Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writing Tip: Butt in Chair AKA NaNo Is Coming

The weather is getting colder, the ugg boots are making appearances, and the leaves are becoming colorful. That's right: National Novel Writing Month is coming. In fact; it's only three days away. What? Did you think I was going to say winter is coming? Well there's that too.

Every year around this time you'll get the hoard of writers coming into the NaNo forums freaking out because they don't have a plot. You'll get other writers coming in saying they have too many ideas. Others still set goals in the triple digits. At least three will take the "Million in a Month" challenge again after being challenged by everyone else and themselves. And others will stare at everyone with a look of awe on their faces that will either turn to euphoria or dread as they are the new kid on the block.

It doesn't matter if this is your first year or your 12th year. There is only ONE piece of advice every writer, professional or not, needs to hear when the bell chimes 12 times on October 31 (making it Nov 1): Put your butt in the chair and write.

That's it. There is no secret pill, no mantra, special food or drink, extensive routine, or guru. The only thing that can make you write is you sitting in the chair and writing. That's it, that's all.

I have seen, heard, and smirked (sometimes rolled my eyes) at every excuse because I've seen and heard people doing more and still winning NaNo. Go to school full time? Yeah, so is about half the board. I've got 10 hours in the day five days a week where I can't write.

Go to work full time? Me too. Same with probably the other half of the board. Do both? Okay, now it's a bit tricky. Still doable. Single mother? Ah, more tricky, but again: still doable. Family emergency? Okay, now you're entering the zone where life comes first.

Not to say school, work, and kids aren't important because they are. So is personal hygiene and food. But school, work, kids, and general life can be worked around.

Think of it this way: you only need to write three and a half blocks of 500 words. At an average of 52 words per minute that's a little over half an hour. Okay, so you can only write 30 words a minute. In one hour you'll have hit the daily goal to complete 50K by Nov 30. Actually you'll be about 144 words over so bonus.

Most people can hit the word count goal in an hour. And it's not hard to MAKE time for that one hour. Write on the commune to work or school (as long as you're not the one driving), write during lunch or breaks, wake up an hour earlier if your day is packed or go to bed an hour later. Look at what you have to do and manage your time around an extra hour a day. Instead of doing laundry three times a week, do it twice. Instead of seeing a movie every week, go every other week. Instead of sleeping in for three hours or taking a one hour nap: write.

Winning NaNo is all about a person's ability to plant their butt in the chair and write. It doesn't even have to be good or make sense. NaNo is about motivating you to MAKE the time to write. And sometimes free writing (writing without a plan) becomes the best writing. Sometimes writing about your day gives you an idea on where to take your story. And yes, it still counts as writing.

If you're really, truly stuck: write a scene where your characters are eating pie. They'll get a chance to TELL YOU what's going on and you'll figure out through them how to get there. Again: KEEP WRITING. It's the ONLY way you can win NaNo.

Oh and in case you're wondering: I've won three years in a row by at least double the amount needed. I've also won 4 camps officially. Six unofficially. So yeah, I know what I'm talking about.

Still not convinced? I've got a few other writing tips in that section of this blog as well as a bunch of stuff about NaNo in that tab. Take the few days before NaNo begins to go over it all if you want. And don't worry: the NaNo community is one of the nicest communities I've ever been a part of. If you have a question or problem: voice it. Someone's going through close to the same thing and will help you out.

Until next time: questions, comments, rage, rants and other things can be directed to the comments. Don't forget to check out my Kickstarter Campaign for kicks. I'd appreciate a donation if you're willing.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Self Publishing is Hard

I normally don't hit Ctrl+A followed by Del on anything but I did that twice on this post. Why? Well, I wanted to make absolutely certain that what I'm writing isn't coming across as cynical, arrogant, or whatever else negative you want to say here.

There are a few reasons for this particular post:
1) Something that happened last year
2) A post on the NaNo forums
3) Procrastination: I'm doing it. ;)

That's out of the way. We shall move onward to the good stuff.

Self publishing is Hard

For anyone thinking about becoming a self published author I have one simple word of advice for you: Research.

That's it. No seriously, that's it. That's what the entire self-publishing industry boils down to. Oh, you want details? All right. I've got the details. I've been trying to self-publish for exactly four years and a bunch of months. Don't believe me? Go find the first post in this blog. I'll wait. Done? Good. Let's keep going.


There are quite a few posts in the "Writing Tips" tab above this post. Feel free to check them out now (or later) but even writing can be boiled down to research. What kind of research? Well, it can be Google-ing how long it takes for a body to decompose in water. It can be reading about how to take care of a horse. It can be asking a doctor how they can operate on a known killer without having a thought of deliberately messing up. It's also reading. Stephen King says it best: "If you don't make the time to read, you don't have the time (and proper tools) to write." So, everything you read becomes research for what you're going to write. Cool, huh?

