Monday, March 29, 2010

Bonus Post: A Writing Prompt

On occasion, there comes a Monday or Friday when no TriMu is scheduled to blog. The calendar is just tricksy that way. But never fear, dear readers; we will not leave you with nothing to read today! We've decided to do a collaborative post, a brief response from each of us to a writing prompt. We hope you enjoy.

Today's Writing Prompt: Someone who is not your boss but is above you in the business organization overall is making your professional life a living hell. You've tried filing a grievance, asking for guidance, even confronting him/her about the issue. Nothing has helped. In fact, things are getting worse. You've decided there's only one thing for it: he/she has to die. All that's left now is figuring out how to do it...

NL Berger's Response: I peered around the soft wall into the cubicle, so nervous I felt like my tongue had glued itself to the roof of my dry mouth. She was sitting with her back to me, white wires from her ear buds curling down from her ears. Her head continued to bob in time with whatever music she was listening to. I nearly sighed with relief, catching myself just in time. She hadn't heard my approach and I certainly didn't intend to give myself away now. Not when I was so close.

There were papers strewn all over the desk in front of her, scattered in the kind of disarray that screamed "I'm in the middle of something urgent!", but I wasn't fooled. She hadn't moved a single one of them or made any notes in almost an hour. Besides, I was pretty sure at this point that she couldn't actually read anyway.

The fa├žade was carefully constructed to get her out of lunch with the boss. The plan had worked, but she hadn't bothered to check, to realize that she was alone in the office now with just me. I was pretty sure she didn't know anything about follow through either.

I crept into the small space, a thin dagger clutched tight in my right hand--giving myself, a lefty, the perfect alibi. Hopefully. I could hear the faint pounding of the music blasting in her ears now and the violent rhythm seemed all too appropriate. Two more steps on silent feet and her reign of terror over my career would be over. Forever. My heart hammered in my throat but the fingers clenching the dagger never shook. I took that as a sign that I was doing the right thing and lunged forward.

Darlene C. Goodman's Response: What? Doesn't everyone have an assassin on retainer? We don't need to know how it's done. Just slip a 3X5 card with the name and email address into a particular planter in a particular park in a particular suburban neighborhood and the deed gets done.

Tori Pryer's Response: Accidental computer electrocution.....Or so they think. The programmer steps into his cube and turns on his computer. A hot cup of coffee in his hand. He places his hand on the mouse. The desk jostles. The coffee spills. A charge runs through his body. His heart stops. The coroner declares it an accident, but was it? You be the judge.

Sarah Templeton's Response:
Once upon a road quite dreary, while he peered through windshield smeary,
Over on the wint'ry side and shoulder of darkened icy road,
While he squinted, nearly blinking, foreboding sense came a-sinking,
As a grenade came a-clinking, clinking (Oh, the blood - Red snowed!)
through the moonroof, it flare-ed, tripping (Oh, the blood - Red snowed!) -
On a dark, midwinter road...

Haricot Vert's Response: It's all about habit. You always, always, turn on your radio each morning without fail; walk in, sit down at your desk, put your fingers on that little knob and turn it. Oh yes, habit is the key. But so is going above and beyond the call of duty. Because who in their right minds actually reads those MSDS sheets?
...And we'll all crowd into the office as the paramedics take you away, because we're so worried about you, dearest...

Anyone else in the mood for some creative stretching exercise today? Post your own responses to this writing prompt in the comments!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pass the Plot: Scene 12

Nara's distress overwhelmed the mind-feed and Captain Denett pinched the bridge of his nose. "Help is on the way," he shot back, unable to resist pushing just the slightest edge of encouragement to his daughter. The Garid-corpse laden images flickering over the connection winked off as her blaze of panic dulled to a low pulse of well-warranted fear.

If she'd made it past the Ensign ranking, if she'd had better training in emotive control, he'd be back on the Galajax waiting for a report, unaware something had gone wrong. Instead, Captain Denett picked his way through a minefield of more Garid and human bodies, cursing the Galactic Legions for his inexperienced crew. He was Captain. No one but the infiltrators should have seen death. He'd have to send funerary transmissions to a dozen worlds when this was over.

