THE DEAD KEY

Congratulations to D.M. Pulley, winner of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. I can’t wait to see THE DEAD KEY in print!

 

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ABNA 2014 FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

I’m embarrassingly late to this, but:

Amazon has announced the Five ABNA Finalists. Please go and read the excerpts and vote. You have only until July 21st, all of the excerpts are wonderful, and the authors appreciate every input and attention.

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#MYWRITINGPROCESS BLOG HOP

 

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My Writing Process is an ongoing blog hop where a writer answers four basic questions about their writing process and then is asked to pass the baton to two more authors. I was invited by the lovely Tricia Sankey. Please take a moment to check out her blog at http://www.milspouseprose.com

My Writing Process in 4 Answers:

What am I working on?

At the moment, I’m struggling through a veritable wealth of projects. I’m putting the last edits on a LGBTA YA short story for a Reuts Pub. collection coming out in the near future. I’m about 1/3 of the way through SUMMER, the second volume in my YA fantasy series, THE MANHATTAN EXILES. That particular series I publish through my own Madison Place Press imprint, which takes hella (to borrow a phrase from my fourteen-year-old) work, from first draft to edits to cover design and imprint design and marketing.

Finally, I was just recently lucky enough to sign a two book series with Harper Voyager. The first book, ON STONEHILL DOWNS, should hit the shelves in November. HV wants the follow-up draft in by October. Which means I’m hip deep in a rather desperate bid to come up with 80,000 words plus in three months.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Honestly, I’m a bit twisted. I like darkness and angst in my fantasy (to a lighter degree when I’m writing YA). I also like to revisit several basic underlying themes: love, loyalty, morality and spirituality. The questions that keep me up at night. I like to test my characters, watch them bend and (sometimes) break. I also like to write diversity: sexual, genetic, racial, religious, gender-specific, speciesism. Binary is boring. I think a lot about my two children when I write, and also my many nieces and nephews. I want to champion acceptance.

Why do I write what I do? 

I think I answered this one above, so I’ll go for simple fluff and say: I write what I want to read. I heard Anne Rice interviewed once, and her advice really stuck with me. (Paraphrased) “Write what you want to read, and you’ll find your audience. There’s always someone out there for your book.” Neil Gaiman said a similar thing on Tumblr the other day. If you enjoy what you write, you’ll find your audience, your niche. I write what I do because I enjoy the writing of it. The rest follows as it will.

How does my writing process work?

I live an extremely busy life, so my writing process has to be highly scheduled. I literally break down projects by word count per day, often by days of the week. At the moment HV gets M-F. SUMMER gets Sunday. Saturday is for Corbin and the Beast ficlets, or anything else that strikes my fancy, or absolutely no writing if my brain is fried.

School’s out at the moment, so I start around 7 AM while the children are sleeping. I sit down and…write. It doesn’t have to be good and I don’t worry too much about perfect wording. I keep to the plot line, and I just get it down. First draft, for me, is all about getting it down. I write for a few hours, then I get up and feed the children and the chickens, start household chores. Generally (because I’m lucky enough to be day-job-free in the summer) I write for two hours, do household maintenance, etc, for a an hour. Check Twitter, Tumblr, blogs. Then back in front of the keyboard for two. This goes on until about 10 pm at night, with variance for human interaction, errands, necessary hygiene, and time spent with my horses at the barn.

Conclusion: I write in shifts. Treat it as a job. Clock in and out. And after five PM, I have a nice single shot of Patron Silver over the keyboard in celebration of surviving another day.

Did I do all four? Yes, I did all four. Questions? Comments? Applause? Feel free to leave them.

I’m very excited to pass the #MYWRITINGPROCESS hop on to two of my favorite young and talented scribes. They’ll be up next Monday, please pay them both a visit.

Eleanor R. Wood’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Bete NoirePlasma Frequency Magazine, Stupefying Stories, Pseudopod, and Bastion. She’s lucky enough to live near the sea, and never minds the sand tracked into the house by husband or dogs. She loves the outdoors and licorice tea, and is an avid fishkeeper. Find her at http://www.creativepanoply.wordpress.com

Emma Osborne is a fiction writer and poet from Melbourne, Australia. Her short stories can be found in Daily Science Fiction and Aurealis. Her poetry has been featured in Star*Line and has appeared in Apex Magazine. Emma comes from a long line of dance floor starters and was once engaged in a bear hug so epic that both parties fell over. She can be found on Twitter as @redscribe Please visit Emma at http://www.emmakosborne.com

 

 

 

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PHONOGRAPH (Corbin and the Beast)

As we speak, the original CORBIN AND THE BEAST ficlet is in the edit stage at Reuts. Reading through that little twisted fairy tale made me miss these two boys, so I threw together a short domestic scene.

I still do plan to give Corbin and his Beast their own full-length story. If all goes as I hope I’d like to jot up their manuscript between SUMMER and the third Exiles volume.

Until then, you can find bits and pieces of their story here, under their very own category. And don’t forget to look for them in the short story anthology coming soon from Reuts.