Of course you can also read about how to write. You know, all the grammar rules, the posts from other authors about showing not telling, how to create 3D/Human characters, how to world build, how to make things seem believable, all that is research too. And hey, you're only at the writing stage of self-publishing. Don't feel over-whelmed. It gets worse. ;)


You're asking: "Wait, isn't this what this whole post is about? Why does it get it's own section?" Why? Because before you can pass go and collect your $200 you have to figure out what you're trying to accomplish by writing a novel and finishing it. Are you writing for fun or do you eventually want to publish? If you're writing for fun: collect your $200 and move onto the next story. Want to get published? Get some popcorn and keep reading.

There are two ways to publish in this day and age: traditional publishing and self publishing. Traditional publishing can take up to, well, YEARS to do. You'll have to find an agent (researching each one as you go) and hope they'll be able to sell your novel to a publishing house, assuming you don't submit to a small press (after researching each one).

Let's assume you find an agent or publishing house to process your novel and start selling it. Great! Now, the year long wait for editing, formatting, and making a marketing plan. And yes, it will take at least a year to get your novel into a salable form by going the traditional route.

On the other side of the fence, self-publishing may take less time. A word to the wise: AVOID VANITY PRESSES. Anyone who wants you to pay them money to sell your novel is not out to help you. They should be giving YOU money. Also, most of what a vanity press (AuthorHouse, IUniverse, Lulu, etc) does: YOU CAN DO for a lot less. Trust me on that. I've been there, literally.

You know what your task is now? That's right. Go do some research on traditional and self publishing. There are positives and negatives to each and you have to figure out which fits YOUR goals the best. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Done? Good. From here on out we're going to focus on the self-publishing route so if you've decided to go traditional: good luck and god speed. :)


You've finished your novel. Congratulations! It's no longer a work in progress. So, take out the "in progress" part and what are you left with? Work. Yep. Work. And yes, everything after writing your work in progress will be work. It'll feel like you're trying to break through a stone wall with a spoon.

But don't fret fellow writer for there are people out there who are willing to help you. They are Editors and they will whip that novel into shape. But before you get that novel ironed out you have to find an editor. That's right: research. I don't just mean type in "editors" in Google and pick out the first one you see. Dear God please don't do that!

When you find an editor you think might work out you have to do your (that's right) research on said editor. Who else have they edited for? Can you contact the authors that have left testimonials and talk to them? Are there authors that have left testimonials? Are they within your price range?

Wait, what? Price range? Why yes, you'll have to shell out some cash to get your novel off the ground before you start making cash. Hey! Don't look at me like that. You can't edit your own novel unless you've been teaching grammar for a decade or have a major in English. Oh I'm not saying you're unskilled if you meet those qualifications. It's merely a good idea to get someone besides you to look at your work.

Why? Because you're attached to it and you're less likely to "kill your darlings." You're less likely to find the plot holes, inconsistencies, POV shifts and all that other fun stuff if you're the one editing it. So yes, find a good editor and pay to get your novel looked at. It'll pay off in the end.

Editing is like tattoos: you get what you pay for. If you want your book to come out looking totally kick ass, you're going to have to pay in the upper hundreds and possibly close to thousands. BUT, there are editors out there who are in the lower hundred range that will still give you good work. It's a matter of finding them and, you guessed it: doing your research.

The Other Stuff

You've written your novel and you've gotten it edited. YAY! You're not done. Sorry. Now you have to actually put it out there and make it available for people to read.

There's so much that comes to mind for this section that I couldn't really give it a good title. First off you have to (research) pre-market. What's pre-market? Well, it's all that talking about your book that you do before actually putting it out there. Now would be a good time to sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and a blog of some description. Start connecting with other authors, talk to people, but don't say "Hey, I've written a book and will be publishing it in three months! Go buy it" over and over because people will stop listening. You have to be suave about marketing and you can't keep shoving it in people's faces.

It's hard, I know, and I haven't mastered it. If I had I'd be writing full time and not working a 9AM to 5PM job.

Okay. So you're premarketing, that's great. Good job on making it to this point. Don't give me that look. Yes there's more.

Where do you put it? Keeping our minds out of the gutter, you have to decide how and where to put your masterpiece. Smashwords (online), Amazon (Kindle), and Barnes and Noble (Nook) tend to be the big three. All three have a bunch of legal hoops you have to jump through and different processes to formatting and submitting your novel. If I put it all here this blog post would go over the limit for what I'm allowed to write, I'm sure.

While you're pre-marketing (and even before you're editing) go to all three websites and check out how you submit a novel and what you need to get it up. Oh look, there's that word we're going to love to hate: research the publishing in self-publishing.

All right. You've written a novel, researched how you want to publish it/what you want to do with it, gotten it edited, pre-marketed and you're pretty sure you know how to put it up there. Great!

