Update: Hero’s End

I’ve been very quiet on the blogging front lately and for that I apologize.  I’ve been making extensive rewrites and revisions to HERO’S END.

Once I had the book nearly completed, I sent the draft to my editor and friend, Laurel Kriegler. There was something about the story that really bothered me. It wasn’t coming together as I’d hoped. Laurel pointed out that some of the plot holes I was finding would be covered by adding two subplots and two more point of view characters.

SOVRAN'S PAWN is now available on SmashwordsShe and I both felt that I’d rushed my fences with SOVRAN’S PAWN, releasing it before I’d worked out all the kinks in the plot and story. I promised myself that I’d take my time with HERO’S END, giving my readers the very best of my effort. That has delayed publication, but I really feel that the story will be the better for having taken the extra time.

I hope readers will appreciate the added insight into the new POV characters, the expanded view of the BLACK WING CHRONICLES’ universe, and the deeper exploration of Bo and Blade’s characters and their pasts.

HERO’S END is in the final drafting stage now and we are going over each chapter, polishing and perfecting it. If my children cooperate with my writing schedule, I’ll be able to announce a release date soon.

Title-Challenged Writer Seeking Help

No, goofy, not that kind of help – although that really isn’t a bad idea – I’m looking for help naming my second book. You guys did such a great job with SOVRAN’S PAWN, I figured I’d hit you up for another go-round.

The response was so much fun with the poll to choose the title for SOVRAN’S PAWN, let’s try it again with THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES: BOOK TWO! Here are a few possible titles to choose from. Which one do YOU think sounds like the most interesting title to follow SOVRAN’S PAWN?

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What did you like about your choice? Didn’t like any of them? What do YOU suggest? I really want to know! No, really, I do because I’m wandering in the dark with my pants over my head on this one.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation #1: Visiting Mondhuoun

I crave the mountains. Not just any mountains, mind you, I want the Blue Ridge. More specifically, I pine for upstate South Carolina.

Spoonauger Falls

My parents both hail from pioneer families whose ties to that part of South Carolina stretch back to when this country was not only a colony but a wild and woolly wilderness. They left the area shortly before I was born, forever dooming me to a bit of an identity crisis. School holidays always brought out the suitcases and the general understanding that we were “going home” to South Carolina. As one Florida born, I never really understood, but I didn’t have to. Those mountains are in my blood. They’re in my very DNA.

My father is a mountain man born out of time. Every chance he gets to this day, he takes off for the land of his birth, finding solace and comfort in the unchanging wilderness of the Sumter National Forest and the Chattooga river. Coming off the trails his arthritic legs can no longer negotiate with ease, he scans the roadway, telling stories of mountain folk long gone, stores and landmarks so buried in time that not even the current residents remember them anymore.

When I was a child, my father took me into the woods and tried to impart his backwoods wisdom. Much of it stuck. On our recent camping trip there, my sons were impressed to learn that my fire-building capabilities surpassed those of my husband, who is no tenderfoot. I can survive a backcountry trail quite comfortably if I had to. At my age, I no longer want to.

I grew up in those mountains, like my parents… like their parents.

Even when you write science fiction, one way or another, you end up writing what you know.

As I’m working on the second book of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES, the story takes me to places both familiar and distant. When I try to picture the Gallic Highlands of Mondhuoun, the land of Bo’s birth, I can’t help but picture the ancient and rugged terrain of the Sumter National Forest and the Chattooga River. Gallic bluestone was inspired by the blue granite of those mountains.

Like Bo, I was exiled from that land I love. Like Bo, I treasure every visit home.

How Old Is Too Old For An Idea?

If you follow me, you know I’m devoted to participating in Science Fiction/Fantasy Saturday. This past weekend, I included a snippet from a book I started writing twenty-five years ago. One of the authors who commented on the snippet pointed out that he wouldn’t develop an idea that was twenty-five years-old. I have to say the comment got in my head and won’t leave me alone.

How old is too old for an idea?

I have many completed novels that for one reason or another never got published. I think cyberpunk was all the rage at the time. One is a romantic thriller, contemporary in the early 90’s, and very reliant on the prevalent technology of the time:  pay phones, floppy disks, slow modems, fax machines, 35mm photography negatives, and that’s just off the top of my head. Drawn from my experiences writing for the Tampa Tribune newspaper at the time, the story itself is pretty good. It’s paced well. The characters are well developed. I could publish today… except for the fact that the dated technology is integral to the plot. Perhaps I’ll publish it at some point as a period piece.

