Posts Tagged ‘d.b. jackson’

First, I want to wish an incredibly happy book birthday to D.B. Jackson and Kalayna Price for THIEFTAKER and GRAVE MEMORY respectively!  Check out last week’s guest blogs by D.B. Jackson and Kalayna Price (and, of course, I hope you’ll want to check out their new works as well)!

Actually blogging on my own blog today about…

Saving Your Sanity

A novel can, and often does, take months and months to complete.  Sometimes you have writers groups or critique partners reading as you go, offering support and encouragement, but often, especially if you’re on tight deadlines and don’t have the time to go through this process, you’re on your own.  Motivation and  gratification have to come from within.  Likewise, there can be many months between book releases (and thus reviews and other accompanying hoopla) where you’re not getting the validation or kudos that feel so good and can help you when you’re having a hard time.

This is one of the many reasons fan letters are wonderful.  They remind you that you’re touching people with your words, even while you’re hiding out in your author cave, unbathed and unbrushed for possibly days on end as you rush toward the breathless conclusion of your book.  But you can’t always count on external pick-me-ups, so I wanted to talk a little bit here about keeping up a healthy mindset.  Here are a few of my tricks.  I hope they help and that if you have others, you’ll share them here.

  1. I bead.  I make jewelry.  Because novels can take so long to write and then revise, I need some form of instant creative gratification.  I can make a single-strand necklace in an hour.  Multi-strands obviously take more time.  Sometimes I need to do a project from start to finish just for that sense of satisfaction.  Maybe for others it will be writing flash fiction or running or cardmaking.  It’s incredibly valuable to have something that will give you victories throughout the days and weeks of writing.
  2. My ring.  Not the One Ring, though that would be pretty cool, but a freshwater pearl and moonstone ring I bought when I made the first sale of my own fiction.  I wear it everywhere.  Every time I receive compliments on it, I can mention it’s meaning, and it makes me happy.  It reminds me of something positive.  I now buy something special (it doesn’t have to be expensive) when I receive my first advance from any new sale because I have tangible and constant reminders of successes.
  3. Taking time.  Sometimes forcing things just locks you up.  You have to take some time for yourself.  When I was training to participate in the PALS program in college, the woman teaching the seminar talked about the importance of renewal like this:

There once was a woman with an apple barrel filled to the brim.  She was generous and gave her apples out to everyone, until one day she reached into the barrel and found she was scraping the bottom.  There were no more apples!  She had given them all away and hadn’t kept even one for herself for eating or planting of seeds, and thus found she had no more to give.

She probably used a lot more words, but the message is the same.  You’ve got to keep something for yourself and take time away to plant new seeds and let them sprout.  Sometimes you have to say no (to judging contests or giving quotes or writing just one more guest blog) to take the time you need for yourself and avoid burn-out.

  1. Cheering on others’ victories is pretty fabulous.  Gives you the same endorphin rush as celebrating your own.  Maybe more, because there’s no tiny seed of doubt about whether you’re truly worthy (…oh, is my psyche showing?).  So cheer on others as you would have them cheer on for you (and now it’s that Catholic upbringing).

I hope these help.  I’d love to have you share ways in which you renew and enrich yourselves as writers.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two of my clients chose to write about characterization for fantasy week.  I’m a sucker for strong, unique characters and a huge fan of voice.  Also, I was an anthropology and writing double-major in college, so D.B. Jackson‘s wonderful new series, beginning with THIEFTAKER, is right up my alley.  A fantasy novel in colonial Boston set in the time leading up to the American Revolution with all the requisite tension and happenings.  Sold!  (To Tor Books, as it turns out.)  Anyway, I hope you’ll check out the new series and that you’ll love it as I do!  One lucky commentor will get to check it out for free, so please stay awhile and leave word to let us know you’ve been here or ask some really biting questions.  He’s up for the challenge!

D.B. Jackson:

She stood as tall as Ethan, and while she looked at first glance to be as slender as she was fair, the appearance was deceiving. He had seen her fight; once, he had felt the bite of her blade. She was as strong and quick and cunning as any man Ethan had ever battled. But her sex remained her greatest weapon. Her hair, her body, her eyesshe was bewitching. Ethan couldn’t help but watch her as she walked, and, he noticed, neither could the men who worked for her.THIEFTAKER, D.B. Jackson

THIEFTAKER, my new historical fantasy, which will be released by Tor Books on July 3, tells the story of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker who works the streets of colonial Boston in the years leading up to the American Revolution.  The book is written solely from Ethan’s point of view; there is never any doubt but that he is the protagonist.

Yet, I have to admit that he is not my favorite character in the Thieftaker books and stories.  That distinction belongs to the lovely and deadly Sephira Pryce.

