I write dark things...
November filled me with frustration and heartache. As predicted in my Juggling Priorities post, my time for NaNoWriMo stolen away, the opportunity slipping through my fingers, and thus I didn’t hit the 50k word count. I didn’t even come close. I hit 23k, well under the goal. Instead I spent my time in the first half of the month dealing with my father’s memorial and throughout the month dealing with heavy pressure at work to finish a project by an end-of-month deadline.
For work, because this specific project was business-critical, I skipped many lunches to make it happen. Time I normally scarfed down a quick bite and wrote or edited, I worked instead. I almost completed the project on time. It’s a few days shy of alpha roll-out.
Even in my evenings, which I’d normally spend writing with abandon, my energy was tapped out. Drained. I’d write a little, and then capsize, rolling into bed well before my usual hour. Yes, I got halfway to the goal, but I know I’m capable of so much more.
When the end of the month hit, I got some news from work. My job had been eliminated. Thinking about it, I’m not too surprised. I’m guessing it’s financial, everyone is tightening their belt these days, and I certainly don’t take it personally.
I’ve worked for a mortgage company that shut its doors, quite literally, overnight, and I’ve been laid off from a large corporation that went from 4,000 employees to 800 in the space of a year. Business happens, and it’s all a numbers game.
What do I love about writing? It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the connections, the characters, the meaning of it all. When done well, it brings the author and reader together on a field of suspended disbelief, and transcends the empty, emotionless accounting and focuses on the ruthless honesty of the moment.
Yeah, that. That shit is pure magic.
In this moment I’m evaluating my options. Yes, I’m looking to replace my day job. Likely with something a bit different. It may take some time, but I’ll find a great fit, not just a OMG I’m desperate please I’ll take anything job.
In the meantime, I’ll write, knowing I’m absolutely blessed with the time this opportunity has brought me.
First, I give you a video of the Daemon Baby, a gift from my dear friend Joseph. It’s creepy as hell! He gave it to me because I wrote a book about daemons, and therefore I needed it, or something. Yeah uh, nobody else send me any more creepy baby things. Correction: no more baby things. Kthxbai.
Anyway, since releasing The Daemon Whisperer at the beginning of October my life has zipped by in a series of still frames. Everyone’s response to my daemons and the world of the Liminals has been wonderful, and I want to thank you for your support (and at times dubious gifts). Your consistent demands for more of the story and expressed disappointment over the next installment not yet being available is music to my ears. (If sadistic to you, my apologies!) I will tell you the story arc consists of five books in total, so there’s more to come, never fear.
I spent a good amount of my free time in October finalizing my nitpicks on The Dream Sifter before handing it over to my editor at the end of the month. Content edits are due back today or tomorrow, and hopefully I can work through her first pass while continuing my forward momentum on The Madness Path. (Let’s not discuss the many passes of edits, never-ending in their nature.) My aim is to release Dream Sifter this Winter, i.e. by February-ish, but I’m not putting a hard date on it yet.
I’ve tried to focus on NaNoWriMo this month, but it’s been a rough go for me. I started out the month with my dad’s memorial on the 4th, and then what would have been his next birthday on the 14th, and instead of being able to feed my writing, I floundered. My energy has refocused and the words are flowing again, but as I’m only at ~17k and I’m aiming for 110k for Madness Path, my guess is I’ll wrap up the first draft around January.
There’s a few other projects in the works, but now I’m trying to mainly focus on these top two. Definitely let me know if you have any questions.
Cheers, and have a Happy Thanksgiving this week, everyone.
It’s been two months since I’ve given a status update so I wanted to check in a let you all know what I’ve been up to.
In case you missed it, the cover art for The Daemon Whisperer released a few weeks ago. I’m presently ironing out edits with my editor and hope to circulate ARC’s by mid-June. If you’re a reviewer and would like a copy, please let me know and I’ll add you to my list!
Other big news: I’ve lined up Christopher Stewart of Red Aces Media for the artwork on my Depths of Memory Trilogy. I’m very excited to be working with him on this project and we’re in wonderful creative synch. I’ll be posting the covers as they become available, but if you watch our conversations on twitter you may catch glimpses of art here and there as well.
Connected to this news is my decision to self-publish the Depths of Memory Trilogy, with the first book, the Dream Sifter, due out this Winter and the second, Dreams Manifest, due out Spring 2013. I have deep respect for the Indie publisher I was working with originally, but once I’d started down self-pubbing path with my Liminals series I felt it was best to go ahead and handle the others directly as well. I am happy to have delivery dates on this series for you now and look forward to sharing snippets of the first book in Six Sunday’s after Daemon Whisperer releases.