You're not done. For one: do you have a cover? A summary? An author bio? No? Well, you're going to need them. Covers can run you anywhere from free (if you're good at photoshop) to $500+ depending what you're looking for. What are you looking for? Professional. Eye-catching. Memorable. Neat. Concise and something that gets what your novel is about in one picture.

The summary is a paragraph about your novel that doesn't reveal everything but reveals enough that it makes someone want to read it. I know, I know, confusing. But do some *insert the dreaded r word here* on summaries by reading the summaries of your favorite novels and applying it to your own.

Author bio? Oh that's another hard one. It can be as simple as "John Handcock lives in Texas with his two cats and his muse" or as complicated as "John Handcock lives in Texas with his two cats and his wife. He works for X, and graduated from College with a Degree in X. This is his first novel and he hopes it won't be his last." Please don't take either of those word for word and again, do some research (again) on what others are doing. Writing is one of the few things where looking at someone else's work can help you with your own.

Okay so, you've written a novel, done your research on how you want to publish it, gotten it edited, have a cover, have a summary, an author bio, and set up pre-marketing. Now you can publish and start living the dream, right?

Nope. Oh you can publish it. You can totally hit submit on Smashwords, Amazon and all that and get it up there but you're not done. What else is there?
Continued marketing. You can't just stop marketing once you've hit submit. You've got to keep talking to people, slyly mentioning that your wrote a book and they should check it out. You've got to get reviews (this can also be a part of pre-marketing) and you have to get people you know buying your book.

That's not all you have to do. Oh I know, it's hard enough to market in such a way that is interesting, engaging and won't piss people off. You know what else you have to do? Start the whole process over again.

Yep. You read that right. You have to do it all again, well, minus the research part because you should know all that if you're doing it again. Anyway why do you need to start over? Well, you can't make a living off one novel unless you've got the next Harry Potter in your hands. If you only publish one thing and nothing else people will forget who you are in the myriad of all the other self-published and traditionally published authors out there.

Oh my poor sweet (summer) child, I know, it's enough to make you want to say screw it, right? It says right in the title of this post that self publishing is hard. What did you expect?

No one, and I mean no one, can write a book and become a best seller within three months. It takes months, years even, of dedication to writing and researching (you're cringing aren't you?) before you can finally make writing your living and even then you might be lucky enough to live slightly better than you are now.

Despite what people think writing a novel is not going to make you an instant millionaire and you can't expect to go from writing your first finished piece to self-published author in three months or less. You probably have a better chance at winning the lottery. Even the most successful self-published author I know (Russell Blake) took THREE YEARS to get to the point where he's making six figures. Guess how many books he's written? No, not three. Try a good dozen. Yeah, A DOZEN. He spends all his time writing and promoting and you know what? All his HARD WORK paid off and he's living the dream.

But, yes, it is HARD WORK and there is no short cut. There's no magical spell or pill you can take to make you an instant best seller. Most of it's trial and error. All of it is, wait for it: RESEARCH.

You know the fun part about self publishing? It's just that: SELF publishing. Who's at fault for not finding the right editor? You. Who's at fault for a cruddy cover? You. Who's at fault for sucky marketing? You. Who's at fault for not doing the research needed to be a success? You. Who gets all the credit  (and cash) if you do become the next JK Rowling, Stephen King, GRR Martin, James Patterson, Anne Rice or *insert favorite author here*? You.

Until next time: comments, questions, rage, rants and everything in between can be directed to the comments. And if you want to help a writer out check my kickstarter campaign to get a diverse book published.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Character Interview: Rowan from "Burnt"

Rowan Lupine is Darius Lupine's two year younger brother. They're as different as, well, their physical description says. It's kind of a Lupine thing, okay? Their parents: Ryker is tall, pale, bulky, dark haired with black eyes while his wife Olivia is tall, tanned, blonde, blue eyed, and slender.

The Lupine crest is dueling wolves: a black wolf and a white wolf more specifically so the Lupine's tend to marry someone who is their complete opposite physically to kind of bring the crest to life. I might eventually try to sketch the thing.

Anyway, this is interview number two for Burnt: The Story of the Fire King. Again, I'm going to try to do this without revealing too much and yes, I am the interviewer. Onwards.

Basic information: Rowan Lupine
Age: changes from four to 26 in the book
Occupation: Second Heir to the Throne of Seiovania
Country: Seiovania
Parents: King Ryker and Queen Olivia

Siblings: Darius who is older by two years

Physical Description
Height: About six feet even, let's say five inches shorter than Darius
Weight: 180 pounds, so slender.
Hair color: Silver, waist length and straight.
Eye color: Blue
Skin color: Tanned
Other: He has burns on the left side of his face that he covers with his hair and can't grow a beard to save his life. He's as similar to Olivia as Darius is to Ryker.

The Questions

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being me.