My  point is, that it’s an idea I wouldn’t make a priority out of developing due to its dated content. But the science fiction romance I posted on Saturday is another story entirely. Drawing inspiration from Terminator, Flash Gordon, and Total Recall, it was an idea I’d toyed with, off and on, since 1987 before it got archived with The Black Wing Chronicles in 2002. For that matter, I first conceived of The Black Wing Chronicles in 1980. Sovran’s Pawn only published this year. That’s a thirty-two year-old concept that got developed.

If a story is compelling and interesting to the writer, shouldn’t it see the light of day? A good premise is timeless and resonates. Sure, Star Wars was exactly what sf fans everywhere needed at the time. Most sf of the period had become painfully socially conscious, with accusatory messages of total annihilation and the inherent evil of humankind. Star Wars was a breath of fresh air — a lighthearted adventure. It was the Hero’s Journey. Would it be successful if released for the first time today? If you take into account how very groundbreaking it was in special effects technology, I believe it would be. No one had seen anything quite like it. Star Wars made science fiction fun again, taking it out of the hands of the ivory tower bunch and putting back into the hands of adventurers, pirates, cowboys and damsels in distress. Would it be a blockbuster? I don’t know, but if the cult success of Joss Whedon’s Firefly can be used as a measure, Star Wars would find a devoted audience.

How old is too old for an idea?

I suppose that for every writer, that’s a personal decision. For myself, I believe that good ideas are timeless. As far as The Lost Domina is concerned, I’ll let YOU decide. Here is the blurb. Tell me what you think.

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Riding high on the sale of her first novel, science fiction author Analise Trujold tries to rescue her failing marriage with a trip to the countryside with her husband to watch a meteor shower. A close encounter with an alien hit squad who murders her husband, and the sudden appearance of Admiral Faran Hagon, the hero in her novel, ensnare Analise in a hotbed of interstellar intrigue. Characters from her book are more real than she ever could have believed and her mundane life on Earth has been nothing more than implanted memories to keep her safe during her exile.

The Universal Congolmeration of Systems is under attack from within.  As the Lost Domina, Ana is the only one who can hold it together. But with her memories suspect, she’s not sure who she can trust. Even though she’s drawn to Faran, she can’t help but wonder if he isn’t somehow angling to rule in her stead. If she hopes to survive, Ana must rely on her wits and creativity to uncover the truth behind the fiction.

Book Review: BENEATH THE STARRY SKY by Jessica E. Subject

From the start, Jessica E. Subject’s BENEATH THE STARRY SKY had me hooked. I loved the way these two damaged people, Tamara and Josh, were brought together for what was supposed to be one night of guilt-free pleasure and ended up finding the acceptance they were both looking for.

The characters were well-rounded with all the little faults and foibles of people we all know. By the time they met, I was already rooting for them to find each other. The love scenes were very hot. They were also poignant, fun and funny. It was a quick read and I was sorry to reach the last page. I would love to know what happened between these two after the sun came up.

Book Review: KEIR by Pippa Jay

From the first scene I was hooked. I found myself rooting for Keir before I knew his story. The author weaves a sympathetic tale following tortured souls through a life-changing adventure. Her light touch keeps the characters easily relatable without ever dissolving into schmaltz.

Quin is an engaging heroine whose self-assurance, ingenuity and desire to help others immediately establishes her as a heroine of epic proportions. Keir is almost an anti-hero whose journey of self-discovery takes him to the darkest reaches of his own nature and eventually leads him to the hero within himself.

Together, they travel through time and space and save each other. This is a sweet love story woven through an epic adventure.

With shades of Doctor Who, Time Bandits, and LadyHawke, Keir is a different kind of SF romance that will leave you sighing long after you’ve closed the book.

Book Review: EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE by Liana Brooks

I HAVE A CRUSH ON DOCTOR CHARM!!

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of a superhero romance, but within the first few sentences, I was hooked!

I am sorry to say that I am not immune to Doctor Charm’s… uh… charm. In fact the entire story was completely charming! If the premise of a superhero falling for a supervillain isn’t enough to intrigue you, throw in four absolutely adorable little girls, a smattering of genetically engineered minions, and then blur the line between good guys and bad guys and you have the start of EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE.

I found myself rooting for Evan and his quest to repair his marriage and win back his superhero wife Tabitha (Zephyr Girl.)It’s not your ordinary romance by any stretch. It’s MUCH better.

If you haven’t read this one yet, you owe it to yourself to do so IMMEDIATELY!!! (As I turn up my Agree-With-Me Ray.)