One thing I didn’t do, but said I would, was work on a script version of Ripples during April’s ScriptFrenzy. Yeah, my bad. April just got too insane for me: personally, professionally, writerly, all aroundly.
I did manage to plot out a sequel to Ripples titled informally: Twisted Path. I also got the entirely of book two of the Liminals Series plotted out, titled The Madness Path. I’ve even began writing it. And then ‘it’ happened.
A story snuck up on me, the wily beast! Uninvited and unplanned! A dark fiction, untitled, tale I’m not entirely sure deserves to be shown the light of day, and yet there it is. I’m rounding 20k words, so apparently I’m committed at this juncture. Or something. Nonetheless, it will out, and then I’ll get right back to my proper plans and such as. Like The Madness Path, clearly a tale of some repute. Or the last book in my Depths of Memory Trilogy, Forsaken Dreams Pursued.
Yes, right. Because I’d never, ever, write about things which go bump in the night or discomfort your sense of center. Not I.
By the way, what disturbs you? You know, just so I don’t write about it.
After months of working on a book, typing out line after line, editing round after round, blah blah blah, there’s something so wonderfully visceral and real when you finally see the finished cover image staring back at you. Somehow, it makes it more ‘book like’. Screw those 90k+ words you put into it, the image means it’s ‘happening’!
Feel free to Oooohhh and Aaaahhh. And if you don’t adore it, well feel free to blow me, cause I’m in lurve with it. Hahah!
Here’s the wee marketing snippet for you: Meriwether Storm discovered the grisly remains of her parents on their living room floor when she was only fourteen, the result of a failed daemon summoning. Meri immediately swore vengeance on the daemon who’d killed her parents, but there was only one problem–she had no idea which one had committed the atrocity. Before their untimely deaths her parents had trained her intensively in the arts, and Meri used her skills to follow in their footsteps, ever seeking the daemon’s name. Now, despite her years of searching, she’s no closer to the truth and her time is running out. Will she accept a deal from a daemon if it means finally learning the truth? When retribution is the only thing that drives you, how much are you willing to sacrifice before you lose yourself to the cause?
Do you use Goodreads? Then please click here and add it to your to read list now! Yes! NOW!!! (thank you!)
And oh yeah, I promised you a teaser too, didn’t I? Indeedly! Here you go, the first scene from the book. Hold on to your seats, it’s going to get a little messy.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Content: Contains graphic violence, recommended for readers 14+ If you use Goodreads please consider adding this to your to-read list please so you’ll be among the first to know when it releases. Thanks a bundle!
* * *
Meri coughed as the summoner heaped yet another handful of cinquefoil onto the brazier. She pulled her cowl lower, not wanting to be recognized. Her employer had hired her to oversee two daemon invocations this week. At the first one, she had been a mere bystander to an uneventful and failed attempt. Meri wondered how her role would play out this evening and hoped she wasn’t in for yet another snooze-fest.
Only years of practice and rigorous training saved Meri from laughing out loud, as Reverend George coughed through the required chants. She recognized the words meant to cleanse and ward the space, but without the proper consistency of intonation–which he lacked–they held little force. He continued chanting away as he laid out a line of mostly even sea salt along the ground. The attendees’ faces she could make out through the shadowy fog held undeniable tension and fear–not exactly a show of faith in the summoner’s skills, or perhaps they rightly feared the ritual’s intended product.
“Amateur,” Meri whispered under her breath. Reverend George was an abject example of ‘you get what you pay for’. Sure, they lived in daemon-infested Denver and this was just another typical abandoned hovel infested with mold and rats as the backdrop for this pathetic summoning. There were plenty enough such locations in the economically depressed city and enough desperate souls willing to risk a new career, especially one that paid top dollar. A middle-aged man of mulatto heritage, his hair and long beard held equal parts feathers and mud. His flamboyant, long-sleeved, velvet, purple jacket and alligator boots lent him an air of eccentricity. Meri assumed people, maybe the same people who crowded the room, mistook these elements as a sign of power. Plus she’d heard he worked for reasonable prices. What a deal.
Not exactly a selling point when the creature being summoned might end up eating you for dinner. But heck, he’d made it this far, right? So let’s fire up that brazier! A few words mentioned on the street guaranteed you an audience of lookie loo’s, all the better to spread your reputation. Assuming, of course, you lived through the night.