What does that mean exactly? Hm, well, as the second heir to the throne I should be allowed to do whatever I want. I should be able to travel, dress how I wish, love who I wish, all that. But certain things have made it impossible for me to be me so I have to pretend until Darius is King.

Why until then? Well, when he's on the throne, married, and has a child then I don't really matter anymore for preserving the line and all that.

That makes sense. So who do want to be? Me but not, well, not the way I am now. I'm fairly sure I can't say much more or else it'll destroy the story, correct? *sly grin*

*Laughs* Okay, okay, you got me there. We wouldn't want to do that. So, besides being you, what do you want most out of life? *dopey grin* True love.

Awww. Have you ever been in love? Mmm, I thought so once when I was ten and two seasons old but that was, well, I can't say lust because someone of that age doesn't know what lust is. It wasn't love. We kissed, it was wonderful, but it wasn't love. When I saw that person many seasons later the feelings I had weren't there because I know what love is.

That's sweet. What's it like to be in love? *blushes* I thought we were trying not to reveal too much?

Hey, I didn't say who your lover is or the circumstances in which you meet or anything. I mean unless people have been following my Twitter *Rowan gives a confused look*, ah, don't worry about it. Anyway, what's it like to be in love? Complete and utter acceptance no matter what and knowing that even if you're scarred, wrinkled, lose a limb or begin to lose your mind because of age, that the person will love you forever and a day. That's really important.

Trust me, I know. *Rowan giggles* So, what's your motto? Oh, hm. Oh! Strength, integrity, and love.

*Laughs* Darius said the exact same thing. Did he? Well it was something father may have mentioned overmuch.

Good to know. Thanks. *grins* You're welcome.

There are a lot more layers to Rowan than what's here and Rowan's the kind of character that might make a bit of history. Possibly. He's definitely not a typical main male character. Anyway, if you want to learn more about Rowan, check out my funding campaign so Burnt: The Story of the Fire King can be published. It's totally worth it. ;)

We may or may not be talking to more characters but until then: questions, comments, rage, rants, and everything else can be directed to the comments.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Writing Tip: Character Interviews

One of the most important parts of your novel are your characters. If you don't know them then your reader won't know or connect with them. There are a lot of authors out there who say that doing character interviews can help you with learning who your characters are and I'd have to agree.

You get to learn about the person you're writing about in a fun and unconventional way. You get to talk with the person and sometimes bits of plot that you're having trouble with will be resolved. Now, you don't have to include everything you learn from a character interview in the novel and the interview itself can have whatever question you like. Here is a list of 35 questions that seem to be the most commonly used:
  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favorite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?

These are thanks to a friend of Marcel Proust's who asked him these questions to get to know him better. If you study them you'll find that they're actually really good for discovering the layers behind every character.

Have I used them in the past? Yep. I used question 1 to interview the two main characters in Burnt: The Story of the Fire King. Yes, I used one question. Why? Well, because asking that one question made my characters say things that allowed me to ask another question without having to go down the list.

That is the heart of every interview. You shouldn't need more than one or two questions in a personal interview because the questions you ask should give you a clue to other questions you could ask. Confused? Check out Darius' interview to see what I mean.

With ANY interview, no matter what the question always remember to follow up with: who, what, where, why, when, and how. So, for "What is your idea of perfect happiness?" you could ask "Why? How would you obtain it? What do you mean by that?" When I asked Darius I received: "When everyone I love is happy, including the people of Seiovania." I followed up with "You know not everyone can be happy, right?" The interview itself gives a huge insight to who Darius is as a self-sacrificing character. Read more here.

When I asked the same question to Rowan, his younger sibling I got: "Being me." It followed up with "What does that mean exactly?" We ended up talking about his responsibilities to the throne and love.

See where I'm going with this? One question, properly phrased, can bring up all sorts of questions if you listen to your interviewee's response properly.

So you don't need a list of 35 questions to ask every character. Pick your favorite one or two and go from there. If you really listen to what your character says, you should get a lot more out of one or two questions then 35 questions that may have a complex answer you don't notice.

Until next time: comments, questions, rage, rants and whatever else can be directed to the comments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Character Interview: Darius from "Burnt"

If you actually look at the cloud tag (or whatever) for "Character Interviews" you'll come up with three other posts I did way back in 2012. The interview for the character of Leopold came first and it's funny to look back and see how much my writing style has changed.

In that interview with Leopold I said that I always do character interviews. Eh, not so much anymore. I interview them in my head and the information sticks. I do still have a notebook stash with all my old notes and everything I've ever written. It's taken up two dresser drawers now. Yep.

Anyway, I decided to do character interviews for the characters from Burnt: The Story of the Fire King. Why? Well, I'm procrastinating on editing the novel itself, finishing up the memorable lines for book 13 of the mystery/thriller fiction series, and summing up Burnt. I can multi-procrastinate, yes.