The concept for THIEFTAKER grew out of a footnote in a history book.  (What can I say?  I’m a nerd; so sue me.)  The footnote was about Jonathan Wild, London’s most famous thieftaker, who built a profitable empire by solving crimes for which he himself was responsible.  He had men in his employ steal from wealthy Londoners, and then he “retrieved” the stolen goods, receiving not only a hefty finder’s fee, but also the praise of the city’s most powerful citizens, who saw him as the only thing standing between themselves and criminal armageddon.

Upon reading about Wild, I knew that I wanted to write a book about thieftakers, with my hero being an honest man who had to grapple with thieves and murderers, as well as with a powerful and thoroughly corrupt rival.  In a sense then, the concept for this series began not with my hero, but with his nemesis.  At first my Wild character was a man named Sefton Pryce, but as I worked my way through an initial draft, I found that their rivalry was not nearly as compelling as I had hoped it would be.

That first version of the book was set in an alternate fantasy world.  When I began to contemplate rewriting the book as a historical urban fantasy, I also changed Sefton into a woman named Sephira.  Immediately upon starting my second draft, I knew that I had made the right decision on both fronts.  Fitting my story into a historical setting and blending it with actual events in pre-Revolutionary Boston brought higher stakes and greater intrigue to the murder mystery at the core of the narrative.  And making Ethan’s nemesis a woman made their rivalry crackle with tension and energy.

I will admit that I worried about creating a character like Sephira in a historical novel about colonial Boston.  Women with as much independence, power, and overt sexuality as she exhibits were rare in that time and place.  But the more research I did about Boston, and particularly about women in the city, the more my concerns abated.  I didn’t find mention of female outlaws in the texts I read, but I did find many references to women owning and running their own businesses, and to enjoying generally far more social and financial independence than one might expect.  Historically speaking, Sephira might be something of an outlier, but that’s all right — she is in my book as well.  She is absolutely one of a kind.

Like Jonathan Wild, Sephira has made herself wealthy and famous by recovering stolen items for affluent families who have been robbed by men in her employ.  She has toughs who escort her everywhere, and who do her bidding while she keeps her hands (mostly) clean.  She lives in a large, beautiful home, dresses impeccably, and counts among her friends the most influential men in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.  She has the advantage over Ethan in nearly every respect.  He works alone and lives in a small room above a cooperage.  He has a few close friends, none of them powerful or rich.  Ethan’s only advantage lies in his ability to cast spells.

She is cruel, arbitrary, ruthless in pursuit of whatever she might want at any given moment.  She is both calculating and capricious.  And she is brilliant, outthinking Ethan at almost every turn.  She is also stunningly beautiful.  Her voice is low and somewhat gravelly — think Lauren Bacall.  The word “sexy” hadn’t entered the lexicon in 1765, when the action in THIEFTAKER takes place, so Ethan would never have thought to describe her that way.  But she is sexy as hell, and though Ethan detests her and finds her lack of scruples repellant, he cannot help but feel some attraction to her.

Sephira’s feelings for Ethan are also conflicted.  She fears no one, and is confident to the point of arrogance.  But she is intimidated by Ethan’s conjuring talents.  She has some understanding of how he casts his spells, but by their very nature his conjurings are alien, uncanny, unfathomable, and she does not know how to combat them.  And since she occasionally takes on inquiries as a thieftaker that did not result from crimes perpetrated by her men, she sometimes finds herself confronted by other conjurers.  In those instances, she is forced to send her clients to Ethan.  So this woman, who most of the time needs no man, finds herself with no choice but to turn to her rival for help every now and then.

Ethan and Sephira’s relationship is fraught, to say the least.  They are mortal enemies whose hostility for each other often spills over into violence.  But they are also intrigued by one another.  Ethan finds her alluring; Sephira sees in him a challenge to her own superiority that is at once threatening and fascinating.  Like all good rivals, each endeavors to use the dynamics of their relationship to good advantage.  When Sephira isn’t menacing Ethan with the threat of violence, she is using all of her seductive powers to bend him to her will.  And Ethan relies on his magic, and her unease with his abilities, to keep her and her toughs at bay.

Sephira is by no means the only strong female character in THIEFTAKER.  But she is far and away the most important and the most diverting, in large part because her rivalry with Ethan lies at the heart of so much that happens in the book.  Turning this key character into a woman did far more for my story than merely introduce a bit of sexual tension, though it certainly did that.  It made Sephira Ethan’s perfect opposite:  corrupt where he is honest; powerful where he is weak; vulnerable where he is strongest; socially connected where he is isolated; beautiful where he is physically flawed.  Her femininity emphasizes these contrasts, bringing them into further relief.

