Posts Tagged ‘grave memory’

Two quick things before I get dug in for the day:

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Kalayna Price for hitting the USA Today bestseller list with her fabulous Alex Craft novel GRAVE MEMORY (sequel to GRAVE WITCH and GRAVE DANCE)!  Says Romantic Times, “This continues to be a truly original and compelling UF series.” I couldn’t agree more.

D.B. Jackson is currently on tour (blog and signing) for his debut historical fantasy THIEFTAKER.  Check him out on John Scalzi’s Big Idea blog or drop by his website for other tour stops.

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.

Kalayna Price had me at “hello.”  Seriously, the opening of the Alex Craft series is like a textbook example of how to hook readers right out of the gate.  Check it:

The first time I encountered Death, I hurled my mother’s medical chart at him.  As far as impressions went, I blew it, but I was five a tthe time, so he eventually forgave me.  Some days I wished he hadn’t—particularly when we crossed paths on the job.  — from GRAVE WITCH

Since then she’s continued to impress me with her voice, her characters and, yes, her wicked streak.  I hope you’ll enjoy her guest blog and that you’ll leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of one of her books.  The latest, GRAVE MEMORY, will release on Tuesday, July 3rd!

                                                           

Okay, but it’s going to cost you.

In life most of us avoid conflict. We don’t necessarily take the easy path, but we’d rather avoid the old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” The smoother ride is preferred.

In fiction, the opposite is true.

Characters are put through the wringer and given two bad paths to choose from. Why? Not because the writers are evil overloads who wish to torture their unsuspecting characters, but because conflict creates interest and forces character growth. A story in which everything went well for the character and around each turn something even better happened would be like sitting down and tackling an entire triple chocolate cheesecake. The first couple bites might be decadent, but it would get sickening fast. No fun.

So we make it hard for our characters. We give them no good place to turn. We make every action count and each one come at a cost.  This cost may be major or minor and might be physical or emotional, but it has to hold a proportional amount of weight in comparison with what is at stake. It also has to affect to story, not just be thrown in there to create false conflict. If the cost is easily sidestepped or has no bearing on the story, it isn’t good conflict, and the reader probably won’t care.

How do you find this cost? Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen in the situation you are dealing with (or make a list of worse-case scenarios) and then find a compelling reason why the character has no other choice but take that route. Note the words “compelling” and “no other choice.” If the reader is sitting in their seat thinking, “Why didn’t the character just . . . “ the writer hasn’t done their job well and the suspension of belief is broken.

Of course, all these hard choices and agonizing decisions pay off in the end. They force the character grow so that in the final challenge, they can succeed—at least partially.  Depending on your genre, boy might get girl, the killer found, the bad guy foiled, and/or the world saved. For now.

Hey, we all like our cake at the end, right?

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Check out Kalayna Price’s Alex Craft novels (GRAVE WITCH, GRAVE DANCE and GRAVE MEMORY) and Haven series on her website.  Follow her 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!