Reverend George finished warding the space and held up his hands to those in attendance. “If you have doubts or fear that your mind can’t handle what you’re about to see, then leave now!” he shouted. Everyone stood still, waiting to see if anyone would bolt. No one did.
He walked into the center of the ring of salt and knelt. Dramatically, he tore open his jacket and picked up a consecrated ceremonial blade from the altar before him. Despite his exposed flesh, not a speck of daemon ink was in evidence. Definitely a novice.
“Engetheus, daemon of rage and retribution, I invoke thee!” Reverend George took the blade and sliced across his abdomen above the liver. A trickle of blood ran freely across unmarked skin. Yup, he was new to this business, thought Meri. “I offer you my flesh offering in kind, and command you to rise up and take form!” he shouted.
Meri waited and listened to the Reverend repeat the chant, over and over, until she felt a familiar tingle in her liver as a swirling vapor cloud wafted from the floor. She smiled then, knowing things were about to get interesting and her employer’s fee would be well spent.
The chanting Reverend George’s eyes were closed, so he missed the emergence of Engetheus. Gasps and shrieks issued from the onlookers as they beheld all seven feet of Engetheus’ bright red muscular form, not counting the jet black horns which rose another foot. His eyes were black as coal, and his long sharp fangs matched the gleaming horns. If the crowd was expecting rage personified to look like a bunny rabbit, they’d just gotten an education. Only the bravest resisted fleeing the hovel and everyone but Meri took a few steps back.
Reverend George stopped his chanting and gazed up at the beast, fear evident in his expression. Meri sighed and watched him stand up in front of the rage daemon. This was why she never knelt at a summoning, even after standing the rage daemon still towered over him, reemphasizing the inherent lack of power balance.
“I am summoned,” Engetheus rumbled. “But to what end?” By the glint in his eyes, Meri imagined he had a long list of his own vengeance targets.
“I have called you forth to exact retribution upon Harold E. Fields,” replied Reverend George. He pulled from his jacket pocket a small bag, and held it out with a shaking hand. “This holds his hair, and will guide you to him.”
Engetheus snatched the bag and took a long whiff, and then tossed the bag aside. “Yes, I have met this one. Finding him again is no challenge.”
Considering that Mr. Fields had hired Meri to attend this summoning, allowing the rage daemon to hunt down her employer wasn’t going to be happening.
“What form of retribution is required?”
“Death to him and any kin abiding with him. The form is of your choosing.” The Reverend replied.
“That is to my liking, summoner. But first, payment is required.” A smile spread across Engetheus’ face, revealing even more sharp, black teeth. His thick, black tongue snaked across his teeth; he was eager for his due.
Reverend George took a small bowl from the altar, and cut his abdomen again, taking care to collect the blood in the bowl. He held the bowl out to the daemon. “Accept this blood from my liver, to satiate your hunger.”
At this, both Engetheus and Meri chuckled. Reverend George hadn’t done his homework.
Engetheus slapped the bowl from the Reverend’s hands. “That is not a fitting payment. You will give me what I require.” The daemon moved with lightning speed, knocking the man to the floor. Engetheus crouched over him and raised his fangs over his liver. The few remaining onlookers fled, not wanting to watch or be next in line for the daemon’s appetite.
“Engetheus, hold!” Meri commanded. She dropped the cowl from her cloak and stepped forward, tracing the pattern of Engetheus daemon-ink under her clothes. An answering fire lit in the daemon’s eyes.
The daemon roared, now unable to move any closer to the errant Reverend. His black eyes turned to stare her down, but he didn’t back off from his intended prey. Meri felt her liver burn in reflection of the daemon’s emotions, a visceral reminder of their prior engagements.
“I smelled you, summoner. I assumed you were just here for the show. What gives?” asked the daemon.
“Bound once, bound always, rage-bearer. I’m here to modify your orders.” Meri answered.
“No, you can’t do that!” said Reverend George. “I summoned him!”
“Yes, and you were doing so well, sport.” Meri said. “Unfortunately for you, Engetheus and I go way back. If you were a pro, you’d know not to invite anyone else to your summoning, to avoid just this potential conflict of interest for the daemon. Daemons will respond to whoever displays the most powerful hand. It’s called the A Priori Rule, not that it helps you now.”
“There’s no conflict for me,” Engetheus replied. Drool dripped down onto Reverend George’s chest, drawing a whimper from him. “Command me,” he deferred to Meri.