Enough rambling. I'm going to try and do this without revealing too much and yeah, it's like I'm actually talking to them. Deal ;) Here we go:

Basic information: Darius Lupine

Age: Changes from 6 to 30 in the course of the book.
Occupation: Royalty
Country: Seiovania
Parents: King Ryker and Queen Olivia.
Siblings: Rowan who is two years younger.

Physical Description
Height: When he's done growing up, about six feet and seven inches, perhaps a bit more.
Weight: 300 pounds, all muscle. Yeah. He's a beast.
Hair color: Black and to the shoulders
Eye color: Black. No really.
Skin color: Pale
Other: He has a full on beard that goes over his collar a little bit and he took completely after his father in looks. People often think that Darius is King Ryker.

The Questions

What is your idea of perfect happiness? When everyone I love is happy, including the people of Seiovania.

That's a lot of people. You know that not everyone can be happy, right? I am aware of that. It has been a long time since I was considered naïve but I would like to think that I can help get people as close to being happy as I can.

Lofty goal. Why do you want everyone to be happy? Someone has to be.

Don't you think you're deserving of happiness? Well, yes. But my happiness will always be directly related to my family.

Speaking of, you're the Heir to the Throne of Seiovania. What's that like? It comes with much pressure to be perfect. It also comes with knowing that sometimes you will have to sacrifice pieces of yourself in order to run the country well. There is much responsibility and many lessons to learn.

What are you willing to sacrifice to run the country well? Whatever I need.

Wow. That's noble of you. Father expects it as does everyone else. I am the eldest son and heir to the throne. I do not want to let my father or anyone else down.

Even just a little bit? Wouldn't you rather be free to do what you want? Of course. But I would regret being able to do whatever I wished for the sake of greed or selfishness. The throne comes first.

You seem sad. *sighs* There is overmuch to do.

I understand. One last question. What is your motto? Hm. Strength, integrity, and love.

That's, totally you. Thanks. You are most welcome.

Darius, ladies and gentlemen. If you want to really get to know him, hit up my funding campaign to get Burnt: The Story of the Fire King published and you'll get to read all about him sometime next year. With any luck.

Next time we'll talk to Rowan, Darius' two year younger brother. Until then: questions, comments, rants, rage, and other can be directed to the comments. Don't forget to check out the funding campaign and help a writer out.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I need YOUR Help.

Actually, I probably need (mental) help in general.

What? Everyone always says to open with a joke. Anyway. As the title says: I need your help. With what? Well, there's a bit of a story. Here's some cookies and popcorn. Chill. It shouldn't take too long.

I've been a writer for almost twenty years, writing first in pencil on ruled paper and moving with technology to pound away at a keyboard in Word. Some of my original work is still on 3.5 inch floppy disks. Yes, I'm showing my age.

As with anyone who writes there is always the dream of being published and of course that wasn't any different for me. But see, I actually tried to publish. I failed miserably and it struck such a blow to my self-confidence, self-worth, and all that other fun stuff that I'm fairly sure I've been depressed for about four years. You can read more about that here.

Basics: in that post I talk about how I'm afraid of rejection. Even reading over what an editor has done to my story is a blow to my "ego" of sorts. I actually cried when I got edits back for the failed self-published novel. I tried to get something else edited and haven't looked at that thing for almost a year because of it.

So going back to the point: I need your help. If I want to be a "professional" author I need to get over this fear. The only way to get over this fear is to set a concrete deadline and KNOW that there are people out there who are waiting to see the results.

What results? Publishing Burnt: The Story of the Fire King.

I can't do it alone mainly because I am flat broke with no job. Ah, wait. I have a job that I can't leave and am not getting paid for. It's complicated. In the end: I have no money and no way to get money. Unless I win the lottery with the tickets I don't buy. ;)

Moving on: I started a funding campaign in the hopes that I can raise enough money for editing, a cover, and marketing. Why? Because it's about damn time I start publishing the novels listed in that "Novel Series" Tab. No seriously, go check that out. There's a TON there. I write at least a novel a month, thirteen last year and I'm planning on 16 this year. Eventually someone has to read them besides me, right?

So yeah, I'm asking for your help. But I'm not expecting anyone to just donate their hard-earned money to someone who they don't know well or at all for a novel they know nothing about.

In the coming weeks there will be character interviews for the characters in Burnt. There will be a detailed plot summation that mimics the ones in the "Novel Series" for Burnt. This blog post goes into more detail about my situation. I'll probably write another post or two about me in general.

There's also a ton of information on the campaign page itself but to sum it up:
I have no money and editing, a cover, and marketing are expensive.
I am giving stuff away for different donation amounts. Said stuff includes Burnt in various forms, posters, interviews, and other fun stuff.
Burnt is essentially a Frozen inspired story but with two brothers, fire magic, non-racist society, exploration of two very different characters, the difference between social classes, and what Royalty is expected to be like. So, Frozen on steroids. Totally not feel-good-Disney either.
Burnt also gives a shout out to the T part of the LGBT community. One of the characters is transsexual and wishes they could live as the opposite gender but can't because of certain situations.

