And the winner is . . .

Today is the end of the ERUPTION giveaway! And the winner is:

PhantomWriter143!

I’ll be in touch with you to get your address. I wish I had enough copies for everyone—this is a truly stellar book!! Keep an eye out for more giveaways in the future! Nothing makes me happier than handing out free books, except maybe receiving free books.

And in lieu of a writing challenge today, I want to point you toward the Gotham Character Questionnaire, to which I was alerted by A Cup of English Tea. I’m always on the lookout for a good characterization sheet, and this is a fabulous one!

Bonus content!!

demon's heart coverIn celebration of having all my files back in one place, I went wandering through some of my old, discarded story bits. Lo and behold, I discovered an alternate beginning I had written for Demon’s Heart about a billion drafts ago! The story originally started about ten days earlier than it does now, but for pacing and plotting reasons, I jumped the beginning forward for the later drafts. Take a peek!

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Rustav made his way through the crowded streets of Markuum, the shouts of dockworkers and merchants falling heavily on his ears. Other inhabitants of the city skirted around him, either pretending he wasn’t there or shooting him furtive, disapproving glances as they passed. Nearly seventeen years of such behavior had dulled his awareness of it, and the boy had learned to appreciate being left alone. It was certainly better than the alternative.

Unfortunately, the alternative was sometimes unavoidable. Rustav could hear the heavy boots on cobblestones behind him, but he didn’t turn. It hurt less when they hit him from the back.

A rough hand grabbed his shoulder and yanked him around, shoving him against the wall of the one of Markuum’s many fish hawkers. It was Taver again, and no surprise; Rustav’s uncle Karstafel had just stolen a large load of merchandise from Taver’s father. Though Taver was a year younger and a few inches shorter, he was substantially broader than Rustav and well-liked in town.

Taver wrapped his fist around the front of Rustav’s shirt and pushed hard. Normally, the kid had more of a mouth than a fist, so Rustav nearly missed his chance to dodge the punch Taver threw at him. He jerked out of the way just in time, and Taver hit the wall.

“What’s the excuse today?” Rustav asked coolly, feigning ignorance.

“You know full well,” Taver said, a hint of desperation in his furious voice as he shook his hand. “Your blasted uncle—he’s ruining us!”

Click here to read the rest of the chapter.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for ERUPTION by Adrienne Quintana! You don’t want to miss this book!

Who doesn’t love free books?

IMG_1246Today, BumblesBooks is bringing one of you lucky readers a FREE BOOK! We’re giving away one signed copy of ERUPTION by Adrienne Quintana! Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Jace Vega has finally landed her dream job—working for Omnibus, an up-and-coming tech firm. But a mysterious message from her future self sets Jace and her old friend Corey racing to piece together clues before Omnibus destroys their future—and their past. This fast-paced thriller will keep you guessing till the very last page.

To enter, follow Adrienne on Facebook or on Twitter, then leave me a comment letting me know you’ve done it. You have one week! I’ll choose the winner next Monday, 27 July 2015.

And because it’s Monday and we must have our writing challenge, let’s make it Eruption-themed:

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Your character gets a message from his or her future self. What form does it take? What does it say?

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Okay, go enter for your chance to win a free book!

All together now . . .

I’m not one of those scribble-on-napkins authors. I’ve never been able to write my story ideas on whatever scrap of paper is handy, because I’m so paranoid about it getting lost. When I was younger, I had specific notebooks devoted to specific story ideas, and not one of those notebooks could ever be spoiled with anything other than its designated story. It just couldn’t be done.

For years now, though, I’ve been writing on the computer, and I love my layers and layers of files neatly organized by story, type, and draft. I have files from middle school in this folder, guys. It literally has my life’s work in it.

When I finally gave in and got a new computer a couple of months ago, I thought it might be time to trim away some of the excess bulk. Because really, who needs 90 folders containing 1,111 files?

Well, I do, as it turns out. I had no idea how often I refer to older drafts and older story ideas to shape what I’m writing. I don’t just pull from the fourth draft to write the fifth draft; I pull from all previous incarnations of the story, including pre-drafts when it was a completely different story altogether. And then maybe I pull a few aspects from a story I trashed years ago, and then I get some inspiration from a story that’s been simmering on the back burner for a while.

So yesterday, I did a little cleanup to get it down to 1,035 files, reorganized my folders to make the first window a little less overwhelming, transferred it all over to my new computer, and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I’m ready to get back to work.

Take a peek a few levels deep into my endless spiral of story folders . . .

stories folder

New and improved welcome page of my Stories folder.

novus folder

Diving into my NOVUS series . . .

novus1 folder

. . . and book 1 of NOVUS, 2.5 drafts in.

How do you keep your writing organized? Or are you more likely to let your pages fly loose? Do you look back at past (and way-past) drafts, or do you let them gather dust?

Learning from others’ mistakes

This post is partially an apology. A while ago, there was an ebook on sale that I had heard great things about. I bought it and told several people that they should get it while it was on sale.

I finally got around to reading it last weekend and I–am–mortified.

Now, I’m not in the business of shaming books or authors, so I’m not going to mention the name of the book here. Just know that if you bought a book on my recommendation and it was teeming with objectification of women and erratic plot zigzags and more loose ends than a frayed rope, I apologize deeply and sincerely.

The sad part is, I don’t think the author realized how horrifyingly offensive the portrayal of female characters was. Other parts of the books made feeble attempts at telling the reader the opposite message, but, my word. I’ve rarely had the misfortune to read a book where women were so thoroughly depicted as all breasts and no brains.

The good thing that came out of all this is that I’ve gone through each of the specific issues I had with the book and held those issues up to my own manuscripts. Doing that always makes me hypersensitive to things that might be misread or problems that I didn’t realize had crept in.

I don’t recommend picking up terrible books, but if you do get stuck with one, make it useful by ensuring that you don’t make the same mistakes in your own writing.

Thankfully, I had a couple of better books on hand to wash away the bad taste. How’s your reading been lately? Any good books I should read? Any bad books I should avoid?

Shoring up weak spots

Description is Written Enemy Number 1 in my world.

Part of the problem is that I don’t like to read books that are heavy on description. I loved the plot of Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, but when she was describing everything in Corlath’s tent down to the etching on the handle of the tea cup . . . get me to the fighting, please!

I know not everyone is that way. I have two fabulous writing buddies in particular who write gorgeous descriptions, and they’re always great at encouraging more description on my part. It’s not something that comes easily to me, and I need all the help I can get.

Description is a necessary part of writing well, though the depth of description depends greatly on your patience with it. If you need a little practice with it, take up this week’s writing challenge:

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Take a look around you and write a description of what’s there–not just what you see with your eyes, but what you smell, hear, feel. Get into what it makes you think of, too–memories, hopes, people, etc.

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How do you feel about description? Are you into reading pages and pages of it? Do you tend to over-describe or under-describe in your writing?

Look what I can do!

You might guess that I have a thing for books. I read books, I write books, I hoard books, I quote books, I can barely get through a conversation without bringing books into it in some way.

So I have this friend who makes beautiful handcrafted books. (You can see her work at Pickle Bound Books.) Not only does she create these lovely books, she shares her talent and teaches other people how to do it as well!

I attended her Oriental Stab Binding class this week, and it was amazing! I took a bunch of paper and some thread, and voila!

IMG_20150710_131146

Have you ever tried your hand at book binding? Grab the opportunity if you ever have it. So much fun.