Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
During the afternoon of Tuesday last, while working on my current WIP, Just Once in a Very Blue Moon, the second book in my Garden Gate fantasy romance series, my apartment building shook.
Geez. Had my misbehaving faeries jumped out of the story?
My first thought: What on earth is my neighbor upstairs doing? I live near a military base so my second thought was explosion. As I watched the chandelier over the dining room table swing like a pendulum, and the floor undulated beneath my feet, the word quake popped into my head with a jolt. Mere seconds of mental play. I grabbed my laptop and purse and ducked into the bathroom until the shaking ended.
Paradigm shift. Strong earthquakes do happen on the East Coast.
The week rolled toward a close with dire warnings. A predicted class three hurricane whirled toward the East Coast. Oh, joy, lost more writing time preparing for the onslaught. Although the trees danced the shimmy—shimmy, and a few did the Humpty-Dumpty and fell down—like the large limb on my neighbor's station wagon—the tropical force winds passed with less intensity than anticipated.
When I was a young ballet dancer, my instructor was Miss Irene. At the end of every recital, we sang the words to the classic Good Night Irene. Several references to the old song appeared on social networks before and during the storm. Personally, I was glad to wave goodnight.
My heart goes out to those who still deal with the aftermath of Irene. Stay safe.
An update on my hummer faeries: Hummingbirds Remind Me of Faeries. I felt awful taking down the hummer feeder when the winds got rough. How would my little friends survive? As soon as we hung the feeder again on Saturday morning, my wee faeries buzzed in, ready to drink, having made it through the storm unscathed.
During all this craziness, I took the plunge and opened a Twitter account. Lots a fun! If I want to get any writing done, I'm going to have to curb the desire to play and spend too much time there.
Follow me on Twitter: @DawnM_Hamilton
Castles & Guns is a sponsor for Night Owl Reviews' Halloween Full Moon Web Hunt from September 1st though October 31st. Join us. Win cool prizes! Be sure to enter here.
So…where were you during the earthquake? The storm? Leave a comment and share your story with us.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
The road to publication can be a long one, especially for those of us pursuing a traditional publishing route. But I passed a couple of milestones last week that finally made this journey seem real.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Who can resist the allure of a diamond, the power of a ruby, or the magic of a sapphire? From the earliest days, gems have captured people's attention. People believed special forces were trapped within the stones. In time, gems were used to protect people from harm and disease, to influence circumstances, and to improve physical and mental conditions. They were credited with averting all sorts of danger, healing ailments of the eyes, or correcting personality disorders. They were used to inspire sexual passion . . . or curb it.
Gemstones have been assigned days of the week, hours of the day and the planets as in signs of the zodiac. Eventually, the tradition of associating each month with a different gemstone or as we call them--birthstone became widespread. There are three different birthstone charts--the Zodiac, the Traditional, and the Mystical. For this time, I'll give you a quick description of the Zodiac.
The birthstone of January is the Garnet -- Because garnets can look like glowing red coals of a winter fire, the sparkling green of summer field, or the beautiful pink of spring flowers it considered the gemstone for all seasons.
February's birthstone is the purple Amethyst -- The Happy Stone. Also called the Bishop and/or Bacchus stone. That means it's for saints and sinners. The amethyst and magic have been connected for at least 2,000 years.
March brings the cool, water-colored beryl known as Aquamarine -- The Gem of the Sea. This pale to medium blue stone is the symbol of courage, hope and victory.
The glittering Diamond is the gemstone for April -- The King of Gems, it is sometimes called the Philospher's Stone. The gift of a diamond is said to steal a lover's anger and enhance sexual lresponsiveness and increase fertility. The Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy in 1477 the first diamond engagement ring.
For May the gemstone is the brilliant green Emerald -- Referred to as the Nature Stone or Venus' Gem, it is surround by rich lore symbolizing serenity and peace of mind. It is also called the Gem of Eternal Spring because of its green color.
The chaste Pearl is the symbol for June -- The Queen of Gems. While not actually a stone, it represents truth and beauty and brings the promise of health and longevity.