He cursed anew, taking shallow breaths to minimize the stench of rotting death that reached in to curdle his stomach. The Garid weren't the only threat in the stars. He'd been so sure, and he'd sent Nara over unprepared. Xenobiological expertise would help little against robotics. No. That would be his specialty.

He should have known. The Kloqin could change their biometric signatures, masking their cybertronic profiles. The perfect spy. The perfect soldier. Why Eloin had chosen a Garid biosig . . . But it didn't matter. He was Captain. He should have known.

And Captain Denett would spend the rest of his stardated days atoning if his arrogance cost his daughter's life. He sent reassurance over the neural pathway again, locking the transmission to her frequency. Nara would know the mind-feed transmissions onboard the Galajax weren't shipbound. She'd learn his secret. And hers.

A squish of crushed flesh sounded behind him. Lifting his taser, Captain Denett rolled his eyes. "I thought you Kloqin were supposed to adapt." He whipped the contacts toward yet another cybertronic menace. Its humanoid frame jerked, sizzled, its glimmering eyesockets flaring like ball lightning. The electric shock fried its circuits and smoke poured from its fingers. Twitching, the robot dropped its weapon and crumbled among the other bodies. "How many times do I have to take out the idiot sneaking up behind me before you figure out--"

The last of its power diminished, the Kloqin's cloaking field dropped.

"Oh."

The captain's feet were in motion before his taser recovered the charge. Clanking at his heels and in full AI mode were four bodyguards of the Princess of Klox. It didn't take a mechanical engineer to figure out that the royal in question was Eloin.

He jerked around the corner and slammed a diffuser into the metal door as it closed. The robotic beings would power down when they came in range of the device. Spinning, he smiled broadly. They'd chased him right into the interior hull.

"This last one should do it." Captain Denett set his third thermal charge, his grin fading when the light failed to activate. He cast a look back at the diffuser. No, it was far enough away. Something else was wrong. The interior hull was null-magnetized. This far into the Garidic cruiser, technology wouldn't work. Which meant the diffuser . . . He rapped his knuckles against the steel bulkhead, desperately willing his brain to beat out a plan. "Nara, I need a hand."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mailbag Monday: March 2010

Though we have a lot in common, each member of the Tri Mu has a slightly different take on writing, publishing, books, and life in general. On the fourth Monday of the month, we'll take a question submitted by one of you and each give our opinions on the issue.

This month's question: Do you write your novels in chronological orders, starting with the beginning and writing the first introductory chapters and go along, or do you write in not such a strict order, and maybe go back to write the beginning after you are done with the middle?
Submitted by Stella

NL Berger's Response: I always start out thinking I've begun with the beginning. Invariably, though, as I write along, I come up with a new, better beginning and I go back and add it. (Oh, the joys of being a pantser!) Sometimes that means I cut the beginning I originally wrote, and sometimes it means I just add to it. Also, I tend to skip through the middle of the story, just sketching out a few scenes here and there to get general idea down, in my rush to write through to the climax. I do always make myself go back and flesh out the middle and firm up the beginning before I get to the very end though. I like to actually be done when I get to end. Of course, all that applies only to the first draft. Once I get to revisions, all bets are off...

Darlene C. Goodman's Response: I typically write in chapter order from beginning to end. I have tried skipping around, but I simply can't work up the inspiration to go back and fill in blank areas after I've already moved on. This tendency is really bad during revisions, because that usually means I do a series of complete rewrites from the beginning.

Kalayna Price's Response: I (almost) always start out intending to write in chronological order. I'm a plotter, so this typically works fairly well for most of the book, but occasionally, if I just can't make a scene work, I will skip it and jump ahead. As I'm working on a first draft, unexpected turns tend to crop up so once I get to the second draft, there are always scenes that have to be added between other scenes. So, yes, chronological--and no. ^_^

Tori Pryer's Response: Well, the answer is that I try to write them from beginning to end. By the time that I finish the first draft, I think that I'm done. That I've written all the scenes that I can write and that there are no others to write. Unfortunately, when I read it again, I find that I'm not done. That there are missing pieces. I have two first drafts that I completely re-plotted. Some scenes get to stay. Some scenes go. Some new scenes are written or rather to be written. I've not completed the process yet, but I'm slogging forward with it. I will let you know how it turns out.

