Here There Be Dragons

Ruth, the white dragon from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.

I’ve finally been given the go-ahead to talk about the art commission I’ve been working on since last year. I’m doing the art for the face cards of a 5-suit Dragon Poker set based on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books. This is an authorized card game to be published by Antiquarian Boardgames. (The link is to their FB page, as their website is currently down.) It is in conjunction with a Dragonriders of Pern LARP.

Ruth will be the Joker for the deck. The Kings will all be Weyr Women, the Queens will be Weyr Leaders or wing seconds, and the Jacks will be crafters or holders. The aces will be a dragon in the each of the five dragon colors from Anne’s books: gold, bronze, brown, green, and blue. The dragon for the aces will also be miniaturized for use as the pips on the numbered cards.

I already have all the art done in pencil and have started the inking process. In addition to the cards Antiquarian Boardgames will be selling, I am authorized to sell prints of the artwork. I plan to have some sort of purchase link set up for the prints by convention season next year. I will keep you all updated.

“Young Queen and Rider”, which I did for Dragon*Con 1989, was the artwork which earned me this commission. This print was signed for me by Anne at a book signing in Longwood, FL for the release of Masterharper of Pern.

I’ve been a fan of all her books and various series ever since the early 1980s, when Donna Akehurst (then Varner) gave me a copy of the Harper Hall trilogy.

I even found my first publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, because of Anne, indirectly. I saw their Facebook post about publishing the back list of Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, who wrote the Peytabee and Acorna the Unicorn Girl series with Anne. That led to looking them up, querying them, and the eventual first publication of my Waves of Darkness series.

As I said above, I will keep you posted about the progress on this project and my writing, as well.

Viktor and Crew Are At Sea for Now

As of April 2018 the Waves of Darkness series of books are unavailable for sale (with the exception of a few copies of each title I still have for conventions). I have ended my contract with Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

I will be re-releasing the books at a future date, as yet undetermined, as self-published works. They will have new covers, and I plan to do some minor revisions/re-edits prior to that time.

This comes at about the same time I plan to launch the first episode of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe, also to be self-published. Plus, I’m about to enter a period of extensive overtime with my job. So I ask for your patience. I want to do this as quickly as possible; but I want to do it right and give readers the best quality.

Thank you for reading. Viktor Brandewyne WILL be back.

Maelstrom of Fate Progress Report #2

1175091_555038981199686_155128330_n

This is why I’m the ship’s scribe, not Viktor. Just kidding.

This has been a productive weekend, both in typing and revising on Maelstrom of Fate, and in catching up on my video readings.

The typed manuscript currently stands at  39 pages typed in the Smashwords’ submissions guidelines format, which my publisher uses. The word count is at 11,898. I am three paragraphs into chapter 6 out of  31 chapters total plus the Once Upon a Tide prologue and an epilogue.

There is still a lot of work ahead of me. I also still have the final redshirt spot to award, which will be done in the drawing at LibertyCon the last weekend of June. (In a side note: I saw on their website, when I sent in payment for my three Authors’ Alley time slots, the convention is sold out.)

I firmly believe that I will have the manuscript in a suitable form to be ready for publication by October. I only hope my publisher is able to do so at that time. I would dearly love to debut the book at Hallowcon in East Ridge, TN.

I also started writing episode 16 of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe, which is my current writing project during work breaks. And I’ve done a quick, preliminary sketch of the cover art for Maelstrom of Fate. One element will be a new challenge for me. I have never attempted to paint an explosion, and haven’t done a line-art (comic book style) drawing of one in decades.

Print Book Update and Fun With Giant Spiders!

I’ve received and approved the .pdf galley for the print version of The Daedalus Enigma from my publisher. I’m just waiting for the print edition to be uploaded to the printer.

Since this book is considerably longer than the previous books in the series (about 20-30k words longer), the retail price for the print version will be $16.99 USD, one dollar higher than the other books. Pricing is controlled by my publisher and the printer. I only have control over any special sales I may run at the various conventions I attend/sell at.

Which reminds me, I still need to preregister for ConNooga. I’m just waiting to hear back from the chair of the writing/author track about available panels and whether or not they will be providing authors’ alley tables. If not, I need to see if any table spaces are still available to buy. If not, I’ll go back to book pushing with a few copies of each book loaded into my roller bag.