So, check it out and if you feel so obliged: donate. Pass the word along. Help me show the world that trans* folks CAN BE main characters that aren't just there to be the token LGBT character. Help me become a better me.

The Blog Post that Began it All (Fear)
The Campaign
Burnt: The Story of the Fire King Summary
Character Interview: Darius Lupine
Character Interview: Rowan Lupine
My Twitter

Friday, October 3, 2014

2014 Novel Series: #10: Senses

We're winding down to the end of the series which still doesn't have an official series name. I should probably work on that. Anyway, this is book 12 of the 13 part series. I won't have book 13 finished by the end of August 2014 as I'd planned but hey, I've worked on this series for less than a year even though it has more than a year's worth of books. That's freaking good enough.

Senses was the second book I did for July Camp NaNo which brought my total up to 148,522 for that month, 3-kish more than April's Camp. I finished it the last possible day and like in April, my cabin didn't reach the goal. We came close though, like within 100K or something. Unfortunately I wrote most of it. It was sad. ANYWAY. ONWARD!

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Word Count: 67,511

Prompt: Killer taking away all five senses. No seriously, that's all I had. No motivation, no nothing until book 10 (Bloody X-Mas) and I figured out the motivation and why he had that motivation.

Main Characters: James Reeves, Mia Liu, Lucy McGregor, Michael Brown, and our killer

Minor Characters of Note: Patterson the Chief of Police who still doesn't have a first name, David Jones and his boyfriend...again. They're such fun characters...Oh, and Jasmine, McGregor's sister.

Summation: Killer takes the five senses of his victims in order of taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing.

High Points: Michael and Karma (Gavriila) in general. Plus Michael going "God Mode."

Low Points: David and his boyfriend. Oh and random new sub-plot when I thought I cleared them all out...

The World: Ours. Again, I'll be really happy when I can write "Ours but with MAAAAGGGIIICCCC" or something.

Memorable Lines:
Sable would compliment McGregor well in the future and McGregor mentally smirked. (Foreshadooowwwwiiinnngggg...)

"The eyes have been gouged out and there's a steel pipe through the head running from one ear out the other. I'm pretty sure the tongue is missing and there's burn marks around the nose. I'm thinking hot glue." McGregor answered.
"Huh, four of five senses." Sable said.
Sable didn't give herself enough credit. McGregor smirked.
"Yeah. I bet the hands will either be removed or corroded which would get rid of touch. We'll have to really look hard to see which injury happened first. That'll mean something to the unsub." McGregor said.
"Detective McGregor, a word?" one of the reporters called out as she passed.
"Nope." McGregor said.
The reporter stared at her for a few seconds. Technically "nope" was a word.
"Detective McGregor, what's the situation?" the same reporter asked.
"Messy." McGregor replied. (I love her)

"Videos came up with jackshit. Camera angles are bad all around and the fucker covered his license plate with something. We do have make and model of the car." Brown said.
"And I am looking through DVM to see how many there are." Gavriila said.
Brown looked at her for a second and grinned. He took a huge bite out of his burger, got it into manageable chunks, and shook his head at her. She raised her eyebrow at him.
"DMV, kitten." Brown said.

"An actress." James said.
"Yeah. Taking out the tongue first, eyes and hearing last makes sense now." McGregor said.
"An actress would interrupt any kind of ranting the unsub was doing." James said.
"Yeah, you can't get more extroverted than an actor." McGregor added.
"Does that mean the perp's an actor?" Mia asked.
Brown looked at her. Sometimes she came up with the coolest shit.
"He could be, yes." James said.
"That's an interesting angle. Hm," McGregor muttered.
"I am taking online criminal psychology courses. Help me to understand why there are so many crazy mother fuckers in the world." Gavriila said.
She was hot. She was into him. She could cook. She was fucking brilliant at computers and making herself brilliant at criminal profiling. Brown wondered what he'd done to deserve her. (D'awww)

"It's sad that I need body guards." James said.
"What's sad is that you're a guy and all your body guards are female. No, that's not sad. That's pretty cool actually." Mia told him.

"He's got a snake tattoo. I'm calling Michael so he or Karma can start looking for this guy." McGregor said.
"We'll go get lunch. That doesn't sound productive." James said.
"Nope but hey, you can't interview family members you don't know about." McGregor said.