Sarah Templeton's Response: 2:30 in the morning is my muse's favorite time to decide a random scene from later in my current WIP must be written. I acquire coffee, and then I write my manuscript out of order. But I don't recommend it. It took me a whole week to get the events from one of my WIP's into the correct timeline. The next time, I won't slap them all down in the same document but instead separate my scenes out into individual segments. (I know, a lot of folks are cringing right now. It was nerve-wracking.) Sometimes, when the muse attacks, I don't even start at the beginning, but I do go back with a narrative summary outline to make sure the random scenes have a place when all's said and done.

Haricot Vert's Response: The way I write depends on the degree of planning beforehand. If I have an outline then I write wherever I feel, and check off the areas of the outline as I go. If I'm feeling my way through the process then I usually write from beginning to end. However, if I'm using that method and I hit a now-what? moment, I have no problem writing (and then this happens but I'm not sure exactly what it is but the characters have to get to x/solve z) and moving on to the next part. In editing, or later in the story, the answer to the parenthetical pause usually comes to me and then I put the solution in another set of parentheses with a link back to the original parentheses.

How do you feel about this? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.

Have another question you'd like the Modern Myth Makers to answer? Just ask us in the comments and we'll try to respond in a future month.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I'll have a Good Story with a Twist, Please

I don't know about you, but I read the books I buy over and over again. If I've got a few hours to kill, or it's a rainy afternoon, or I wake up thinking about a character from a story I liked, I grab the book in question and dive back into it. Sometimes I'll just read a key scene or two -- my favorites or maybe the ones that got stuck in my brain and sent me hunting for the book in the first place. Sometimes I start at page one and read all the way through to THE END. Depends on my mood, I guess.

Reading a book the second time is very different for me than my first pass. So different, in fact, that I usually read everything twice right from the start, just to get the full experience. The first time through, I get completely caught up by the action. I plow through the story, desperate to find out how it all ends. The second time, I don't worry so much about the plot, because I already know what's coming. The second time through, I notice all those little details I missed during that first, very rushed, experience.

Now, because I read things over and over again, my favorite books are ones that offer me something new on the second reading, something that I couldn't have gotten on the first go around even if I had been reading carefully. I like stories that have a good twist, something that not only takes the plot off in a new direction, but also colors everything that came before it once you know the secret.

I want to give examples here, but I think it would make for an unnecessarily long blog post if I started pasting in excerpts from entire novels. Plus, I don't want to spoil things for folks if they haven't had the pleasure of reading those books yet. However, a solution popped into my head in the shower this morning (as it seems all solutions do) and I think I've got some examples I can use now.

And now I shall reveal to you all my bumpkin side. I listen to a lot of country music. I could blame this on my residence in South Carolina -- it's tough to live here and listen to anything else -- but the truth is that I've been listening to country music since long before I relocated to the Deep South. And, as with novels, my favorite songs are those with a twist, a line somewhere in the song that changes the meaning of every line that came before it, so that you end up enjoying the song in a completely different way the next time you hear it.

Don't worry, I'm not going to give you pages and pages of song lyrics. Just a few snippets here and there.

The first is a fairly new song, the one that was playing and got me thinking about this idea today in the first place.
Pray for You, performed by Jaron and the Long Road to Love, written by Jaron Lowenstein and Joel Brentlinger
Haven't been in church since I don't remember when
Things were going great 'til they fell apart again
So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do
Said you can't go hating others who done wrong to you
Sometimes we get angry but we must not condemn
Let the good Lord do his job and you just pray for them

Chorus:
I pray your brakes go out running down a hill
I pray a flower pot falls from a window sill
And knocks you in the head like I'd like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls
I pray your flying high when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true
Just know wherever you are, honey, I pray for you

The song goes on from there, with more examples of this guy's special brand of prayer for his ex and how much better he feels now that he's found his way back to the church, but I think you get the idea.

