Saturday, November 24, 2012

Almost time for Fire and Lightning!

On Wednesday, Fire and Lightning is coming out at long last. This story is near and dear to my heart, if for no other reason than because it and I fought so much to wrangle it into shape. 
Originally, this story was supposed to be a cute little bit of fluff about a linguist studying Herodotus in the shade of a tree, researching ancient texts about the phoenix. I hadn't quite decided whether he was the phoenix, or whether he was going to meet the phoenix. Instead, I ended up with an epic about a female tree spirit tied to her oak and a free-spirited phoenix who spends her life traveling the globe. Not quite what I envisioned. 
Then I had a grand plan for how everything was going to be structured. It worked great on paper, but it made a terrible story. It just dragged on and on, painfully repetitive, and full of things I thought were interesting but weren't related to the real story I wanted to tell. Much hacking and chopping later, I came up with something better. And then I got it back from the editor and hacked and chopped and rewrote some more. Now I think it tells the story I wanted to tell.
One of my favorite things about writing Fire and Lightning was getting to play around with all of the old Homeric epithets and mythological references, sneaking in little bits of history here and there (and taking a few--fairly minor--historical liberties). One of my favorite bits is this scene involving two incredibly minor characters:

One night after Helios had gone to bed, while the Tri-Formed Goddess wore her darkest form, two unfamiliar men slipped into the grove.  
"Did we have to come when Hecate rules the sky?" one of them grumbled. "I can't see a thing. I'm starting to lose track of how many twigs have poked me in the face."
"Hush!" the other commanded in a harsh whisper. "The only thing worse than the darkness of Hecate's witchcraft is becoming the focus of it. Hold your tongue and help me find a way into this enclosure."
A soft scuffling sound was followed by a thump as the first man came hurtling over the wall and tumbled into the dirt on the other side. "Ow. You needn't have pushed quite so hard, Argus," he complained, rubbing his hip with a grimace. "My ass is going to be the color of a Samian grape by dawn."
"Good. You'll give Aurora something to smile about when she passes over," Argus retorted. "Now how am I supposed to get in there?"
"I should give you a good hard yank for the sake of fairness, but there must be a door somewhere around here. Doesn't the priest have to get close to the tree to ask the questions? I can't imagine he vaults in every time like … Oh, here it is." The gate swung open with a slight creak, admitting a man slightly older and stockier than the first.  
Argus closed the gate after he entered. For a long, tense moment, he silently stared up at Drys' oak. "How in all Hades are we going to cut a plank from this tree, Tiphys?" he murmured. "It's got to be at least ten times as tall as you, and I'm not sure my arms can reach all the way around."
They were going to cut a piece out of her? With a muffled shriek, Drys fled from her bark and cowered in the farthest corner of the enclosure. It wouldn't make any difference if the men cut the oak, but her instincts were pushing her to run. She knew the men could not see her or hear her, so there was no use begging them not to touch her tree. Trembling and afraid, she wrapped her arms around her legs and dug her toes into the earth, seeking comfort from her mother.
Tiphys snorted. "Did you think we were just going to march in, chop down Zeus' sacred oak, and saw it into pieces? I'd prefer not to die by lightning strike, thank you very much."
"But Athena says the Argo needs to have a plank in the prow cut from the sacred oak of Dodona. That's this tree. Apparently it's going to prophesy to the sailors and protect them from danger."
Tiphys barked out a laugh. "That has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. A bunch of sailors are going to kneel down with one ear to the deck and wait for the prophetic floorboard to tell them what to do whenever danger arises?"
"It's what Athena says, and I know better than to argue with a goddess." Argus shrugged.
Regarding the oak with narrowed eyes, Tiphys asked contemplatively, "Does she say how big this plank needs to be?"
Argus shook his head. "What are you thinking?"
"This branch here might do." He ran his hand up the trunk to one of the lowest boughs. Drys shivered as an echo of his touch ran along her side. She began to shake when Argus slowly nodded his head and they raised the saw.  

I really love this story. I hope those who read it do, too. <3

Fire and Lightning will be released by Less Than Three Press on November 28, 2012. Until then, it will be available for preorder at 15% off here

Friday, November 9, 2012

All my shinies!

So many shinies this week! I'm just going to make a list. :)

1) The Sandy Relief Auction is almost over! The stories are going for fantastic amounts, and all for a good cause. I'm proud to be part of it. As for my story, well... Thanks to all who have bid on me. I'm very curious to see what I'll be writing about. :-D

2) Previous to last week, I had never spent more than $10 on any piece of jewelry in my life, aside from my husband's wedding ring. Then Freia Inguz (aka Amara Devonte) posted a picture of this necklace, and I had a serious case of insta!Love. As soon as I saw it, I thought, "Look! That's my tree! I wrote that tree!" so I splurged and bought it for myself as a reward (for a variety of things). Last night at parent-teacher conferences, one of the first parents came in, introduced herself, and immediately started gushing over my beautiful, handmade necklace. I fondly think of it as my Fire and Lightning necklace, and I am reminded of Drys every time I see it. I love it very much. <3

3) Dreamer's cover has made it to round 6 of the Rainbow Awards Cover Contest! The competition has been incredibly stiff--there are a stunning number of really beautiful covers out there this year--which makes me even more proud. Of course, London Burden did the cover, so I can't really take any credit for how lovely it is, but it's still got my (pen) name on it. If you feel so inclined, go cast your vote in its favor. Honestly, I'm just pleasantly amazed it's gotten this far. I mean, I knew I thought it was gorgeous and perfect, but I figured I might have been slightly biased...

4) Speaking of covers, look what went up on Goodreads this week! This is coming out on my birthday, it's set around my MC's birthday, and there will definitely be a giveaway of some sort come January. Keep your eyes peeled if you're interested.

Official blurb:

Will is panicking. In ten days he'll be thirty, and his life isn't anything like he imagined it would be at that age. As he considers his future, he sees the possibility for failure. When he thinks of the past, Will sees all the opportunities and loves he's lost. The only thing he can't see is what's right in front of him.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief Story Auction

The lovely Piper Vaughn is hosting a story auction to raise funds for disaster relief. Bid on a story, get one written just for you by the author whose auction you win! I think it's a fabulous idea, and I'm excited to be both bidding and bidden upon.

All told, there are twenty authors participating, a few of whom are unfamiliar to me and several whose work I've read in abundance. To find a list of participating authors, rules for bidding, and to hop in the fray or just make a donation to a good cause, see the official post here.

To all those out there three days into NaNoWriMo, good luck! Persevere! Have fun!

To all those those opting for sanity instead... well, so am I. Good luck to us, too. :)