news, news

Wow.

It’s been over an entire year since I last blogged.

I won’t go into the details (they aren’t juicy, anyhow) but Life Happened, and blogging (and writing) fell by the wayside.

But things haven’t been completely dead, hence this post.

Entangled did come out, and you can find it on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

My short story, “Trading Gifts”, was published in Sword & Sorceress 28. This was a milestone for me! I have fond memories of devouring these anthologies as a teen.

S&S 28

Also, my short story, “The Village of No Women” recently came out in Phantazein, an anthology of fables, fairy tales, and folklore with a twist, edited by Tehani Wessely of FableCroft Publishing. Look at that absolutely gorgeous cover!

PhantazeinCover

Quartz is still being serialized. The eighty third episode went live today. We have 4 more episodes to go before the end, all of which are scheduled! If this is the first you’re hearing about this project, check out its page. You can catch up on all the episodes there.

I hope–crosses fingers–to be more active on the blog from here on out!

a month of quartz episodes

Episode Eleven of Quartz (in which Rafe has his first–and only–firedancing performance) went out to Inboxes and RSS feed readers all over the world today. This marks the end of the first month of running the serial (-ish, I’m too lazy to look up the exact date I started).

So, how’s it going?

The most awesome news is that I have subscribers and readers! Many have tweeted about the serial (many thanks for that!). Generous donors have covered episodes every Saturday so far (this upcoming Saturday is the first one with no episode scheduled).

The only wrinkle is that there’s little reader engagement in the comments section. Yes–even though it’s hard to tell, every episode *is* open to comments, and I am happy to receive any thoughts or feedback.

To those of you following the story, I hope you continue to enjoy it. There’s a lot of fun stuff coming your way, including more backstory on how Rafe’s weird sunless world got to be the way it is, the discovery of a resource that could change the political landscape, and a hint of what Isabella’s real agenda is.

Happy reading!

quartz episode one…

… went out to Inboxes all over the known universe early this morning!

Rafe Grenfeld, diplomat and spy, has problems. His entire embassy’s been arrested, he’s stuck in a hostile foreign city with police looking for him, and he’s been hiding in a smelly cramped dumpster for far too long. And that’s just the first two paragraphs! To find out more, go here.

Episode Two goes up on Saturday.

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In other news, I have the nasty cold that my boys passed around this past week. And just as I was beginning to think I’d escaped the winter sniffles that have plagued my entire family these last few months…

Here’s hoping to resume writing and blogging regularly SOON.

How are you all?

 

Quartz serial is coming soon!

As in, next Tuesday, April 2nd.

*gulp!*

We’ve set up a separate page and mailing list for it, which you can find here.

Aaaand, here’s the revised blurb (I can NOT stop tinkering with it, apparently!)

In order to save their world, the mages of long ago plunged it into eternal night.

Now rare veins of quartz provide light, heat, and food to a dying world. And Rafael Grenfeld has just learned that the biggest quartz pillar of them all, the legendary Tower of Light, exists. Unfortunately, his informer died before revealing its location and he’s stuck in the hostile totalitarian state of Blackstone.

Desperate to find the Tower of Light for his people, Rafe forms an uneasy alliance with the mysterious and maddening Isabella. They’re not the only ones interested in the quartz. The Shadow, chief of the Blackstone secret police, is also hunting for it. As darkness-loving demons devour souls and dangerous magical artifacts resurface, Rafe must tap into the lost powers of the mages in order to find and secure the quartz—before his world is destroyed by famine and war.

If you’re interested in receiving Quartz episodes in your Inbox, sign up here. (If you’re reading this in your feed reader or Inbox, visit the site to sign up).

Quartz RSS

Sign up here to receive each episode of Quartz in your inbox. Your email is never sold or shared.

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Also, Sean over at Adventures of a Bookonaut interviewed on his podcast. So if you want to hear me talk about my year of trying new things, the books that influenced me, self-publishing and slow build, click on the link!

 

let’s talk serials

One of my goals for this year is to Try New Things. Not only does it mean writing out of the box, but it also means trying new ways of reaching readers with my stories.

Such as web serialization.

Now, I’m not a big reader of serialized fiction, which has a lot to do with not liking to read fiction on a computer screen. Last year, though, I got into Lisa Ahn’s wonderful flash-fiction-sized Wing-Feather Fables and Liana Mir’s short-shorts and her serial, City of Glass.

And then I came across M. C. A. Hogarth’s work, including her serialized fiction (and the Three Michas, cartoon jaguars that explain art business principles), and Wattpad–and had an epiphany.

Hey, not everyone is like me! Some people actually like reading stories online, in small doses spread over many months!

(I wonder if these are the same people who also like listening to audio books, something else that I haven’t been able to get into).

