Thursday, August 31, 2017

Heir of Tanaris Cover Reveal!

With Heir of Tanaris in the later editing stages and (hopefully) still on track for release at the end of September, it's time to reveal the cover. I have been so excited to show this off!
And here's the full spread for the paperback:
As usual, Mominur Rahman did an amazing job with bringing my characters to life. And the magical tree is pretty cool, too. That was the first thing my husband said when I showed this to him - "Cool tree!"

Here's the short blurb, in case you haven't seen it yet: "When Davian, a badly-injured runaway slave from a corrupted magical Source, is brought to Isamina's healing Source, Isamina must find the courage to heal his damaged spirit, while Davian must defeat the evil within himself to become the great man he was meant to be and win the love he yearns for."

Some fun facts about this cover:

Davian's gloves weren't in the original character description. But I liked them so much I added them into the book, and they became an important detail in the story.

Also, Kaniev (from Source-Breaker) and Davian are from the same region of Tehovir, the northeastern fiords, (and, I don't know, Kaniev might even be Davian's great-great-grandfather or something) so I gave Mominur the same reference photos to work from, featuring the same model. Here are some closeups; you can see the resemblance between the two characters, but also how the artist captured their different personalities.
Davian from Heir of Tanaris
Kaniev from Source-Breaker
Finally, here's some of my mood music for the book, from the album Haven by Kamelot. The whole album is really awesome, and pretty much makes up most of the playlist for the book.

My Therapy (this is how Davian sees Isamina): 


Under Grey Skies (the love song for Davian and Isamina): 


Watch for Heir of Tanaris coming at the end of September (knock on wood). To make sure you don't miss out on the release and the special low introductory price, sign up for my email newsletter.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Heir of Tanaris Story Grid

I think I mentioned before that I'm studying The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, a really cool editing method that takes you deep into how a story's theme and structure work together. The approach it takes really struck a chord with me, so I gave it a try with Heir of Tanaris. This might be more interesting for writers, but if you're an avid reader and like seeing how the sausage is made, so to speak, you might find it interesting too.

Heir had already been through one major revision and was out with the beta readers while I was working through the Story Grid book, but I felt like I hadn't gone deep enough into what the story is about. This is a novel that has given me a hard time for years, trying to really get a grasp on it. So I decided to take Heir through the process, which involves making a spreadsheet of different sets of info about the story and a 1-page summary of the story then putting it all together into a grid.

Here's a screen shot of part of my spreadsheet for Heir:
Because spreadsheets are awesome, and doing this helped me start to clearly see the patterns of the story.

My "1 page" summary kinda turned out to be a lot more complicated than that. The Story Grid summary is based on a 3-part structure, beginning - middle - end, while I myself am more partial to a four-part structure, beginning - middle 1 - [midpoint reversal] - middle 2 - end, and Heir actually falls more naturally into 5 parts. But the basic principles are the same, each section consists of complications rising to some sort of crisis and climax, and I eventually got that beaten into shape.

And then the fun part, making the actual grid. You do this on actual grid paper with actual pens (it is possible to do it on a spreadsheet, but it would be a lot harder unless you're a spreadsheet virtuoso, and the examples I've seen are hard to read); I used my new set of Tul colored gel pens :D which was fun. And here it is:
The boxes above and below the center line each represent a scene. The Story Grid method evaluates scenes based on how the story situation changes, from bad to good (negative to positive) or good to bad (positive to negative); you can also have bad to worse (which is fun) and good to better (use sparingly). Scenes that move in a positive direction go above the line, scenes that go in a negative direction go below the line. The tricky thing, and the thing that really helps you strengthen the theme of the story, is the direction the scene goes in has to relate to the overall storyline. For example, if the villain gets something he wants, that's positive for the villain but negative for the overall story. So that scene goes below the line.

​Trickier is if one of the good guys gets something he wants that he shouldn't want, because he's trying to overcome a character flaw; that is also a negative turn for the story, even though it's temporarily positive for the character. Or if the character has to make a sacrifice in order to achieve their goal; negative at the moment for the character, but positive for the storyline. It can especially get complicated if you have two conflicting goals. A scene can be positive for one storyline and negative for the other. For example, in a romance, if the hero passionately kisses the heroine even though he's got no business kissing her at all right now, that's positive for the romance but negative for his moral development. Heir of Tanaris has a lot of that conflicting stuff going on, so this helped me get a firmer grip on all of it.

I had fun with my colored pens :) The blue boxes are for scenes where we're in Davian's head, pink boxes are for scenes in Isamina's point of view. Imaginative, I know :P Brown boxes are for the villain. The colored lines going up and down represent the rise and fall of the different storylines. Blue is one of Davian's storylines, green is the other, pink is Isamina's, and orange is the romance storyline. That line, for example, goes down when something happens to keep Davian and Isamina apart and up when they're together and their relationship progresses.