The second starts out sounding a bit more like a stereotypical country song. Man watching a woman dancing with another man, lamenting about how she used to be his. Oh, boy, it's another breakup country song. Um . . . or not.
I Loved Her First, performed by Heartland, written by Walt Aldridge and Elliott Park
Look at the two of you dancing that way
Lost in the moment and each other's face
So much in love you're alone in this place
Like there's nobody else in the world

I was enough for her not long ago
I was her number one, she told me so
And she still means the world to me, just so you know
So be careful when you hold my girl

Time changes everything; life must go on
And I'm not gonna stand in your way

Chorus:
But I loved her first, and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first

I think this is now probably one of the most popular father-daughter dance songs at weddings.

And for my final example, I give you the chorus of one of my favorite fun songs.
Cleaning This Gun, performed by Rodney Atkins, written by Casey Beathard and Marla Cannon-Goodman
Chorus:
Come on in boy, sit on down and tell me about yourself
So you like my daughter, do you now? Yeah we think she's something else
She's her daddy's girl, her momma's world
She deserves respect, that’s what she'll get, ain’t it son?
Hey y'all run along and have some fun
I'll see you when you get back, bet I’ll be up all night
Still cleanin' this gun

Seems like a fairly benign conversation between a father and his daughter's date. Until you realize that he's been sitting there with a gun in front of him the whole time. I feel like all those questions got answered with a good solid "Yes Sir".

So there you have it, a few examples of the type of twist I'm talking about. Now if I could just figure out how to write twists like that into my novels, I'd be all set . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pass the Plot 3, Scene 11

Bitter defeat coated the back of Nara's tongue, making her swallow convulsively. This was the end.

Even as she threw her body to the side to avoid the laser blast, she knew it was hopeless. One Garid drone she could deal with. The idea of sneaking through a Garidan raider filled with them had been daunting enough, but that was what she was trained for.

This was something else. She was surrounded by armed enemies of unknown origin -- who had just managed to silently kill her entire boarding party while she stood less than a tharspan from them. Victory was out of the question.

Hell, survival was probably out of the question.

Laser fire erupted throughout the shuttlecraft and the surrounding bay, Eloin and her minions all trying to catch her as she slid across the floor. They're not as quick as drones, thank the moon, Nara thought, relief flooding through her chest. A Garid drone would have cut her down before she'd even finished thinking about running.

Nara fired over her shoulder without looking as she scrambled for a door on the far side of the room. She didn't have a hope in hell of hitting anything that way, but the idea was just to throw off their aim long enough to get herself out of here.

The doors in front of her slid open and Nara dove through, not caring what waited on the other side. Storage closet, warp drive chamber, or escape hatch -- it didn't matter so long as she put a wall between herself and Eloin's creatures.

She spun as she fell through, shooting the control panel next to the opening. The doors slammed closed and sparks rained from the locking mechanism.

Safe. For the moment.

"Nara, don't make this harder than it needs to be," Eloin called through sealed door. "If we have to chase you, you'll get all messed up and then I won't be able to use your body."

Nara shuddered at the sound of that and turned around, facing her new surroundings.

A scream lodged itself in her throat, stopping her breath. She scuttled backward toward the doors, regretting the moment her back hit them that she'd just locked her only means of escape. She blinked slowly, hoping that when she opened her eyes, the sight that met them would be different. Hoping that the mangled remains of cybernetic-enhanced bodies -- some of them human, some of them not -- would no longer be littered about the room, soaking in thick puddles of blackening blood and purple Garidan acid.

No such luck. Eloin had been busy during her brief stay aboard the raider. Every Garid drone in sight had been ripped to shreds, and, judging by the pile of corpses cramming the door on the far side of the room, possibly every drone throughout the rest of the ship too.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Nara toyed with the idea for a moment as she surveyed the wreckage of the conversion chamber. Then she remembered Eloin's threat about using her body.

No. No, Eloin was definitely not her friend.