The recognized gemstone for July is the glowing fiery red Ruby -- The ruby is said to contain the original spark of life, 'a drop of the heat's blood of Mother earth'.
August gives us the Peridot -- The Stone of Understanding. The bright olvie green peridot expands awareness and improves inner as well as outer vision.
September highlights the soothing Sapphire -- Sacred to the god Apollo, the sapphire is often called the Celestial Stone because of its deep blue color.
For the month of October it is the Opal -- This birthstone is often described as a bad luck stone, except for those born in October, but that is strictly a superstition. Today it is given as the symbol of hope, happiness and truth.
Topaz is the gemstone for November -- Legend has it that the topaz dispels all enchantment and helps improve eyesight as well. Even better, it is credited with the ability to attract wealth and good fortune.
December's birthstone is Turquoise -- The Magical Stone. One of the oldest known gem materials, dating back as far as 500 B.C. This birthstone helps one start new projects.
The other two gemstone birthstone charts use different stones for the months and I'll do those another time.
Birthstones have stood as lasting symbols of love and affection and as gifts for memorable occasions. They have a romantic mystique that will live forever in our hearts and minds.
What's your favorite stone? It doesn't have to be your month's gemstone.
Friday, August 26, 2011
(Nope, not going to link to them, I'm not giving the lovely authors who wrote them any publicity. If either of them made a sale because of me, I would have sad face.)
First was a guy doing a post on the best of Urban Fantasy. Curiously, all his picks were men... well, not so curiously as further down he lamented the fact that women had become so prevalent in UF and were making a mockery of it, with them adding sex and emotions and all to a once fine genre. To him, it was getting harder and harder to find untainted UF that kept to what UF was "supposed" to be about.
Yeah, fine, we women are used to men dismissing us and our reading/writing choices. What's new about that, right?
Well, then I read the second post, written by a woman, lamenting the fact that as soon as she said she wrote Urban Fantasy, everyone thought she wrote about tramp-stamped women in love triangles, and how she suffered because of that. She didn't write that kind of stuff, you see. She wrote real UF, the kind that deals with Issues(!), and it was such a shame she had to be lumped together with the rest of them women writers.
Oh, and somehow she fit in how she was a feminist. Glad she was able to wrestle that tidbit in.
Look, I'm not an apologist in either my reading or my writing choices. I read what I love, I write what I love, and if it is not your thing? C'est la vie.
What I don't like and am tired of hearing? You throwing all your own insecurities at others. You know why when the average person on the street hears the words Urban Fantasy they immediately think of a female protagonist, lots of kick-butt action, and a messy love situation? Because that's what people love to read and therefore sells the most! Just cause maybe your stuff isn't selling as well, don't complain how the whole genre has been spoiled
The other flavors of Urban Fantasy are wonderful, and I am grateful that not all Urban Fantasy follows the above formula (though even within that formula there is infinite variation.) What I'm tired of is the snooty, nose-in-the-air, why can't you icky women with your emotions stay out of my genre? attitude.
Hey, in my Urban Fantasy, the female protagonist doesn't have a tattoo! All you haters can rejoice now.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Anyways, a year ago, I'd newly found my critique partner Kinley, and we were working on butts off revising our WIPs and querying. I'd been trying and trying to get something going with an urban fantasy novel, and she'd been working Ruined. I was getting increasingly frustrated with rejections even though I knew they were part of the business, but I was hanging in there. I'd gotten just a taste of publication in 2008, so the drought between was almost painful. It was refreshing to have her input and friendship since I'd had crit partners before but never anyone I could relate to so much. (I highly recommend finding a critique partner around the same level as you. It can make life a bit easier. At least it has in my case.)
So we decided to get more involved in the community and create a blog. We both clicked with what concept, name, etc. that we wanted. We found a great group of bloggers! And needless to say, I'm pretty surprised and happy at everything that has happened with Castles & Guns and my own writing in the time between.
This has been a great year. I have two books out with two that are coming soon (September and October). If you'd asked me how I thought things would be next year when this all started, I couldn't have even guessed this.