Now for the Fun With Giant Spiders segment of our program! Arachnophobes need not read below this point.

spider_girl_by_bloodfang15-d5irxco

Spider Girl by Bloodfang15 ~ Deviantart

Oh wow! I didn’t dream I’d find such a perfect illustration for what I pictured in my head.

I’m sure many of you have heard the term “Jumping the Shark” in reference to when a TV show crosses the line of having even semi-plausible plotlines. My husband has a similar phrase for movies or books which just don’t pan out in the end, where apparently the writers copped out: “Giant Spider.” This originated from his reaction to Stephen King’s It.

Well, just for shits and giggles, I decided to incorporate a giant spider of my own into The Daedalus Enigma. Only I made sure that it was plausible within the parameters of the storyline and actually fairly early in the book rather than a cop out ending.

Have fun finding her and learning how Viktor deals with her.

mwahahahahahahahahahahaha! evil-lagh

 

 

Update thingie

The release process for The Daedalus Enigma has been… interestingly different.

Only after several attempts on various computers using various OSs/browsers was my publisher able to get Barnes and Noble’s site to upload the ebook.

Now it is the Library of Congress’ turn to be difficult. We are still waiting for an ISBN number for the print version.

This, of course means a further delay in adding a photo of the book to my ongoing Take a Pirate Home for Christmas campaign. I realize I could print out a copy of the book cover on card stock and put some Christmas and pirate props with it for the photo, but I don’t think it would mesh as well with the other photos in the campaign, since they have physical books featured in them.

I keep telling myself, “Patience, Grasshopper.”

In other updates, I am a few pages into chapter 30 of Maelstrom of Fate and approaching the grand finale. I’m on the last two pages of my plot point notes. Not to worry though, there will be at least one more book in the series, if not a full secondary series; however, it will not be started on immediately after finishing Maelstrom. 

I have plans to scribe some more episodes of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe than what I currently have drafted. (Which reminds me, I need to get in touch with my beta readers.)

I also intend to start serious research for my planned dystopic novel, There Is No Arizona. I have to get that book written before many of the premises of it become reality 60 years earlier than the story’s time frame. I have some convention friends who are scientists either specializing in some of the subject matter I plan to touch upon, or who can put me in contact with the appropriate experts.  

Finally, since I feel the three younger cats are now old enough to not have to worry about them hanging themselves in the pre-lit tree, I went ahead and put the thing up today to get them used to it and to see what sort of damage they may wreak. The past two years we’ve put up a live tree. The bottom branches were too dense for the cats to climb up into them. So far, so good with the artificial tree.

 

Progress Report

005

I don’t know how much will get cropped to allow for the title banner, but here’s the finished painting for the cover of The Daedalus Enigma.

I’ve also composed both a one line and a full blurb for the book. I will share them once they get the approval from my publisher. I’m still waiting for the editing process on the book to start.

Over the weekend I made good progress rewriting a scene for Maelstrom of Fate. Both Viktor and the Commodore were as unhappy with the first attempt as I was. It just wasn’t flowing, and both voices were too far off for the characters. I’m much happier with the rewritten version.

My project for this week (if I find time) or this weekend (if I don’t), is to reformat the first three episodes of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe to match the submission guidelines for one of the publishers I want to query about the Steampunk serial.

That’s all I’ve got for now. There was probably more I wanted to talk about, but my brain is a little fried from the overtime.

Concept Art, Book Release News, and More

Please excuse the poor quality of these images; pencil does not scan very well.

circe 001

belladonna 001

xandricus 001

These are the three scene I plan to use on the cover of The Daedalus Enigma. I’m thinking of using acrylic paints for this one. They are a medium I haven’t worked with in well over a decade, but I think acrylic will work better for my purposes than watercolor on this cover. Colored pencil is not an option. It doesn’t scan well, and even if I get a digital version to look good, the printout sucks ditchwater. I learned that lesson the hard way with the cover of Silent Fathoms.

I’ve been told to expect an October release for The Daedalus Enigma! Nice to know things are back on schedule with my publisher. There were a few hiccups last year which pushed the last book back a couple of months to December.

I don’t have any more conventions I plan to attend this year, but I think I will run a Red Shirt contest this September as part of my efforts to promote before the book release. I’ll post details next weekend for that on how to enter, how many spots are open, and how long the contest will run. I have a few other pre-release marketing ideas, but I need to get things in place before I can say anything official about them.