Nara forced herself away from the wall and started picking her way through the remains on the floor. She needed a better weapon, a way out of this room, and backup. Lots of backup.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Pathetic Blog Entry

How is writing like falling downstairs?

Last week, I met with the TriMu for pizza and Woodchuck at a local eatery. It had been raining, and I was mentally composing an email when I started down the short flight of concrete stairs at the back of the resautant. In the immortal words of the old-school Batman TV series:

KERPOW!!!!

I hit the stairs, bouncing my tailbone down each one. My laptop, in its backpack, flew out to the side as I tried to slow my fall with my arms (thankfully, I had slung the backpack over one shoulder instead of wearing it properly, or else it would have crunched under me and this would have been a different kind of blog entry). My first thought was, my back is broken. My second, my laptop is broken. Neither turned out to be true, but I am somewhat angry with myself for worrying about the spasms of pain in my backside and spinal column more than the computer. Sigh. My priorities need some reevaluation, I guess.

Anyway, the pain and swelling on my tailbone seemed to disappear in a day or two and I had a fine weekend with no problems at all, even with a long ride in a car and a 6 hour movie marathon. No worries.

Then Monday night hit and I hurt again. It was as bad as it had been when I hit it first. Icing my bum all evening did little to dull the pain. I don't know what happened that day, but it was like my brain finally cought up to the fact that I bruised my tailbone, four days later.

So, what does all this have to do with writing? Nothing at all, I just didn't have anything to blog about. ;)

Not, gonna cut it, eh? Alright. Hold on, let me figure something out.

How about this? Some ideas come like falling downstairs. They hit you when you're thinking of something else, slapping you flat on your back and leaving a mark that sometimes flares up at odd times. Good enough? Or do you have a better answer? ;)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pass the Plot 3: Scene 10

"Ellie?" Nara stared at the woman before her. "What's going on?"

Lieutenant Eloin shouldered a laser cannon twice the size of the drone, Darrew's, old weapon. Ellie's gaze shifted to a point above Nara's right ear and slipped out of focus. "I'm doing what I was programmed to do." She pulled her focus back onto Nara's eyes. "My people will rise again."

"The conversions don't take as long as they used to, I see. They've gotten you already, Ellie." The other woman raised a thin black eyebrow. "Wait a minute." Nara swore. "You were one of them all along! You and Darrew together!" Nara placed her hand in the small of her back and made a fist. She hoped her crew would get the clue that they should figure out where to hide before the laser cannons started firing.

"No, not together," Ellie said. "He never knew what I am. I had his links connected to my colony's sensory node, but the surveillance only went one way." Her lips curved. "Malkur always liked to put his colony comms in the forehead, for convenience. Fool. It was always so fun to open Darrew's ship's comm when he was, shall we say--too busy to talk."

"So you're not a Garid?"

"No."

Nara eyed the cannon on Ellie's shoulder. "Why haven't you killed us yet?"

Ellie's smile widened. "You're the only one left."

Nara glanced behind her. Pinpoints of purple light met her eyes, making her squint. Five purple-skinned humanoids with LED eyes blinked at her, all fingering giant cannons like Ellie's. And Thompson, Jennings, Schmidt, and Graziano lay at the creature's feet, eyes wide in shock, blood dripping from mouths and noses and ears. Nara swallowed bile and turned back to Ellie.

The laser cannon was trained at Nara's chest.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Motivations and Results

plop! cold and wet snow
down the back of my jacket
i hear trees giggling

-----

Sarah threw down the gauntlet the other day by offering up a 12 day writing challenge. Surprisingly, I made it through. /ponders this miracle. I even carved out a daily window seat in time, in which to work on this challenge.

It is a weird experience to be successful at something like this. There were a couple nights were I had no idea what to write, but I wrote anyway. I tried to wrap up each night so that its effort could stand alone, even if I continued the idea the next night. I played with characters I had met before, and introduced myself to others that I had only seen through the mists of being half-asleep.

Maybe that is what motivated me enough to continue the challenge each day, the idea of playing.

What motivates you to continue, whether writing, revising, querying, etc.?

