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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Searching the Skies Giveaway!

Memorial Day weekend is over, and now it's a slog to the next vacation day. (End of July for me!) To help soothe the pain and keep things steamy in this heat wave some of us have been experiencing, I'm giving away three e-copies of Searching the Skies!

Entering is easy - just answer the question below! If you want to up your chances, you can also follow me on twitter or facebook! (Each of these actions is worth one extra entry.) You have until midnight Friday (EST) to enter, and you'll be able to enjoy the smut over the weekend!

(I do my book gifting from, as they have nearly every format imaginable. You do need an account there to receive the book, but I promise they have never, ever spammed me. I also promise that your email address is safe with me!)

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 28, 2012

Different Flavors of Creativity

Like everyone else in the world, I'm forced to balance my time between the things I want to do and the things I HAVE to do. And even with the things I want to do, I still have to split my free time between my various hobbies.

Writing takes up a big chunk of time, as I'm sure we all know. I try to do at least a little writing every day (quality and word count vary, of course). Some days I get on a really good kick and abandon everything else (within reason) to get all of the ideas in my head down on the page.

Then I started thinking - a lot of my hobbies and interests are considered "artsy", or creative outlets. Second to writing is knitting and crocheting. I love yarn, I love occupying my mind and fingers with complex patterns, and it makes me feel better about the amount of TV that I watch. I guess it could be argued that I'm following someone else's directions to make something artistic, but I figure that with the yarn I choose and the modifications I sometimes wind up making, it can count as being creative. (Also, the nerd in me loves to do some freeform crochet every now and then. Fun times!)

I'm also a musician. As in, went to music school and have two degrees in music education (which are doing nothing for me ever since the economy hit the toilet). I noticed that there were quite a few of my fellow students who picked up some knitting needles for the first time around the same time I did. Another one of my musician friends has recently started painting in his free time.

It makes sense, I guess (and I feel a little like I'm pointing out the obvious). If you're interested in one creative pursuit, it seems logical that you would be involved with others. Then again, I have met some people who have their one "thing" and their one thing only, and nothing else in a similar vein appeals to them. In the interests of full disclosure, my husband is also a fellow musician/music teacher, and he's not really as much of a "think outside the box" type of person as I am.

One of these days, when my money and free time are more plentiful, I'll take up something cool like sculpture. Or pottery. Or something else that will satisfy my urge to expand my creative horizons. (And hope that I'm better at those things than drawing/painting, because I can't draw for shit.) But for now, I'll stick with the writing. It's fun and it's free!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go (Or Won't Go, As the Case May Be)

As hard as I try, I don't always think things through all the way. My first little forays into writing erotica in college weren't anything outrageous. They were about realistic people doing realistic things...okay, to be perfectly honest, a lot of characters were loosely based on myself, and a lot of the situations were my own fantasies. (Which is why no one I know personally will ever read them.) Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

Years later, I somehow found myself writing more in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Then the two worlds collided, and I seemed to dig out my little niche in erotic sci-fi/fantasy. I'm perfectly happy with where I've landed, and I'm enjoying my creative outlets and my varying levels of success. Every genre has its challenges, though. As I work on my plans for my next book, I've discovered my least favorite part of this one.

Most of my fiction does not take place on Earth. That's perfectly okay. Why limit myself, right? However, if the action doesn't happen on Earth, that means that it must happen...somewhere else.

I hate naming fictional places. HATE IT. Some of my random stringing together of syllables just sounds dumb, and then when I find a mishmash of sounds I like, there's a 75% chance that when I google it, it will be the name of something in World of Warcraft. Oddly enough, I love naming characters. Maybe I should just outsource the naming of my fantasy worlds.

Should anyone else be suffering from the same problems as I am, here's one thing that's been working for me - I go into google's translator, type in a brief description of whatever place I'm naming, and translate it into some random languages. I pick and choose whatever syllables sound good, swap out a few letters here and there, and play around with it until I stumble upon something that sounds reasonable.

(For those of you who have read Searching the Skies, I believe the planet of Pasurea came from the translation of something like "smug, rich bastards" into some sort of eastern European language. I don't remember exactly. But I'm pretty sure "rich bastards" was in there somewhere.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good News is Good!