I also plan to get back in touch with my beta readers for The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe soon. I’d like to query a few publishers with the first few episodes and hopefully get a start-up date for the serial in publication by early next year.

If you’re going to dream, might as well dream big.

Q & A Wrap-up

crew quarters

Well, my Question and Answer sessions were mildly successful. They were attended, just not as greatly as I’d hoped. I think holding them on a holiday weekend probably played into that.

As promised, here are transcripts of the questions asked, and my replies. Screen names or first names only are used to protect participants privacy. I’ve arranged the questions according to topic rather than chronological order or forum asked on. (One was on Plurk, the other on Facebook.)

Feel free to ask me questions about the books or characters. Feel free to ask the characters questions. Be prepared for spoilers if you haven’t read any or all of the books yet.

 

Manateehugs: Oooh yay Q&A! This is more of a business-y type question. How is the experience of selling your book at Conventions? I love the energy at cons and artists alleys so I have a fantasy of doing like wise, but I was wondering if you could give me some pointers and or insight.

I admit I wish my sales were better. But considering I can only afford to attend the same 3 cons every year (because they’re all in town), my expectations aren’t high.

Still, I do make some sales each con, occasionally of more than the first title in the series. Don’t judge how it will go by me, though. J B Garner just finished a con this weekend and had what I consider stellar sales. 27 books!
Price figures in, too. I have a publisher, so there is only so much wiggle room for discounts, unlike self-pubbed authors. I have to pay 60% of the cover price for every physical book I order, which means I can’t afford to sell them for $10 each (cover price is $15.99). I wouldn’t even make enough to cover shipping.
One thing I’d like to do for my next con is get some proper banners. It will make my table look more professional.
It also helps to be outgoing… or as one of my author/musician friends says: Be a shameless attention whore. Don’t be afraid to STOP people walking by your table. Compliment their cosplay, if they’re doing that.
Manateehugs: Thank-you my friend that is really helpful!
Implore them to give a poor book a good home. Put something shiny and eye-catching on your table. (I give away Mardi Gras beads, glass fish tank jewels, and plastic coins.) Some authors put a candy bowl out.
Cards and bookmarks with your website on them are VITAL, especially if you do ebooks, too or people have limited funds, so they can look up info and purchase links to order the books later.
Manateehugs:I keep pondering if there is a way one could sell an e-copy of one’s book, say if it were on Amazon.
The only way to confirm a sale of an ebook is if the person has their reader with them and downloads it in front of you. I’ve only had this happen one time. It was during a panel at Chattacon this past January. The woman bought my 1st book and a book from the other two authors on the panel.
Manateehugs: Oh okay that makes sense. It’s a shame one can’t do like a redeemable card specifically for one’s ebook.
I haven’t tried that.
Of course, Amazon’s ebook return policy means there is the possibility of never seeing a royalty payment on a Kindle sale. Too many out there won’t hesitate to buy an ebook, read the whole thing, then return it before the quarter is up, which means no royalty, even though they read the whole book.

Karen: Describe how you come up with ideas: I.e., plot, characters, setting, for example.

My husband and I hashed out the bare bones of the seven-book story arc back in 2006, when it was still in the early stages. Before I start each manuscript, I’ll write out several pages of plot points which cover the main plot for that book and the sub-plots which run through the series. These do NOT always get followed strictly. The first book was entirely pantsed. All I knew was my basic formula. As the story progressed through the books, I was better able to plot ahead; but I often have cases of characters introducing themselves unplanned or established characters not following directions. Usually, this works out better than hoped.

Karen: Thanks!

Some of my inspiration in the early books came from articles in National Geographic or Smithsonian Magazine. Usually, this was when I was trying to decide where to stage the story, or elements to include in connection to a book’s Sister of Power. (Each book deals with a separate one, hence a seven-book arc.)

I made a point to research piracy and areas the story takes place in before beginning to write. Have to know what the rules are before you can break them, after all.

Karen: Haha, good point.

As a writer, I’m always intrigued by methods & schedules other writers use. How does a typical week of writing or revising/editing go for you?

Most of my writing has been done during work breaks over the years. There always seems to be too many distractions at home (cats, husband) to get good writing concentration. Lately, I’ve been frustrated and not getting as much writing done during my lunch break. I have a coworker who has gravitated to the table I use and feels the need to fill the silence with constant inane chatter. Kristina knows who I’m referring to. I keep telling myself I won’t get sucked in and will just ignore them, but it’s like not being able to log out of FB when you want to. Luckily (or un, depending on your POV) I got a good deal of writing done during time off for a recent med procedure.

