He shifts from man to the great blue heron.  A silent flyer and hunter in the mists.  The character was inspired by the song. Crane Dance, which is a filk song off of Julia Ecklar’s Divine Intervention.  All about balance and that is what Donovan is.  A balanced soul in a world out of balance.

Now I hope to have this novel finish soon.  I am up to what I believe will be the final battle.  I know a lot of writers go for 70K to 120K novels and would consider this a novella at best but if I reach the magically 50K then it is a novel in my reckoning and I will be glad.

 

 

Doing collections

As readers of my work you know that I write a lot of short stories. And while it is fun to see people who are willing to read each and every story (I know you must be out there somewhere!) most readers really don’t want to pick up those stories one at a time.

Two years ago I worked with Just Fiction to put out my first collection in over a decade.  Yes I had a book out back in the 90s but no one bought it!

gates  Now this is the cover for Gates: From One Reality to the Next.  As far as I know this book has only sold a handful of copies.  Luckily two of them got me reviews.  While this collection of six takes needs a serious edit it won’t happen until I get my stories back from the publisher.  The tales in this book ranged from romance to horror to fantasy to science fiction.  They are a good taste of my story telling style, if not the best example of my self editing ability.

The second collection was done with Juicy Erotica.  Naughty Interludes has had a lot of trouble staying published according to my contact there.  9781300510680_p0_v1_s260x420This was not the cover I chose and again sales have been slow on this according to my contact, with 5 or so in the past year and a half.  Not good numbers!

Now I have done my own collections of course.  The first was a collection of my erotic tales, Distance Means Little to Love  distance  Again only four sales in the year plus it has been up for sale.  Not good at all you would say?  It did get a few good reviews though.

Now I move on to the collection that did a bit better.  Guardians of the Gate City, book one.  This had the five stories I had put out so far and one novella that had not been put out at the time.

guardians for hollis  Being as these were Harry’s stories it seems to have a better audience.

But the reason I started babbling about these today was that I plan to release all of my Death Walks Through short stories to date in a collection soon.  I have a completed story that has not been released so far as a bonus.  Yes I plan on going through and editing all the tales, making them as clean as I can and then coming up with a fun cover for this collection.

With so many series in the works I have to think about just how many to collect together for each book.  This book will have fifteen stories inside and that seems a good number but not a necessary one after all.  Some of the stories I have are longer than the rest of course.

With fourteen on going series you can expect me to come out with a lot of collections of course.  When will depend on the amount of pages.  the Death collection looks like it will top out at only 118 pages in my doc file but who knows.  The thing is will they sell?  Will they sell better than the individual story does?  Will they bring in a different type of reader?  Well that answer i know.  I have a couple of readers who waited until the guardian collection came out to read the short stories.  They loved them.  And that is all we can ask for right?

Using different races in fantasy or the rise of dragons

Fantasy, like all genres, has its tropes, as i have said before.  We expect in classic fantasy to come across Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, magic users, sword slingers and rangers.  We expect our monsters to be goblins or trolls or best of them all Dragaons.

We see them quite often as the big, bad hording creatures.  The fabulous version most recently shown was of coure Smaug, in the Hobbit (both book and movie)  He is big, beautiful and he does not like anyone getting into his cavern.  Never mind that he destroyed a city, stole that cavern from an entire culture of people, it is his.  They are cats built on the extreme.  We all think that way.

Thanks to some classic writers of fiction we have come to see that they are intelligent, if still monsters in many ways.  It took Authors like Anne McCaffrey to give us dragons that were not evil.  They were still huge but now they spoke to us like human beings, okay telepathic ones but still.  Slowly these monsters evolved into something else.  Other writers of course have had dragons more recently.

Mercedes Lackey has them are over loads in her Aerie books, still big and definitely closer to the evil stereotype.  From a smaller press author we have them as a more tragic and heroic creature.  JD Hallowell (go read him I loved his book) has them bonded from the egg with their rider.  A really interesting take to be sure.

Well as the weird writer that I am I of course wanted to do different dragons.  I asked myself why is it that they are always portrayed as these huge creatures?  Why if they are good are they portrayed with a Methuselah type knowledge?  For all the dragons I have read in my years and years of reading fantasy have either been evil despots types or the wise elder types.  Always huge yet hiding in plain sight.

In this modern world having a thirty to hundred foot lizard would attract a hell of a lot of attention.  Even if they were smarter than Stephen Hawkins they would be found in this world of satellites and cell phones.  So of course I came up with Sheldon.  A dragon that is only about six feet long in his dragon form…maybe ten with all the tail.  A young, enthusiastic seeker of knowledge who learned to change his form to look like the overwhelming population of this world.  He has a human form.

Those of you who read Not Just Another Morning of Business (thank you!) has seen he is just another young adult, running a business and looking to get busy.  He became a favorite of my Harry stories and will have many more adventures out on his own.  Shades of Fur is about halfway finished so expect that soon.

But I realized that if there is one small dragon there must be more right?  In the second side story in the works…or side series that is i have the dragon-riders…yeah I know that will change.  They are shape-shifted dragons who happen to be bikers.  Whether they are good guys or bad guys isn’t decided yet but what is is that they are a group living under the noses of even the Guardian.

In urban fantasy there is a lot of things you can get away with.  Having smaller lizards who can shape shift is not really that odd.  As a longer living race than us humans they would fall into certain types of jobs and being enforcers is a good one don’t you think?

I have mentioned before the story Coffee House Blues and this is where they will appear.  As both friends and foes to the new trainee that Harry spoke about in Sudden Disappearances.  The story takes place before Sudden Disappearances and I hope will dove tail nicely.

The whole reason for this ramble is that we are now able to break even the most basic genre stereotypes.  Dragons don’t have to be big bad and scaly misers.  They can be attracted to more than gold and jewels, they can be both good and evil and best of all they can be the heroes in a tale of their very own.  As long as you use a bit of immagination.