Now, over on the right hand side, not all the way to the right but kind of in the middle of the right side of the graph, you might notice a problem. That's right, hardly any scenes with a negative turn. Almost all the action is above the line. This means everything through here was going very smoothly for our hero and heroine. Which is nice for them but makes for a boring story. That was a huge flaw in the story which was really made clear by the grid. So what I did was go back and evaluate the story conflicts in each of those scenes, the larger-scale problems the characters are facing throughout the book. What problems did I solve too easily? Where do the characters need to struggle harder?

Another problem is all the way to the right, near the end, there's one scene that stretches both above and below the center line with a bunch of lines zooming up and down and up and down all within that one scene that takes place over maybe an hour of story time. What that showed me is I was trying to do too much in that one scene and the climax of the story was rushed. So there again I had to deepen the struggle, and also spread it out over more scenes and over time within the story.

I just finished the revision incorporating everything I got from this and also the beta reader feedback, and I think it's made Heir of Tanaris a much stronger, deeper book. I'm going through a modified version of the process with the first draft of the Defenders of the Wildings series, combining it with Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel method, in hopes of nailing all the major story issues in one big revision instead of two. Which hopefully will help me get those books out faster.

To learn more about the Story Grid, visit the Story Grid website. Most of the content from the book is also available for free on the blog, and you can also view story grids that Shawn Coyne made for Silence of the Lambs (the book he uses as the example throughout the blog posts and book) and Pride and Prejudice.

Anyway, Heir of Tanaris is currently on track for release in late September. To make sure you don't miss out on the release (and the special limited-time low introductory price), sign up for my email newsletter. Subscribers will also get the first peek at the cover, before I do the cover reveal here on my blog. So excited about this; Mominur Rahman's art for this book is gorgeous!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer Sci Fi/Fantasy Romance Sale

Aug. 7-13: Love Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, & Sci-fi Romance? Then check out this great sale, hosted by the authors of the Dominon Rising boxed set, which releases tomorrow. Even heroes and heroines need a little romance at the end of a long day of saving their corner of the galaxy. You'll find 40+ books by the Dominon Rising authors and guest authors (including me :D ) for only 99c, for a limited time.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Want more books? Here's more books!

August 5-6: The 99 cent Science Fiction and Fantasy Promomotions hosted by Patty Jansen are back. You'll find around 100 books in a wide variety of fantasy and science fiction genres, all 99 cents. This sale includes all the major retailers, not just Amazon. (Selection varies by store.) The Lost Book of Anggird is in this sale; I rarely discount this book, so if you haven't read this epic fantasy about a stuffy professor of magic, his free-spirited assistant, and the most dangerous book of all, here's your chance to get it for only 99 cents!
Aug. 2-16: The summer/winter book promotions continue with Geektastic Books' August Instafreebie giveaway! A unique selection of 17 books, plus you'll find exclusive author interviews and a giveaway to win a Fire tablet and Amazon gift card! (Please note that some of the books may require you to sign up for the author's email list in order to download them.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Daughter of the Wildings Box Set Cover!

You may or may not notice a slight difference in the site banner and the cover gallery over to the side - I've done a slight refresh of the cover of Beneath the Canyons, and also got a shiny new cover for the Daughter of the Wildings boxed set! Here it is in all its glory:
Write, Dream, Repeat Book Design put that beauty together for me :D

And here's my refresh of the Canyons cover:
Same awesome art by Mominur Rahman, but I adjusted the color and lighting a bit and changed the color on the lettering to bring out that magical glow thing happening around the edges of Silas and Lainie, coming off of the ore they're holding, and also cropped in a little closer on the characters so that the magic is a more prominent element.

Anyway, as for actual books, I'm still chugging along. I've been slightly less exhausted this week than I was last week, but my brain is very unfocused. I'm mainly concentrating my efforts on the second big revision of Heir of Tanaris right now; I want to get that done and edited and released. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say end of September, but I can't make any guarantees this far out.

Once Heir of Tanaris is out, I'll turn my full focus (such as it is) to Defenders of the Wildings. I've got another story/series idea I want to work on, that I think I can set in the Islands of the Wildings world, but first I'll just work on the big edit on Defenders. It's almost scary how much work it's going to need, but I'm trying out a process that I hope will let me cut my two major revisions down to one. I also have a bunch of short stories I've been meaning to get to in the evenings on days when I get my full quota of work done during the day, but that never happens. At least I'm making progress, slow though it may be.