After my mopefest of a last post, I have some good news to share - my second book, The Edge of the Sphere, has officially been accepted by my publisher and has an estimated release date of August 2012! There's still some editing to be done, of course, but overall, I think this is a much stronger showing than my first book was. After all, this one has a plot outside of the sex. ;)

Stay tuned for updates, teasers, events, and some other fun stuff I have up my sleeve. For now, I'll leave you with the shortest blurb about the book (in its current incarnation):

"Stephen’s quiet life is turned upside down when he experiences vivid dreams of a woman he’s never met. Liora, having grown tired of her forced isolation and servitude in the land of Marindal, uses the mystical sphere housed in her cellar to attempt to reach someone to help her break free. They meet up several times in a subconscious illusion Liora has created for them, and quickly form a strong bond. Stephen follows her to Marindal, but is instantly captured by her cruel master, Thirvar. Plans for escape become their top priority, and their feelings grow deeper during their secret meetings in the realm of fantasy. The prospect of reaching their goal is tainted with the knowledge that they will want different things once they are safe from Thirvar’s clutches. Each is faced with the decision between seeking out the lives they left behind and taking a chance on the future of their love."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Slacking Slackers Who Slack

And now it's time for the post that I think nearly every blogger has made at one point and has hated himself/herself for it: I've been slacking lately, due to (laziness/shit going down in real life/the dog ate my internet/stupid excuse du jour). For me, school has gotten busy, and I'm dealing with some health problems right now (I'll live, I promise), but really, it comes down to the laziness. I'll admit it.

I've just felt a the past few days. I feel like I'm bored, but nothing holds my attention. I'm restless, but I don't want to do anything new. I'll pat myself on the back for scrubbing the toilet the other day, but that needed to be done. I do rather like my new knitting project, but that's only good for about an hour's worth of stimulation at a time.

I'm fairly certain that everyone gets into these little funks at one point or another, and I'm sure it will pass. My wit and brilliance hasn't disappeared entirely, it's just hiding somewhere. (Unless it never existed in the first place. Oh dear.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

If You Build It, They Wi-...nah, I'm not going to make that joke

As most of my writing seems to lean towards the sci-fi/fantasy genre (both when involving smut and not involving smut), one thing I've been trying to educate myself about is "world building". If the story's not taking place on Earth, with humans, in the past or the present, time and energy needs to devoted to setting, cultures, traditions, and overall, the "rules" of the fictional universe. Those rules help form the structure around which everything else will take place.

For those with wild imaginations, coming up with the ideas is not the difficult part. The challenge is finding a way to convey allllll of that information that originally exists only inside the writer's head in a way that is entertaining and engaging (and makes sense). No one wants to be guilty of "info dumps" or "As you know, Bob" dialogue, and readers don't want to read it, either.

So how do we set our scenes, describe every detail of our fantastical worlds in a way that will capture our readers and immerse them in our fiction? The approach I've decided to take is to almost treat my writing as non-fiction based on ideas that people already know. If I act like my ideas are completely new and different, I think it actually causes the opposite of the intended effect in that it takes the reader out of the story, rather than drawing them in. The characters shouldn't behave like anything is out of the ordinary if, initially, nothing is out of the ordinary. Establishing scenes don't have to be very long. I think it's far more effective to gradually reveal key information as the story naturally progresses, rather than flinging it all in the reader's face at the onset. The story should grow organically regardless of the setting, and nothing should feel unnecessary or forced.

Or, to summarize: don't treat your readers like idiots. Even if you've come up with a super complex world in which gravity works completely differently, or women wearing yellow hats is a sign of war, or people communicate across millions of miles using microchips implanted in their toenails, assume that the reader will be able to catch on to these concepts quickly without have every single nuance spelled out for them. And even if they don't, there's fun to be had in the journey.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Just as Long as the Last Step Isn't "Profit!"

Considering I have two lengthy posts revealing my rampant fangirlism, it should come as no great shock that I write fanfiction. Yes, that's "write", as in, present tense. Sure, I don't write as much of it as I used to, now that I have more of my own independent projects to occupy my time, but I still enjoy it.

If you're reading this writing blog, chances are good you've already at least heard of the authors who have publicly denounced fanfic on their own sites/blogs. (And if you haven't, just google "fanfiction arguments", and you should come up with the most notable ones, plus the rebuttals.) Their statements have both rallied support for their views, and lost them fans who didn't agree with their beliefs. It's obvious which side I fall on, and I'm going to do my best to not make this post just a rehash of other people's arguments (which are far more eloquent than mine would be anyway).

I can understand some of the points that the anti-fanfiction group makes. First off, any brief perusal of any fanfiction site is likely to turn up a lot of crap. A lot of crap. I don't blame anyone who doesn't want to sift through the crap in search of the gems, but I assure you, they are in there. Though I'm not enough of a big deal (yet!) to have experienced this personally, I think I can understand how frustrating it must be to see characters you've lovingly created thrown into a poorly-crafted "lol rapefic!" by someone who seems to have a third grader's grasp of the written language, or something along those lines. It's definitely eyeroll-worthy.