Thank you so much everyone for making Castles & Guns such a fantastic adventure!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Ray Bradbury turned 91 years old on Monday. I wrote a heartfelt thank you to him on his Facebook page. I’m sure he has no idea how much he impacted my life.
I discovered Ray Bradbury late in life. I didn’t read Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451 until my daughter was in high school. If you’ve never read these books, I highly recommend them! I stayed away from Ray Bradbury because I wasn’t a big sci-fi fan, but what I found was magic.
When you read Ray Bradbury’s words, you can feel his passion for storytelling. He weaves sentences together without grandiose metaphors and a lofty vocabulary, and yet they come together to make verses that stick with you long after you close the cover.
But his books weren’t what changed my life.
I was lucky enough to meet Ray Bradbury a few years ago. He could hardly hear, and he was confined to a wheelchair, but the moment he made eye contact with me, his spirit burned bright. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a person more “alive”. During his speech, he made me cry more than once. That’s how passionate he is about writing and about loving every single day you’re given.
After the standing ovation for his inspiring speech about the craft, I was introduced to this amazing man. I worried I would be tongue-tied, but his smile and the love and acceptance that brimmed in his eyes calmed any anxiety that brewed inside of me. I thanked him for his time and his encouraging words.
At that point I had completed two novels, and was completely discouraged with agent rejections. I asked Ray a simple question. “What can I do to improve my writing?”
I had anticipated he would recommend some books to me. Ray has written a couple of craft books himself. But his advice was this…
With a sparkle in his eyes he grinned and said, “Write a new short story every week for a year. In the end you’ll have stories to last a lifetime.”
That was it. No books, no classes, no quick fix.
Needless to say I ignored his advice. (Have I mentioned I’m a genius? LOL Yeesh!)
I had already sold a few short stories at that point. One of my stories had even been a finalist for a Bram Stoker award from the Horror Writer’s Association, but I knew I’d never be able to make a living at short stories. There’s very little money in it.
But his advice wasn’t about money.
A year slipped by. I wrote almost nothing other than query letters. The rejections stole my muse, or at least that’s the excuse I sold myself. Then one day I found a blogging group online that posted writing prompts once a week. The people were very welcoming, and I gave it a shot. I wrote a new short story that week. It took me all week to get it down and edited and ready to post.
God it felt SO good! I forgot how amazing it felt to write every day.
So the next week I wrote another story. I was about ten weeks into the exercise before I realized that I was going to go after Ray’s challenge. 52 stories in 52 weeks.
I learned something new every week. Some weeks I struggled with the story and had to force myself to get it done by my deadline, and other weeks, I was ready early. As the year wore on, my writing got much tighter and I could flesh out an idea in half the time it took me in the beginning. I also learned to research and fact-check without letting it steal my writing time.
In fact, during my 52 week challenge I wrote a novel while writing a new story every week. I couldn’t believe it.
And after the year was finished, I kept writing short stories while I wrote another novel, and I realized something amazing. Ray Bradbury knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. When he gave me that advice, I didn’t want to work that hard.
I was writing to try to “sell” it. By the end of the year, I was writing because I “loved” it. Huge difference.
I also learned there isn’t a recipe. There’s no magic pill. Writing is a craft, like painting and drawing and singing. You can’t get better without practice. Lots of practice.
I also learned that when you love the craft, it shows in your work. The love comes through in your verses and your words without any conscious effort on your part, and the love becomes that elusive “voice” publishers are always talking about.
Love makes magic. If I hadn’t met Ray Bradbury, I’m not sure I would have persevered and kept chasing my publishing dream. He made all the difference in my writing with his one simple challenge.
Happy Birthday Ray!!!
And thank you…
PS – In September, I’ll be teaching an online class through Savvy Authors on Using Flash Fiction to find your Voice. I think there are still a few spots left. It’ll be very hands on for 4 weeks. A new story each week… You’ll be on your way! :) Hope to see you there…
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Rulebreaker is told in first person POV by Liv, so I was able to give deeper insights into her character. This allows us to see and feel the things she was going through, to realize she wasn’t such a terrible person after all. The fact she never wanted to hurt the people she stole from even as she held her pulser on them was an important point to get across. When Liv is approached to join her ex and his new crew in extorting a mining company, her thoughts make the crime acceptable:
“As long as they didn’t ask me to kill anyone, directly or otherwise, or to cause small children any suffering, I’d be willing to play.”