"Hello, this is Detective James Reeves with the, hello?" James asked.
He pulled the phone away from his ear in wonder and looked at it. Mia waited. She'd learned that from James. He stared at her, stunned.
"They hung up on me." James said. (Hahaha)
Mia had no idea who the Hell would hang up on a detective. They didn't have time to ponder it as they caught movement out of the corner of their eyes and turned to look. A pudgy man in gray slacks, a billowing white shirt, and a baseball cap came running to the doors and unlocked them.
"Detective Reeves, hello, hello! Come in, come in, it's nice to finally meet you in person!"
Mia wasn't sure if she should walk into the building or run screaming. James looked unsure himself but the shorter, wider man had grabbed James' arm and was pulling him into the theater. James followed because he was nice and Mia followed after James because she was worried as fuck.
They entered the cool theater and the pudgy man guided them to a door marked "Office" while talking about seeing James on Channel 6 and how brilliant James was, how good-looking, how young, and a mess of other things Mia didn't catch. The man was talking too damned fast and waving his free hand around like it was some kind of device to help get his point across.
"I'm sure. Detective Liu and I are here on official business." James said.
If there was ever a phrase that could make a person go from 60 to 0 that was it. (snickers)

"We need to sleep after this." Brown said.
"Too bad we cannot sleep together." Gavriila said.
Brown grinned at that. A comment like that used to make his fingers mess up on typing but he'd gotten so used to the comments (and typing this fucking list into DMV files) that he was fine. He'd missed an r. Fuck.
"You almost made me miss a name. Knowing our luck it'd be the fucker doing this." Brown told her.
"Ah, sorry. I will take off my top later for apology." Gavriila said.
He'd missed an f. God damn it. Brown glared at her and she giggled. Brown couldn't stay mad at her for long and typed in the name again. That one was a bust.
"Stretch kitten." Brown said.
"You too dorogaya. You have been sitting for as long as me. I get food now." Gavriila said.
(He gets up and stretches)
"Wow. She's got you whipped from across an ocean." McGregor said.
"She shows me her boobs of course I'm going to do what she says." Brown told her.
"And she's got great boobs. Anyway. We're going to watch James walk around the files like he's doing some kind of pagan ritual. Have fun." McGregor said.

"Good morning." James said.
"Nothing is good about the morning until I've had coffee." McGregor said.

"Ranting involves talking. He can't ASL (American Sign Language) their asses." (I shouldn't snicker so much at that but I did.)

"I'm retiring at the end of the month." Anderson said. (Why is this important? He's the Head of Forensics and told McGregor in the past than when he retires, she'll get his position. Yep. ;) )

McGregor took five minutes to get her apartment door opened then almost face planted because she forgot she had a cat that blended in with shadows really well.

"Anderson's retiring." McGregor said.
"Yep. JD?" Sable questioned.
She was offering a shot glass. McGregor downed it. Booze was good.
"My sister, Jasmine, is moving here." McGregor said.
"That's good." Sable said.
"We're buying a house together."
"She's giving up her salon and renting out the house we grew up in to move here."
"That's sweet."
"I'm not sure if I want her to."
McGregor downed the second shot Sable poured into her glass. Booze was excellent.
"You know what I think?" Sable questioned.
"I wish I could read minds. Wait, no, then I'd go Professor X fucked up in Days of Future Past when he takes the serum to stop, I'm going to stop." McGregor said (Ha)
"I'm not a fan of change." McGregor said.
"Says the one who moved five hours out her home town, moved twice once here, got a cat, started letting people in, switched offices, and joined a team. Oh yeah, you're totally uncomfortable with change." Sable said.
The sarcasm was strong in this one. McGregor laughed. It was nice to laugh...
"Okay, okay, you're right. I'm just nervous." McGregor said.
"I would be too if I was you, hell anyone would be. I mean there are going to be men in the house sharing a bed with your sister when you're there." Sable said.
McGregor smirked at that. Sable didn't give herself enough credit.
"You're going to make some guy really happy one of these days and if he's an ass I'll go Michonne on his ass so bad that we'll have to hide the body together."

"Boss, I've known everything about you before you even met me." Michael said.
That was a frightening thought. It made sense in some weird way as Michael had come to the force slightly after James.
"What?" James asked.
"Technically you and Bossette were the whole reason I wanted to come here." Michael said.
That was flattering and scary at the same time.
"And if we're going to be honest or whatever: I'm the only reason Patterson paired you two together."

Thanks to the DMV they had gotten a picture of what Timmons looked like so McGregor didn't have to walk up to the waiting area and ask for him by name. They weren't some kind of doctor's office though technically she was some kind of doctor. Her patients were all dead when they got to her though.

"Tracking, tracking, got 'em. 5432 Hedge Street, it's a house that's been abandoned since two years ago, actually foreclosed, used to belong to a Donna McDellen who was an animal hoarder and um, died inside. Her cats ate her. That's fucking creepy."
In the middle of the room was a black phone (what Michael tracked to find the unsub).
"Don't move." James said.
Mia didn't have to and James only shifted when McGregor came to stand beside him. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number. The cell phone in the middle of the room began vibrating and playing a song James didn't recognize.
"Faku. Kuso." Mia muttered.
McGregor scowled as James hung up his phone. They could do a check but James knew they would find nothing. Because of the media, Michael had been kicked off the team. The unsub had outsmarted them.

