Review Excerpts

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Out of Orbit Update

Mark your calendars! As of now, Out of Orbit is set to release on July 15th, though it'll be available for pre-order on July 1st. (Meaning I need to get my butt in gear for scheduling promotions and stuff.) Also, one of my editors and I reworked the blurb to tighten it up and not give away so many plot details, so ignore the other one I posted and focus on this one!

Following an explosive space battle, Captain Jasmine Hale’s escape pod crash lands on an unknown planet. She communicates with some of the world’s natives, but grows frustrated when she learns signaling to her crew for help is impossible. Though she acknowledges she is stranded on Ryk indefinitely, she dreams of the day when she can return to piloting a ship through the stars.

Aras, leader of the Rykians, hasn’t had contact with a human in five hundred years. Due to his lengthy life span, little excites him in his day-to-day life, until he meets Jasmine. Captivated by the woman who was suddenly thrust into his world, he desires to ease her anguish while showing her the wonders of his kingdom.

Caught between two worlds, Jasmine struggles with a difficult dilemma--continue searching for a way home or accept her new life on Ryk. Choosing one means leaving the other behind forever. How will she decide?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cover Reveal - Out of Orbit

How awesome is this? Like, seriously?

I love this cover sooooo much. I didn't really have any sort of mental image of what the cover could look like going in, and this is so much better than anything I could have come up with. It's the perfect blend of "space adventure!" and "people are gonna do naughty sexy things in this book!". Right now, it's tied with Elysium for my all-time favorite cover. LOVE.


I might be a little too excited here, but I DON'T CARE.

No word on a release date yet, but stay tuned!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Outside the Comfort Zone (or, Revealing the Mystery)

So I've been hinting at my new project in the past couple posts, and it's time to come clean. I've been dodgy because this is something new for me, and I'm determined to make it work. I'm about 5K words in (and I have a great outline, for reasons I'll talk about below), and so far, so good. I think. I hope.

Throughout the years, I've been half-joking about writing an old-fashioned mystery, but with a steamy romance component, since romance is how I roll. Lest you think I'm completely off my rocker, there is some precedence for this. Most stage and screen adaptations of And Then There Were None (my favorite book) capitalize on the tension/attraction between Vera and Lombard and change the ending so the two of them can ride off into the sunset together. (I believe Agatha Christie herself even wrote some of these adaptations.) Truth be told, I do prefer the original ending, because the whole book is just plain brilliant, but hey, the romantic in me doesn't mind the changes *too* much.

Throughout the years, I've also half-joked about how I would never write a mystery because I'm not smart enough to write a good one. This is still probably correct, but I'm going for it. There's a bit of a twist at the end, a deus ex machina, if you will, but I'll admit the plot isn't anything earth-shattering. That said, it's *my* plot, and I'm going to make it the best I can.

As is often the case, after thinking about the idea here and there for a long time, most of the details came to me as I was lying in bed, trying to sleep. Usually I start writing if I just have a basic framework, but this time, due to the genre and plot, I wanted a really solid outline before I even wrote the first sentence. For those of you who often make great outlines, mine still probably looks like a mess in comparison. For me, though, it's the most comprehensive outline I've had. (Whether or not it makes the writing process go any faster remains to be seen.)

So there it is. It'll either be amazing or flop spectacularly, but I'm doing this. And to save us all a future post on title woes, I think I have one for this project. I wanted something that indicated both romance and mystery, so for right now, my folders and documents are titled Seductive Suspect. (As I always say, when in doubt, go for alliteration!) And now I can make the tag for the blog! :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Name Game, Part 4

Here we are at the final installment (for now!) of this name-related discussion. It was delayed slightly by a nasty eye infection I've been battling for two weeks (boo!) and the first round of edits for Out of Orbit (yay!), but I'm back and in blogging action. But I will blame any typos on my gradually-recovering eye.

One issue I sometimes encounter when writing: when do you name a character? The major and minor ones are obvious. Most of the time, main characters need names. (And yes, I know there are plenty of books with an unnamed narrator, which is why I said "most of the time".) On the flip side, not every single person the main characters meet needs to have a name, especially if their role isn't all that significant. It's the ones in the middle I sometimes struggle with.

Too much extraneous detail can confuse or distract a reader, and we certainly don't want that. That said, the vast majority of real-life people have names (duh) and it's nice to acknowledge that. But do we really need to know the name of every single person we come across? We can probably even argue that you can have a significant interaction with a person without ever knowing his/her name.

Over the years, I've come up with an incredibly basic rule of thumb for myself: for minor characters, only name them when it would be awkward not to. There have been times when either a character winds up playing a larger role than initially expected, or someone takes up enough room on a page that not seeing a name attached to them just looks weird. The biggest example of this in my books is Captain Sampson in Flight of the Dragon Queen. For the longest time, he had no name, and was just referred to as "the captain". But after a while, that wasn't working out for me, and I needed to do better.

There are plenty of people mentioned in Out of Orbit who never got a name. But there was one instance where Jasmine had a long enough conversation with someone that I had to name him. He only shows up in that one part, but the flow just seemed off when he didn't have a name.

Come to think of it, "avoid being awkward" is a great rule of thumb for a LOT of writing-related things.

Next up: I'll finally start talking about my latest WIP (the first chapter of which is complete)!

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Name Game, Part 3

Next up in this series - the meaning of characters' names.