Blatant, perhaps, but it gets the job done—Liv is not a bad person despite her criminal inclinations. It’s okay to blackmail a multibillion credit corporation as long as no children (or animals) are harmed in the process : )
Zia was a little tougher to have readers warm up to. Since we only see her from Liv’s eyes, I needed to find a way to overcome her initial coolness. Some of her inner turmoil about what’s happening at Exeter Mining comes out through conversations Liv overhears (well, more like purposely eavesdrops on, but you get the idea). Another way I softened this no nonsense executive was to show her in some unguarded moments with Liv. She has a vulnerable side that is as easily bruised as any woman’s.
Both of these women show their mettle throughout the story, bad girls in their own rights. But as the heroines of a romance novel, even the bad girls must have a heart.
Excerpt from Rulebreaker: (Liv and her partner were about to rob a bank when another gang got the drop on them. Here, she is being interviewed by the law afterward.)
“Here’s your water, Miss Braxton.” Sheriff Nathan Sterling set the heavy glass tumbler in front of me and resumed his seat on the other side of the table. He wasn’t particularly tall, only a dozen centis over my 167. But his dark uniform with its shiny badge, his broad shoulders and erect posture made him seem bigger.
“Thank you,” I said and took a sip of tepid water.
We sat in the windowless, overheated interview room of the Milchner sheriff’s station.
Like most of Milchner—and Nevarro, for that matter—the room and the station had seen better days. Peeling paint and rickety furniture proclaimed the sheriff department’s lack of budget.
Sterling shuffled through a few sheets of synth paper on the table. Paper. I swallowed a chuckle with another sip. No handhelds in sight, and the bulky System Interface terminals in the main office were about a decade behind the rest of civilization. How did they chase down criminals? With a posse on horseback? Just as long as they didn’t go in for lynching, I’d be fine.
A thin scar running across his forehead blended with frown lines as he read my statement. “You went into the bank to withdraw some cash.” His blue eyes met mine. “Your ID says you’re from Pembroke. What’s your business in our little burg?”
Cal and I had worked out details well beforehand. “My friend and I were taking a weekend trip. We needed a room.”
That was a lie, but the fleabag hotel we’d scoped out only took hard money, not credit vouchers or weepy promises. Though the guy behind the desk was scary enough that he probably would’ve taken a kidney or small child as payment. The trade in both was rampant on some worlds.
Sterling quirked a dark blond brow at me. “You were gonna stay at the Milchner Arms?”
I gave him a weary smile. “It’s the only hotel in town. We’re tired and poor.”
This part was true, hence our plan to rob the bank.
He held my gaze for a moment. As he stared, his right eye drifted, shifting its focus to the wall. Artificial organ. And a cheap one at that, if it couldn’t hold position. If the Milchner constabulary couldn’t afford decent furniture, why was I surprised its sheriff received second-rate eye replacement?
The sheriff rubbed the corner of his eye, setting it back into place before nodding. “All right. Tell me what happened.”
Despite the fact he had my full statement right in front of his baby blues—at least the colors matched—the lawman wanted to see if there were any discrepancies in my story. To see if I’d left out any details of the robbery, which I hadn’t. Or was lying about anything, which I was, but he’d never know it. Lawmen were suspicious types; “trust no one” was their mantra. I could relate.
I cleared my throat. “Cal and I had come in to get some cash. It was getting late, and the bank was about to close.” Classic time for a hit. The robbers knew it. Sterling probably knew it.
But I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit I knew it. “Before we got up to the teller’s cage, these three guys in black burst in, hit the guard and pointed guns at us. They told us to lay on the floor, and we did.”