 

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Corbin was hanging a whitetail doe from the rafters of an unused bed chamber when the Beast shouted. Corbin jerked in surprise, wobbling on his unsteady perch, nearly dropping the rope he’d finally managed to loop around a thick beam. The rope slipped, and the doe’s back legs jigged briefly against the floor.

“God’s balls!” Corbin snapped. The chair he’d used for elevation wobbled on delicate spindles. The doe wasn’t quite heavier than Corbin, but it was a close match. Corbin fought for balance, hauling hard on the rope. His shoulders pulled uncomfortable, but the chair stopped rocking and the rope scraped back along the beam, winching the carcass into the air.

The chamber door slammed open, rattling the walls, the floorboards, and Corbin’s chair. The Beast launched himself over the threshold, all but thrumming in excitement, long black hair flowing loose, festooned with cobwebs and dust.

“Corbin!” he said, bouncing on his toes like a over-stimulated child. “Didn’t you hear me call?”

“I heard.”

Corbin bent his knees, anchoring the rope with his right hand, feeding out slack with his left. He tossed a second loop over the beam, then tied a quick hunter’s knot. The doe on her tether swayed idly, but she would keep.

The Beast paused mid-bounce. He narrowed yellow eyes at carcass, patrician nose wrinkling.

“What’s that?”

“Dinner for several se’enights, once she’s hung long enough for proper butchering.” Corbin wiped the palms of his hands on his trousers, and hopped to the floor. “Found her just this morning, killed in a dwarf-trap, poor thing. Not dead long, and only a little gnawed. She’ll do.”

“Ugh.” The demon youth folded his hands behind his back. His velvet coat was spotless as usual, untouched by the grime marring his face and hair. “Must you string it up in here?”

Corbin glanced around the chamber at peeling wall-paper, moth-eaten linens, and disintegrating furniture. He shrugged.

“Closest room to the front stairs, and its the perfect temperature. Weather’s cold enough she might do in the bailey, but I don’t trust your wolves to let her be.”

The Beast pulled a face. “This was the Queen’s suite, once, you know.”

“Really? It looks the same as all the others. Which Queen would that be?”

“How would I know?” The Beast shifted impatiently. He waved a long-fingered hand. “Never mind. Corbin, I need you.”

“Right.” Smothering a sigh, Corbin plucked his hunting pack from the floor, and slung it over a shoulder. “What is it now?”

In spite of unfeigned irritation, Corbin felt a flicker of interest. He’d had the past few winter days to himself, the Beast disappeared in his own chamber behind locked doors, as the demon was occasionally wont to do. Corbin knew better than to disturb his friend when those doors were latched tight; the sounds and smells seeping beneath the jamb were repulsive enough to give him nightmares for a year.

“What’s happened? Is there news from Littleton?”

“No. Not that.” The Beast stopped halfway through the door, glanced back over his shoulder at the doe. “It’s not going to…drip…on my floors…or anything similar?”

Corbin placed the flat of his hand between his friend’s shoulder blades, and shoved, none too gently.

“Because the rest of your floors are so clean? I’ve seen the bones in the ball room, remember?”

It was a long-standing contention, but this time the Beast didn’t rise to the bait. Instead his yellow eyes lit with an emotion that could only be joy. Corbin felt a surge of affection at that glimpse of uncommon warmth. He grinned.

“What is it, monster?” he demanded again. “What’s happened?”

The Beast was bouncing again. Corbin couldn’t quite contain a snort of amusement. The demon tended toward sulk and temper rather than joy, and Corbin had lately begun to hoard any small bit of contentment as dearly as the Beast had once hoarded gold.

“I’ve found it! Finally found it.” The Beast grabbed Corbin by the cuff of his sleeve, and pulled him down the corridor toward the curving grand stairway. “I thought it was lost, and it nearly was, buried beneath an atrocious mid-nineteenth-century sofa, and it’s broken, but just bent, really, and I know you can fix it, Corbin. You were so handy with my fountain.”

There were leaves on the steps, because the Beast routinely forgot to close the Manor door. The Beast hopped over the debris. His hand had somehow slid from Corbin’s sleeve, his fingers somehow become tangled in Corbin’s own. Corbin felt a lurch of dismay or lust or both at the realization, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull away.

They both ducked flags of spider-web trailing from the old chandelier above. Corbin sighed.

“We should clean that, don’t you think? There are a few saplings out back I’ve got my eye on for making a ladder.”

“Or I could witch you weightless,” the Beast said, tugging Corbin to a halt at the foot of the staircase. “Later. Right now: look.” He released Corbin’s hand, pointing.

Corbin frowned, puzzled. He squatted next to his friend on the marble floor, squinted suspiciously at the Beast’s small treasure. At first glance it didn’t appear very impressive: a wide metal flower blooming from a rectangular wooden box.

But Corbin knew better than to trust his eyes. It was likely as not the flower could suddenly expand and swallow him entire, or sprout metal tentacles and drag him down to the very depths of Hell.

“It’s a phonograph,” the Beast snorted, when Corbin didn’t speak. “It records music. Music and voices. And mimics the sound back.”

“Ah,” Corbin nodded wisely. “Magic, then.”