Friday, March 5, 2010

On Writing Sequels, and a WINNER!

There was a time when most books stood completely on their own. The writer had characters, a problem, and a story, and by the end of the book that story was told, the problem solved, and it was time to say goodbye to the characters unless you reread the book. That was it. The end.

In most genres that isn't the case anymore. When querying genre fiction, it isn't even necessary to say the book is a first in a series. That is assumed, so you better have an idea for a second book.

Right now, I am still celebrating and promoting the release of the second book in my Haven series. At the same time, I am preparing to send the second Alex Craft novel off to New York. One sequel I started after the book was already in print, the other I started before I even received my revision notes on the first book. One I knew what readers were saying about the book, the other I didn't even know if the setting was going to remain the same. One of those probably should have been easier than the other, right? But which one? The one where I felt pressure to fix what people didn't like and try to preserve what they did? The one that could change drastically if the first book had a major change? Okay, no. Neither was easy. In fact, I would say for both series it was harder to write the second book than the first. After all, you want the second book to be better, stronger, and more entertaining than the last. That's a tall order.

My advice from the trenches?

-Write the novel for you and for your characters.
Reviews on the net can reveal issues that truly are problems. But, at the same time, opinions are just opinions. I noticed that with any book, if you read the reviews, what one person loves someone else inevitably hates. So don't get caught up in reviews. If something resonates, take it as helpful critique, but write the book that needs to be written. Trying to incorporate everyone's opinion just makes a person insane.

-Keep good notes.
Okay, yes I wrote this character, but that doesn't mean I remember every detail about him or her. And yes, I remembered that happened in the first book--okay, I forgot, but I sort of remembered somewhere in the back of my head. Some sort of reference sheet is a must to keep facts straight.

-Don't wait for lightening to strike, get out there with your kite and tie that key to it.
People loved the first book, after all, that's what you sold and earned the contract with. But now you have to write a second one??
With my Haven series, I have a pretty clear idea of where I'm headed with the series. I don't have all the details worked out but I have an idea where I want the series to end and several things which have to occur before my characters can reach their happily ever after. My Alex Craft novels are a little more vague as far as long term planning goes. Also, hands down, I think GRAVE WITCH is the best book I've written to date (but, of course, I plan to top it--I'm not yet done with the second book in the series or with the third book in the Haven series.) It can be paralyzingly terrifying to sit there thinking you might not have another great book in you. When plotting the second book, I honestly had the thought (on several occasions) "What if I can't do this? What if I let everyone down?" That is counter productive and totally unhelpful.
You can't sit around waiting for a great idea to hit you (at least, not after you have deadlines to worry about.) It might mean starting the first draft while still searching for that magical element that will take the book from 'eh' to something you can't wait for people to read, but, as they say, the muse comes to those who are at the keyboard ready to write. And, while lightening rarely hits the same spot twice, if that daily return to work is your kite, you are far more likely to get a jolt.

And with that, it is time for me to head back to my own writing. After all, I have a manuscript which I need to make sure sparkles before it is time to send it off!

------------
Before I head out, it is time to announce the winner of the signed copy of TWICE DEAD. The random number generator has spoken, and the winner is:

RAELENA

Congratulations! I have a stack of items that need to be shipped in the next few days, so if you can shot an email to contests(AT)themodermythmakers(DOT)com with your shipping address and who to make the book out to, I can hopefully get the book in the mail at the same time as I ship everything else.

Well, that's it for today. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pass the Plot 3, Scene 9

"Thompson, Jennings, Schmidt, and Graziano come with me. We're going to take Shuttle 2. We're on full alert. Shuttle 1 has been compromised. I repeat we are on full alert." Nara grabbed the old-fashioned shotgun and loaded it with two shells. She tucked the blaster and an extra battery pack into the holster at her waist. She didn't check to see if the others were doing the same. Sixteen years in military school preparing for a command in the Interplanetary Navy and she had been fooled because of her lack of experience in male-female relations. Well, Nara wouldn't be fooled again. Trust was a commodity to be traded just like rubies from the Nekoajn mines.