So, here’s want I want to do. I have this awesome (well, yes, I think it’s awesome) novel called Quartz. You may have heard me talk about it a million times, or two. It’s kind of steampunk, a bit of science fiction, a lot of fantasy–and all adventure.

Here’s the blurb (culled from 15 single-spaced pages of a document entitled Quartz Query):

Rafe Grenfeld, Oakhaven diplomat and spy, has problems: his embassy’s been arrested, he’s trapped in the hostile totalitarian state of Blackstone, and he’s just learned of the discovery of a massive pillar of quartz from an informer who died before revealing its location.

Once, quartz powered magical devices, but the mages who created them are long gone. Now, desperate states vie for rare veins of quartz that provide light and heat, and mean the difference between starvation and survival. Determined to return home with the news, Rafe forms an uneasy alliance with Isabella, a demon slayer with undisclosed loyalties.

Riven with internal strife and facing war with Blackstone, Oakhaven is not willing to pursue a rumor. It’s up to Rafe to find the quartz he believes is vital to his people, even if it means defying orders and collaborating with the mysterious and maddening Isabella. Unfortunately, they have competition: Karzov, chief of Blackstone’s secret police and architect of a plan to resurrect magical weaponry, is also hunting for the quartz—and he has help. But it’s not enough for Rafe to dodge mind-destroying demons and allies-turned-enemies. He must also overcome his quartz-induced disability—the one that leaves him writhing in agony—and tap into powers long thought lost, before his world is torn apart by famine and war.

And I’d like to serialize this, right here.

But, Rabia, you might be thinking–why not just self-publish Quartz, like you did Mourning Cloak and Rainbird and Shattered?

Good question. And in no particular order, here are my thoughts:

  • I’ve never serialized before (except for that one time, with Wired). No time like the present to try.
  • I haven’t self-published anything longer than Rainbird, which topped out at less than 32K words. Quartz is 101K words and I’m intimidated by the idea of self-publishing it. The line-editing and the proofreading passes are a lot of work. I’d rather spread them out over the many months of serialization than do it all in one go. It’s the whole how-to-eat-an-elephant thing: one bite at a time.
  • I want to bring readers to a place that is unquestionably mine–my website. Right now I’m selling through e-tailers, which means I don’t have direct access to my readers. I hear rumblings that Amazon might–bad move!–take away the 70% royalty rate unless you enroll in KDP Select. Therefore, I want to have lots of little baskets for my eggs, to make sure that all my readers–and income–aren’t coming through one channel.

So, how are you planning on this serial thing working out?

Well, so far the tentative plan is–I’m still working out the kinks of this–following a model similar to Hogarth’s (hey, I’m teachable).

  • I would post a scene (less than 2K words) once a week, probably on Tuesdays.
  • If I get enough donations ($5? $10?), they would pay for an extra episode per week, probably on a Saturday. What this means is that if you like the story, you can pay to read it faster. Without donations, the story will continue to run at its weekly pace.
  • The money I get for Quartz will go towards paying for cover art for the ebook. If I get more than that, I’ll hire a copyeditor/proofreader (oh, yes, please! My eyeballs are still bleeding from the 354 rounds with Mourning Cloak). And if I seriously overfund (along with getting my own pony, a castle made of candy, and rainbow kittens), I’ll pay myself.
  • Anyone who donates to the serial will get an ebook version for free, and their name–if they choose–in the Acknowledgements.

So, what do you think? Would you read serialized novels? Any tweaks you’d suggest to this system? Comment away!

NaNo-lite

It’s November 1st.

And we all know what that means, right? National Novel Writing Month!

Yep, it’s time for that annual madness when thousands of writers from all across the world attempt to write a 50,000-word novel (or part of a novel) in 30 days. If you listen carefully, you can hear the click-clack of thousands of fingers flying over thousands of keyboards.

It’s an exciting, heady time.

Once upon a time, before I homeschooled… or had children… or a big house to clean… or a job… I attempted and won NaNoWriMo (and I will forever love the book I got out of it: my first novel, The Changeling). Nowadays, though, NaNo just seems a recipe for burnout and exhaustion.

However, I am inspired to set and reach for some personal writing goals this month–just not as crazy as NaNo’s. Liv Rancourt calls this NaNo-lite. It sounds healthier, at least. :D

The goal: 25,000 words on my current WIP

The daily breakdown: David’s handy self-adjusting wordcount tool (WriteTrack) tells me that I only need 800 words a day, with 1500 words on Saturdays and Thanksgiving Day off (I rounded the numbers). I got 872 words today, which puts me a wee bit ahead.