“First, you are to ignore the previous command to inflict retribution on Mr. Fields and his kin.”
“For what length of time?” Engetheus asked.
“Until I, and only I, lift the restriction,” Meri replied. “Can you determine the scent of the person who hired this summoner?”
Engetheus sneered. “Easily. Mr. Hodge.”
“I did not doubt you could. Secondly, you will hunt down the enemy of Mr. Fields, tear him limb from limb, and then feast upon him, as you will. You will leave his kin unharmed.”
Engetheus frowned, no doubt disappointed at having fewer targets to kill. “Done.”
“Third, when this task is complete, you will exit this dimension and return to your own, harming no others in your wake.” Meri said.
“As you command. Anything else?” Engetheus asked.
“One last thing. I feel this client would like some trophies. Bring me the standard ones when you’re done.”
Light flashed in Engetheus eyes and his muscles rippled across his torso. “You doubt me?”
Meri’s gaze drifted from the tips of Engetheus’ ebony horns, his cruelly curved fangs, his broad and stout red-skinned bulk, all the way to his black-clawed hands and feet.
“No, Engetheus, I don’t doubt for a moment your capacity. I simply wish to make a statement to a sub-standard and weak human, should he challenge me. Surely you can appreciate this?”
Engetheus bared Meri his full complement of fang. Meri supposed it was a smile. “I like your style, summoner. As you command.”
Their agreement bound, Meri steeled herself. “As to your payment,” she replied.
She picked up the bloodied bowl and gave it a quick rinse with sanctified water from the altar, simply because it was handy. Without a second thought, Meri shoved two fingers down her throat and then on cue, vomited into the bowl. She swished some water through her mouth and spat it out into the bowl as well. She turned to see a disgusted human gaze and a worshipful daemonic one.
“You see, Reverend, rage daemons hunger for our hate, and energetically we store hate in our liver. As our bodies cleanse, this negative energy is secreted as bile.” Meri handed the bowl to the crouching daemon. “All debts are paid?” she asked, hand still holding the bowl.
“Paid in full,” Engetheus replied with greedy gaze. “All shall be as you command.”
“Thank you for the lesson, Miss Meri,” Reverend George said.
Meri looked him in the eye, and felt no remorse. She listened to Engetheus consume her offering, and turned to leave.
“I guess I’ll be going now,” Reverend George said. Meri heard him trying to back his way out from under the massive daemon.
“There’s still the matter of your payment,” Engetheus replied.
“But you’re not taking commands from me anymore. I don’t owe you anything!”
The daemon’s laugher reminded her of rocks scraping together. “You summoned, you pay. Her payment doesn’t apply to our arrangement.”
“But, but, I can’t throw up easy like she can! Just give me a moment!”
“I’m not the patient type,” Engetheus replied.
Meri heard the tortured cries of Reverend George as his skin was torn asunder. He was no match for the powerful daemon he’d summoned and failed to bind. It was a risk each summoner faced, at every summoning. Meri stood in the doorway, unable to walk away. Instead she looked back over her shoulder and witnessed Engetheus eat the man’s liver bite by bloody bite. The Reverend refused to die quickly. Instead, he continued to whine fight the daemon ineffectually.
With every mouthful, Engetheus marking upon Meri’s flesh pulsed with invigorating life force. The connection wasn’t lost upon her. Nor, when the daemon swung his head in her direction and met her eyes, dark eyes blazing with hidden knowledge, was he.
Meri finally left the building when she heard the Reverend scream what must have been his death throes. She walked on, despite the growing awareness in her liver as more daemon ink bubbled up onto her skin. And deeper, as only summoners understood, under her skin, she felt her bile churn and her mood inflame. She could have bargained with the daemon for the man’s life, but there was only so great a payment she was willing to take on to any daemon. She had to preserve every inch of remaining bare skin and every ounce of sanity she had left.
I’ve seen others give some project updates lately, so I figure, hey, why not me too?
First off, I’ve finally decided on the names for the other two books in my Depths of Memory series. That’s my Sci-Fi/Horror trilogy. The first book is called Dream Sifter, and it’s still in the editing queue at Freya’s Bower and is likely another 6 months out from publication at this time. The other two books I’m naming Dreams Manifest and Forsaken Dreams Pursued. This may not be momentous to you, but as a writer it’s critical to have the right names nailed down, and for some reason the names for this series eluded me for some time. Also, I’m not summarizing the plots here, but feel free to click-through on the titles above to get a brief synopsis on the series.