She pressed in the code to open the doors to Shuttle 2 and they butterflied open. "Thompson, you're on the wheel. Graziano, you have the comm. Schmidt and Jennings, you are security." She settled into the navigator's chair and felt Thompson slide in beside her. Nara looked over and saw the other woman's cheeks were tracked by tears.

"Kirk's tribbles." She swore under her breath. Thompson had been engaged to Hanna and Hanna had been on Shuttle 1. "Thompson, if you need to be reassigned, please speak up now."

"I'm fine, ma'am. Just fine." Thompson tilted her chin back. "I welcome the opportunity to carry out this mission." Anger laced the other woman's words. She pulled on the headset in front of her and spoke into the microphone. "Shuttle 2 preparing for takeoff from the Galajax 400. Please open the airlock doors."

Nara nodded her head and turned her attention back to her duties. She could spare a round from the blaster if Thompson turned out to be a liability for the rest of the crew. She turned in her chair and faced the others.

"Blasters out." Her words came out in a whisper. Nara swallowed and took a deep breath. One moment ticked by. Then two before she found her voice again. "Remember, the only way to destroy a Galadrian ship is to take out the head. Preserve your rounds and battery power when possible. Take aim at only those that look like the head of the colony."

The others nodded and Nara turned back to the vid screen. They were being pulled into the Galadrian ship. The vid screen went black and the shuttle was silent. No hum of the engine. No low of the atmosphere machine. Utter silence until the shuttle clunked down on something metal.

Nara stood and pulled her blaster out of her holster. The other members of the crew followed suit. Her heart beat faster and faster. She didn't want to die today.

The doors butterflied open. "Welcome to the Galadrian Rose, Nara."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Free Fiction Friday: Twice Dead, by Kalayna Price

Due to a little mix up, this post didn't actually go live on Friday, so it's sort of Free Fiction Monday now, but that doesn't sound as good so I'm declaring it Friday in my world. (I have a very casual relationship with time under the best of circumstances.)

Kita is adjusting to her new liquid diet -- an adjustment she rather resents. Not that everything was chocolate and sunshine before (though both were possible before the sexy but infuriating Nathanial sank his fangs in her business). Kita's ability to shape shift into a kitten when her peers shifted into lions and tigers complicated her life, to say the least, but getting stuck in one form -- that of a human shaped tick, a.k.a. a vampire -- sucks, literally. Her adjustment period is violently interrupted when she discovers a headless corpse during a party for a visiting vampire council. But, the headless dancer won't be the only corpse she encounters.

Kita's involvement draws the attention of the Collector, an ancient vampire with an inclination to acquire two things: power and oddities. As a pureblood shifter turned vampire, Kita ranks high on the collectability list -- not a safe place for anyone who values her freedom, and Kita is not the only one on the list. But with the body count rising, there is more at stake than freedom. A killer is slithering through the underbelly of Haven's vampire community, and with the supernaturals dealing in unnamed favors, it's a bad time to be a kitten who can't slip her skin.


The TriMu and I discussed it and we decided that maybe we're not the best candidates to present a review of this book. We all think Kalayna's a genius and love her work unconditionally, which kind of makes objectivity a challenge. I mean, I could sit here and gush in geeky squealing fangirl fashion extol Twice Dead's virtues as a supportive critique partner, but then I would feel a little silly.

Outside the TriMu, some folks over at Fictionwise, where it' hanging out near the top of the Dark Fantasy charts, seem to like it too. People on goodreads have been enjoying it. It's getting good reviews on Amazon as well. Oh, and Mandi over at Smexy Books gave it a 4/5 this weekend while this post was busy not showing up on the internet.

So it's not just us. We love it, others feel the same, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as well.

To win this book, leave a comment on this post including the following information:

1) Your name
2) How you found us
3) A question for us to answer in our next Mailbag Monday post

Comments will be closed at midnight (Eastern) on Sunday, February 28, 2010 and the winner will be announced on Monday, March 1, 2010 Comments will be closed at midnight (Eastern) on Thursday, March 4, 2010 and the winner will be announced by Kalayna on Friday, March 5, 2010.