My hands clenched on the table. Sterling probably thought it was a reaction to the frightening situation I’d been through. Actually it was from being torqued that our plans had been thwarted. Again. The idea of switching careers had crossed my mind more than once since this afternoon.
Comment about your inner Bad Girl for a copy of Rulebreaker! Open until Friday Aug. 26, and I’ll announce Saturday. Leave your email!
Find Cathy at her blog http://cathypegau.blogspot.com her website http://www.cathypegau.com on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cathy-Pegau/184452628282206 or Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/CathyPegau
Rulebreaker is available from Carina Press http://tinyurl.com/452do63 Amazon http://tinyurl.com/3s8hnl5 Barnes&Noble http://tinyurl.com/3mocjps and just about anywhere ebooks are found :-) thanks!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Weylyn's Gift, Magic Lessons and Rituals were all previously part of the Pink Chair Diaries, a now-defunct website that had erotic stories featuring a pink plastic chair with a dildo on its seat. I've also gotten the rights back to three previously-published short stories and will be doing some work on each of them. Two of the stories are related and I'm hoping to turn them into a series. The other story is probably going to get turned into a novella and be part of a trilogy.
In addition to all this work on old manuscripts, I'm writing a Christmas story that has me revisiting my fictional town of Forza, California and my flyboys Sebastian and Ryder. The boys get a shocking surprise for Christmas in Breath of Heaven. A death in the family leads to a whole new chapter in Bas and Ryder's lives.
All this revising and revisiting made me stop and think about this whirlwind of activity I've got going with manuscripts. And while I've not written a lot of words, I've gotten a lot of work done that will end up being new releases. Before you can say, what's up with that...let me tell you that I am not alone. I've seen a lot of posts on RWA related loops in the last few months about people asking for their rights back, revising their old manuscripts, resubmitting them or going the self-pub route. I can't tell you how many commissions I've gotten from authors wanting covers because they are going to self-pub.
Now, as I've said before, I'm not ready to go the self-pub route. I have publisher plans in mind for the rights I get back. Most of them are going to require work from me before I can submit them so it's not a case of taking back rights from one publisher and then tossing the books at another. They all need to be revised and in some cases lengthened. Once all these babies are out of my hands, I've got still more stuff to work on, but for the moment, aside from my Christmas stories and one novella, all my work is on old manuscripts.
So I'm revving up and headed down Revision Road. My hope is to bring readers more fully into my worlds by knitting together loose ends I left hanging and making my work better and more accessible. The Encounters series is just the start.
Weylyn's Gift will be out in October and I hope readers and fans of the Darkworld find this glimpse into Weylyn's beginnings fun as well as erotic. He's always fun to write and his influence on other characters in the Tales series is already known. This just gives the readers a chance to know him better.
For a taste of Magic Lessons, the third Encounters book, hop on over to my author blog and read my Six Sentence Sunday offering. I hope you all have a great day!
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Then I was reminded again when a run in with a difficult person at work just slammed my temper into over drive. A walk outside with my friends later and I was much better.
In both cases having someone to vent to, cry to, share the experience with made all the difference.
Which got me to thinking about friends of our characters.
Once I started thinking about it, I realized I love books where the main character has a wide number of friends. Good folks that I, as the reader, feel safe with (as in it’s a good place for the character), people that add insight and support to the character, that give a reprieve from the “action” so to speak- even just briefly.
They may not be noticed much, just a pop in here or there- but they lend a richness to the character and the world that would be lost without them. And best friends are wonderful. They really lend another dimension to the character.
When I looked at my own writing I realized that some of my favorite folks are my “friends”. Now this doesn’t mean I don’t love my main characters, just that with the friends there’s less pressure. Since they aren’t on stage all the time I can play with them more.
But that friendship can also raise the stakes big time for our main characters. I’m reading a wonderful SFR where the main character’s BFF almost dies (ok, technically he does die- but he comes back- it’s all good ;)). I was so vested in that friendship, the author had done such a great job of making it believable, that I was almost in tears! She really brought both the main and the BFF to life so well it was a huge pull on my emotions- and isn’t that what we all want readers to experience?