"Media's fault. The fucker knows who we are and how we find our perps. The bastard's taken out Michael." Mia said.

"Fick. Not it. And he's (David) hot." Agent told them.
"And living in America." Double D added.
"I know. It makes me sad." Agent said.
"Dude, we're looking for his boyfriend." Double D said.
"Supposed to be anyway." K broke in.
It was funny how K was the youngest in their group but the most focused. Brown had a theory that the longer a person spent on the internet as they got older, the less focus they had unless they literally grew up immersed it in like K was. Either that or K was part cyborg.

"ON THE GROUND!" Mia screamed.
Her gun was out and up but the unsub hadn't even looked at her before taking off. She got a shot off and he let out a pained sound. She'd hit him in the shoulder but he kept running. Mia had two choices. She could stand her ground and shoot him while he was still within the 10 foot range or she could run him down and tackle him. Mia liked the second approach. (Of course she does. She's badass like that.)
Okay, maybe she'd gone a bit overboard. Unsub's SUV was half crushed in a pole. Hell, the one side and the front end of her SUV was smashed to shit. Not to mention the post box one of them had knocked over, the various skid marks on the asphalt and, how the fuck was there broken glass on the street? (LOL)
She'd busted a window, her SUV's passenger window somehow. Damn. At least the station would pay for the repairs. She just hoped she didn't get some crappy car as a replacement till hers was fixed. (I love Mia too.)
"Ready?" James asked.
"Yep. We'll use your car to meet up with McGregor and Abella. Mine's a bit beat up." Mia said.
"A little? I forgot how great you are at take-downs. Don't let me forget again, okay?" James asked.
"You got it partner. See you at the station." Mia said.
"Detective," Mia started.
"Fucking awesome Bossette! That was better than the movies!" Michael exclaimed.
"Thanks. You're pretty fucking awesome yourself, Michael. I couldn't have done that without you and your online team." Mia said.
"Aw, thanks Mia. I'll see you later. Dragon-God out."

Mia joined him and James heard her curse when she locked the SUV. It had been an amused curse.
"My window's busted out, why the Hell am I locking it?" Mia asked when she got close to him.
"Rhetorical question?" James returned.

"We're going down stairs." Mia said.
"Have fun." McGregor told her.
(They're looking through a completely blacked out cabin for the potentially living victim of the unsub)

Part of their job dealt with touching dead people and cutting them open. Another part of the job was taking apart a scene which Sable had found meant anything from digging around in trash or looking through a creepily dark cabin in the middle of the night. It had been a bad idea to binge watch The Walking Dead with Lucy the past 20 or so days. Sable kept thinking a walker was going to jump out at her.
"I know it's late but wake up." McGregor said.
"Sorry, I was thinking about walkers jumping out of dark corners and surviving the zombie apocalypse if it happened (ha, oops)." Sable said.
McGregor grinned at her.
"I have successfully converted you..."

"You are one strong chick." Jameson said.
"Hey, you dead lift, oh bad pun. Anyway, you start lifting corpses as a career and tell me how easy it is." McGregor said.

"Both are still in surgery." James said.
"Sucks to be you." McGregor said.
"I know, I know." James replied.
Sable covered her mouth to keep from laughing but McGregor didn't bother.
"Yes! You took me up on the song lyric game." McGregor said.
"Song lyrics?" James asked. (Of course. :P)
McGregor groaned and would have knocked her head off the steering wheel in frustration if she wasn't using it...
"Do you need me there for intimidation?" McGregor questioned.
She was grinning. Sable had a feeling McGregor liked being the intimidating one on the team.

"I'm getting something to drink." James said.
"The punch isn't spiked." McGregor offered.
"Too bad." James muttered.

"Since when do you like Sable?" McGregor questioned.
"Since she offered to make me food." Michael said.
"So, I can have my chair back?" Sable asked.
McGregor had meant to ask Michael why he'd taken Sable's chair (in his office) away but they'd been too busy with other things. Michael smirked.
"Sure, Chiquita." Michael said.
Sable's eyes went wide and her mouth popped open in shock. McGregor couldn't help but grin. Hell, James and Mia were smirking. Sable had a nickname, a tad bit racist of a nickname but Michael had accepted her into the team. This made the night better no matter what else would happen.
"That's, oh fine." Sable said.
"Good. So I'll kill Ranger once I get back upstairs." Michael said.
"And we'll hide the body." McGregor offered.
"I guess I should get the bleach." Sable said.
"We'll need gloves." James added.
"And we can use that stupid Jeep they loaned me." Mia mentioned.
"I got some extra bed sheets and a shit ton of plastic drapery from the old salon." Jasmine pointed out.
McGregor laughed along with her friends and her sister. You could count on someone when they were willing to help you hide a body.