This is just my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other members of the TriMu. Also, I didn't get this book for free. I bought it with my own money from the bookstore, and it's not an ARC or acquisition reviewed for compensation.

First and Goals: March 2010

At the beginning of each month, we Modern Myth Makers will be posting our writerly goals for the coming month, in an effort to motivate ourselves through the threat of shaming in a public forum by giving each other, and all of you, the opportunity to encourage our progress.

NL Berger's Goals: The write a little something every day goal didn't work out so well for me last month. It's too general for someone with my intense self-diagnosed OCD somewhat detail-oriented nature. So this month, though my writing schedule still isn't back on track at all, I'm setting a specific goal again. Just a slightly smaller specific goal than I tried in January. In March, I will write, revise, and polish the new scene I'm adding to chapter 1 of my WIP and will finish the revisions of chapter 2. I will also do enough reviews for OWW to post chapter 2 for critique.

Kalayna Price's Goals: Well, I have a book due April 1st, so my goals for March are pretty straight forward: have a publishable draft by the end of the month!

Tori Pryer's Goals: February was not a complete failure, but neither was it a complete success. I did not meet my goal of having a short story complete though it is started. I did not start editing TDC. I lost a lot of time to the day job and some to my Olympic obsession, but mostly to the day job. I can and did turn off the TV. I can't turn off the day job. This month, I'm working on the Artist's Way. So my goals for the month of March are to finish the short story, work on the Artists Way, and begin editing TDC.

Haricot Vert's Goals: I could blame the Olympics for my writing goals failure. ...In fact, I do blame the Olympics. Never mind that they started February 12, and that I didn't even watch as much of them as I wanted. Yes, now that I have a scapegoat, I can admit that February wasn't the kindest to my goals. But March will be better, in part, because I am changing my goals. I will, this month, mangle a fairy tale. What this entails is re-imaging the story while keeping to the language. Maybe the tale will be recognizable at the end. Maybe I'll even post bits and pieces here.

Sarah Templeton's Goals: I can sit around and wait for things to happen only so long before letting the muse spur me down a different path altogether, so this month I'm letting the big stuff simmer on the back burner and moving on full-tilt at the side projects. Well, as full-tilt as one gets with a day job and a really nasty cold/flu thing trying to defeat my immune system. (Yes, the clause placement is intentional: I'm betting this particular strain came from a coworker.)

What about you guys? What are your writing goals for this month?

But Why Her?

Confession time: I didn't complete all of my writing goals this month -- I got through the novel manuscript and spent a whole week on that synopsis, queries, and contest entries instead of throwing it on paper and sending it out in less than a day, as I'd expected.

Yeah, you can stop guffawing now; I get the point. Another case of high hopes and crushing realities. Lesson learned, bemoaned, bechocolated*, and noted: I cannot "expect" a synopsis and query blurb to pour onto the paper like a caramel fondue.

Regardless of how delicious that goal may sound in my head.

By February 28th, I was supposed to be through 13k in revisions for my steampunk novella--and here I sit, still re-outlining and tightening scenes without counting words. Why? Because one day last month, during a lovely day of simply making sure my character headed out in the direction I wanted her to go, one of my critique partners asked me: "Why her? Why would the bad guys approach her over anyone else? What makes her unique?"

Which is the same path of evil, diabolical questioning she had the nerve to pose toward my last manuscript. The catalyst for my major revision round at the beginning of this year.

I hate it.

I hate it because she was absolutely right. The motivations I had for the bad guys weren't strong enough, the backstory for the character was iffy, and it just fell flat on the page. She was absolutely right then, and she's absolutely right now: I'm missing something crucial.

Until that motivation drives to the forefront of my inner editor's attention for the next round of novella revisions, I will work out the issue in notes and strengthen other scenes more thoroughly. That way, when I figure it out, I can immerse myself in flowing manuscript instead of broken prose.

*Bechocolate: Verb: To delicately sip an indulgent pint of hot cocoa and marshmallows (most likely with a thin mint cookie in the bottom of the mug) in an effort to sweeten the bitter taste of disappointment.