The project: Rafe and Isabella are baaaack! Flare is the sequel to Quartz, picking up two years after the end of the first book. I’ve never written a sequel before (yes, True Confessions of a Fantasy Writer). I figured I could use the exercise–plus I need to know how these kids are going to save the world! (Okay, they’re not kids, but I’m the lofty writer, so I get to call them whatever I want… er, hi, Isabella *grins nervously*).

Who’s doing NaNo? Who’s doing NaNo-lite?

And who wants some Halloween candy? I have plenty left over. *eyes heaping basket warily*

prezi!

I discovered this while I was going through some old files. David got into Prezi, and it looked so lovely and non-linear I had to try my hand at one, too. Here’s the one I made for Quartz (sadly enough, my books are the only thing I’m qualified to make presentations about) more than a year ago. This was a lot more fun than writing a query.

sunday update

Kai’s book (total): 69,616 words
Kai’s book (new): 1,494 words

I’m taking a break from writing Kai’s book to work on other things. I wrote a 1600-word short story, tweaked the synopsis of Quartz, and began writing an outline of Kai’s book as a road map for getting to THE END. We’re taking the upcoming week off from school (if the public schools are doing it, so will we!) and my writing plan is a healthy mix of submission-type things and for-fun things. More on this later.

Also, some folks over on the HtTS/HTRYN boards have started a Write a Book With Me blog, where you can post your daily wordcounts, and get support and accountability from other writers. They’re holding a contest with a fun prize to inaugurate the new blog, so check it out.

sunday update

We’ve been passing a cold around our family this past half-week. It’s my turn now, blech.

However, in spite of it all, I did get words!

Kai’s novel (total): 63,872 words
Kai’s novel (new): 4, 158 words

I also got 700+ words worth of notes on a story idea (not Secret Project, but another project—Secret Project 2?) when a character popped into my head and started talking. When Right Brain dictates, I transcribe. Simple as that.

I took yet another stab at writing a synopsis of Quartz. This time I went hunting for some how-to tips, and came upon this post by Diana Peterfreund which led me to these workshops by Kathy Carmichael, and the result is that I’m much happier with my current draft. It still needs a lot of work–which I was going to do tonight–but *sigh* I might just stay in bed and nurse my cold and save my energy for school tomorrow.

How’s your writing coming along?

o christmas tree

I love it when we get our Christmas tree. Because we don’t want to overdose on Christmas *before* December 25th, we wait until the second weekend of the month to get it. I love its spicy green scent. I love the way the ornaments glint and glitter among the branches. I love sitting in the rocking chair next to it, enjoy its peaceful beauty, the red ribbon, the small fairy lights.

Everyone has their own special ornaments and Christmas tree traditions. We drink egg nog and sing carols after our decorating. It’s specially fun now because the olders are able to join the singalong, too. There are several ornaments that are dear to me: the handmade ones that my kids have made, from painted wooden letters to child-stitched felt ones; the one survivor of a set of four a cousin gave us; a glass ball with a painted panda in a Santa hat from Hong Kong; a porcelain Celtic cross from Ireland.

Thinking about my traditions has made me wonder how my characters would decorate their trees. You know, if they had trees in the first place and celebrated the same holidays.

Kai, for one, would say she didn’t want a tree, but really? She does. She wants to belong, she wants to be part of her people’s traditions. She’d find the most imperfect tree in the lot though; the lopsided one, or the thin and scraggly one, or the one with a crooked top. She’d bring that tree home and she’d decorate it with old and imperfect things she’d find in thrift shops, and natural things like pinecones and winter berries and acorns. She’d string popcorn and drape it around the tree, and put oranges under it. And a pyramid of canned food, which is what she lives on.

The Marquis of Rocquespur (from Quartz)–well, he’d get the biggest showiest tree around. He’d dress the tree up the same way he dresses himself, in shades of purple and gold. His tree would grand, but prickly, with scratchy purple tinsel-y stuff. He’d pick glittery ornaments, like miniature disco balls, covered in mirrors, or sequined stars. Hard, reflective, glitzy, rough-textured. Lots of sharp angles.

Oh, and he’d have colored lights on his tree, too. Annoying blinky colored lights. In randomized patterns. The sort that induce epileptic fits.

Rafe is too busy working to have a tree. Knowing his luck–and dedication to duty–he’d spend Christmas being chased through sewers by bad guys and war machines. But, I have the sneaking suspicion, he’d like to have a family and one day go out, cut down a tree, bring it home and stand it up in the tree stand thingy while the littles danced around excitedly. He’d get the ornament boxes out of the basement, and untangle the lights, and put hooks on all the balls that mysteriously lost theirs. He wouldn’t care what the decorations were—if his family wants all cow ornaments, or just pink ones–that’d be okay with him. He’d  just want to see their faces shining with excitement.

I haven’t mentioned Christmas trees to Isabella, though. I might get The Look.

Your turn. How would your characters decorate their Christmas trees?