Second, I signed up for ScriptFrenzy. Why? I blame @Babseth for the encouragement. That, and I’ve thought of doing it for some time. See, I’ve been looking for a good time to turn Ripples into a screenplay, and just never had the time. People keep telling me it would make a killer hour-long TV creepfest, but for me to market that, it needs to be in the right format. Thus, ScriptFrenzy! Oh, BTW, don’t tell my hubby I’m doing it. After NaNoWriMo he’ll throttle me, just FYI.
Third, while I’m knee-deep in Ripples I’ll be plotting out Ripples – Twisted Path. Yes, I’ve been talked into it by none other than Amber West! Well, and well, others who wanted a sequel to the story. Although I don’t feel there’s a whole novel or novella left in the telling (I say this now), there’s enough for a series of web posts. Look for this in the Summer.
Fourth, I’m now jumping into the fourth round of edits on The Daemon Whisperer (this is the first book in The Liminals series), and I’m very happy with how this book is developing. My beta readers have been very helpful and I’m going to expand a few areas, and once this edit is through I’ll begin working with my pro editor. Also, I’ve begun shopping around for a cover artist. I need a seriously tattooed lady for my cover art for this book! Have I mentioned I’m self-publishing this series? No worries, I love an adventure.
That’s all for now. If you’ve got questions about the above, or you think I’m crazy, just say so!
I know, how can I make it through? But let’s be specific here, I won’t be ordering wine once a week when I eat out. I still have my bevy of wine at home, so I’m not being a teetotaler here! In return, I’ll be donating the money from that glass of wine to one of the charities below. Easy peasy, yes?
If you’re not familiar with the cause, become so by visiting Amber West’s blog and learning all about the champion for this special cause. She’s brought together bloggers and writers over Twitter to help raise money by asking folks to give up one thing a week, be it a buying a book, a cup a coffee, bottled water, using toll roads, etc.
For me, I’m pledging to go without a glass of wine on a night out once a week for the next month. In return, I’ll donate to one of these fine charities. Feel free to join in! (These are charities Amber has identified, but feel free to contribute in whatever way you feel appropriate.)
Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital:
Text KIDS to 27722 to give $10
Susan G. Komen – Breast Cancer:
Text KOMEN to 90999 to give $10
Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:
Text HIVFREE to 90999 to donate $5
The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children:
Text NYSPCC to 50555 to donate $10
If you participate feel free to blog about it, or simply post a photo on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #gowithout.
Finally, visit Amber West’s blog and sign up with her linky tool if you do blog about this to help spread the word!
A number of you have asked for more details on my upcoming Depths of Memory series. So, here’s a quick teaser on the series and the first book. The first book is finished, and I’m presently shopping for it’s future home. Let me know what you think!
Summary on the three book series
The Depths of Memory is a sci-fi series where a human colony races to prove themselves and survive before the more powerful Hegemonic races declare their attempt a failure. Although they’ve been on Az’Unda for a little over 600 years and have used rather aggressive breeding practices, a horrible plague has reduced their life spans, left many women sterile, and saddled them with Terrors.
Book 1 – The Dream Sifter
Rai Durmah suffers from amnesia and recurring nightmares–wherein she’s hunted down for unspeakable crimes she can’t even recall. She awakens riddled with guilt seeped into her bones. Forced to move on with a new life and family, Rai tries to piece together the puzzle of her past while also helping defend her family from implications in the recent contamination of a critical medicinal. Unaware, she seeks to rediscover herself, not knowing she’s racing into the path of destruction, which may cause a cascading house of cards to fall apart. Rai may not know it now, but she has allies and foes in the most unlikely of places.
Matriarch Bauleel is the Temple leader in Raven’s Call City, the largest in the colony, and a member of the secret society known only as the Core. Unable to bear the loss of her sister, she defied the Core’s death sentence and instead chose to hide her among the Durmah with the aid of a loyal Guardian friend. In the meantime, she’s dealing with the systemic poisoning of a key ingredient to the plague treatment. The Technicians Guild have also identified Terem Zebio, who is potentially plague-immune, and may be the long-awaited answer to her colony’s ongoing nightmare.
Blogger Cherie Reich of Surrounded by Books reviews my book Ripples today. Take a look and see what she thinks.
Ripples is now available for pre-order via Wild Child Press, and will be officially released on July 27th.
Also, this cute tool compared my writing to Stephen King. Do you think that’s a good thing?
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