For me as a writer, though, the best thing about their rivalry is that it never ends.  Even as other “villains” come and go with each new Thieftaker story or book, Sephira remains Ethan’s most significant and entertaining antagonist.  She is Catwoman to his Batman, Kate to his Petruchio, Nurse Ratched to his McMurphy, all rolled into one.  Among all the characters I’ve created, she is one of my favorites, in large part because she is part of the most intriguing relationship I’ve ever written.

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D.B. Jackson also goes by the name David B. Coe for his epic fantasies in the wonderful LonTobyn Chronicles, Winds of the Forelands and Blood of the Southlands series.  Check him out!

David B. Coe

D.B. Jackson

Follow him on Twitter!

I’m so excited that we’ll be having fantasy week here on my blog.  Check back each day for a post by wonderful fantasy authors Lynn Flewelling, D.B. Jackson, Steven Harper, Kalayna Price and N.K. Jemisin with a chance to win signed copies of their books!

To kick things off, I want to start with a huge congratulations to epic fantasist Carol Berg, whose THE SOUL MIRROR won the 2012 Colorado Book Award for Genre Fiction this past weekend!  THE SOUL MIRROR is the second novel in the author’s amazing Collegia Magica series (which starts with THE SPIRIT LENS and ends with THE DAEMON PRISM), and well worth the read.

I also want to give a shout out to amazing new releases coming to you within the next month:

GRAVE MEMORY (out July 3rd) is the third novel in Kalayna Price‘s USA Today bestselling Alex Craft series, which has sold in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia and Turkey.  So excited for this new release!

Blurb: As a grave witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost. After her last few cases, that cost is rising.  But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more up close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, Agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen.  To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.

But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive?  And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…

THIEFTAKER (out July 3rd) by D.B. Jackson kicks off a brand new fantasy series featuring history, mystery, magic and murder.  Something for everyone!

Blurb: Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker of some notoriety, and a conjurer of some skill, is hired to find the killer of a wealthy young woman. Soon he is swept up in a storm of intrigue and magic, politics and treachery. The murder has drawn the notice of the lovely and deadly Sephira Pryce, a rival thieftaker in Boston; of powerful men in the royal government; of leaders of the American rebels, including Samuel Adams; and of a mysterious sorcerer who wields magic the likes of which Ethan has never encountered before. To learn the truth of the girl’s murder, Ethan must recover a stolen gem and sound the depths of conjurings he barely understands, all while evading Sephira and her henchmen, holding the royals and rebels at bay, and defending himself and those he loves from the shadowy conjurer. No problem. Provided he doesn’t get himself killed in the process.

TIGER BOUND (out July 24th) by Doranna Durgin is the latest in her wonderful Sentinels paranormal romance series for Harlequin Nocturne.  Alpha heroes, danger, romance, suspense…yup, true love.

Blurb: Like the Siberian tiger he can transform into, Maks Altán is a strong, ferocious fighter who’s incredibly protective of his Sentinel kin. But thanks to a debilitating injury, he feels anything but fierce. That is, until he is sent to guard Katie Maddox, a gorgeous healer who awakens a dangerous lust within him. Problem is, in the shifter world, Katie’s deer alter ego is easy prey…and much too tempting for Maks.

As unnamed danger lurks just beyond her awareness, Katie has doubts—about her abilities, her role in the Sentinels and the strange desire she feels toward her new protector. But somehow, the wounded predator and his wary prey must ignore their instincts, their fears and their dangerous attraction to each other in order to defeat their common enemy!

ALL-SEEING EYE (out July 31st) by Rob Thurman is a dark, tense paranormal thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  This is a move into the mainstream for Rob Thurman, but never fear – fans of her bestselling Cal Leandros, Trickster and Korsak Brothers novels (CHIMERA and BASILISK) will find lots to love!

Blurb: The New York Times bestselling author of the Cal Leandros series delivers a bold new supernatural thriller where one man’s extraordinary abilities come with an equally phenomenal cost.

Picking up a small, pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was dead—murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well—but the shoe itself told him so. Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that, combined with this new talent he neither wants nor can handle, throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. At last, Jackson has left his troubled past behind and found a semblance of peace.

That is, until the government blackmails him. After Jackson is forced to help the military contain the aftermath of a bizarre experiment gone violently wrong, everything he knows about himself will change just as suddenly as it did with his little sister’s shoe.

And while change is constant . . . it’s never for the better.

HEX APPEAL, edited by P.N. Elrod – because I missed giving the amazing HEX APPEAL anthology a happy book birthday shout out at the time, I want to mention this here now as well.  Lots of phenomenal writers, no waiting!  HEX APPEAL has stories from Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, Ilona Andrews, Rachel Caine, Carole Nelson Douglas, Simon Green, Lori Handeland, Erica Hayes and P.N. Elrod herself.  You don’t want to miss this anthology!

There now, I hope I’ve whetted your appetite both for fantasy week and some new and upcoming titles.  See you back here soon!