That said, as much as we think we've completely defined our characters and plot points, given everyone detailed, vivid histories, filled in every blank we can think of...we probably haven't. Unless we started at birth with every single character we named and followed every day of their lives up until the point where the story begins and beyond, we left some things open to interpretation. Also, the story has to end at some point, and as much as we like to think that we wrapped up all the loose ends in a pretty little bow and gave our characters the send-off they deserved, unless they all got killed off on the last page, it's implied that they'll keep living and that STUFF will keep happening to them.

If someone has read my work and enjoyed my characters/events so much that they feel inspired to take the time to write about one of the many things I didn't or couldn't cover, who am I to criticize them for that joy? Sure, they most likely won't share my original vision 100%, and I may even downright disagree with some of the things they have my characters do, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that their intentions are good and they're doing it due to their own enjoyment of what I've created.

I truly believe that fanfiction can only strengthen a writer's (or film maker's, or game designer's, etc.) audience. It's another way for fans to unite and to mutually develop their appreciation of whatever stimulated their minds and touched their hearts. Ideas can be shared, communities can dorm, and creativity will blossom. You will have a hard time convincing me that anything that gets people reading and writing is a bad thing.

I also believe fanfiction is a perfectly valid form of "training wheels", in my opinion. Characters are already outlined, settings have already been described, and the basic framework that can be so challenging to build when starting from scratch is already in place. With so many of the initial details already taken care of, a new writer can focus more on structure, style, and simply the art of writing.

I started writing fanfiction about a video game series when I was about 13 or 14 years old. Some of it is terrible, and I curse the fact that nothing truly disappears off the internet. Some of it isn't half bad, though. Looking back, I think I followed a pretty logical progression: I started off writing solely about major characters and in-game events. Then I gradually branched out into creating events that happened before or after the games and introducing my own original minor characters to the mix. After that, I felt confident to focus on the lives of my original characters in the setting of this world that had already been created.

With all of that done, it wasn't a giant leap to eventually progress towards writing something completely original. However, I can see how I could have easily gotten frustrated if I started writing from nothing, assuming I had gotten the inspiration to write an original piece in the first place. If my fanfic roots make me "less" of a "real" writer to some people, so be it. I'm satisfied with my journey so far, and I apologize for nothing. If you want to shake your finger at me and accuse me of ripping off someone else's work for my own personal gain, well, I probably won't lose sleep over that.

(Final Disclaimer: I do not think that anyone should be able to make a financial profit off of someone else's world/characters without permission of the creator. We'll save the "50 Shades of Grey" debate for another day. ;) )

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My New Obsession

I'm taking a little writing break before jumping into any new projects. Despite my post a while back about my love for the Myst series, I don't really consider myself much of a "gamer". I can't remember the last time I bought a game that wasn't some sort of action-y Wii thing.

A friend recommended Dragon Age II to me, and it was inexpensive, so I picked it up. I've been playing for about a week and a half. I can't put the damn thing down. It is completely addictive. I'm torn between wanting to get to the end to find out what happens and wanting the experience to last forever. I already have plans to replay it to explore more options.

I'll admit to being a sucker for games that let you customize the main character's appearance. I kept things pretty normal for my first time through.
Again, I really do sort of look like this.
There's a good-sized number of quests, some of which are optional. The results of actions in one place can influence what happens later on. Many of the quests involve battle, and surprisingly enough, I was able to learn the system fairly quickly. (I'm usually not good at battle games. Ask anyone who's ever watched me try to play Halo. Or laser tag, for that matter.)
That rage demon is no match for my daggers of doom.
In addition to the main character, there's a whole slew of teammates to choose from, each with different skills and assets. Friendships and rivalries are developed, which help shape the plot.
Isabela is a pirate queen. She is also an epic hottie.
Some friendships can become romantic relationships. Here, I will admit to turning into a silly giggling schoolgirl, because I fell in love with Anders the mage at first sight. It's usually not like me to fall for the troubled, brooding type, and for a fleeting moment, I worried that I was turning into a member of Twilight's target audience. (He even glows when he's possessed by his demon...) His declarations of love make me swoon in an embarrassing fashion, and when I replay the game, I will have difficulty keeping our relationship platonic.
I love him in an almost unhealthy way. You have no idea how much I was cheering by this point.
The game has only reaffirmed my love for fantasy. I'm thoroughly enjoying this entire journey and the way I can immerse myself in a whole different world. To some, it may not seem like the most productive use of my time, but I think it can only inspire my own creativity.

(As soon as I finish the game for the first time, I may or may not be looking up some steamy Anders fanfic....)