“No,” the Beast laughed. He sounded a little off, a little desperate. Corbin stared at him. The Beast stared back.

“It’s science,” the demon explained. On his knees, he bent over the ‘phonograph’, caressed the metal flower, then tapped a shiny cylinder. “This, this roll, there’s music etched upon it. Set the roll to motion and the stylus vibrates, turning etchings into sound.”

“Yes?” Corbin prompted.

“Can’t you see?” his friend snarled, shifting from starry-eyed to petulant in a heartbeat. “Didn’t I say. The stylus is bent. It won’t work. I need you to fix it, Corbin. Make yourself useful, for once.”

Corbin ignored the implied insult. He was growing used the demon’s mood-swings, God help him.

“We have music,” he reminded the Beast. “The harpsichord, remember? I play it, you dance. Endlessly.”

“Yes, yes.” The Beast tugged on the ends of his own hair in apparent frustration. “But I’ve gotten weary of dancing alone, Corbin. I want more. I want to dance with you.”

“I can’t dance,” Corbin said, carefully bland. “I know farming, and hunting, and swordsmanship; not the Rufty Tufty.”

“I’ll teach you,” the Beast returned, quick as a snake. “Fix my phonograph. And we’ll dance.”

Corbin glared. The Beast glared back. Then his mouth soften, and those yellow eyes grew wide.

“Please,” he said.

Corbin’s heart turned over behind his ribs. He sighed, then nodded.

“But tomorrow,” he cautioned, “we’re fixing the chandelier. Right?”

“Right,” the Beast echoed, distracted, bent once again over the music-maker. “After we dance, Corbin. After we dance.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FAMILIES ON THE GRASS (ETCH THE HEART)

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Bran was too well schooled to let horror mark his expression, but he wasn’t entirely impassive. Siobahn noted the flexing of his jaw, and the flush of blood along the stitched seam in his skull.

“There are kids – ” He stopped, and cleared his throat. “There are people on the other side of the hill, Siobahn. Families on the grass.”

Families on the grass. Siobahn remembered Winter and Summer playing in the park as children, catching snowflakes on their tongues and eyelashes. She shook her head, chasing the old sentiment away.

She allowed her eyes to widen, gave the detective the full force of her disdain.

“What’s a point made unless it etches the heart?” she asked, gently. “Bring your naive horror back to Katherine Grey, Detective, and remind her I’ve little left to lose.”

Bran turned and ran. Siobahn saw the moment the human almost put his foot into the dark stain. He recalled himself just in time, foot hovering an inch above the ground, then dodged his own death and sprinted along the concrete path instead. A safer choice, but far too indirect. Olmstead and Vaux’s rolling pastoral was meant for gentle rambling, and not urban warfare.

“He’s too late,” the Troubadour said without inflection. It watched Bran disappear behind the blackened hill.

“Hope springs eternal,” Siobahn quoted, mocking.

The Troubadour bowed. “So it does.”

“M’lady,” Morris interrupted. His protective bubble continued to pulse around Siobahn; his concentration unshaken. “If I may ask, what now?”

“Now we return home,” Siobahn said. She heard the distant wail of sirens. Someone mortal had phoned for help. “Dispel your Cant, Morris. I’m in no danger. This particular tool is tuned to royal blood.”

“My lady,” Morris protested, swallowing hard. “I haven’t your confidence. Even the finest sword cuts both ways.”

Siobahn squashed a twitch of impatience. She hadn’t time for fools. But Morris was like a wolf puppy, so eager to test his growing fangs.

“Bind it if you like,” she allowed, because it was easier than arguing, and she could see the flash of blue and red lanterns over the hill. “But not on my account. The Troubadour is loyal to my desires as my own left hand. Am I not correct?”

The Troubadour bowed again, meeting Siobahn’s stare, ignoring the loop of green fire Morris conjured around its wrists, fairy manacles.

“I am ever at your disposal,” replied the monster. It smiled, gathering black miasma about its heels and shoulders like a cloak. “Lead on, Highness. I’m eager for a proper home. It’s been far too long.”

- SUMMER, The Manhattan Exiles

 

 

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ABNA 2014 SEMI-FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

UnknownRight, guys! Amazon has announced the 2014 ABNA Semi-Finalists! Time to go take a look and vote on your favorites! Trust me, the authors appreciate every read and feedback!

 

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Harper Voyager

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Extremely pleased to announce I’ve signed with Harper Voyager, home of SO MANY of my VERY FAVORITE scifi and fantasy authors!

I’ve contracted ON STONEHILL DOWNS, part one of a ‘different sort’ of epic fantasy, along with its untitled and to-be-written follow-up.

As I’ll be writing the second book side-by-side with SUMMER, the next few months have suddenly gotten a whole lot busier. Luckily, writing through horse shows is one of my Special Talents.

Keep checking back for more updates, cool marketing facts, and the usual SUMMER snippets – I’ve also commissioned a lovely up-and-coming indie artist to paint up some actions shots of Winter and his friends for July’s ComiCon and other promo events. I’ll post those WONDERFUL pieces of work as they come to fruition.

Cheers,

Sarah

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