What about you- how do you feel about friends in your books?
Friday, August 19, 2011
All summer has been a prelude to this moment. On Tuesday, August 16th, my novella Out of the Shadows released. Okay, it's only been a few days, but we are listed #10 on the Best Seller list of my publisher, Samhain Publishing. Tomorrow, maybe I drop to 11 or maybe I climb higher. I have no idea, but I'm floating on the world because I've never been here.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been promoting like crazy. I'd like to think it's paying off. The publishing industry has always been challenging. With the Internet and social media, though, it's become both easier and more difficult to reach readers. All that time spent blogging and chatting and commenting is generally time that takes a writer away from that next novel. I saw a tweet yesterday from author Moira Rogers saying that with all the promoting she hadn't written a word. I laughed because I get that. So I will promote away and then as soon as I can catch my breath I'm going to rush back to my computer to get to work. And then I'll be promoting the next release, I hope...
In celebration of the 1st book in the SHADOW WARRIOR series, I am holding a contest. Follow me & the tzitzimime (celestial demon and nemesis of Shadow Warriors) on the blog tour and leave a comment to be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Samhain Publishing. It’s that easy!
All entries must be in by August 24th. The winner will be declared on the blog August 26th. Contest starts June 5th and ends midnight August 24th (EST).One winner will be chosen at random for the prize.
Samhain Publishing http://store.samhainpublishing.com/out-of-the-shadows-p-6410.html
When the last shadow warrior falls, so will all humanity.
With each demon he vanquishes in service to the Aztec sun god, Tomás fulfills his duty to defend humankind—and surrenders another piece of his humanity to his wolf spirit. All hope seems lost until a mission leads him to the door of the one thing he thought he’d never find…his spirit mate. The only woman who can save him from oblivion.
When Carolina hears the wolf’s howl, it pierces the very core of her lonely heart. Yet she dare not answer. As the last guardian of her land and the secret it contains, she is haunted by the mistake that cost the lives of her family. Never will she repeat that mistake, especially with a warrior who is more beast than man.
Chasing away the demon is easier than breaching the barriers around the heart of the young woman who possesses a strange power over water—and his very soul. But if they are to survive the night, he must convince her they are destined to stand together.
A wolf’s howl pierced the desert silence, causing the animals to stir restlessly in their stalls. Wolves had been reintroduced into Arizona, but she had yet to see or hear one so close to her ranch. Was it an omen?
Carolina paused in her chores to stare out the open barn door into the gathering darkness.
For a moment, she let herself get caught up in the long, solitary note. It felt like a kindred spirit. She knew loneliness intimately. Only her loneliness did not come from the vast miles of the sun-parched Sonoran desert that surrounded her, but out of the necessity to protect her goddess, her land’s secret. As one of the few amongst her people to become a guardian, her choices were limited.
The one occasion she’d invested herself in another, he’d betrayed her. She’d foolishly placed her hope and trust in Billy and she’d paid a horrendous price. Her desire to find someone to share the workload, her joy and sadness, and the burden of her secret—just as her parents had done—had blinded her to the trap she’d walked into. By the time she understood what was happening, it was too late. Her parents were dead.
Her heart weighed heavy in her chest as if it had happened recently and not five years ago. The memory of her parents lingered too close to the surface today. This had been their land, their dream, and now it was hers to fight for. She’d vowed never to fail them again. Above her own needs came the higher purpose of protecting her goddess at all costs.
Her mare, Mariposa, snorted and reared up, pulling Carolina from her thoughts. The animals had been growing edgier with each passing minute. They sensed the evil that blew in with the warm desert breeze. She berated herself for not paying more attention to them.
Goose bumps prickled her skin. Her tattoo, a gift from the goddess, began a slow burn on her shoulder, a sure sign that evil was approaching. She felt the heat radiating through the fabric of her denim shirt. The last time she’d experienced the odd sensation, her world had fallen apart.
Cautiously, she turned her head, seeking the source.
Her breath came out in a gasp.
Less than ten feet away sat a magnificent gray wolf, watching her. Waiting.