I CAN make myself focus on typing up MSs and revising them, when I need to, though. (I do all my first drafts by hand in composition books; after all, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing one of THOSE like you would a tablet or laptop.)

Just Sunday (May 30), I made myself stay offline until I got the MS of a horror short story unrelated to this series typed up and gone through one revision. I still need to figure out how to trim another 500 words off it, though, to meet the min-max word count requirements for the publisher it’s slated for.

Manateehugs: Vik definitely has the morality of a pirate of his time, has that ever been emotionally hard for you to write?

Actually, no. What has been hardest for me to write with him has been the first part of book 7. He’s a bit depressed and mourning the loss of a very important person to him. Getting in that mindset has been rough.

Manateehugs: I understand the roughness of writing the depression part. I have a really hard time sticking with a narrative if the character has lost their fighting spirit and there seems to be no end of the depression in sight.

^^this

I think he’s coming out of it some. He’s still putting off finishing his quest. Juma holds a special, unreasoning dread for him, another emotion he is completely unfamiliar with dealing with.

Kristina: Belladonna is so far one of my favorite characters. When you write about her do you identify with her? To me she seems like this beautifully scary, feminine (in human form) yet sexually lethal creature.

That pretty much pegs how I see Belladonna. She’s very fun to write. I do get into her head space, but she would be viewed as borderline sociopathic by an analyst. Since she’s not human, she doesn’t always fully understand WHY humans react the way they do to some situations. She doesn’t really feel remorse and only understands it academically. She is several thousand years old, despite her youthful appearance, so she knows her prey very well and can almost seamlessly mimic humans.

She does feed on sexual energy as well as living flesh. I still remember some of the guys [at work] saying they wouldn’t hesitate to “hit that” when I showed them a drawing of her true form, even after I explained she would literally EAT them for food.
So, if she were real rather than a figment of my imagination, she definitely wouldn’t go hungry.
 
Kristina: Does Jim Rigger/ Lazarus regret being turned? Or is the power and connection reward in itself?
Does Jim regret being turned… not really. I first addressed that in Demon Bayou.
(spoiler ahead, since I know you haven’t gotten that far in the series yet)
 Jim was fiercely loyal to Viktor ever since they first teamed up in their teens. He knows how valuable he is to Vik as Lazarus. He’s given the choice to regain and retain human form as a vampire or continue as Lazarus. He chooses to remain Lazarus.
A spoiler/tease for all my readers: There will be a major event involving Jim/Lazarus in book six, The Daedalus Enigma, due later this year.
Kristina: Do people in your day to day life often inspire your characters?
Not really, with the exception of the one’s who’ve won or earned “red shirt” status. Even those are usually minor characters I’d already written with my victim’s name pasted on… with permission, of course. For anyone wondering what I mean by “red shirt”; they are characters who meet an untimely or horrible demise. I’ve gotten rid of a few coworkers this way in the past.
All of my main characters and secondary characters were initially created years ago when I first started planning and researching for the series.
I will admit benefitting from watching the interactions of my male coworkers to get a better feel for how the pirate crew interacts. Of course, I was already writing the first draft of the third book in the series by that time.
And, this concluded all the questions and answers.

The Beginning of the End… or is it?

maelstrom-1200x526

I’ve finished my reading break and started plotting Maelstrom of Fate (book 7 of the Waves of Darkness series). I’d originally planned this to be the final book of the series. I am still debating whether to make the follow-up story arc a series or a single novel. I’ve been chronicling Viktor’s adventures since 2006. (I was writing the third book, Silent Fathoms, when I finally got a publisher.) Part of me doesn’t want to break from these characters, but I do have other projects I’d like to devote more time to.

The Adventures of Pigg and Woolfe, a Steampunk serial adventure based loosely on The Three Little Pigs, comes immediately to mind. I would also like to revisit and hopefully finish A Dream of Water, a stand-alone fantasy novel based on a very detailed dream I had a few years ago. I had planned for this one to be YA, but that’s just not happening; my psyche is too dark to keep it “clean.”

Meanwhile, two weeks ago I saw Christmas trees and decorations being put out for sale just across the aisle from Halloween stuff at my local Kmart.

Seriously.