Right off the bat, I'll start by saying that though I'm a bit of a name nerd, I don't make myself nuts when it comes to the origin and meaning of names. I didn't even really care about that when it came to naming my own children. Some people do, and that's fine. In fact, for one of my daughter's names, I was even told "Oh, I love that name, but I could never get past the meaning!" (No, it's not Cecilia or Claudia, which, for someone who doesn't pay much attention to meanings, I always remember as originally meaning "blind" and "lame", respectively.) I'm sure there are plenty of writers out there who give symbolic names to their characters based on their meaning, but it's just not my thing.

However, that doesn't mean that I'll go around slapping names on characters all willy-nilly. A lot of times, my characters names do have some significance, even if it's only for me. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but a large number of my friends wound up in the Disintegration series in some way, shape, or form. Some were straightforward: Vlad is, well, named after my friend Vlad. Dr. Zedek, however, is named after another friend's role-playing alter-ego. While the two Vlads share some similarities, the two Zedeks are nothing alike. But hey, I needed a name!

I'll use this opportunity to admit that there have been times where I've TOTALLY named antagonistic characters after people I don't like. Don't get on my bad side.

Sometimes if I'm not directly naming after someone, I'll go for a similar name, or use the same initials as an existing person/character. Like I said, the chosen name may only be meaningful to me and a couple other people, but I like knowing the symbolism is there, however minor. The main character of my new WIP is named Veronica Campbell. Some astute readers might eventually pick up on some allusions with her name (once the book is complete), but for now, I'm not telling. ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Name Game, Part 2

I'm knocking out the next installment in this series because I just got a big, obnoxious assignment at work that is going to suck up a lot of time and energy for the next week, so I'm using the rest of tonight to pretend it doesn't exist. (But it should pay reasonably well, so silver linings and all that.)

Next up on the topic of names: characters who name themselves. I know what you're thinking - isn't the writer in charge? Shouldn't the writer have control over what the characters are named? One would think. After all, it's not like my children named themselves. (Though that could have saved a few days of strenuous discussion. And I do know more than one set of parents who went into the hospital with a name picked out, saw their baby for the first time, and wound up going with something completely different.)

Every now and then when a character first starts to materialize in my mind, there's immediately a name associated with him/her. I don't know why or how it happens. Sometimes I've even tried to fight back against that strong association between the character and the name, and it just doesn't feel right. The same thing has happened to me with titles. As regular readers here know by now, sometimes the title comes to me right away, while other times I struggle to pick a good one.

I recently experienced this phenomenon when I was first planning for Out of Orbit. As soon as the heroine started taking shape, she became Jasmine. It's not like Jasmine is a name I particularly like (or dislike). I hadn't planned on it being symbolic in any way, though I did wind up running with it and using the flower meaning. I even tossed around a few alternatives, but nope. Always and forever, she was and will be Jasmine.

The same thing happened with April in Elysium. Again, I don't have any strong feelings toward the name either way. No hidden meanings there. She was just April. That's it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a lot of characters to name in my new WIP. Sure enough, some of them named themselves. Several of the insta-names I adopted right away, while others I wanted to think about more. However, as I was plotting out certain points, I found myself thinking things like, "Oh, Paul will totally react in this way", when Paul was one of the names I wasn't sure about. I guess he's Paul, then.

So much for being in control.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Name Game, Part 1

Since I got the contract for Out of Orbit sooner than expected, my writing fingers are already starting to get itchy. I read the two books I wanted to read, and for whatever reason, video games are not calling to me right now, so I've already started outlining for my next WIP. I'll go into more detail at a later time, but due to the nature of this project, I want a really strong outline before I even get started.

One of the challenges for this WIP is there are going to be a lot of characters: eleven "on-screen" and a couple minor parts/people mentioned in passing. And characters need names. The name nerd in me enjoys most of this part, but as I said, it can be a challenge.

Somewhere in my archives here (before I started tagging posts, oops) I wrote about how I wanted the three significant women in Disintegration to have names that were very distinct from each other. Similarly, when I was getting ready to write The Fall of the Midnight Scorpion, I initially worried that Ro and Reggie were too similar for my leads. After all, we don't want to confuse any readers.*

I've ultimately come to the decision that having a variety of ending sounds for characters' names is more important than first letters or alliteration. (As indicated by me forging ahead with Ro and Reggie.) Having pored over tons of name lists to prepare for the twins' arrival last year, I can tell you that a LOT of female names end with -a. That doesn't mean that you can't have two characters with -a names in one story, but as the number of named characters grow, it's something to watch out for. 

When first planning this WIP, I had a Laura and a Clara before realizing how close they were. Laura's name was more tied to her character in my mind, so Clara changed (to Ruth, for the curious). On the other hand, I'm okay with having a Laura and a Veronica, as those are juuuuust different enough for my tastes. There's also a Mary and a Brittany, but to me, those are wildly different names that just evoke different feelings and images, if that makes any sense.

When looking over my file of ideas for blog posts, I saw a lot of name-related notes, so I've decided to make this the first in a series. If nothing else, it should get me blogging more regularly, right? ;) Stay tuned for the next part!

*Somewhat relevant, but not really: In Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced (STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS), part of the big!reveal! hinges on two sisters having very similar nicknames - Leticia and Charlotte are Lettie and Lottie, respectively. There's a clue when another character calls one by the other one's name. When reading, I did notice it...but this was in the early days of the Kindle and I'd just thought it was a typographical error made when converting the book, and didn't realize the name mix-up was significant. Oops. So I didn't solve the mystery, but then again, I rarely do.

Except for The Girl on the Train, which is one of the books I just read. Figuring out the ending ahead of time kind of ruined the fun. But I'll award points for the three main female characters -- Rachel, Anna, and Megan -- having names with different final syllables. There, I've come full circle. :D